12 Fun & Easy DIY Christmas Ornament Ideas

Thinking of spending more money on Christmas ornaments for your tree this year? Why not make your own? Save some money, run the your local dollar store and let’s get crafty!

Photo by cottonbro from Pexels

Christmas is a great time to get the family together to do some fun craft. Many families engage in this tradition of making their own tree ornaments every year. Each ornament represents and immortalizes the time your family spends together, and that is what Christmas is truly about.

Here are my top 12 fun and easy DIY Christmas ornament favourites from the amazing creators on pinterest:

1. Melted Beads Ornament

2. Mason Jar Lid Tree Ornaments

3. Snowflake Beaded Ornaments

4. Felt Christmas Cookie Ornaments

5. Frosty the Snowman Ornament

6. Candy Cane Ornaments

7. Glitter Ornaments

8. Photo Ornaments

9. Yarn Ornaments

10. Fabric Christmas Ornaments

11. Paper Honey Comb Ornaments

12. Polymer Clay Ornaments

Homemade ornaments specially made by your own family members makes decorating the Christmas tree so much more fun. We hope that these amazing pinterest ideas are just as inspiring to your family as they were to ours.

As always, thanks for reading and Happy Holidays.

Baking Series: Quick & Easy Apple Galette

Guess what time it is – it’s baking season! The holidays are just around the corner and what better way to spend quality time with your family than to bake a quick, easy, and most importantly delicious apple galette that everyone will enjoy.

Photo by Andy Chilton on Unsplash

This recipe includes a homemade caramel sauce that will be drizzled on top of the apple galette.

Serves: 8 people

Prep time: 40 minutes

Baking time: 25 minutes

Total time to make: 1 hour and 5 minutes

Rating:

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Let’s get started:

Photo by Calum Lewis on Unsplash

To start, let’s make the pie dough:

1. In a bowl, combine 1 1/4 cup of flour, 1 table spoon brown sugar, and 1/4 teaspoon of kosher salt. Mix with a fork.

2. Add the cubed and chilled butter (8 tablespoons) and work it into the flour mixture with your fork until pea sized lumps remain. (You’ll get an arm work out with this step!)

3. Add 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar and start to mix with your hands.

4. In increments, add 1/4 cup of ice cold water into the flour mixture. Mix with your hands until the dough comes together. If the dough is dry, add a bit more water.

Dough should not become sticky or tacky. If it does, this means you have added too much water. Remedy this by adding a bit more flour to the mixture.

Do not work the butter into the flour mixture until it melts. We want pea sized lumps of butter in your flour dough so when the dough is baking in the oven, the lumps of butter bursts and melts, giving the galette it’s flaking texture and butter flavor.

5. Once dough has come together, shape it into a ball, wrap it in plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

While we wait for the dough to chill, let’s make the apple filling:

6. In a large pan over medium heat, combine the 3 granny smith apples (peeled, cored, and sliced) with 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar, 1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon, and 1/3 cup of brown sugar. Stir occasionally and cook until apples are soft.

Granny smith apples are the best apples to bake with because they are tart and firm. Fuji apples are also a great alternative.

7. Add 1 tablespoon of unsalted butter to the soft apples. Stir, remove from heat, and let cool.

8. Preheat the oven to 425 F. Line baking sheet with parchment paper.

9. Pull out your chilled dough from the fridge and lightly flour your surface.

10. Roll out the dough into a round shape about 3 mm (1/8 inch) thick.

11. Transfer the flattened dough to the lined baking sheet.

12. Spoon the apple filling into the center of the flattened dough about 5 cm away from the edges.

13. Fold the edges over the apple filling in the center.

14. Beat 1 egg and use a brush to wash the egg over the top edges of the dough.

15. Sprinkle with coarse sugar on top (optional).

16. Bake the apple galette for 25 minutes, until the crust is golden brown.

While the galette is baking, let’s make the caramel sauce:

17. In a small sauce pan, combine 1/2 cup of sugar, 1/4 teaspoon of salt, and 1 table spoon of butter.

18. Cook over medium heat until the sugar dissolves and turns into the colour amber.

19. Add 1/2 cup of heavy cream to the dissolved sugar mixture. Stir and remove from heat to cool slightly.

20. Pull out of the oven when done and let the apple galette cool for 10 minutes.

21. Drizzle with your homemade caramel sauce and serve.

Just like apple pie, this apple galette goes great with vanilla ice cream!

I hope your family enjoys this delicious apple galette as much as we did. Thanks so much for reading.

#NurseNatNCLEXStudy: 8 Fundamental Tips for Passing the NCLEX-RN

This post does not contain any affiliate links. The reviews and opinions included in this post are purely my own, and are meant to help and support my audience. Learn more under POLICIES.

A few days after the delivery of my baby girl, I found out that I passed the NCLEX-RN on the second attempt! I was so happy and relieved. Having written the exam twice now, I definitely have a few tips to share for those who are either preparing to write the exam or have recently failed and can’t figure out what to do. Trust me, I’ve been there. In this post, I will be talking about the top 8 fundamental tips I used to help me pass my NCLEX on the second attempt.

Photo by Lum3n.com from Pexels

Tip numbero uno, purchase a review guide! I cannot stress enough how helpful it was to review an NCLEX guide.

Nursing school does not prepare you for the exam, so don’t just rely on your old notes and textbooks. Alone, they won’t do you any good.

Here is why you should purchase a review guide:

  • Large practice question bank and tests that are just as challenging as the actual exam
  • Study strategies and tips
  • Test taking strategies and tips
    • strategies that do and don’t work on the exam
    • critical thinking strategies
  • Online resources (such as timed practice tests that mimic the NCLEX CAT format)
  • Some guides are very comprehensive if your nursing foundation is shaky; other guides offer short and concise nursing content review and focus more on practice questions and test taking skills
  • Everything you need to know about the NCLEX-RN
    • how to apply and schedule your exam
    • how the computer adaptive test (CAT) works
    • the different types of questions you will see
    • breakdown of what categories will be covered on the exam
    • NCLEX answers vs. real-world nursing answers

It is also important to understand that the questions you come across on the exam are very different from the ones you see in nursing school. In fact, lots of test takers have to relearn how to read a question and figure out what the question is actually asking. Also, it may be impossible to know everything so when you come across a question that you can’t really answer with confidence, you’ll need to use those test taking skills and strategies to help you through it.

My favourite review guide is Saunders Comprehensive Review for the NCLEX-RN Examination and Kaplan NCLEX-RN Prep Plus.

I chose Saunders for the comprehensive component. The explanations are very detailed and thorough but just concise enough to not take up too much of your time. It covers a lot of nursing content with review questions and explanations at the end of each chapter. Make sure to schedule your exam months ahead because this is quite a hefty book to finish!

Kaplan focuses more on test-taking strategies and practice questions.

The test taking strategies truly made all the difference on my second attempt at the exam.

Plus, it provides explanations for wrong and right answers and gives you the most for you money.

Besides Kaplan and Saunders, there are many other guides that you can chose from:

  1. Kaplan NCLEX-RN Prep Plus
  2. NCLEX-RN Questions & Answers made Incredibly Easy
  3. Lippincott Q&A Review NCLEX-RN
  4. Mosby’s Comprehensive Review of Nursing for the NCLEX-RN Examination
  5. HESI Comprehensive Review for the NCLEX-RN Examination
  6. DAVIS’s Q7A Review for NCLEX-RN
  7. …many more!

Developing a schedule and setting short & long term goals is very important to keep you on track and make sure that you have covered everything you need to know for the NCLEX. If you want to go even further, daily checklists are great too.

This is an example of my monthly study schedule when I was preparing for the exam.

And here is an example of a daily study checklist and schedule.

And here is a checklist that breaks down the exam content into categories and the percentages of each category that will appear on the exam. As I go on to study each chapter and answer practice questions, I make sure to check off any areas of the exam that I have covered. This helps me manage my time with each category so that I can cover everything before the exam date.

Feel free to use these templates or create something similar yourself!

On another note, I highly recommend reading the 2019 NCLEX-RN Test Plan for a breakdown of the NCLEX exam on the NCSBN website.

Do you know your learning style?

Identifying your learning style helps you develop a study plan and optimize your learning and retention of information. My learning style is visual. When I read a question, I tend to create a scene in my head. I benefit best from watching youtube videos and images.

Photo by Avel Chuklanov on Unsplash

There are 7 different learning styles:

  1. Visual (Spatial)
  2. Aural (auditory-musical)
  3. verbal (linguistic)
  4. Physical (kinesthetic)
  5. Logical (mathematical)
  6. Social (interpersonal)
  7. Solitary (intrapersonal)

Everyone learns differently. In fact, some people learn through a combination of learning styles. Get to know your learning style, understand it and utilize it to your advantage when preparing for the NCLEX.

Photo by Karla Vidal on Unsplash

It’s true what they say, practice, practice, practice!

You have to do at least 100 questions per day for you to feel comfortable with the way the NCLEX formats their questions. And I can assure you that the more questions you answer, the more you will get right.

Aside from answering questions from your review guides mentioned in tip #1, I also recommend using online question banks such as UWorld. I love UWorld, and this is why:

  • 2000+ questions that are just as challenging as the NCLEX
    • Two self-assessments that are timed (100 questions each)
    • Lots of different question formats such as “select-all-that-apply”, “placing the answers in the correct order” type questions that are pretty tricky to master
    • You can also create your own customizable exams
  • In-depth rationales for both wrong and right answers
  • Create your own flash cards
  • Great illustrations for visual learners
  • Performance and improvement tracking
    • Identifies your strengths and weaknesses in easy to read graphs
    • Compares progress with others
  • Flexible subscriptions for your needs
    • 60 day, 90 day, or 180 day Qbank subscriptions
    • Renewals of subscriptions at a lower price

Whatever your resource may be, make sure to answer as many questions as you can!

Photo by JESHOOTS.COM on Unsplash

If you’re hoping that question about tracheostomy suctioning won’t show up on your exam, think again! That’s called “relying on false hope.” The NCLEX covers a wide range of nursing content using many different question formats.

If you are aware that you’re a little shady on an area of nursing practice, don’t avoid it! Identify your problem areas, learn about them and check them off your list! You’ll be glad you did.

Not only do you need to identify your weaknesses in nursing content, but you also need to know your weaknesses in test-taking skills. For example, if you know you’re terrible at select-all-that-apply type questions, focus more on answering those types of questions. Take them head on!

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And by that I mean, don’t just memorize the content!

Yes, lab values such as electrolytes or the therapeutic drug levels for digoxin are good to memorize but go deeper.

The NCLEX-RN won’t just test you on knowledge and comprehension level questions that involve recall or recognition. It is designed to test your ability to make competent nursing judgments.

Understand what happens if the patient were to experience an overdose on digoxin and what to do in those situations. As a entry level nurse, you need to show them that you will safely know what to do if those ranges or levels are not within limits.

Photo by Helloquence on Unsplash

Invite some former classmates or good friends you’ve made in nursing school for a study session a few times per week. Sharing information and insight from others really improves your understanding on the content.

Here are some benefits to studying in a group:

  • Prevents Procrastination: You are accountable to show up with your notes to the study group. Now that your group members are depending on you, it makes it harder to put off your studying to last minute.
  • Fills in missing information or notes: Share information, gain insight, and ask or answer questions. Communication between your group members is key to effective learning.
  • Makes studying more fun and interesting: Joining a study group can help eliminate the lonely study blues you get when you’re at home all by yourself. Change your study environment and find some motivation and inspiration from your study peers.
  • Faster learning: Difficult concepts might be time consuming to understand alone. Who knows, maybe someone in your group might be an expert on that subject. It wouldn’t hurt to show up and ask.
Photo by NeONBRAND on Unsplash

That being said, aside from using the review guides and study groups mentioned above, you can also enroll in NCLEX-RN Prep Courses offered by colleges and universities. If you enjoy learning in a classroom with others, this might be best for you.

Photo by Dane Wetton on Unsplash

Last and arguably most important, self-care. It can be easy to neglect your self when it comes to preparing for your nursing boards. Make sure to create a study schedule that gives you time to eat a nutritious meal, meet with friends, take naps or indulge in your favourite hobbies.

Deal with your stress if you’re an anxious test taker. Here are some ways to help reduce stress and keep you healthy for your big day:

  • Exercise, Yoga, Take a walk
  • Take supplements
  • Aroma therapy such as lighting a candle
  • Soothing music
  • Reduce caffeine intake – consider decaf or a healthy fruit
  • Journaling or other forms of self-expression such as painting
  • Talk and/or laugh with a friend or loved one and share your feelings
  • Deep breathing exercises
  • Mindfulness
  • Meditation
Photo by Alisa Anton on Unsplash

Extra Notes: “Passing the NCLEX in 75 Questions.

You don’t have to pass the NCLEX with the minimum amount of questions and it doesn’t make you any less of a nurse if you pass with the entire 265 questions.

Sure, your butt might be a little sore from sitting there for the whole 6 hours but what matters is that you passed! I found that I got slumped trying to pass the NCLEX in 75 questions to the point where that was all I focused on. When I wrote my exam and answered more than 75 questions, I started to get nervous and upset – almost as if I had already failed the exam.

As long as the computer continues to give you questions, you still have a chance at passing. Do not be discouraged. Keep answering those questions with that same confidence and determination you had with the first 75 questions and I assure you, you will do just fine.

Photo by Ian Kim on Unsplash

And of course, no one wants to pay another $300 to do this exam again! And don’t get me started on all those feelings that accompany failure… I’ve been through it too.

But I can’t stress enough how important it is to not put yourself down if you don’t pass on the first try. This “failure” does not mean that you are not a good enough nurse or person. Do not give up. Take those 45 days to reassess your study techniques and test taking strategies. Give some of the tips mentioned above a try, and don’t forget to allocate some time everyday during your 45 days to indulge in self-care and forgiveness.

To those who are preparing to write the NCLEX-RN, I wish you the best of luck!

And as always, thanks for reading.

WISH Haul + BONUS Mini Photo shoot With Baby

This post does not contain any affiliate links.

Exciting news! I just received all of my orders from wish and I wanted to share my little haul for those who are wondering what’s the deal with this wish app!

Trust me, I was skeptical at first too. For those who don’t know, wish is a mobile shopping app with over a million items at very discounted prices. Whatever it is that you’re looking for, its probably available there on the wish app.

Wish connects shoppers directly to the manufacturers so there is no “middle man.” This is why the products are so affordable. Some products are listed as FREE! But you just have to pay for shipping. The manufacturers are able to mass produce products using low cost materials without having to pay the fees of owning a physical store. From my experience, all the products that I have ordered arrived from China.

Wish claims that despite the low prices, the quality of these products are very high. And with tons of reviews, pictures, and videos from actual shoppers, it almost sounds too good too be true.

For example, when I was writing my Magnetic Eyeliner and Lashes Review, I came across the exact same product that I originally paid $30 for, and it’s available on wish for only $9!

Read more about the Magnetic Eyeliner and Lashes Review here.

So I decided to order a few goodies to found out what the wish hype was all about.

This is my honest review of wish and their products.

Keep reading for a bonus mini photo shoot of baby Ayanna at the end of this post!

Contents:

  1. Geneva Watch Free + $1.31 Shipping
  2. Crystal Key Chains (2) Free + $3 Shipping Each
  3. Glow in the Dark Key Chain $1 + $2 Shipping
  4. Pac-man Heat Sensitive Mug $8 + $7 Shipping
  5. Phone Accessories (2) Free + $2 Shipping; Free + $3 Shipping
  6. Double sided Baby Bibs (2) Free + $4 Shipping Each
  7. Lace Bow Baby Romper $5 + $5 Shipping
  8. Summer Flamingo Baby Romper $6 + $6 Shipping
  9. Summer Cactus Baby Romper $6 + $5 Shipping
  10. Lace Baby Romper $4 + $4 Shipping
  11. Watermelon Baby Romper $4 + $5 Shipping
  12. Floral 2 pc Baby Outfit $5 + $5 Shipping
  13. Yellow Floral Vest & Tutu Shorts $5 + $5 Shipping
  14. Floral Summer Baby Bodysuit $5 + $5 Shipping
  15. Lilac Back-Cross Baby Romper $5 + $5 Shipping

Geneva Watch

When I first downloaded the wish app, i was prompted with this Geneva watch for free as a “welcome gift.” All I had to pay was $1.31 for shipping. I ordered it in the colour gold, and to my surprise, it arrived in the colour black instead (refer to images above). Firstly, this was not the color that I ordered. Secondly, the quality wasn’t great. Well, it’s as the saying goes, “You get what you pay for!

Crystal Key Chains

I came across these cute crystal key chains and wanted to give them a try. I also found a glow in the dark version so I ordered that too. I got two regular key chains in “Green” and “Pink Quartz” both for “free” but I had to pay for shipping which was $3 each. The glow in the dark crystal just came in the one colour and style and it was on sale for $1 and I had to pay $2 for shipping.

This photo above is what I received in the mail and I was very impressed. They were beautiful and the glow in the dark stone really did glow. I think the glow in the dark stone key chain is a great idea for when you ever have to find your keys in the dark for some reason!

Pac-man Heat Sensitive Mug

My hubby and his son, Rowan were addicted to this Pac-man game we have at home so I thought this would be the perfect gift for Rowan. I got this mug for $8 and shipping was $7 (total of $15). This mug is also available on Amazon for $18.20 so we save a couple of bucks ordering it off of wish. Find it here on Amazon: PAC-Man Heat Change Mug.

As you can see in the photo above, the mug works exactly as described and Rowan loves it! Pacman and his little ghosts appeared almost right away when I poured the hot water. The mug definitely had a faint chemical smell so make sure to give it a couple of washes before use!

Rotating Ring Accessory for Phones

I ordered two mobile phone accessories in the images above. The one on the left has a mini mirror and came in rose gold. It was “free” but I paid $2 for shipping. The other phone accessory in the image on the right was also “free” but shipping was $3. The one on the right came in rose gold and has lots of rhinestones.

I was very disappointed in these two items from wish. As you can see, the mirror on the phone ring accessory was so scratched, you couldn’t even see your reflection (refer to image above). The one with the rhinestones also had a few scratches if you looked very closely. And the quality of these two phone accessory rings were very poor. Again, “You get what you pay for.

Double Sided Baby Bibs

Wish has some pretty cute baby stuff such as these reversible cute bibs! When I first ordered them, I was expecting 2 bibs per order because of the images above! I guess I didn’t read the fine print… Anyway despite that, these bibs were super cute and I’m very content with the quality. I got the first one (left image above) in the style “H218” for “free” and paid $4 for shipping. I got the other bib (right image above) in the style “H255” and only paid for shipping as well.

Lace Bow Baby Romper

I was a little skeptical ordering baby clothes from wish but the reviews were too darn good to pass and I’m so glad I ordered them! I got this lace bow romper in the shade blue. and in the size 6-12 month which was a bit big on my baby who is 8 months old. I purchased it for $5 plus $5 for shipping. My only issue with this romper is that the lace on the shoulder area looks like it could come apart at the slightest tug! But other than that, I think this romper is super cute.

Summer Flamingo Baby Romper

This is another cute baby romper in white with little flamingos all around and the cutest ruffle bottom! This was in the size 6-12 months which fit my baby perfectly. I paid $6 plus $6 shipping. No complaints here. This romper was just as described and pictured, and it’s so darn cute on my baby!

Summer Cactus Baby Romper

Here is another cute romper with little red flowers, cacti and a ruffled backside. I got this one for $6 plus $5 shipping. It’s in the size 6-12 months and fits my baby girl perfectly. I love these rompers!

Lace Baby Romper

Here is another cute romper that I ordered in pink as shown in the image below. It was $4 plus $4 shipping. I got it in the size 6-12 months and it fit my baby very nicely. No complaints with this romper!

Watermelon Romper

This one is a watermelon printed romper that comes with a matching head band. I ordered it in a bigger size (12-18 months) so that it would fit my baby for next summer. It was $4 plus $5 shipping. The reviews were great and the quality of this romper was very good. I can’t wait to try this romper next summer!

Floral Two Piece Baby Outfit

This two piece features a blue floral print. It’s in the size 12-18 months and was $5 plus $4 shipping. I ordered it in a bigger size so my baby could wear it next summer. This romper came just as pictured and described.

Yellow Floral Vest & Tutu Shorts

This two piece baby outfit is very cute! I got this for $5 plus $5 shipping. They come in 3 different colours. I got this outfit in the size 6-12 months but the top piece was too big for my baby. The bottom ruffled piece fit well though.

Floral Summer Baby Bodysuit

This green summer body suit was on sale when I ordered it. It was $5 plus $5 for shipping. I got it in the size 6-12 months but was still too big for my 8 month old. The quality was good and the body suit itself was very cute! I hope my baby can still fit into it next summer.

Lilac Back-Cross Baby Romper

This is one of my favourite baby rompers from wish and I highly recommend it! I got this cute piece in purple for $5 plus $5 shipping. The ties go over the shoulder and cross in the back.

That’s it for my wish haul!

Overall, ordering from wish wasn’t so bad at all. The baby clothes were great, just be weary of the sizing. And when you come across a good deal on wish and your thinking about ordering it, remember the saying:

“You get what you pay for!”

BONUS: MINI BABY PHOTO SHOOT

I’ll end this post with a mini photoshoot of baby Ayanna wearing the Lilac Back-cross Romper! Thanks for reading!

The Ultimate Guide to Packing Your Hospital Bag: Free Hospital Bag Checklist!

This post does not contain any affiliate links.

Your big day is arriving soon and you’re ready to pack your hospital bag! You don’t want to overpack, but you definitely don’t want to underpack either. You see, the problem with my hospital bag was that I packed more for my newborn than I did for myself! There were so many things I wish I had brought with me to make my experience at the hospital more relaxing and stress free.

After learning from my mistakes and doing some research, I’ve created the ultimate guide to packing your hospital bag so that you will have everything you need to make your experience with your newborn baby comfortable, relaxing, and enjoyable.

Before we dive in, here are a few things to consider:

1. Underpacking & Overpacking

You will be in the hospital for a maximum of 2 nights or so, considering that you and your baby are generally healthy. Some mothers are discharged on the same day as their delivery! Just pack what you need for those 2-3 nights because you’ll be home with your newborn baby before you know it!

2. Consider the season and weather.

If you will be delivering in the winter, make sure to bring a warm car seat cover and blankets for your baby. The clothes you pack for yourself and your baby should also be chosen according to the weather. Plus, a thermo for a nice hot drink will definitely help too!

3. If you’re unsure of what your hospital provides, just give them a call.

I have read many posts ensuring that hospitals supplied those mesh absorbent briefs so I didn’t bring my own. Turns out, my hospital didn’t supply them at all and they had to search the other units to find one for me! Avoid the trouble and give them a quick call. Better yet, write down a list of questions to ask when you register at your hospital and get a tour of the maternity unit!

Photo by Christian Bowen on Unsplash

Your hospital should typically provide the following items:

  • Mesh Briefs or Large Absorbent Pads
    • While we are on this topic, I recommend using both! I applied the pads onto the mesh brief for extra security when I was in the hospital. And when I got home, I used the padsicles with the mesh briefs and it made all the difference!
    • If you don’t want to use the mesh briefs, no problem. Make sure to pack stretchy, cotton underwear, possibly a size up, and apply your extra absorbent pads.
    • Cotton material is more breathable, hypoallergenic, and keeps you dry. Try to avoid polyester, and other synthetic materials as they hold onto body odors and prevents air flow.
  • Peri-bottle
    • If you don’t know, these bottles allow you to gently squirt warm water below to help with cleaning and soothing after delivery
  • Sitz Bath
    • Check with your hospital – some moms say they get them from their hospital, but I didn’t get one from mine…
  • Water, Meals & Snacks
  • Hospital Gown
  • Towels
  • Extra Pillows & Blankets (for yourself and your other half, but sometimes, they can run out…)
  • Nipple Balm
  • Disposable single breast pump
  • Medication
    • Advil (anti-inflammatory)
    • Tylenol (for pain)
    • Anusol-HC 2.5% Rectal Cream (Corticosteroid which has anti-inflammatory properties for hemorrhoids)
    • Stool Softener (to prevent hemorrhoids)

Learn more about Postpatum Hemorrhoids here: “Hemorrhoids – There, I Said It!”

Here is a helpful “Hospital Bag Checklist” to guide you in packing all you need for yourself, your new baby, and daddy as well.

Hospital Bag Checklist

 

Below I will further discuss each item on the checklist in greater detail so you don’t miss a thing!

Let’s begin.

☑ Identification & Birth Plan

When entering the hospital, make sure to have all of your identification readily available. As well, if you have a birth plan, make sure to bring those documents as well. Birth plans indicate what pain interventions you want, who is participating in the delivery of your baby, what can and can’t be done with your baby, and so forth.

☑ Lip Balm

This one is at the top of the list for almost every hospital bag checklist I’ve seen out there! Though I do agree, I did not pack any lip balm during my stay at the hospital and honestly, I didn’t miss it. If you forget to bring some lip balm, no biggie, just make sure to drink lots of water and hydrate yourself. The hospital also provides petroleum jelly as well which can also help to relieve those chapped lips.

☑ Skin Care Products & Face Wipes

During my stay, I only brought face wipes which was a huge mistake. I regret not putting more care into packing my skin care products. Even a basic moisturizer would have done me wonders. Also, it would be nice to look decent for family and friends when they come to visit and take photos… I got these sample products from my monthly ipsy glam bags.

Check out my latest ispy Glam Bag products here.

☑ Toothbrush & Toothpaste

This is an obvious item. The hospital does provide these items if you forget them though. Along with this, any other toiletries that you often use such as deodorant should also be packed.

Photo by Janita Sumeiko on Unsplash

☑ Basic Make Up

Along with basic skin care products and face wipes, I also placed this item close to the top of the list. You may get lots of family and friends visiting you at the hospital and definitely a lot of photo taking. If you want to look nice for these photos, bringing a few things from your vanity will help. That being said, not everyone wears or needs make up, so skip this step if this doesn’t apply to you.

On other note, you did just give birth to a baby! No one is expecting you to get all glammed up for photos when you don’t want to. Do what works best for you.

Photo by Jisu Han on Unsplash

☑ 3-4 Pairs of Comfy Socks with Grips

This is also an important item. If you didn’t pack your slippers (which I highly suggest), these socks will save you when your walking across the cold and slippery hospital floor to use the washroom. It is also a good idea to bring socks that you can dispose of after.

Photo by Lisa Fotios from Pexels

☑ Slippers or Flip Flops

I didn’t pack this item in my hospital bag and I seriously regret it! Slippers are a must, especially when you’re feet are swollen after birth. Keep them warm, dry, and comfortable. Make sure to get a size up to accommodate for your postpartum swollen feet. Also flip flops are great to bring if you plan on disposing them after.

☑ Comfy Robe

A comfy robe is another item I completely forgot to pack! Comfy robes keep you warm and cozy, and they’re easy to throw over your shoulders when visitors pop up unannounced. It takes a second to cover up when you need to. Also hospital gowns are open in the back so when your pacing the halls with your possibly fussy newborn, a comfortable robe might come in handy. This robe is from Amazon: ShiyiUP Fleece Bath Robe and is perfect for what you need.

☑ Big Water Bottle & Straw

Always remember to hydrate yourself, especially when recovering from the traumas of birth. Water helps your body heal and remove excess fluid building up in your extremities such as your feet. A straw is also a helpful tool.

Photo by Jordan Whitt on Unsplash

☑ 2-3 Nursing Shirts (Darker Colour)

Loose and comfortable nursing shirts is a must if you plan to breastfeed. Make sure to pack at least 2-3 just in case. And it also helps if those shirts are in a darker shade to hide any leaks or spills!

☑ 2-3 Stretchy Pants (Darker Colour)

Pack at least 2-3 stretchy, comfortable and if possible, dark coloured pants. In the winter, find something more warm and cozy. In the summer, you could pack some comfy shorts.

☑ 2 Nursing Bras & Breast Pads

Don’t forget to pack at least 2-3 nursing bras if you plan to breastfeed. Make sure to find a nursing bra that fits you well, has no underwires, and is easy to unfasten and access your breasts when you need to. I found some nursing bras from LEMEF online that are great – seamless, soft, and easy to unfasten. As well, absorbent nipples pads definitely come in handy too but this is optional because your milk won’t come in until about the 3 day postpartum.

☑ Nursing Pillow

Sure, the hospital pillows will work but if you’ve already invested in a nursing pillow and plan to breastfeed, it wouldn’t hurt to bring it along with you to the hospital. My Brest Friend Original Pillow on Amazon is amazing. I love how it secures to your waist with a silent velcro strap.

☑ 2-3 Swaddles, Outfits, Mitts, & Socks

Don’t go overboard on packing for your newborn like I did! I packed way too much for my baby and only ended up using 2 sleepers and a swaddle. If you plan on taking some precious photos then sure, bring a few cute bows and swaddles. My recommendation is to bring about 2-3 sleepers with the mitt cuffs. That way, you don’t have to bring any socks or mitts because they’re all built in. I get mine from Amazon: Simple Joys by Carter’s (2 Pack) Cotton Footed Sleep and Play Sleepers.

☑ Baby Shampoo, Body Wash, & Lotion

If you forget to bring these items for your baby, fear not, the hospital should have generic products that you can use for your baby’s first bath. If you do decide to bring your own, try to bring a travel size set to save some room in your bag. I got mine from amazon: Live Clean Baby Soothing Oatmeal Diaper Bag Essentials Gift Set Trail Size.

☑ Newborn Diapers & Wipes

Again, the hospital should provide some of these but always check to make sure. Some babies require larger size diapers instead of the newborn ones depending on their birth weight. I suggest packing just a few newborn diapers and size one diapers as well. My favourite baby wipes are the Aleva Naturals Bamboo Baby Sensitive Wipes.

☑ Car Seat & Car Base

This item is obviously priority! You can’t drive baby home without a properly installed car seat! As you are being discharged, the nurse will inspect your car seat and make sure that your newborn is properly secured under the seat belts. The stroller and car seat set I got is the Graco Remix Travel System in Keagan. I love that the stroller grows with your baby and has 5 different riding positions.

Photo by Francesco Paggiaro from Pexels

☑ Change of Clothes

If daddy plans to be in the room with you during the delivery, he may get dirty! It is wise to bring a change of clothes, just in case.

☑ Sweater

Especially in the winter, it can get pretty cold in the delivery room. Hospitals tend to keep temperatures on the lower side to prevent bacterial growth.

☑ Toothbrush & Toothpaste

Daddy should also pack his toiletries if he is staying the night; just in case your little one takes a bit longer to arrive. He will also have all he needs to feel comfortable, refreshed, and ready for family photos and visitors.

☑ Baby Nail Clipper or Nail Filer

Sometimes, babies may be born with long fingernails. It may be helpful to clip or file those fingernails to prevent scratching. Mitts also work to protect your baby’s delicate face but some moms prefer to have their baby’s hands free to touch and experience their new world. Others suggest using your own teeth and gently biting off your baby’s fingernails instead. I got my clippers and filers (in the image above) from my Safety 1st Deluxe Healthcare & Grooming Kit on Amazon.

☑ Long Phone Charger Cord or Portable Charger

Labor and delivery can be a very long process and your phone batteries might die when you need it the most! Bringing a long cord or portable charger allows you to keep your phone charging close to you when you need it. That way, you can stay with your baby and not have to leave your bed.

☑ Breast Pump

The hospital should be able to provide a disposable breast pump for you to use if you need it, but you can also bring one from home if you have space in your hospital bag. It’s great to start increasing your milk supply by pumping in between feedings but honestly, in the early stages of postpartum you will be exhausted. Do what you can but don’t overwhelm yourself if you don’t have to.

☑ Nipple Balm

The hospital should provide a generic nipple balm for you if you need it but colostrum is the best remedy for chapped and sore nipples. Express a bit of colostrum on to your nipple and let it air dry. Colostrum has amazing healing properties! Lanolin ointment or Earth Mama Organic Nipple Butter (Lanolin-free) is also great as well. It is safe for your baby to digest so you don’t have to wipe it off.

☑ Thermo for Warm Drinks

In the winter, a nice warm drink can make all the difference! If you want to get a head start on increasing your milk supply, try this Earth Mama Organic Milkmaid Tea during your stay in the hospital. I love the little relatable notes they leave on each tea bag like the one in the picture above: “Living life at 10,000 emotions per second.” Nothing like some quirky humor to get you through postpartum!

☑ Change for Vending Machine or Bring your own Snakes & Drinks

Labor and delivery is exhausting. By the end of it, you will feel famished! Make sure to bring some change for the vending machine, or bring your own healthy snacks from home. You can also try eating galactagogue-rich snacks to jump start lactation. I love BOOBY BOONS Lactation Cookies in Chocolate Chip. The hospital may also provide some snacks and drinks as well like jello or apple sauce.

Photo by S O C I A L . C U T on Unsplash

☑ Your Own Comfy Pillow

Sometimes, it’s nice to have your own pillow with you in the hospital. Some mothers don’t like this tip because they fear that their favourite pillows will get dirty. This is completely optional and up to you. If bringing a piece of home with you to the hospital makes you feel better, then make sure to pack it.

☑ Postpartum Padsicles

I wish I had these with me at the hospital! If you don’t know, these postpartum padsicles are a simple DIY project that you store in your freezer to use after birth. It provides the most cooling and soothing effect to relieve discomfort from all the swelling and tearing down below. They can also be infused with ingredients to aid in healing such as aloe vera, witch hazel, lavender oil and more. If you plan on packing them, maybe consider a mini cooler or asking your nurse if there is a patient fridge on the maternity unit so the padsicles can stay cool and ready for use.

☑ Dry Shampoo Or Shampoo & Conditioner, Body Wash & Loofah

It depends on your needs and comfort, but most moms prefer to take a shower in the hospital after giving birth. A shower after birth is very refreshing and it gives you some time to reflect on your birth experience experience. Pack travel sized products if you can to save some room. If you don’t want to wash your hair, use dry shampoo to quickly and easily freshen up those roots. Razors, glasses, glasses, contact solution and case can also be packed if this applies to you.

☑ Your own Towel

If is completely up to you if you want to bring your own cozy towel. Hospitals do provide towels for you and although they may not be the softest towels, they will do the job just fine. If you plan on bringing your own towel, anticipate that it may get dirty.

Photo by Element5 Digital on Unsplash

☑ Extra Hair Ties & Hair Brush

Long hair might get in the way during labor and delivery! Make sure to have extra hair ties just in case yours snaps or falls off somewhere. A hair brush is also helpful to freshen up for photos and what not. Some mothers like to bring their hair dryer too.

☑ Stylish Mom Outfit

If you don’t want to wear your nursing shirts and stretchy pants on the way home, bring a stylish outfit. Not only will you feel better going home, but you will also be ready for photos.

That’s it for my detailed list of what to pack in your hospital bag! Some may consider this list as overpacking but based on my past experience, I’d rather overpack than be left in the hospital without my comfy robe and slippers!

Don’t forget to check off your Hospital Bag Checklist as you go along!

Thanks for reading everyone.

Everything You Need to Know About Caffeine, Pregnancy & Breastfeeding

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Photo by Nick Hillier on Unsplash

One morning, I was grabbing a coffee at a coffee shop just around the corner from my workplace. I go there sometimes, when I leave my house and arrive early to work. I would spend the extra 15 minutes to drink my coffee and study a bit of my nursing material. At the time, I was preparing for my NCLEX-RN (National Council Licensure Examination).

Everyone could see that I was visibly pregnant. Of course, at 32 weeks, I was definitely showing, and you can also tell by all the stares that came my way when I stepped foot into the shop.

No, I didn’t order decaffeinated coffee. I ordered a regular one. And I just have one cup per day, but not every day.

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When the barista took my order, he was hesitant. He looked at my swelling belly, then at my face, and then at his coworker. I was waiting for him to say something, and he did. He simply said,

oh, you know we also have decaffeinated coffee and espresso too.”

I was empathetic and tried to understand that this man’s concern came from a good place. So I kindly declined his offer and asked for a regular coffee. Then I proceeded to say that one cup a day is fine.

And although it looked like he didn’t believe me, he went ahead and poured me a cup of caffeinated coffee anyway.

I will say that this did bother me. I’m sure he thought very little of me to be drinking caffeine while carrying a child. But seriously? Did he think I was drinking alcohol everyday too?

I respect his concern but he didn’t respect the fact, that I did my research and that if he wanted to correct me about something, maybe he should have done his research too.

Obviously, I am not the first pregnant woman to experience this. In fact, my experience was pretty mild compared to others.

Have you heard about the one where a grandmother literally snatched and threw away a pregnant woman’s cold brew coffee?! Mamma-mia…

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Photo by Jarek Ceborski on Unsplash

Is it safe to drink caffeinated coffee during pregnancy?

After the first trimester, it is safe to drink ONE CUP of caffeinated coffee per day and by one cup, I mean 200 mg of caffeine or a 10-12 ounce cup depending on where you go.

I know, research can make this all very confusing. New studies continue to combat each other. Some say it’s not okay to have a cup a day, and then other studies refute these results and claim that these conventional pregnancy theories are a thing of the past.

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Photo by Alicia Petresc on Unsplash

But one fact is true – there is some sort of link between caffeine and miscarriages, stillbirths, and low weight births, especially when consumed in the first trimester.

The problem with this fact is that we cannot apply a quantity of how much caffeine to these risks or determine the true cause and effect relationship between the two.

However, studies do show that consumption of caffeine over the recommended 200 mg per day results in double the risk of miscarriages and low birth weights.

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Photo by Mike Kenneally on Unsplash

How does caffeine affect the human body?

Caffeine is a central nervous system stimulant. In the brain, caffeine causes alertness which is why many of us consume caffeine.

Basically, the stimulant blocks adenosine from connecting to adenosine receptors in the brain. (Adenosine is an inhibitory neurotransmitter in the brain that causes relaxation and sleepiness.) The chemical structure of caffeine is very similar to the structure of adenosine. Caffeine therefore, binds to the adenosine receptors and blocks adenosine from binding to it. This blocks feelings of sleepiness formerly brought on by adenosine, and the release of other natural stimulants such as dopamine. (Dopamine is also a neurotransmitter released by nerve cells and contributes to feelings of pleasure and satisfaction.)

We use caffeine to:

  • manage drowsiness
  • manage headaches
  • increase metabolism
  • enhance exercise performance
  • boost your mood
  • increase concentration
  • increases motivation to work

The peak effect of this stimulant occurs after approximately 30 minutes after consumption.

Consuming too much caffeine can cause:

  • insomnia
  • nervousness
  • restlessness
  • irritability
  • upset stomach
  • increased heart rate
  • increased blood pressure
  • muscle tremors

It is also a diuretic, meaning it increases urination. This causes the body to release more fluids through urine possibly resulting in dehydration.

How is caffeine addictive?

Caffeine can be physically addictive and behaviourally addictive, especially in those who consume caffeine on a regular and sustained basis.

Physical addiction to caffeine occurs when the body produces more adenosine receptors to make up for the ones that are blocked by caffeine. This means that there are now more receptors that caffeine can bind to, requiring you to drink more coffee to “fill” those additional receptors. This also explains how coffee drinkers build up a tolerance and require more coffee over time.

Behavioural addiction occurs through the repetition of drinking the coffee in a social environment and the positive feelings involved in that environment, rather than the caffeine itself.

Withdrawal from caffeine can cause:

  • headaches
  • lack of concentration
  • drowsiness
  • irritability

How does caffeine affect the growing fetus?

Caffeine can directly and easily pass through the placenta to the fetus. Adults can metabolize caffeine but the fetus cannot, especially in the early phases of development.

As mentioned above, caffeine binds to our receptors altering the chemistry of our brains and effecting our cells, membranes and tissue. This change in chemistry may interfere with proper development of the fetus.

Another theory proposes that the vaso-constricting (constriction of blood vessels) properties of caffeine may cause increased blood pressure in the mother, leading to decreased blood flow to the fetus. The lack of blood flow to the placenta deprives the fetus of the oxygen and nutrients it needs to grow.

Caffeine not only increases blood pressure but also blood glucose levels as well. And it increases the workload of the liver that is already dealing with the increased hormonal demands of pregnancy.

Is it safe to consume caffeine while breastfeeding?

It is safe to drink caffeinated coffee while breastfeeding. Keep in mind that caffeine does pass through to your baby through breast milk, but only in trace amounts (approximately 1% of what you take in).

When breastfeeding, it is recommended that you should consume no more than 3 to 5 cups of coffee per day or no more than 300 mg daily.

If you drink about 3-5 cups of coffee, make sure to spread the consumption throughout the day to prevent high concentrations of caffeine in your breast milk.

If you find that your baby is becoming more restless and cranky after you’ve have coffee and breastfed, it may be time to reassess your intake amount.

How do you cut back on caffeine?

For chronic coffee drinkers who are or will be pregnant, it is important to wean yourself off of caffeine rather than stop cold turkey.

Start by mixing half caffeinated coffee with half decaffeinated coffee at first. Then eventually work towards drinking decaffeinated coffee entirely.

What other foods and drinks contain caffeine?

Besides coffee, caffeine can also be found in the following and should be consumed in moderation:

  • espresso beans
  • tea leaves
  • sodas
  • chocolate (cocoa beans)
  • energy drinks
  • some over the counter medication

As I’ve always mentioned, it is very important that you talk to your doctor about your caffeine consumption during pregnancy or breastfeeding.

We all know that mothers and mothers-to-be must make a lot of sacrifices for their growing babies but luckily, a cup of Joe doesn’t have to be one of them!

Thanks for reading.

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Life Saving Skills Every Parent Should Know: CPR & AED for Infants

Becoming a mother or father encompasses a tremendous responsibility, and that involves keeping your children safe from harm. This is why I decided to write a post about CPR and the use of the AED for infants (newborn to one year old) in hopes of raising awareness of this important life saving skill (that hopefully, you never have to use).

This is a in-depth step by step guide on how to perform CPR and use the AED on your infant if a situation ever arises.

It is important to note that this post does not replace courses with licensed first aid & CPR instructors. Instead, this post is meant to encourage you to enroll in a licensed class and supplement your learning. I have taken classes with the Red Cross and St. John Ambulance and their instructors are passionate and informative. I highly recommend them.

What is CPR?

CPR stands for cardiopulmonary resuscitation. CPR is needed when the heart, circulation, and respiration cease. The goal of CPR is to provide adequate blood perfusion to the brain, the heart, and vital organs by manually compressing the heart to pump blood. In doing so, you will decrease the likelihood of organ damage due to lack of oxygen.

Steps on How to Perform CPR on an Infant

Note: An infant is considered a newborn to one year old.

Scene: You find your baby unconscious in the play room.

Photo by Piotr Janus on Unsplash

Step 1: Assess the scene and make sure it is safe to approach.

As you approach your infant, you need to make sure the scene is safe to enter. Of course, in this situation, you are at home and your infant is in the playroom.

Take note of their environment and the objects around them.

Photo by Shitota Yuri on Unsplash

Assessing the scene and looking for cues will help you figure out what has happened, and guide you in your next steps of action.

Step 2: Try to stimulate the infant to wake up.

Elicit a response by trying the following:

– Flick the bottom of their feet

– Gently stroking the infant

Note: Never shake an infant due to the risk of shaken baby syndrome which can result in severe brain damage.

Step 3: If the infant does not respond, call for help.

If you are alone, call 911 for help and if possible, do not leave the infant’s side.

If someone is with you, get them to call 911 and find an AED (Automated External Defibrillator) while you provide care. In a home setting, finding an AED may be very difficult!

Step 4: Assess for breathing and pulse simultaneously for no more than 10 seconds.

Put your ear to the infants mouth and nose and listen for breathing sounds.

Watch their chest for up and down breathing movement.

At the same time, place your index finger and middle finger together and feel for the brachial or femoral pulse.

The brachial pulse is felt at the inner part of the infant’s arm, just above the elbow.

The femoral pulse can be felt in the inner and upper thigh.

You should be listening for breathing, watching the chest for rise and fall, and feeling for a pulse all at the same time and as quickly as possible.

Step 5: If there is no breathing, give a rescue breath.

Cover the infants mouth and nose entirely with your mouth and deliver one breath to see if the infant’s chest rises.

If it does not rise, the infant may have an obstructed airway (such as chocking). If that is the case, you will give 2 back thrusts with the palm of your hand after delivering compressions using the 2 finger technique (more detail below). Make sure to tilt the infant head downwards to allow gravity to help dislodge the foreign object out of their airway.

If the chest rises, their airway is clear. Deliver a second breath.

Note: Each rescue breath should last 1 second long, and make the chest rise.

Step 6: If the infant remains unresponsive, begin compressions.

Two Types of Compression Techniques for Infants:

1. 2-Finger Compression

Place your index and middle finger of one hand on the lower part of the sternum (in the middle of the chest, just below the nipple line) while your other hand supports the infant’s back. Use this technique when you are delivering back thrusts.

When to use this technique: When you are the only rescuer on site or if your hands are too small to encircle the chest of the infant

2. 2-Thumb Encircling Hands Technique

Preferred compression technique because it results in improved cardiac perfusion

Place both your thumbs on the middle third of the infant’s sternum (just below the nipple line) while encircling and supporting the infant’s back with both hands.

When to use this technique: This is the preferred compression technique. Use this technique if you can encircle the infant’s chest with both your hands. If the infant is very small, or your hands and thumbs are too large, you can put your thumbs on top of each other and compress that way.

Note: Avoid compression of the xyphoid portion of the sternum – compression here can damage the infant’s liver

How to Compress and Ventilate

If you are by yourself, compress 30 times and follow with 2 breaths (compression – ventilation ratio: 30:2)

Compress about 1/3 deep or 1 1/2 inches deep of the infant’s chest at a rate of 100-120 per minute.

If you are with another rescuer, they can help you. Instead of 30 compressions, deliver 15 compressions, and provide 2 breaths. Then you and the other rescuer can take turns compressing and giving rescue breaths at a ratio of 15:2. Also, while one person is performing CPR, the other can find and set up an AED.

Having another rescuer allows you to take turns and rotate. Compressions can get tiring, especially if you are the only rescuer waiting for help. As you get tired, your compressions may become sloppy and ineffective. It is shown that high quality compressions along with the AED are the two most critical interventions in saving a life so make sure you are doing them right. Always use the help whenever it is available.

Step 7: Continue CPR if infant remains unresponsive, and until help or the AED arrives

As you continue compressing and giving 2 breaths, make sure to reassess the infant every 2 minutes (after 5 cycles of CPR) or until help arrives. Which ever comes first.

If you are alone and performing CPR, reassess the infant every 2 minutes. If the infant is still not responsive, try to find an AED. Of course, if you are at home, continue CPR until help arrives.

When the AED arrives, apply the pads and wait for the automated instructions while you continue performing CPR.

How to use an AED on an Infant

AED stands for automated external defibrillator and can be found in public spaces for emergency use. It is a user-friendly and smart portable electronic device. It analyzes the person’s heart rhythm and determines if the heart rhythm is irregular (aka dysrhythmia). If the AED senses that the heart rhythm is irregular, it will deliver an electrical shock to restore the heart’s dysrhythmia to its normal rhythm. AEDs will only shock and correct a dysrhythmia. It will not start one that has already stopped such as in asystole.

In cases where the AED does not sense an irregular rhythm that it can shock, you should resume manual compressions and rescue breaths until the AED senses a shockable rhythm. Then reassess the infant every 2 minutes of CPR until the AED delivers a shock or until you see any spontaneous movement from the infant.

It is important to use the AED immediately when it arrives, even in the middle of performing CPR, and even if the AED that you have is not intended for children. Research has shown that survival rates increase when CPR and defibrillation occurs within 3-5 minutes of cardiac arrest.

When the AED is turned on, it will automatically instruct you. Listen to its instructions as it tries to sense a shockable rhythm. If there is a shockable rhythm, it will notify you to stay clear before shocking. “Clear” means do not touch the infant while the AED is delivering a shock.

AED Pad Placement on an Infant (Newborn to 1 Year old)

If there are pediatric AED pads or a pediatric dose attentuator on the AED you have on hand, it can be used for newborn babies and up to 8 years old.

Adults pads can also be used on children if that is all you have. But it is important to ensure that the AED pads do not overlap or touch each other during placement on the infant or child’s chest. This is due to the way the AED delivers the shock. If the pads overlap or touch, the shock delivered will not pass through the heart as it was intended to. Instead, the shock will just transfer from one pad to the other.

Sandwich the Heart

If all you have is an adult AED, place one adult pad in the middle of the infant’s chest and then place the other pad in the middle of their back, as if you are “sandwiching” the heart.

Cardiac Arrest in Children

Children often go into respiratory distress and bradycardia (heart rate drops to 60 or less beats per minute; normal for an infant is 80-160 beats per minute) before going into cardiac arrest. Even with a pulse, health care professionals will initiate compressions right away in preparation for a potential cardiac arrest. They will treat an infant with respiratory distress and a low heart rate as if they were “pulseless“, despite the presence of a pulse.

Signs & Symptoms of Respiratory Distress in Children

If your child is experiencing any or a combination of the following signs and symptoms, they may be experiencing respiratory distress:

  • Nasal Flaring
  • Noisy breathing
  • Rapid and/or shallow breathing
  • Shortness of breath
  • Brief periods of not breathing (also known as apnea)
  • Bluish colour of the skin and mucous membranes (gums and mouth, eyelids, hands and feet, nail beds) (also known as cyanosis)
  • Clammy skin (cool and sweaty skin)
  • Chest wall retractions (when the infant’s chest pulls in with each breath)
  • Mood Changes (difficult to arouse or keep awake, or fussier than usual)
  • Change in body position (positioning themselves in a way that makes it easier for them to breathe)

What to do if you notice the above signs and symptoms in your infant:

Stay calm, stay with your child, and reassure them.

Call for help (911) or take your child to the nearest emergency department if they are in distress.

Be ready to perform CPR if your infant becomes unconscious.

And my best advice to parents is to trust your instincts! If you feel like something just isn’t right, get help.

I hope you never have to use any of these skills in real life on an infant, especially your own, but these things do happen. Babies can choke on their food or toys, accidentally fall into a pool or slip under the water during bath time… And it can all happen so fast and so suddenly. As a new mom who has taken the CPR course many times, I can sincerely say that I have piece of mind knowing that I am definitely prepared when and if the time ever comes. And you should too.

As always, thanks for reading.

Magnetic Eyeliner and Lashes Review

Hello loves, I was skipping through instagram the other day and came across an ad for MAGNETIC EYELINER and LASHES. I know, I’m a little late in the game but I was still intrigued.

I heard about these magnetic lashes before like from ARDELL. The ARDELL lashes are the ones where there are two lashes for each eye. So you apply the first lash above your natural lashes and then the second pair of lashes below your natural ones. Then the magnets should clamp the two lashes together over your natural lashes. I’ve seen a lot of reviews on these types of magnetic lashes and the majority find them extremely hard to apply and keep on…

But the magnetic lashes that I came across on instagram included a magnetic eyeliner and that’s what the magnets on the lashes attach to. This was different and promising so I had to give them a try! Plus, customer service seemed so good because in the comments, they always replied to any questions people had. So I thought, it can’t be that bad, right?

I ordered my pair from the website that I found on instagram, Thebeautynovaa (refer to image below). I paid $28.95 CDN for the NovaLashes – Magnetic Lash Kit in the style ‘Classy Lash’ and I didn’t have to pay for shipping.

I ordered them on July 31st and they finally arrived in the mail about 2 weeks later from somewhere in China. To be honest, I had very low expectations for these lashes right when I ordered them online 2 weeks ago. That was clue number 1…

Clue number 2 was that the package said “False Eyelashes in Diamond D“… I’m pretty sure I ordered the NovaLashes – Magnetic lash kit in the style Classy lash but ok…

I wanted to make sure that this was actually what I had ordered so I went to the website and looked at the photos people had posted in their reviews. The package and its contents were exactly what other customers had received so I guess this must be the right package.

I ordered the ‘Classy Lashes‘ because I wanted something a bit more natural to wear everyday. These lashes were pretty dramatic! They were however nice and soft but not for everyday wear like I had hoped.

You can see the magnets attached to the lash line in the above image. There’s about 5 little magnets on each lash so if you needed to trim them, you might be in a bit of trouble…

The eyeliner applicator had a thick brush which I wasn’t a fan of. Plus, it had a slight smell to it. There is also the issue of having those magnetic particles so close to your delicate eyes but customer service at thebeautynovaa kept reassuring everyone that the amount of magnetic particles in the eyeliner is so small, it shouldn’t affect the eye at all.

I really wanted these to work because I’m terrible at applying falsies with the glue. Plus, this would save so much time getting ready! I just wish I had gotten lashes that were a bit more natural…

Anyway, I put on some make up and threw on those lashes! Here are the results…

So firstly, you need to make sure the eyeliner is dry before trying to attach your lashes to them. When I applied the lashes, it took a little bit of moving them around to finally magnetize the liner and lashes together.

Yes, they do stick to the liner! But do they hold on well? In my case, no. With just a light tug, they come right off…

You can also see when I close my eyes, you can see that some ends of the lashes aren’t fully magnetized to the eyeliner on my eyelid.

I’ve seen reviews of these lashes passing the “wind test” and apparently, reviewers are saying they stay on quite well throughout the day! But I just can’t trust them myself!

I couldn’t imagine going out and having a lash fall off in public! That would be a nightmare.

Oh, and clue number 3… I was on the wish app the other day and guess what I found – the exact same eyeliner and eyelash kit for only $9.00!

So, there you go my friends! I paid almost $30.00 for this exact lash kit that is available on wish for only $9.00. Of course add on a few dollars for shipping, but still!

Here is a quick overview of the pros and cons of these magnetic lashes:

CONS:

  • very dramatic lashes (not for everyday wear, and these were apparently the least dramatic ones)
  • slight smell to the eyeliner
  • lashes easily comes off with a very light tug
  • very thick eyeliner applicator brush

PROS:

  • soft, feathery feel of the eyelashes
  • cute case to store your lashes for reuse
  • reusable if taken care of properly
  • inexpensive if you know where to look!

In conclusion, I wasn’t happy with this product. I really wanted them to work but I just can’t trust them outside in the wind and what not.

That’s it for this review! Thanks for reading everyone. If you have any experiences with these exact lashes or if you know of better ones that I should check out, please leave me a comment below!

xoxo

12 Memorable Holiday Activities to do this Year

This post does not contain any affiliate links. Learn more under policies.

Even with all the pretty lights and holiday cheer in the air, most of us can’t help but feel the immense pressure that comes with the Christmas season. But who says you need to spend lots of money on gifts, a Christmas tree, ornaments, or home decor? The holidays are meant to make special memories with your loved ones and some where along the way, we’ve forgotten how to do just that.

Photo by Josh Willink from Pexels

As a child, I remember laying underneath the Christmas tree with my little sister. The giggles we shared underneath those magical lights are my most cherished memories. I don’t think there were any presents underneath the tree at all and to be honest, it made no difference.

Here are some fun holiday activities to share with your loved ones this holiday season:

With so many easy and inspiring ideas on pinterest, there is no reason to spend more money on pricey Christmas ornaments. Gather your little ones, play some fun Christmas music and get crafty.

Get inspired:

Many of us love decorating our homes either for an upcoming holiday party or just to spruce it up for the holiday season. But this doesn’t mean you have to break your bank just to do so. In fact, your party guests will appreciate your unique Christmas decor pieces and your children will have so much fun making them.

Nothing is more touching than receiving a homemade Christmas card in the mail from your loved ones. It’s also a great way to get the family together and spend some quality time getting crafty. Supplies are very inexpensive and can even be purchased from your local dollar store.

Throw on your apron and let’s get baking! My family loves to get together to bake some delicious gingerbread man cookies! Other common holiday recipes include gingerbread houses, sugar cookies, shortbread cookies, and so much more.

What better way to add a bit of magic and wonder to your holiday season than to get the kids together to write a letter to Santa Clause himself! I’m in love with these templates on pinterest. Give these templates a try or make your own.

We love movie night at our family home. It’s just so nice to make some popcorn, dim the lights and cuddle up on our cozy couch to rewatch some old favourites this season. Our favourite holiday film is Elf staring Will Ferell.

Go one step further and pull out a classic holiday story book to read to your children. I understand nowadays, the kids are glued to their screens and devices but here are some tips to add a bit of fun to story time:

  • Turn on the Christmas tree lights and dim the lights in the room
  • Grab a plate of cookies and milk or hot chocolate
  • Get cozy (Throw blankets, pillows)
  • Make a little teepee tent for the kids to sit in
  • Let the kids take turns and read out loud

I don’t know about you but I love dusting off an old photo album and reliving some old memories with my family. This is a great time to teach your children about old traditions or just to remember loved ones that have passed.

Another fun holiday activity is to go out in the snow with your children and have some fun! This is such a simple activity yet often forgotten in the midst of all the stress and chaos that comes with the holiday season.

Bundle up and take a brisk walk around your neighbourhood to see the christmas lights. Some families go above and beyond when it comes to decorating the exterior of their homes and it would be a shame to miss out on them. You can also take the family out to see Christmas light shows or markets in your neighbourhood.

You can’t go wrong going door to door caroling with your family and friends and singing your heart out! Here are some tips if you plan to go caroling this season:

  • Plan ahead of time (pick out the songs you will sing, print out the lyrics beforehand, decide which route you plan to take)
  • Visit nursing homes (The seniors love this! If you can, give the nursing home staff a call ahead of time)
  • Avoid meal times or knocking on doors too late in the night (You might wake a sleeping baby!)
  • Be merry! (If you’re having fun, why not show it?)

Purge your closets and drawers and give away anything you don’t need to those who truly need it. Not only will you declutter your home for the holiday and new year but you’ll know your doing something good for the community. Goodwill, Salvation Army, or Diabetes Canada are some of many non-profit organizations who are happy to pick up items you don’t need. Check out their website to see when they stop by your town next.

You can also volunteer at nursing homes or homeless shelters to help out your community. However, there are a few things to consider when planning to volunteer at your local homeless shelter. Here’s the deal – these shelters get hundreds of phone calls every year from potential volunteers who just want to spend one day during the holidays to prepare meals for the homeless. But in fact, that’s not helpful to them at all. If preparing meals or wrapping presents all you really want to contribute this holiday season, then make sure to call months ahead of time. The shelters require extra time for proper training and background screenings, plus spots fill up fast. Aside from that, consider long term volunteering rather than just for the day because help is needed at all times of the year, not just during Christmas.

Read more about it on The Star: Want to volunteer at a shelter this Christmas? Think again – do something else

And we can’t forget about the hot cocoa!

In fact, a cup of hot cocoa will bring warmth to any of the holiday activities mentioned above.

Photo by Rinck Content Studio on Unsplash

My family and I are always trying to make the holiday season special without spending lots and lots of money on gifts. I hope that this post about memorable holiday activities to do this year will inspire you to engage your family in spending quality time together under the lit Christmas tree.

As always, thanks for reading and Happy holidays!

September ipsy Glam Bag

My September ipsy glam bag has arrived and I’m extra excited to share this months baggie with you all because I included some special add-ons to try! So without further ado, let’s get started!

For this month, this is what I received from my ipsy glam bag:

  • Celestially inspired pouch
  • BENEFIT COSMETICS – Gimme Brow + Volumizing Eyebrow Gel in 4.5 (Neutral Deep Brown)
  • IBOM – Lemon Verbena Clay Mask
  • FIRST AID BEAUTY – Hello Fab Coconut Water Cream
  • OFRA COSMETICS – OFRA x Madison Moondance Highlighter
  • SMASHBOX COSMETICS – Studio Skin 24 Hour Wear Hydrating Foundation in 2.16 Golden (Medium)

And here are my extra add-ons:

  • L.O.C.K. COLOR – Unicorn Glow Hydrating Primer
  • WANDER BEAUTY – Frame Your Face Micro Brow Pencil in Taupe
  • SKYN ICELAND – Icelandic Youth Serum
  • IT COSMETICS – Confidence in a Cleanser

Celestially Inspired Pouch

This month’s glam bag features a celestially inspired look which has to be my favourite pouch so far. Not to mention this beautiful zipper handle!

BENEFIT COSMETICS – Gimme Brow + Volumizing Eyebrow Gel in 4.5 (Neutral Deep Brown)

I am all about brow make up because I have very little eyebrow hairs. This brow gel contains microfibers that stick to your eyebrow hairs and adds volume and fullness. It’s also water resistant and lasts all day. I was very impressed with this product.

IBOM – Lemon Verbena Clay Mask

This lemon clay mask is perfect for my oily skin because it contains tea tree (for oily skin), kaolin (reduces pore size), honey, centella asiatica extract and matsuchi (retains moisture). The rice husk and red bean particles allows for exfoliation and the lemon verbena extract aids in clearer, healthier looking skin.

FIRST AID BEAUTY – Hello Fab Coconut Water Cream

I’m a big fan of First Aid Beauty products and this Hello Fab Coconut Water Cream is one of my favourite products! This oil free and lightweight water cream instantly absorbs into your skin for a noticeably smoother and plumper complexion. It’s rich in amino acids, enzymes, antioxidants, phytonutrients, and coconut water. You really can’t go wrong with this product.

OFRA COSMETICS – OFRA x Madison Moondance Highlighter

This highlighter made in collaboration with beauty blogger and new mommy, Madison Miller is a beautiful highly pigmented champagne shade. You really don’t need much on your brush to add some glow to your look.

SMASHBOX COSMETICS – Studio Skin 24 Hour Wear Hydrating Foundation in 2.16 Golden (Medium)

This foundation applies to my skin so beautifully! It’s oil-free, contains hyaluronic acid and it doesn’t oxidize and darken over time on your skin! I love the matte finish and build-able coverage. The only fault about this product is that its not my shade which is a common issue when receiving concealers and foundations from beauty box subscriptions. But no worries, this foundation works perfectly as a concealer as well!

L.O.C.K. COLOR – Unicorn Glow Hydrating Primer

I was in need of a new primer and found this beauty in the add-on section on the ipsy website, and I’m glad I gave it a try. It’s lightweight with a gel texture – perfect for my oily skin. It also contains hydrolyzed collagen and hyaluronic acid to lock in moisture. My foundation and concealer really does blend in smoothly over this primer. This is my first time trying L.O.C.K. COLOR cosmetics and I’m quite impressed!

WANDER BEAUTY – Frame Your Face Micro Brow Pencil in Taupe

This products is actually full size because I also needed a new eyebrow pencil. I wanted something that will mimic the eyebrows hairs for a more natural look. My first impression of this brow pencil wasn’t great to be honest… It takes a while for the product to warm up on your skin so you gotta “rub” the pencil in a bit until the product softens and the pigment comes through. Once the pigment finally starts showing, I found it hard to make subtle hair-like strokes. Maybe I just need some practice but I wish the product was more pigmented and precise like it’s described.

SKYN ICELAND – Icelandic Youth Serum

I was intrigued by this skin care add-on product because it has a red-colored tint to it. Don’t worry, it doesn’t actually stay red on your skin once you massage it in! This serum is fast absorbing, lightweight and contains astaxanthin, one of the most powerful antioxidants on Earth!

IT COSMETICS – Confidence in a Cleanser

This is another favourite skin care product that I added on! It’s sulfate-free and soap-free, with collagen, hyaluronic acid, colloidal oatmeal, and a ceramide complex to remove make up, retaining moisture and nourishing your skin.

This month’s ipsy glam bag was very impressive! I am disappointed by the WANDER BEAUTY’s eyebrow pencil but besides that, I am definitely a fan of the rest of the products.

What’s in your ipsy glam bag this month?

PUPPP: It Began With Stretch Marks…

During my pregnancy, I developed stretch marks all over my body – my thighs, my knees, my butt, and my expanding belly of course. They were even around my chest and arms. I gained more than 40 lbs by the end of it all!

Once I had delivered my baby girl, my stretch marks began to get more intensely red with colour, as well as bumpy and itchy… And then it started to burn and itch even more, to the point where all I could think and do was itch and itch and itch

I didn’t know what was going on at the time. Caring for a newborn, barely sleeping, and dealing with the troubles of breastfeeding and hemorrhoids – and now this!

It was overwhelming to say the least.

Read more about my postpartum hemorrhoid experience here:

“Hemorrhoids – There, I said it!”

What is PUPPP?

I found out that I had developed PUPPPPruritic Urticarial Papules and Plaques of Pregnancy.

PUPPP may also be known as:

  • Polymorphic eruption of pregnancy (PEP)
  • Toxic erythema of pregnancy
  • Bourne’s toxemic rash of pregnancy

Normally, it develops along your stretch marks in the third trimester and disappears after childbirth but in rare cases, the rash develops after childbirth. PUPPP occurs in 1 of every 160 pregnancies and more often to first time mothers or mothers carrying multiple fetuses.

Photo by Kewei Hu on Unsplash

Causes of PUPPP

The cause of this rash is unknown but experts suggest that it may involve a combination of factors listed below:

  • Antigens that belong to the baby enter the mother’s blood circulation and invade her skin causing an immunologic response
  • Excessive and rapid stretching of the skin damages the connective tissue underneath leading to an inflammatory response
  • PUPPP may be passed down genetically and has been shown to trace back to the father’s side
  • 70% of mothers who are expecting boys develop the rash suggesting that the sex of the baby may play a role
  • Cesarean deliveries also have some connection to the development of the rash
  • Hormones related to pregnancy have also been shown to influence the development of the rash
Photo by Ignacio Campo on Unsplash

Prognosis

PUPPP is not dangerous to the mom or baby. And yes, it will go away in a few days to few weeks. Nonetheless, PUPPP contributes to further insomnia and stress of a new mother, and adequate relief is necessary for their well being.

I was struggling with breast feeding at the time of the rash. I felt guilty that I wasn’t producing enough milk to feed my baby and I had to supplement with formula. I felt like a failure already.

Read more about my breastfeeding experiences:

“Breastfeeding – It doesn’t come as naturally as you think…

“Increasing your breast milk supply: What worked and what didn’t for me”

I was desperate to get rid of this rash as soon as possible, so I asked my husband to pick me up some Benadryl from the drugstore. I needed relief, anything. Once he got home with the medicine, I took it right away and later discovered that I wasn’t supposed to breastfeed while taking this drug...

I continued to take the medication anyway because I was in agony. In the meantime, I fed my baby formula while I pumped-and-dumped to maintain my supply. I hoped to be done with the drugs by the end of the week so I could get back into breastfeeding and bonding with my newborn.

Photo by Lisa Hobbs on Unsplash

Treatment and Home Remedies

Although I was better after taking benadryl, the intense itching was still very much present. I still wanted to rip my skin off! So I looked up some home remedies online.

This is what I found:

Antihistamine Medication (Benadryl)

Antihistamines can be taken orally and purchased over the counter without a prescription or even on Amazon. It can also be in the form of a cream which you can directly apply to your inflamed stretch marks. It inhibits histamine receptors to reduce the inflammatory and immune response. In doing so, antihistamines reduce the signs and symptoms related to allergies and pruritus (itching). I used Benadryl (aka diphenhydramine) to help with the itching. Honestly, it did help a little but it wasn’t enough on its own. Also, if you are breastfeeding please make sure to consult your doctor! Some medications can pass through your breast milk to your little one.

Baking Soda or Oatmeal Bath Soaks

You can also try an oatmeal bath or add baking soda to soothe your inflamed and burning skin, aid in healing, and neutralize your pH. On Amazon, you can find the Aveeno Soothing Bath Treatment with 100% Natural Oatmeal that worked wonders for me! Adding baking soda to your bath water worked just as well. For the baking soda bath soak, I filled the bath tub with warm water (but the cooler the water, the better). Warm to hot water tends to irritate rashes and make them worse. Then I add about 1/4 cup of baking soda into the water and soak for about 30 minutes. Repeat at least 2-3 times per week. Whenever I had the chance to even take a bath, I made sure to soak myself thoroughly. Not only did it give my relief, but it was also relaxing and calming.

Topical Steroid Cream

Topical creams can be mild to potent and are often used in combination with oral antihistamine medication such as benadryl. They contain corticosteroids which reduces inflammation. I had to get my steroid cream from my doctor with a prescription. My doctor prescribed a very potent one for me because I had stretch marks nearly everywhere on my body. The cream provided some relief in combination with the benadryl.

Ice Packs Or A Cold Compress

This was by far the most effective home remedy for me! The ice packs helped to numb the area for immediate relief, but a nice cold shower worked just as well. Apply the cold compress to your stretch marks for about 5 to 10 minutes. Don’t leave it on the skin too long! Also, don’t apply the cold compress or ice pack directly to the skin. Cover it with a cloth first. I had 2 ice packs in the freezer and alternated the two whenever I needed them.

Moisturize Your Skin

When your skin is dry, it is prone to become itchy. Prevent dry skin by applying moisturizers as often as possible, especially after a bath or shower. There are also itch-relieving body lotions that can be used as well. I used GOLD BOND Medicated Anti-itch Lotion which contains dimethicone (skin protectant) and menthol to relieve itching. The Aveeno Anti-itch Concentrated Lotion worked very well too. Try to avoid moisturizers that contain the following:

  • Salicylic acids – A type of hydroxy acid (BHA) used in acne prevention products. It dissolves debris that clogs pores called keratin plugs and regulates skin cells. It is generally safe to use salicylic acid containing skincare products during pregnancy (once or twice a day) as long as the amount does not exceed 2%.
  • Retinol – made from vitamin A and is often added to skin care products for its anti-aging properties. It boosts the production of collagen in skin to reduce fine lines and wrinkles, evens out skin tone, improves skin texture, tightens pores, and stimulates blood flow.
  • Vitamin A – an essential nutrient that supports skin, eye and reproductive health and immune function. Often added to skincare products in the form of retinol. During pregnancy, it is recommended that mother avoid high levels of vitamin A intake in food due to the risk of birth defects and liver toxicity. Although the amount of vitamin A added to skin care products is low, doctors still recommend the avoidance of such products.
  • Retinyl-palmitate – composed of palmitic acid (fatty acid) and retinol (vitamin A) and is an effective antioxidant when applied to the skin. Natural enzymes in your skin converts retinyl-palmitate into retinol when applied to the skin producing anti-aging properties.
Photo by Hans Vivek on Unsplash

Other Anti-inflammatory Remedies:

The anti-inflammatory remedies listed below are tips that I heard of but haven’t tried myself. Let me know if these worked for you!

  • Chamomile and/or dandelion root tea – apply the tea directly to the affected areas with a cotton ball. Be careful not to burn yourself! Chamomile and dandelion root contains anti-inflammatory properties
  • Peppermint oil – mix a few drops of peppermint oil with coconut oil and apply directly to the affected areas. Peppermint oil has been shown to relieve itching
  • The Grandpa’s Company – Pine Tar Soap – antiseptic properties commonly used to treat psoriasis (autoimmune condition where your body rapidly overproduces skin cells causing inflammation and scaling) and eczema. Basically, the soap slows skin cell growth
  • Other cooling agents: menthol, calamine containing lotions
Photo by Christin Hume on Unsplash

Don’t Itch!

I’m sure this one is obvious but just to remind you, don’t itch that rash! It will just make it worse. PUPPP should not leave any scars behind once it has healed but you may have some hyperpigmentation or dark spots if you continue to itch. I know I did.

Seek Help

It is so important that you talk to your doctor when you suspect that you may have PUPPP. Sometimes your rash may appear as a PUPPP rash but it could be something much more concerning such as cholestasis of pregnancy or pemphigoid gestationis (PG).

  • Intrahepatic cholestasis of pregnancy (ICP) – Due to liver disease that occurs in the last trimester of pregnancy and causes severe itching. Basically, pregnancy hormones slow and stop the normal flow of bile needed for the breakdown of fats in digestion. The bile is then backed up in the liver causing seepage into the blood stream.
  • Pemphigoid gestationis – (pemphigus means blister of pustule) A rare condition that affects 1 in 50,000 pregnancies and is caused by the immune system mistakenly attacking your own skin.

Unfortunately my PUPPP rash lasted more than a few weeks but with the help of benadryl and the other home remedies, I was able to pull through. Today, the rash is completely gone with very minimal scaring. Of course, only the stretch marks remain.

Have you experienced this rash during your pregnancy? How did you cope with it? I would love to hear your thoughts. Thanks for reading.

xoxo