Monday, July 30, 2012

Guest Post; Milk Eyes - Cool Parents Unite!

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Hello there, lovely to meet you. My name is Sandi Darling: military wife to the unbelievably babe-alicious Lee Savage, mother to a one year old chaos-agent named Hunter, and a Brisbane based blogger. I started Milk Eyes as a way of connecting with parents who continue to embrace their unique style, using their alternative point of view and streetwise skills to raise smart, savvy and above all, loved kids. I didn’t have much luck finding this in real life (beyond the few friends I had that had become parents before me ) or online, so Milk Eyes became the method by which I created a space to keep connected with all the cool stuff going on in the world, as well as being a place for me to share my thoughts on the amazing transformations parenthood has brought to my life.

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If there is one thing Milk Eyes has opened my eyes to, it is that all over this amazing world there are mums and dads remaining in touch with the subcultures they love, even as so many other aspects of their lives change to accommodate their children. I’ve found so many new cool friends as a result, including the wonderful Natalie who is currently taking some time out to get acquainted with the newest addition to her family. How exciting for her- and for me because I get to use this opportunity to connect with you even as Natalie is connecting with her little one! When Natalie approached me to write a guest piece I asked her what to write about, and she suggested something along the lines of “why your style doesn’t need to change when you become a mother" or "how to stay 'cool' ". This is a good question, and I’m not entirely confident I’m qualified to answer it, but I can try.

Whatever your style, once you have a baby you have less time and money to spend on yourself. You may feel a little weird in your skin for a while, post pregnancy. You might also feel a little out of touch with the lifestyle you led pre-bub. Doubts start to lurk in your mind, unhelpful thoughts about what other people will think of you: If you dress the same as you did before strangers will think you are a reckless bohemian, irresponsible or worse: a selfish individual who focuses on their own wants above the needs of their kids; if you 'normalise' your fashion sense your friends will think all the hype about ‘babies cramping your style’ is true and exclude you, or push the idea of having babies of their own even further down their ‘to do’ list.

Being dictated to by your ideas about every ones else's expectations is an unenviable position, but the worst part about being trapped in the throws of that emotional turmoil is that you honestly don't know what other people are thinking- unless they outright tell you, it's all in your head. I once heard someone say you wouldn't be so concerned with what other people think about you if you realized how very little they actually do. In other words, some of the reasons you have for abandoning the style that previously rocked your world are phantoms, imaginary barriers of your own construction that take more mental energy to maintain then they do to abandon. What a delicious, energizing revelation!

But what about when those insecurities are realised? Let me share with you a story.

When my son was a few weeks old I took him with me to the store to buy groceries- as you do. As I walked in to the store a middle aged woman muttered under her breath “They’ll let any freak breed these days”. I looked around, curious to see who she was referring to with such venom and spite, but there was no one else around.

She meant me.

I mean come on, me? I have multiple degrees, I won an academic scholarship to study at one of the state’s best schools, I donate to charity, buy Australian made, train my pets, eat healthily, avoid television, pay taxes, don’t litter- I even polish my shoes! She hadn’t just implied that I was a freak either- she implied that because of how I looked I was also unfit to be a parent. I was shocked. Sure I had pink hair and tattoos- but I wasn’t a bad parent by any stretch of the imagination. This complete stranger looked at what I was wearing and made a judgement call on the kind of person I was.

Suddenly I felt small and stupid. Perhaps she was right, maybe it was time I grew up. I bought brown hair dye and when I got home I packed up all but the most banal items in my wardrobe, crying as I filled garbage bag after garbage bag with clothes that hours before delighted me as I decided on what to wear. To make myself feel better I took some time out to cuddle my infant son. He woke in my arms and looked up at me with eyes full of love and trust. In that moment I realized that Hunter didn't care one speck about what I was wearing so long as he had a full tum, a clean bum and the love of his mum to sustain him. I began to feel foolish- I had let a complete stranger make me feel like a bad parent because of what I looked like. As I rehung my clothes I consoled myself with the knowledge that phantom powered people who judge others based on appearance alone (instead of the calibre of their actions) are small minded and mean spirited- exactly the kind of person I would avoid if given a choice.

Looking back at the experience I would say that it solidified in me the desire to fight for my right to be expressive. I fight by being a conscientious human being and an attentive loving parent. My choice of battle armour is whatever the hell I want to wear. My style doesn’t make me a bad parent- it makes me creative, unique, interesting, exuberant, joyful, expressive, stimulating and different- but none of these things are bad qualities. Being judgemental, small minded, abusive, spreading hatred and fear- these are qualities that would make me a bad parent- nay, human.

For some people staying cool is about maintaining wild hair, clothes and makeup; using the experiences that image brings as an opportunity to teach their kids about judgement, prejudice and acceptance. For others it is a choice to not hide their tattoos or remove their body piercings, proud of the personal significance these things have at a time when every other aspect of their life is shared with or about their children. For others still these matters of style are superficial and easily discarded like the shell of oyster, knowing that the real meat of the issue is deeper inside. This type of parent knows that conspicuous consumption isn’t the only way to stay true to their roots, they keep engaged in the culture they love by other means. Irrespective of their personal style, all of the parents described above are cool because they are keeping their inner child alive and well, even as they foster that same vitality and enthusiasm for life in their own children.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that being a parent and maintaining your cool aren’t two mutually exclusive states of being. Many of the qualities that make someone stand out from the crowd are the very same qualities that would deeply enhance the emotional and social development of their children. Your style doesn't need to change at all once you become a parent- let your light burn brightly, the love you radiate will illuminate everything around you and banish those phantoms to the ever retreating shadows. Shine in the knowledge that you look fine and more importantly you are a very fine parent indeed. Your child will bask in the glow that radiates from you, their little face lighting up at your approach.

Let it shine,
Sandi D.
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Sunday, July 22, 2012

Guest Post; Day to day with Everyday Mae.

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Hi Everyone! My name is Bianca and I blog over at Behind the Scenes of Everyday Mae. I’m so exciting to be guest posting for Natalie while she taking some time off to spend with her lovely new bub! I thought I would share some behind the scenes action of my day to day life with Everyday Mae.

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To give a bit of a back story, I began Everyday Mae in early 2011 as a creative outlet while I was studying full time. I had always loved being creative as a child and enjoyed painting, drawing and sewing while I was younger. One day I decided to spend more time on creative projects and around the same time I discovered Etsy. My mind was blown and after a few months of dreaming, planning and lots of sewing I opened up my shop in January.

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Currently I am working as a freelance sewer for a designer in Newcastle so that takes up a fair amount of my time! In between that and attempting to have a social life I dedicate my time to Everyday Mae. Most days I can be found designing and sewing bags, ordering supplies and creating new ways to do things on top of blogging, answering emails and generally all other social media. I tend to jump from one project to another and spend a few hours on each and that way I find I don’t lose enthusiasm for a particular project.

My days vary in that sometimes I am more productive in the morning, and some other days I don’t kick off until the afternoon and may work into the night. I love the freedom that I do have to do this and that I can plan my days around how I am feeling at the time. While I am not working I do enjoy drinking lots of tea, taking photos and spending time with family and friends. More often than not I can be found in front of the sewing machine working on improving my quilting skills, sewing décor items and clothing for myself. At the present time I have some new exciting ideas that I am working on and I hope to expand my Everyday Mae line in the near future!

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Thanks so much Natalie for having me here today! I do hope you will come and visit my blog or my twitter to say hello!

You can find Everyday Mae here on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Etsy
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Thursday, July 19, 2012

Guest Post; Harnessing Childrens Creativity

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Hi everyone, it’s Naomi here from Look See. While Natalie is spending some quality time with the new bub (congratulations Nat!), she asked if I’d do a guest post about developing creativity in kids. I’m a full-time high school teacher and do photography and graphic design in my spare time. I’ve always been a creative kid myself and love that I get to see children being creative in my day job.

I thought I’d talk about a couple of areas that I believe personally are important in developing children’s creativity. And this has come from my own experience – either as a kid myself or as a teacher.

First of all is the need to model creativity. Kids need to see adults being creative in order to learn how to be creative themselves. My mum loved to take photos of us when we were growing up. We were encouraged to take photos as well and we each had access to a simple, inexpensive camera (and this was in the age before digital cameras).  I recall taking photos together and getting them developed, then spending time together looking at the results.

At school, I have seen so many students become inspired when they have viewed the adults around them attempting creativity. Whether it’s in art, music, woodwork, cooking, writing – whatever the creative mode, show kids that it’s ok to muck in, have a go, make mistakes and learn from them – and that in fact, is pretty much the creative process anyway.

Secondly, I mentioned above about making mistakes. Creativity is a process. It’s very rare that you create something you are immediately satisfied with. And that’s ok. It doesn’t have to be perfect; it doesn’t have to always be a polished piece. Sometimes it’s great to create, just for the sake of creating. It’s a cliché because it’s true – mistakes are how we learn. So, providing support through mistakes definitely assists in developing children’s creativity.
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Finally, an environment that is conducive to creativity is so important. I remember growing up that mum had major plans to paint the interior of the house. I remember her talking about it forever – and it didn’t actually happen until I was about twelve. In the meantime, we were allowed to draw and paint and write on our bedroom walls – I guess her thinking was that it was all going to be covered up at some point anyway! Looking back on this, I can’t help but think that mum was a bit mad (in the best way) but I think how lucky we were to be encouraged to be creative as kids.

As a teacher, I recall a particular student who hated the journal writing we did each week in English. He’d try every trick in the book and eventually ask if he could go to the toilet (the first time he did this, he spent 20 minutes in there hoping that he’d miss the journal writing session). He promised me that he would tell the whole class a story when he came back if he didn’t have to write it down. I agreed. He came back and would tell the funniest, most entertaining tales we’d heard – jungles, crocodiles, heroes, you name it. Technically I was supposed to make him write it down, but the way I saw it, I could let him tell the story and encourage his creativity or I could make him write it and stifle it.

And just because I can, here are a couple of links for you with cool creative projects that are probably just as much fun for the grownups as they are for the kids:
~ Paper dots garland by Oh Happy Day {Lots of other great do-it-yourself projects}
~ T-shirt painting by Artsy Ants {Also plenty of other goodies here}

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Thanks for reading – here’s to getting paint all over your hands!
Look See
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Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Guest Post; Natural Health in Childhood

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Hello.  I’m Michelle from Mumma and the Kiddo where I share my ramblings and motherhood adventures. I’d like to start by thanking Natalie for asking me to guest post on her blog while she’s on her baby-moon with her newest wee girl. Congrats! I am here sharing my reasons for choosing natural health for my son, and why I am passionate about natural health in childhood.
While I was pregnant I was studying and a lot of my health science papers covered parenting topics, in particular child health and development. I discovered the importance of taking a holistic approach which involves much more than treating a symptom. It’s about considering someone’s whole body and how life situations impact the body. My decision to use natural and alternative health practitioners was based on their approach to health and illness. I love that there are practicing GPs who are using alternative medicine alongside conventional treatments.

I have great respect for the vast intelligence that our body carries in its ability to orchestrate trillions of cells in our body. In each second we make millions of new red blood cells. Our bodies are always balancing and attempting to keep us healthy. I believe that we need to stop and pay attention, to listen to, and befriend our bodies and explore and understand them. This is where I have found alternative and natural health practitioners beneficial to my son’s health. 

During Pete’s birth his head was transverse (sideways). It wasn’t able to be rotated, he came out with a badly bruised head and wasn’t able to turn his neck. The exercises the physiotherapist wanted me to do with Pete made him scream in pain so I decided to take him to an osteopath. After 2 appointments his neck significantly improved.

Pete also used to be a terrible sleeper. I took him to a holistic health and integral health centre and he was given a bach flower remedy and a magnesium supplement. We also did mind/body therapy. After this appointment Pete’s sleeping hasn’t been an issue. I have also used rescue remedies and bach flower remedies when Pete has been frustrated and worked up. They quickly calm him down. I found this really useful last year when my nana passed away.

There are lots of natural alternatives that work just as well, if not better. I trust my gut instincts. I am a firm believer that parents are the experts to their children and no GP, or naturopath or Plunket nurse is going to know your child better than you.

Thankyou for reading! 
Mumma and the Kiddo
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Sunday, July 15, 2012

July Feature Sponsor { A Lot Like Love }

July feature sponsor
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A Lot Like Love is the sweet musings of a pretty girl called Eloise. When she isn't busy being a Dental Assistant and studying education, Eloise is blogging about the beautiful things surrounding her.

Her passion and love for family is evident, and she longs to one day marry and raise children. But for now, cute bunnies and crafting are suffice.

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She also runs a to-die-for adorable Vintage Treasure Hire business with her sister; hiring out fine china, silverware, linens and glassware. Poppy Tom Vintage would create the ultimate tea party atmosphere for any party or event.

Pop on over to the pretty space of the internet that Eloise calls home, stop by for a read with a cup of tea and say hello to A Lot Like Love.

You can follow Eloise's journey here on Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest.
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Thursday, July 12, 2012

Welcome To The World...

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Isla Willow

Welcome to the world, sweet girl. May the beginning of our journey with you be full of love, positivity and warmth.

A birth story in the near future will follow and many updates I am sure! But for now, we are soaking up these minutes and truly being in the moment. Enjoy the next few weeks of guest posts by some lovely people, they are wonderful reads!

Plenty of love, 
winterlove blog natalie

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

The Wish List

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Are you a sucker for beautiful and innovative baby gear like me? Enjoy another of my wish-list posts; sharing with you all the current gear I am lusting over!

 * Fresco Chrome Highchair * 
Bloom makes my heart beat faster, it's my ultimate favourite brand of the baby land. When I saw Blooms newest addition, a chrome look limited edition highchair I squealed in excitement. We have the gloss black version of the Fresco Loft chair and it is fantastic. It reaches our breakfast bar, matches the bar stools and its easy to clean. I can't wait to use it in the cradle position for daytime newborn lounging. Oh Fresco Chrome, wanna swap?

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* Vintage Rose Playsuit *
This onesie by Rock Your Baby is the sweetest. Its girly without an overdose of pink and just perfect for days when PJ's need to be worn outside the house. Rock Your Baby have the coolest gear for babies and toddlers, their boys get-up is so hip; it has me wishing for a little boy someday!

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* Plush Birdhouse Trio *
These birdhouses by Tamar Mogendorff are handcrafted with love and passion. They would make a beautiful nursery feature. Imagine a whole wall of these creations! I love the simplistic and modern fabrics used. So whimsical and imaginative!

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* The Epi No *
Claiming to significantly reduce the risk of tearing during childbirth, this gadget has a lot to live up to. Apparently use during early pregnancy can help train the pelvic floor and use during later pregnancy can help prepare the perineum for the trauma that is natural childbirth. I am seriously wishing I had ordered this innovative device months and months ago.
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* Snowflake Beanie by Pradus *
Every baby needs a winter warmer for blushed cheeks and toasty ears. I love this beanie by Pradus. Perfectly gender neutral and with extra long snow-flakey tassels to chew on. Having a winter baby is so much fun when designers like Pradus make such beautiful accessories, bring on the frosty morning walks!

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* A wooden toy camera *
This toy camera is perfect for toddlers who like to be the centre of attention. I know Stella is always nagging at me for 'a photo'. This toy camera by Little Sapling Toys is unbreakable and chewable, making it ready to be tugged along to any outing! 

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* A Pretty Red Hair Bow *
No bow is too big and no shade of red is too vivid for baby girls! A big red bow is definitely on my wish list for my girls. This bow by Dots and Daisies has a colour co-ordinated foam grip ensuring it looks pretty all day long. No tugging and whinging with this comfy beauty!

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With limited time to oogle over goodies when our new baby arrives, this is the last Wish-List post I will be doing for the time being. In the meantime, you can follow my Gear for Babes board on Pinterest and share in the wonder that is all things new, shiny, innovative and baby!
Plenty of love, 
winterlove blog natalie

Lovely Links of Late

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{ When our toddlers decide that nap-time is no longer necessary, life gets that much harder and more stressful. Sadie, from Brambles and Honey is discovering just that. Brambles and Honey is a blog I have begun stalking recently, I'm sure you'll love it to!

{ Designer Bride is the wonder team of two lovely young ladies (both mamas!) who work as a mobile hair and make-up service in Tasmania. I was lucky enough to spend my morning being pampered by Brianna and Kirby for our maternity photoshoot. A go-to team for all your glamorous needs!

{ '10 rules to raise terrific kids', sounds simple right? Aha Parenting gives you ten positive steps that any parent can master to raising happy, healthy and respectful children. The surprising part? The biggest rule is not to live by rules.

{ I love reading new mothers musings. The latest I have come across is a young mama (local to me) blogging about her daily life with baby Morgan. Pop by and say hello at Morgan and Me.

{ Cake Smashes are so hot right now. What is cuter than watching a baby smash into a cake? Watching a baby smash into a cake and love the beejeeberz out of it! These twins are so mischievous looking and the look of delight on their faces when tasting the frosting? Priceless!

{ What did we do before smart phones? No really, what did we do! I have a number of parenting apps on my iPhone and the latest I have downloaded is called Baby Zoe. I can't wait to start using this application to track feeding, weight gain, nappy changes and health appointments. Modern technology really is a blessing for parents.

{ This is a heartbreaking but beautiful recollection of a successful business woman's experience with stillbirth. She tells the story of Laura's birth; 8 years on.

{ Browsing Etsy treasuries is one of my guilty pleasures. I love this one titled 'That Special Day' by Eloise. It is full of the sweetest wedding details with a vintage and handmade feel.

{ A photobooth, especially for kiddies? Itty Bitty Booth would be a total party hit for the itty bitty ones and grown up ones a-like. Now I want to throw a kiddie party!

{ I've always wondered what having an older child will be like. Will it be more challenging? A breeze compared to the toddler taming days? This mama reflects on the different degrees of challenging when raising an older child.

Plenty of love, 
winterlove blog natalie

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Inspiration to Nurture Naturally- Part II

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In a very personal post recently, I shared with you my reasons for seeing a Lactation Consultant antenatally and how that appointment empowered me with both knowledge and inspiration for a positive feeding relationship with my new baby.

One of the many valuable pieces of information I walked away with that day, was the realisation that my inability to feed Stella was not caused by only one issue, but a multitude of variables that were in turn effecting each other. It was a tumble effect, one domino knocked down another and wobbled some more and so forth until eventually we crashed completely.

Up until recently, I had no idea what the issues actually were that contributed to my breastfeeding problems. With the help of a wonderfully supportive and kind Lactation Consultant we were able to uncover many notes by different midwives over the course of the first six days post birth, and bring light to the situation that I hadn't even known existed.
I thought I would share with you some of the obstacles we uncovered with my breastfeeding past, and how we are working to avoid these from happening the second time around. These may be common obstacles that first time mothers encounter and perhaps even help you along your journey of a positive feeding relationship also.

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1. The effects of morphine. My labour progressed very quickly, much quicker than anticipated by the midwives looking after me. The dose of Morphine I had asked for was administered three hours prior to Stella being born, which in most cases is considered dangerous. This time frame was too short, therefor Stella was born with the effects of Morphine hindering her ability to feed. She had a lower apgar score (of 9), required oxygen and was rather drowsy and inactive making that first attempt at latching on and feeding challenging.

Although our current birth plan included the possible use of Morphine, we have since re-evaluated. With a very quick first labour, my second labour is likely to be just as quick or quicker (Oh please, I hope so!) If we can manage without Morphine and instead rely on other non-medical techniques, our chances of having an alert baby willing to feed have increased dramatically.

2. Assisted Attachment. Due to a drowsy little baby, I was assisted in Stella's first attachment to the breast. Studies have shown that the best way for a mother and baby to learn to breastfeed is to allow 'Baby Led Attachement'. Baby Led Attachment is one of the wonders of newborns, they have reflexes and abilities that enable them to strive for survival. This time around, I am going to let our baby try and attach for herself following skin to skin contact.

3. Damage and incorrect attachment. With the whirlwind of first time motherhood and the intimidating realisation that this baby was actually mine, the first six days of feeding were very clumsy. Attachment was incorrect causing severe pain, instead of getting help to fix attachment I tried to 'push through' and ended up with damaged nipples that were impossible to feed from. 

Once baby #2 is born, I am going to seek the assistance of a Lactation Consultant before leaving hospital. I want to make sure that attachment is right for us and will try, try and try again to get it as comfortable as it can possibly be. 

4. Expressing. When nipples are damaged, it is often recommended to express feed your baby while they heal. Unfortunately, express feeding isn't always something first-time mamas know much about and can actually do more harm than good. I rushed out and purchased a super expensive electric pump on day five, and it was one of the biggest regrets I have. Expressing with this pump worsened (and I believed actually caused) damage to my nipples. 

Hand expressing is a much gentler way to express and until feeding is well established and comfortable is the only way I'll express with baby #2. I learnt this lesson the hard and expensive way!

5. Emotion and Stress. Those first few weeks of parenting can be likened to a fight for survival. You are suddenly a mother, with a baby who is relying on you to live. You hold the key to their survival and also to your own. It is a time full of nerves, uncertainty and trepidation. Trying to master the art of breastfeeding amongst all of this can be difficult, add visitors and baby-gawkers to the mix and you have a whole new set of emotions to deal with regarding feeding and mothering; embarrassment and nervousness. 

Being able to relax is such an important part of the feeding process, it enables proper let-down and milk supply. Babies are also very responsive to a mothers emotions, and allowing stress to take over you physically and emotionally can transfer to the baby...which is not ideal for a positive feeding relationship. 

This is one of the main reasons behind my 'no visitors for now' rule. Being able to feed our baby is so very important to me, and I am making it my main priority until I feel like feeding is established and comfortable. I don't want to be working feeds around visitors to avoid embarrassment and I am well aware that feeding (much like last time) may require a lot of time, hard work and tears. Those first few weeks are so precious, and I know that our friends and family will understand how important working my way through the breastfeeding maze is. 
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All of these different problems occurred within the first six days of my feeding experience with Stella and in all honesty; it was horrible. I had such high and perhaps naive hopes for breastfeeding and was heartbroken when my expectations were shot. Knowing the variables that contributed to our situation gives me the power to avoid them the second time around, I know every feeding relationship is very different...but I feel as though I am now wiser and better prepared.

What kind of problems did you encounter when feeding your newborn? Any of the above? I'd love to hear your stories. Stay reading for more in the Inspiration to Nurture Naturally series!
Plenty of love, 
winterlove blog natalie

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Two Whole Years.

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This day two years ago, not only was my daughter born...but the Mother, nurturer and lover in me was born. This time two years ago, my life began. As challenging, tiring and testing as it may be, the two year journey of Motherhood I have travelled has been the most joyous journey of my life to date.

Happy Second Birthday my sweet Stella. May your dreams reach far and wide and happiness long remain in your eyes. I love you beyond descriptions, you are the starlight in our skies.

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Friday, July 6, 2012

July's Feature Sponsor { TK's Photography }

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Another wonderful sponsor this month on Winter Love is TK'S Photography. As you may remember the lovely Tanya from TK'S Photography is the talent behind our maternity photoshoot...and I cannot recommend her enough!

We have the newborn installment of our shoot yet to come and I am becoming so excited whilst talking themes and prop ideas with Tanya. Somehow, that woman manages to get newborn babies sleeping peacefully to snap their beauty silently...she must have magic in her camera!

If you are after a photographer for your wedding, your childs first birthday, to capture your pregnancy or to freeze your newborns peacefulness in time forever, Tanya is your go-to.

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This is your miracle; capture it!

You can find TK's Photography here on Facebook. Browse maternity and newborn photography here and admire wedding photography here. 

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