Super Soft Diapers: Huggies® Special Delivery™

Super Soft Diapers: Huggies® Special Delivery™

This is a sponsored post for SheSpeaks/Huggies®

Winter Garden Central Florida Photographer Blogger

You never know how much time you’ll spend thinking about diapers until you become a mom.  What’s the price? How are they for the environment? Will it be uncomfortable for my baby? And well, that’s the top priority, right?  There are few things that matter more than our babies’ comfort – but also they need to be easily accessible and budget friendly. They get bonus points for being cute and plant-based*!

Imagine a soft, plant-based* diaper that is also absorbent and comfortable. Oh and you can pick them up quickly at your neighborhood Walmart at a great, everyday low price?

Winter Garden Central Florida Photographer Blogger
Huggies® Special Delivery™ diapers have it all!

Winter Garden Central Florida Photographer Blogger

Huggies® Special Delivery™ diapers are:

Soft. In fact, they are Huggies®’ softest diaper ever. We can tell our little girl likes the skin comfort more than the other brands we have tried in the past. You’ll need to try them for yourself but they are as soft as the softest baby blankets we have.

Plant-based*. They are free of parabens, fragrance, and elemental-chlorine.
Absorbent and comfortable. These diapers keep your baby’s skin protected and comfortable and last up to 12 hours. Dermatologist tested, they have no harsh ingredients.

Cute. Huggies® Special Delivery™ diapers are unique because not only do they check off all the boxes that are important to us, they also come in a variety of stylish designs.

Easy. The wetness indicator is a quick and easy way to tell that it’s time for a new Huggies® Special Delivery™ diaper, but combined with all of the other qualities, it also makes it an easy diaper for my family to choose. You can easily find them in your local Walmart in the Huggies® Special Delivery™ end-aisle display, or click here to shop for Huggies® Special Delivery™ at walmart.com.

Huggies Special Delivery Diapers

*23% by weight

A Magical Gift for Me: JORD Koa Wood Watch Review

A Magical Gift for Me: JORD Koa Wood Watch Review

When I first saw that JORD made the most beautiful watch with Rose Gold and Koa wood, I absolutely loved it and knew that I wanted one to match my style!

JORD Koa Wood Rose Gold Watch JORD Koa Wood Rose Gold Watch

My husband grew up in Hawaii and the wedding ring I got for him is made of Koa wood. Koa is a wood revered for its integrity and strength, making it an excellent wood gift for a marriage or anniversary. Rose Gold is the color of my wedding ring and it represents love. So truly, this watch is the perfect, meaningful gift for a loved one!

JORD Koa Wood Rose Gold Watch

JORD also has many other beautiful keepsake timepieces as well as Apple Watch bands. The company is based in St. Louis where they are constantly developing new designs that you’ll love. One of the things I love about this company is that their watches are a sophisticated mix of natural and largely reclaimed materials, combined with quality movements and components. So you can feel good about your purchase knowing you’re supporting a great company and getting a quality item.

What I love about this watch:

  • I love to have standout accessories I can wear daily that are eye-catching and unique! This watch is definitely a beautiful watch that gets noticed!
  • Compared to other wood watches, this wood watch stands out due to its high quality, exquisite craftsmanship, and adaptable style. You can wear this watch with anything and it stands out!
  • The watch is beautiful. The color, the intricate detail, the wood, everything about this watch is gorgeous!
  • The self- winding feature is beautiful, mesmerizing and calming. It’s definitely one of my favorite features!

JORD Koa Wood Rose Gold Watch

I bet you have some questions now, specifically if you’re looking to give this as a gift.
Here are some commonly asked questions and the answers to them:

Can this watch be engraved? Most watch back plates can be engraved! All Cedar Humidor boxes are can be engraved as well!
Does the watch come fitted? The watches can be sized for the recipient.
Are the watches customizable? Most watches have additional options for customization – mixing and matching faces and woods!
Is there a warranty? Every watch comes with a one year warranty.
How much is shipping? Shipping is FREE, worldwide!

Are you ready to own a JORD watch? Enter to win a $100 toward any watch here: https://www.woodwatches.com/g/theartofadventures
And you’ll receive a coupon for 10% off just for participating!

JORD Koa Wood Rose Gold Watch

I just want to say thank you to JORD for collaborating with me on this post, for sending me such a beautiful watch and hosting this giveaway! I’m so excited to wear this watch and have it be a part of my everyday wear!


Wooden Wrist Watch

Mens Wooden Watches

Swim Lessons: Life Saving Skills Done in a Gentle Way

Swim Lessons: Life Saving Skills Done in a Gentle Way

Swim Lessons.  This is a topic that absolutely needs to be discussed.  We’ve all read the horrific warning posts of parents who experienced the tragic accident of a drowning and many more who were able to come out alive.  Drowning is the number one cause of death from age 1 to 4 and the number two cause of death through age 13.  Swimming, especially in a location like Florida filled with lakes and pools, is a skill that could save your child’s life.

The Art of Adventures Winter Garden Blogger Photographer

With all of that information, I knew we needed to be open to swim lessons.  But we also practice gentle parenting in our house. Every day we make a conscious effort to practice a very gentle style of parenting. We focus on setting clear boundaries, especially for safety, but also often follow a Montessori approach for learning and an attachment style of parenting.

So, how do you be a gentle parent and survive some of the life saving or sanity saving aspects of life? It can be a difficult part of parenting to navigate for any family, especially things like swim lessons. They often NEED them, and sometimes they don’t like them. So what do you do then?

I realized we needed to make a decision when we met a friend at the pool and Elodie was consistently running away from me and trying to jump into the deep end of the pool. She was 22 months old and I realized it was definitely time for her to learn some swim basics immediately, for her safety and my sanity. My anxiety about her running away from me and if I could get to her quickly enough was just too much. I knew it was not sustainable to allow her to continue that way. Also, I didn’t really know what to do to help her quickly on my own.

I had done some research on local places last year so I knew that Infant Swimming Resource (ISR) is a popular self-rescue technique of learning to swim. It usually consists of daily swim lessons for about 6 weeks and the child can float and rescue themselves at the end. I also know that many people who practice gentle parenting are willing to do this type of swim lesson. Although kids can cry a lot and have a hard time, especially with a pool in the yard the benefit far outweighs any other issue for many. That makes sense to me. But the thought of these costly swim lessons and driving back and forth for short 10 minute lessons daily for 6 weeks just seemed extremely daunting. For reasons like health, other kids, or work, I could see this would be a challenge for many families.

So I sought out some other options and found a local woman who does swim lessons, Swimming with Staci. I was incredibly impressed with Staci. She’s a special education teacher and certified swim instructor and she provided the perfect balance of care, love, skill and education and in just 5 days of lessons. This style of swim lesson worked extremely well for our family.

The Art of Adventures Winter Garden Blogger Photographer

Here are some tips on things to ask a swim instructor in order to find a swim lesson style that work for you:

1. How often are lessons?
2. How many lessons will need to be completed and what skill can you expect at the end of the lesson?
3. How does the instructor handle a child crying?
4. How is the parent involved?
5. What are the costs for lessons? Are there any discounts available? (For example, it may be more budget friendly for you to drive to them versus them coming to you.)

As a mom who practices gentle parenting at home, I just went in with a mindset of that I knew our limits. I knew when I would have to say we needed a break or there was too much crying – and we actually never got there! Also, I loved that Staci included us in the instruction and gave us skills to continue to work on our own at home.

The Art of Adventures Winter Garden Blogger Photographer

Elodie is very strong willed and resisted some of the lesson part of things and she definitely cried. But I knew that her crying was a communication that she did not want to do this work. But I also knew that this work was extremely important and life saving for her. So I encouraged her to keep going as I acknowledged what she was communicating through her crying or complaining. Also, I chose a swim instructor who I knew would also do this for her and that helped a lot. In the video below, you will see that Staci gently sings and talks her through this learning, gives her play breaks and is very positive and encouraging throughout it all! Those parts were imperative for me.

The Art of Adventures Winter Garden Blogger Photographer

The Art of Adventures Winter Garden Blogger Photographer

This is not a sponsored post but I absolutely loved working with Staci and highly recommend her services if you’re local to the Orlando, Florida area.

I asked Staci to complete a short interview with me and below you’ll find that information.

Hey Staci, can you tell us a little more about how you got into swimming instruction and why you’re passionate about it?

“I started in the aquatic industry back when I was 18 years old. Although I don’t remember, at two years old, I was sitting on a pool chair waiting for for my mother as she was assisting my brother put on a towel. I wandered back into the pool without any knowledge of what to do. She ended up finding me on the bottom of the pool, unresponsive. If she didn’t know what to do I wouldn’t be here giving you this interview today. Additionally, my child fell into the water when he was 18 months old, fully clothed with shoes on. He had just completed his swimming lessons and was able to successfully save himself. It was a feeling I could not describe, from fear to absolute enlightenment. My son saved his own life. 
As an educator myself I am a firm believer that knowledge is power, and with any subject or aspect of life, education is something you could never take away from a child. Drowning is the leading cause of death of ages 1 to 5 as well as a silent killer and giving a child the knowledge to save their own life to be is priceless.  Door locks, alarms, and pool gates are extremely important for safety around the pool, however, as we all know, things can break or malfunction. What cannot break or malfunction is education. Give your child the education they need to fight in any situation, and you have given them the gift that keeps on giving.”

What “style” swim lesson do you offer? How long, how often and what skills can parents expect their child to have at the end?

“My style of lessons is that of a five consecutive day program. My belief is that the continuity of the five days allows the child to grasp onto the skills. If you teach a new skill once or twice a week, it’s like starting all over. At the end of the five days your child will learn how to be able to independently swim to the wall or the steps by kicking their feet and be able to grab onto the wall and reach up but most importantly, if your child falls into a pool – how to find the wall closest to them. I also teach more advanced classes. From swimming technique to breathing techniques, my advanced five day program slows for distance swimming while being able to take a breath.”

What ages do you work with?
“I teach ages from 10 months to senior citizens. Yes! I teach adults too! Many adults have lived with this fear their whole life, and I am here to help them through it.”

How can a family who is interested in working with you get in touch with you?

“Please feel free to call/text/email me at any time. 
407-533-0670
swimstaci@gmail.com
https://www.facebook.com/swimmingwithstaci/

Our Newest Adventure: The Adventurers’ Abode

Our Newest Adventure: The Adventurers’ Abode

Our Newest Adventure

It is with great excitement that I’m sharing with you the big news on our newest adventure…

We are building our Dream Home: The Adventurers’ Abode!

Our current home is in a great neighborhood with great neighbors, but it was clear for about a year or so now, it’s just not our home. We need a little more space and little more our style. Two and a half years ago, our adventures (also known as work haha) brought us to the Orlando area. I found out I was pregnant the same week we moved here so we quickly found a home so we could have a space for our baby and dogs. But as time went on, we realized it just didn’t fit us well.

So we started in on a search for our Adventurers’ home base.

We spent hours upon hours looking around the area we currently live which is just north of Magic Kingdom, exploring the different options. We found a smaller neighborhood with the most beautiful amenity center. We will be able to see fireworks from the back yard and be at Disney in just a few minutes. And the home layout, size and design options were perfect. So we were sold pretty quickly, signed the paperwork and are on the journey of building a new home now!

Hawksmoor Mattamy Orlando Blogger Horizon West

Does this contract say I get the master suite?

Hawksmoor Mattamy Orlando Blogger Horizon West

Amenity Center

Hawksmoor Mattamy Orlando Blogger Horizon West

Model Home Kitchen

We are so excited for our newest adventure and would love to share it with you. I will be documenting our process of building a home from ground up here and I hope you’ll join us in seeing this adventure unfold!

What’s your best advice for buying a new home?

A Journey to Health: Part 1

A Journey to Health: Part 1

A few months ago, I got a phone call that changed my world. Immediately after this phone call, it was like I put on a pair of glasses and saw clearly again for the first time in a long time.

My doctor said I had Stage 4 liver fibrosis into cirrhosis. A quick google search will show you that the majority of people who are told this don’t live past a year, and this test had been done months before the phone call. So how much time did I have left with my daughter and my husband? I had no idea… But what I did know was that I would make it count. I have and I will.

The Art of Adventures Orlando Photographer and Blogger

Me making a wish to be healthy so I can watch this girl grow up

Fast forward through many more specialists, several extremely intense procedures and a few ER visits, and now my health picture is more clear. I’m happy to report that not only is my prognosis better but also I’m keeping those rose colored glasses on. And I’m going to encourage you to put them on too. And please, please do not let a major scare be the reason you have to put them on. Make your time count, now.

The Art of Adventures Orlando Photographer and Blogger

Spending quality time together is my favorite thing to do

The good news: My specialists were able to act quickly and identify the issue. In conjunction with some lifestyle changes I made, my test results showed a more positive prognosis just 6 weeks later, right in time to start their recommended treatment.

My diagnosis is Autoimmune Hepatitis. Spoiler alert: it’s not contagious. I wouldn’t want to worry anyone about being around me so I wanted to start there. Hepatitis, in this instance, is just inflammation of the liver. My immune system was so good at what it did that it got a little wild and started attacking (autoimmune) my liver which became very inflamed (hepatitis).

Did I do something to get this? The short answer is no. While genetics or environment can have an impact, there’s no one reason for AIH. And it’s not related to other forms of Hepatitis, alcohol, diet (although I always believe in striving for healthier diet), drugs, etc.

Do I need a transplant? No, not right now and hopefully never. You cannot live without your liver (I’ve become a liver lover). But the liver can regenerate if it is not in full cirrhosis. So, if caught soon enough with no liver failure, you would not need one. Only a doctor would be able to diagnose that part. Currently, my liver is in good enough condition that there is hope for healing over transplant. Please consider making sure that you are registered organ donor to help people who do need a transplant.

What do you say to someone going through a major medical issue? You know, I’m still not even sure myself. But to all my friends and family who reached out with anything from an “I’m here to help” or “I’m praying” to those who were able to help us through this, it is so incredibly appreciated. Showing kindness and compassion and a willingness to help really does mean everything when going through something so big.

I have never had cancer so I can’t say for sure, but I’d imagine being told you have Autoimmune Hepatitis is a lot like being told you have a “good” cancer with a good prognosis. Without treatment for AIH, you could die within a year, in fact the chances of that might be up to 60% according to medical journals. However, with treatment, which will wreak havoc on your body, you are almost sure to improve and survival rates are near 100%. So that’s something to be really thankful for, and also not to mess around with. The medication has a long list of pretty rough side effects ranging from gaining weight and mood swings to medication induced diabetes but it also improves your chance of living a significant amount and I would say that’s worth it!

Right now I’m in the early part of the treatment and I’ve already learned a lot. Having my Master’s Degree in Clinical Health Psychology and having studied alternative pain management and using positive mental health tools to help improve the prognosis of medical diagnoses, I actually *enjoy* reading medical journals. I love having all of the information and also find joy in navigating through all of this with ways that my lifestyle can support my overall health. What kind of information would you like to know about the liver or Autoimmune Hepatitis? I’d love to be able to share more awareness of this disease and share some of my liver love. Next, I plan share some of the things I did to get my bloodwork to improve.

Going through this at any time of life I would imagine would be difficult. But being told this when my daughter was just one and a half has been very scary. It reminds me every day that I am so thankful for the opportunity to blog and do photography. These are things I do while also being able to raise my daughter and be able to spend our precious time together. I have not missed any of our big moments as a family and have nothing to regret. Thank you for reading my blog and for hiring me as your photographer which allows me to find the balance of work and being able to be home with my daughter. Truly with all sincerity, thank you.

The Art of Adventures Orlando Photographer and Blogger

Thankful to have continued breastfeeding through this journey

I’d also like to credit my friend, Laura Mitchum, for taking these photos for me and letting me edit them. She graciously offered to make sure I got some photos of Elodie in before I started all of my testing and treatment, knowing that not only my appearance could change but that I may have to stop breastfeeding. Fortunately, I have not had to stop completely. Especially through all of the procedures, it would have been easier to just wean. But I could also tell that Elodie was not ready and I came to a decision that worked for our entire family and reduce our overall stress during a stressful time.

The Art of Adventures Orlando Photographer and Blogger

Breastfeeding has been a beautiful part of my life

Also, short disclaimer: I am not a medical professional and all of this information is based on my own experience. Please seek guidance from your medical team before making any decisions about your own health.

My Four Hour Labor & Home Birth: What I Did To Prepare

My Four Hour Labor & Home Birth: What I Did To Prepare

Yup, my labor was four hours. Four incredibly intense hours.  I always love a good birth story so I’ll include some of my actual labor and birth story but this post is mainly about what I did to manage my labor at home. As a doula, I went into pregnancy and childbirth with a lot of knowledge and I was very prepared.  I’m happy to be able to share that information with you today!

It’s important to recognize that my pain management and labor management started months before the day my baby was born.  So I’ll start with my pre-labor preparations.  These lists aren’t exhaustive but may give you a good start if you’re planning a home birth.  If you have any questions after reading this, let me know!

Mental Pre-Labor Preparations

I started by doing the home study of Hypnobabies. I have a Master’s degree in Clinical Health Psychology which is included a lot alternative pain management including hypnosis.  So I knew that hypnosis would work well for me and I believe that Hypnobabies is the best clinically based childbirth hypnosis available.  In addition, I also read and watched many birth stories that were similar to the one I was envisioning- mostly with the use of hypnosis and birthing at home. I hung up a “Born at Home” onsie in the living room and every day I pictured my sweet girl being born safely and comfortably at home when it was the right time. This was my mental, emotional, spiritual getting ready for birth.

home birth onesie

This is the visualization I hung in my living room to keep me motivated and envision my safe home birth.

Physical Pre-Labor Preparations 

I also prepared physically for birth in several ways. I walked regularly when I was pregnant, at least once a day.  I found a short prenatal exercise video that included affirmations and did that every day as well.  I did some prenatal yoga as well as just some prenatal yoga moves and stretches throughout the day.  As soon as I was cleared for a home birth, at 37 weeks gestation, I also added in high step walking (this sometimes caused cramping so I chose not to do it earlier). I did belly mapping through spinningbabies.com and also The Miles Circuit to make sure that my baby was aligned in the perfect position for birth.  If you’re doing your own research for labor and birth, Spinning Babies will be an excellent resource overall on ways to make sure that your baby is in the optimal position for birth.  I worked as a doula for several years and can tell you that this will be one of the most important parts of ensuring a more comfortable, easier and quicker birth – if baby is in the optimal position.

Red Raspberry Leaf Tea

Mama Needs Some Red Raspberry Leaf Tea

Other Pre-Labor Preparations

I drank iced red raspberry leaf tea at the “medicinal dose” level my midwife recommended which was a large handful of the tea leaves steeped for at least an hour in a quart Mason jar.  I drank about a Mason jar or a little less everyday for the last few weeks of my pregnancy.  I was instructed I could have started the higher dose earlier but that’s when I felt comfortable starting.  Also, I think this really helped with my breastmilk production and it’s good for uterine toning which is also important after birth so I kept drinking it after baby was born.

I read affirmations daily. I created affirmations on cards and decorated them a bit.  I made two sets: one for pregnancy and one for birthing time. I also made my lock screen an affirmation with a picture from an ultrasound and a little outfit I looked forward to baby wearing.

I organized everything for my birth prior to 36 weeks.  This made me feel safe, knowing I was going into my birthing time prepared and organized.  I had the supplies from my home birth checklist from my midwife all lined up in the baby’s room and ready to go when needed.  The midwife and my husband knew where everything was. Although I didn’t have an official birth plan printed, I had some of my general wishes written down on a card and hung up on the fridge.  Everyone knew everything I wanted and what to expect and that gave me a lot of peace going into my labor.

Home birth supplies

Home birth supplies ready to go!

When Labor Started 

For several days I had some contractions on and off.  They’d pick up and slow down.  Then all of a sudden I knew something was different.  I had a little leak that showed up as not amniotic fluid on the little strip test but my contractions seemed to be getting a little more noticeable.  I called my midwife and she said basically relax and maybe I’ll see you later.  So I immediately sat on the toilet backwards.  I wanted labor to progess, it was daytime and I had energy. Had I not wanted labor to progress I may have done something else like rest or lay down.  But I wanted labor to move forward. Sitting on the toilet is one of the best ways to get contractions to be productive and help move things forward if baby is in the right position in my experience.  So that’s what I did. I also said to my husband, “Under no circumstances let me get in the shower any time soon. Just help me in other ways for now.”  This is because water can actually act as “nature’s epidural.”  Water can be so soothing that if done early in labor it can slow things a little versus later in labor it can help relax the body and move things along.  For this reason, I always recommended women attempt to save hydrotherapy as a pain management technique for active labor and not early labor. About 5-10 minutes later, I gave my husband a serious look and sad, “turn on that water!”  He started to say “But…” but did not get much out as I told him – “NOW!”

home birth bath tub shower birth ball set up

My bathroom set up – shower with the birth ball and bath tub close by

My Labor

My contractions were very close together, I had essentially very little break between them.  This took me by surprise but I was prepared.  I got into the shower and used a birth ball in the shower to take short breaks whenever I could. A birth ball (exercise ball) provides great positions for labor and so it was better than a shower seat.  I used towels to help stabilize and prevent slipping. I could easily stand up, lean on the wall in the shower, have my husband do counter pressure on my lower back, etc.  I had my Hypnobabies tracks playing in the background but mostly I was in my own zone.  I used a mantra in my head to keep myself focused and calm.  I went very “inward.” It was as though the outside world was very present.  I stayed focused and talked to my baby regularly in my head.  While I was doing this my husband called my midwife and she rushed over.  When my midwife got here, I had just gotten into our bathtub.  I labored in the tub for a about a half hour with my husband and my midwife pouring water over my belly or back depending on my position.  I moved into a more upright position and a few minutes and a few pushes later our sweet girl Elodie was born in our bathtub, caught by her daddy.

Birth Ball in Shower

The birth ball set up in the shower

Elodie was born

It was the 4th of July in the evening.  The midwife and her assistant helped me move to my bed so I could be more comfortable.  They performed the belly massage which I didn’t even notice much of – the adrenaline high was so high. They did the newborn exam in our bed while we listened to the 4th of July fireworks outside.  Like magic fairies, the midwives cleaned up the bathroom and bedroom so it looked like nothing had happened except leaving some towels and sheets still drying when they left. We snuggled up with Elodie, I ate a hearty pasta meal and we drifted off sweetly into our new life as a family of three.

My sweet girl born at home

My sweet girl born at home

Labor and Home Birth

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