Everything But the Kitchen Sink Cheese Board
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Cheese boards are the MOST EASY things to make. Whether you have an unexpected guest or you're hosting a party, they become the place where everyone gathers.  I always have a couple key items on hand so that no matter what-I can host a group of people over in a pinch.  Check out my video for inspo to create your own and then take a look at some of my hostess must haves.

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Curl Up On a Cold Day with These Holiday Cookies
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This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Crisco®. The opinions and text are mine.

What’s better than warm sugar cookies? How about hot chocolate cookie cups filled with fudgy frosting and topped with peppermint and marshmallows? These are perfect for those cold days when you want to curl up with a warm treat. You guys know I LOVE making cookie cups, but these might just be the cutest creations yet! Watch how to make these adorable desserts below and then scroll down for the full recipe!

These are so much fun to make

These are so much fun to make

Start with your sugar cookie cup

Start with your sugar cookie cup

Fill with chocolate fudgy frosting

Fill with chocolate fudgy frosting

Top with micro marshmallows

Top with micro marshmallows

Sprinkle with crushed peppermint 

Sprinkle with crushed peppermint 

Add your pretzel handle using chocolate frosting

Add your pretzel handle using chocolate frosting

Press on the side of your cookie cup and hold to set

Press on the side of your cookie cup and hold to set

Ready to enjoy!

Ready to enjoy!

Peppermint Hot Chocolate Cookie Cups

By Brandi Milloy

Yields 3 dozen

Ingredients

3 cups Pillsbury™ BEST™ All Purpose Flour 

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup Crisco® All-Vegetable Shortening

1 cup sugar

1 large egg

2 tablespoons milk

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 Pillsbury™ Filled Pastry Bag Chocolate Fudge Flavored Frosting

Crushed peppermint candies, for garnish

Micro marshmallows, garnish

Mini pretzels

Directions

STEP ONE

HEAT oven to 350°F. Whisk flour, baking powder and salt in medium bowl until blended.

STEP TWO

BEAT shortening and sugar in large bowl with mixer on high speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.

STEP THREE

BLEND in egg, milk and vanilla. Gradually blend in flour mixture.

STEP FOUR

FORM dough into 1 tablespoon size balls and press into mini muffin tin and up the side to create a cup. Repeat this step until you’ve filled each tin.

STEP FIVE

Bake 10-12 minutes or until very light golden brown. Cool completely.

STEP SIX

To decorate: Pipe chocolate frosting into cups. Sprinkle with peppermint and marshmallows. To create the handle: break off the loops from pretzels and attach to the sides of the cookie cups using chocolate frosting.

Holiday Lights Sugar Cookies

If you’re planning to make a bunch of different types of holiday cookies this season, give my Holiday Lights Sugar Cookies a try – they’re too cute. These fluffy sugar cookies are made with Crisco®All-Vegetable Shortening, topped with crushed candies and strung together with candy string.

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Holiday Lights Sugar Cookies                                                                                                     

By Brandi Milloy

Ingredients

3 cups Pillsbury™ BEST™ All Purpose Flour 

2 teaspoons baking powder

½ teaspoon salt

1 cup Crisco® All-Vegetable Shortening

1 cup sugar

1 large egg

2 tablespoons milk

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

½ cup Rainbow sprinkles

16 ounces white chocolate morsels, melted

Various hard candies, crushed

Sprinkles

Directions

STEP ONE

HEAT oven to 350°F. Whisk flour, baking powder and salt in medium bowl until blended.

STEP TWO

BEAT shortening and sugar in large bowl with mixer on high speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.

STEP THREE

BLEND in egg, milk and vanilla. Gradually blend in flour mixture.

STEP FOUR

DIVIDE dough in half. Roll out each half on lightly floured surface to 1/4-inch thickness. Cut with light bulb cookie cutter. Place 2 inches apart on baking sheet.

STEP FIVE

Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until bottom edges are very light brown. Cool 2 minutes on baking sheet. Remove to wire rack to cool completely.

STEP SIX

To decorate: frost cookies with white chocolate and sprinkle with candies and sprinkles while wet. Thread candy string through hole to connect.

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Custom Watercolor Birth Announcements by Consider the Lilies
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What a blessing to be able to work with Abby Hollar of Consider the Lilies to create Milly's custom birth announcements. I've admired her work for some time now. Not only is she an extremely talented artist, painter and water colorist, but she has such an incredible eye and amazing taste. She's also a blogger, photographer, and the kind of friend you love to brag about!  Working with her was so easy especially since I had no idea where to start. She pulled a couple ideas out of me and truly brought my vision to life.  I shared with her how I have an affinity for protea flowers and ranunculus and then shared some photos of Milly's nursery for more inspo. I love the soft blue gray she chose for her name and the delicate rose gold color for the back.  The floral wreath works perfectly with the newborn photo taken by Jenny Quicksall. We couldn't be more thrilled with how they came out! Thank you Abby!

The Only Sugar Cookie Recipe You Need: My Salted Butterscotch Sugar Cookies
Photo Credit: Olivia Kuan

Photo Credit: Olivia Kuan

Full disclosure: This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Crisco®. The opinions, text and sugar cookie recipe that will change your life are all mine…but it can be yours too. #sharingiscaring

 

When I was a little girl my fondest memories are of baking in the kitchen with my Mom. I’d stand on the chair pushed against the counter and lean over to help. It feels like I learned how to measure ingredients before I could walk.  They were the best cookies and we always used Crisco® All-Vegetable Shortening.  They were soft, fluffy and noticeably better than cookies baked with butter. 

Photo Credit: Getty Images for Crisco

Photo Credit: Getty Images for Crisco

Every year around the holidays we would host a cookie exchange where friends and family would come over and bring several dozen cookies to share. It was the best because we’d get to try tons of different cookies.  And everyone would ask what our secret was to making these beautiful, moist, fluffy cookies and we would tell them it was the Crisco®.

My Mom’s sugar cookie trees were always super popular, followed by her butterscotch bars.  I could never choose a favorite because they were equally delicious!  This recipe is inspired by both of those cookies. It has that warm familiar flavor of brown sugar and creamy white chocolate with the soft light-texture sugar cookie complimented all by fleur de sel which acts like electricity through the entire cookie. It’s one of those cookies you can never have just one.  It’s so good I could cry.

Photo Credit: Getty Images for Crisco

Photo Credit: Getty Images for Crisco

It’s like when you run into an old friend and a flood of good memories come back and you wonder why you ever stopped being friends only to discover you can’t remember why and that feeling makes you sad.  If that feeling was a cookie, this would be it.  Yes, I’m being serious. It’s not a sad cookie. It’s like a time capsule cookie that brings you so much joy you just want to hold on to it forever because the feeling is so good and you don’t want it to go away again.  That is this cookie.  This is the only way to describe my Salted Butterscotch Sugar Cookies. You’ll actually want to apologize to it because it’s so good and it did nothing wrong for you to forget it’s amazing qualities, despite never having it before. I’ve never met someone that didn’t love this cookie and try to stuff a couple in their pocket before leaving.  Long after the party is over people will find a reason to bring up this cookie just so they can talk about it and reminisce about how good it is.  I’ve had people offer up their first born child in exchange for this recipe. Ok-maybe not that far….but you get the picture.  This is why this is the only sugar cookie recipe you need. Scroll down to salivating city and then run to your kitchen and bake these immediately.  Be sure to tag me on IG @BrandiMilloy with photos of your Salted Butterscotch Sugar Cookies!

Photo Credit: Olivia Kuan

Photo Credit: Olivia Kuan

Photo Credit: Olivia Kuan

Photo Credit: Olivia Kuan

Photo Credit: Olivia Kuan

Photo Credit: Olivia Kuan

Photo Credit: Olivia Kuan

Photo Credit: Olivia Kuan

Salted Butterscotch Sugar Cookies

By Brandi Milloy

Yields 4-5 dozen

Ingredients

3 cups Pillsbury™ BEST™ All Purpose Flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup Crisco® All-Vegetable Shortening (I swear by 1 cup baking sticks and keep them on hand in my pantry at all times)

1 cup sugar

1 large egg

2 tablespoons milk

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

16 ounces butterscotch chips, melted

8 ounces white chocolate chips, melted

Fleur de sel, for garnish

Directions

STEP ONE

HEAT oven to 350°F. Whisk flour, baking powder and salt in medium bowl until blended.

STEP TWO

BEAT shortening and sugar in large bowl with mixer on high speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.

STEP THREE

BLEND in egg, milk and vanilla. Gradually blend in flour mixture.

STEP FOUR

DIVIDE dough in half. Roll out each half on lightly floured surface to 1/4-inch thickness. Cut with 2 ½ inch round cookie cutter. Place 2 inches apart on baking sheet.

STEP FIVE

Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until bottom edges are very light brown. Cool 2 minutes on baking sheet. Remove to wire rack to cool completely.

STEP SIX

To decorate: Spread butterscotch on center of cookie. Drizzle white chocolate on top and garnish with a sprinkle of fleur de sel.

My Go To Favorite Kitchen Must Haves for Fall

Before Mr. A and I moved into our new home, we lived in a teeny tiny 420 square foot bungalow in Manhattan Beach. There wasn't really a kitchen-more like a kitchenette. It was the size of a child's picnic table. Imagine a sink, cutting board and that's it. That was it. Seriously.  I still can't believe I recipe tested and made big dinners there when we hosted friends. 

So now that we have a home with an actual kitchen, it's been wonderful filling it with all of our favorite kitchen gadgets.  These are items I use on a weekly or more basis, but especially for fall....when we find ourselves at home more, hosting friends & family and celebrating all of my favorite holidays! 

I would love to know what your favorite kitchen gadgets are-especially any that are lifesavers for new moms that have limited time. Share them in the comment box below. Thank you!

Kitchen Aid Mixer in Copper Pearl I love using my mixer to make cookies & cakes all season long. And I love the look of the copper shade which matches all of the other hints of copper in our white & marble kitchen.

Kitchen Aid Mixer in Copper Pearl I love using my mixer to make cookies & cakes all season long. And I love the look of the copper shade which matches all of the other hints of copper in our white & marble kitchen.

Copper Measuring Cups & Spoons When we moved into our home, I decided to downsize all of the extra miscellaneous measuring cups and spoons we had and replace them with two sets. One of which is this beautiful shiny copper set. 

Copper Measuring Cups & Spoons When we moved into our home, I decided to downsize all of the extra miscellaneous measuring cups and spoons we had and replace them with two sets. One of which is this beautiful shiny copper set. 

White Marble Cheese Board An easy appetizer anytime we host last minute company is placing cheese, nuts, meats, jams, fruit, crackers and veggies on a board. I just use whatever I have in the fridge and pantry and display it on a marble board and it's like an instant party starter. Served with wine or sparkling water with fruit and guests think I've been working on it all day.  

White Marble Cheese Board An easy appetizer anytime we host last minute company is placing cheese, nuts, meats, jams, fruit, crackers and veggies on a board. I just use whatever I have in the fridge and pantry and display it on a marble board and it's like an instant party starter. Served with wine or sparkling water with fruit and guests think I've been working on it all day.  

Six quart slow cooker From pot roast to slow cooker carnitas tacos, I make most of my meals during the fall in my Crock Pot. It's the easiest way to have a homemade meal ready for my family at the end of a long day. You really can't mess it up! This is an absolute staple in our home.

Six quart slow cooker From pot roast to slow cooker carnitas tacos, I make most of my meals during the fall in my Crock Pot. It's the easiest way to have a homemade meal ready for my family at the end of a long day. You really can't mess it up! This is an absolute staple in our home.

Pizza Stone for the oven or grill We love to grill pizzas during the summer months but when the weather cools down we put the pizza stone in the oven. Our favorite? Mr. A's Bacon, Brie & Jalapeno Pizza

Pizza Stone for the oven or grill We love to grill pizzas during the summer months but when the weather cools down we put the pizza stone in the oven. Our favorite? Mr. A's Bacon, Brie & Jalapeno Pizza

Reversible Grill & Griddle I find myself making pancakes a little more this time of year. Maybe it's because it's colder in the mornings and the idea of eating pancakes in bed always sounds good. I never have berries in the house but I always have Oreos so Oreo Pancakes are usually a staple around here. 

Reversible Grill & Griddle I find myself making pancakes a little more this time of year. Maybe it's because it's colder in the mornings and the idea of eating pancakes in bed always sounds good. I never have berries in the house but I always have Oreos so Oreo Pancakes are usually a staple around here. 

Mini Muffin Tin Can you ever have enough copper? :) I love making mini muffins, mini quiches, mini cookie cups-all things mini in this pan! No matter what you make in this, it's great because you can always have more than one. 

Mini Muffin Tin Can you ever have enough copper? :) I love making mini muffins, mini quiches, mini cookie cups-all things mini in this pan! No matter what you make in this, it's great because you can always have more than one. 

Tiered Dessert Stand If you eat with your eyes, why not make a statement? You could put an Oreo on this thing and it would look fancy schmancy! Just sayin.

Tiered Dessert Stand If you eat with your eyes, why not make a statement? You could put an Oreo on this thing and it would look fancy schmancy! Just sayin.

  Le Creuset Dutch Oven I received this as a gift from a friend in blue and even when we're not using it, I love keeping it out on the stove cause it's so gorgeous. I make all of our homemade favorite recipes in this thing. From chowder to mashed potatoes and my Mom's Filipino adobo. 

 

Le Creuset Dutch Oven I received this as a gift from a friend in blue and even when we're not using it, I love keeping it out on the stove cause it's so gorgeous. I make all of our homemade favorite recipes in this thing. From chowder to mashed potatoes and my Mom's Filipino adobo. 

How I Got My Newborn to Sleep Through the Night
Photo Credit by Jenny Quicksall

Photo Credit by Jenny Quicksall

My newborn sleeps through the night.  Milly has been sleeping through the night since she was six weeks old. At the time of this article Milly is 10 weeks old.  In fact, she’s been such a good sleeper since she was born that I used to need to set my alarm to wake her up and feed her. Also, because I would miss her so much. 

Yes, I think she’s a good baby, an amazing baby actually but I also take partial credit for her good sleep habits because I’ve been committed to the same routine since she was born.  Many of you have reached out asking me how I’m able to get her to sleep so well. I’m happy to share our bedtime routine in the hopes that it might help even just one of you restless mamas.  I even compiled some helpful products I use along with some helpful tips.

PERSONALITY  First, lets get this straight out of the way: @LittleAmazing is a Unicorn, at least that’s what her doctor says.  I truly believe her sleep patterns have a lot to do with her personality so please take that into consideration when comparing your baby’s habits to hers. Oh better yet-don’t compare! Comparison is the thief of job! The last thing I want is for any Mama to feel like their baby should be on the same schedule as Milly’s.  She is our laid-back beach babe born in the water and calm like the ocean. She truly just loves to observe the world and is a go-with-the-flow kind of babe.  As soon as you view your child like a tiny adult you’ll soon realize that they have a mind of their own and have traits and characteristics innate to them. They might need something different to relax and get ready for bed so really tune in to who they are and what you think helps them relax and get sleepy.

EXPECTATIONS  During growth spurts, milestones and leaps the same thing that worked on your baby the night before might not work today.  Babies are constantly changing and growing-especially during this first year so be nice to yourself as you navigate a new routine that works for your baby and their ever evolving life. 

MEALS, not SNACKS  Milly is breastfed on demand unless she's with her Daddy.  But on average she eats every 2.5 hours (she's 10 weeks old).  She is typically on the breast for 15-20 minutes.  I've talked to a lot of Moms who have difficulties with their child falling asleep at the breast so they aren't eating enough calories throughout the day and therefore, hungry more often.  Milly's pediatrician recommended putting a cold wet wipe on her neck or back to stimulate her to keep her awake.

WATCH & LISTEN Babies make lots of noises. Funny noises. They grunt and they squirm and squeal. They do a lot of kicking (usually to relieve gas) and moving around. We found that when Milly did this she usually was fine and fell back asleep.  Most of the time she would settle down and fall back asleep within a couple minutes.  Sometimes she would even yelp (not cry) but we would wait and watch her and see if she was just making noises or actually upset and in need of something (hungry for milk, in need of a burping or a diaper change). We would never let Milly cry or get upset but sometimes even just talking to her or rubbing her back soothed her back to sleep.  I definitely don't believe in the "cry it out" method especially when you are talking about an infant.   I encourage you to watch & listen to your baby and pause a beat before you pick them up. This is the first step to teaching your child how to soothe themselves.

ROUTINE  Babies crave routine, structure and consistency.  However, leave some flexibility in there too! The other day we stayed out late for a birthday party so Milly didn’t get her typical nap before bedtime. Everyone wanted to hold her and she was being over stimulated so there was no way she was going to sleep. However, on the drive home she slept a bit and then as soon as we got home we followed the same routine we do before bed.  I really think our babies are incredibly smart and are tuned into what lifestyle we set up for them.  Milly has gotten used to our routine so much so that she will immediately put both arms down when I swaddle her at night. She actually smiles at me before bed EVERY time.  She knows it’s time for bed. There’s no crying or fighting it-she understands it’s sleepy time and she falls fast asleep.

Milly’s sleep schedule has pretty much coordinated with her weekly age since she was born.  At three weeks old, she was sleeping 3 hours at a time. By four weeks, 4 hours at a time, five weeks-5 hours at a time, six weeks-6 hours at a time, seven weeks-7 hours at a time.

Here’s our routine at the age of 10 weeks (I've made updates to this schedule after Milly turned 3 months. You can find them in italics below.):

  • Between 7:30pm-8:00pm: I feed her from the breast-this is her last true feeding of the day. Our last feeding is always in her room with a dim light on only.
  • From around 8:00pm-9:45pm she gets skin to skin time with Daddy.  She usually is awake for 30 minutes to an hour and then passes out on him. 
  • No matter what -at around 9:45pm my husband gives her a diaper change. She is mostly still asleep.
  • While he is doing that, I’m turning on our sound machine and our humidifier essential oil diffuser in our bedroom (Milly sleeps in a bassinet beside our bed.) Also, I plan on writing a post eventually on the essentials oils I use in there for sleepy time. 
  • Around 10pm I give her a "dream feed." We do this with the lights dim in her nursery and she usually feeds with her eyes closed. 
  • Then I burp her and carry her to her bassinet, swaddle her (I've found that as long as I use an arm swaddle, you can put any other swaddle over this. I prefer one that zips up), and tell her affirmations while massaging her forehead and third eye.  
  • She falls fast asleep within a couple minutes.
  • She wakes up 7.5-8 hours later between 5:30am and 6:00am.
  • My husband usually unswaddles her, changes her and then hands her to me where I feed her in the nursery with the lights dim. She usually eats for about 20 minutes and then if I can-we take a nap together for a couple hours. She is in the dock-a-tot and I'm on the couch or I put her in the bed with me. 
  • At around 8:30am-9:00am, Milly wakes up and is ready for the day! 

Here's Milly's routine from the age of 3 months and beyond:

  • Between 7:00pm-7:30pm: We change Milly's diaper, put her in her pajamas and then I feed her from the breast-this is her last feeding of the day. During this time Daddy reads her a couple books. 
  • Around 7:30pm/7:45pm: After I burp her, I put her in her swaddle and place her in her bassinet. Currently we use the Dock a Tot Sleeper in her bassinet for sleeping.  I tell her affirmations but usually she falls asleep within seconds.
  • She has not woke up during the night since this new schedule.
  • She wakes up between 6:30am and 7:30am.
  • Currently Milly takes three 1.5-2 hour naps a day. I find that the more she sleeps during the day, the easier she goes to sleep at night but since we are "always on the go" she naps in the stroller, car seat or in the carrier.

SECRET WEAPONS  The following products are newborn Mama lifesavers and I truly believe each one helps create the best possible environment for success.

And if you can really INVEST or splurge on a smart bassinet. I'd highly recommend the SNOO. Some people have compared it to having a night nanny.  Several of my friends said this was a lifesaver for their fussy babies.  DISCLAIMER: My friend actually gave us the Snoo but we didn't end up using the functions because Milly was a little sleeping beauty. 

Again, every little one is different but this is what has worked for Milly.  I hope this truly helps some of your restless Mamas! I'm happy to answer any questions as well. 

 

 

 

Fresh Fig & Mascarpone Pie
I've learned that the most perfect desserts never taste the best. This pie is rustic, real and every bit is delicious! 

I've learned that the most perfect desserts never taste the best. This pie is rustic, real and every bit is delicious! 

I love, love, love fresh figs and enjoy them all season long but I think it's one of those fruits that can be intimidating to people if they don't know what to do with them.  What I love about this dessert is it takes little effort to make but the payoff is huge. The light, creamy mascarpone filling with bits of lemon zest is the perfect balance to the fresh juicy figs.  

For this recipe you really only need a handful of ingredients: pie crust (I don't mind store bought pie crust), mascarpone, heavy whipping cream, sugar, vanilla, lemon zest and fresh figs. Hello easy street! Also, this is one of those desserts you wanna take to a dinner party or somewhere you can really show it off. After all, it looks SO fancy!

As always-I am not a food photographer even though I wish I was. Will someone teach me in exchange for pies? 

Fresh Fig & Mascarpone Pie                                                                                                                   by Brandi Milloy

Ingredients

  • 1 pie crust baked (homemade or store bought is fine)
  • 8 oz. mascarpone cheese
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp. grated lemon zest
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 1 lb. fresh figs, rinsed and sliced in quarters

Directions

  1. To make the filling: combine the mascarpone, powdered sugar, vanilla and lemon zest in a small bowl and mix until smooth.  Set aside.
  2. Into a bowl, pour the heavy cream and using an electric mixer, mix on medium speed. Mix for 2-4 minutes until billowy and fluffy and stiff peaks form. Carefully fold in the mascarpone mixture and then spread mixture evenly into pie crust.  Top with fresh figs.
  3. Serve pie with fresh figs so each slice gets plenty of fruit and enjoy!
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Affirmations I Tell My Daughter Daily

“Speak to your children as if they are the wisest, kindest, most beautiful and magical humans on the earth, for what they believe is what they will become.” –Brooke Hampton

Photography Credit: Jenny Quicksall

Photography Credit: Jenny Quicksall

Throughout the day I speak to my daughter as if she understands everything I’m telling her. From when I greet her in the morning to when I’m changing her, bathing her or taking her on a walk-I’m always talking to her.  I’ve been telling her these powerful words since before she was born, when she was just a blueberry in my tummy.  I fed my mind positive thoughts and let those thoughts fill my heart and belly.  And every night since she was born I tell her the below when I lay her down to go to sleep.

·      We love you Milly.  Mommy loves you. Daddy loves you. Jesus loves you. Everybody loves you. (Sometimes I go down the list of all of our family & friends that love her).

·      You are the sweetest little girl in the whole world.

·      I love being your Mama.

·      You are such a happy baby.

·      You are kind and nice and smart. You are so smart, baby girl.

·      You are generous and helpful and such a good friend.

·      You have already changed the world and one day you will move mountains. 

·      You are good at everything you put your mind to. You can do anything baby girl.

·      You are confident and powerful. You are brave and courageous.

·      You are amazing Milly. Your nickname is “@LittleAmazing” because you’re amazing just like Daddy.

·      We are so grateful for you. You are the best part of us. We are so glad God chose us to be your parents. 

·      You are safe, lovey. Mommy is here and Daddy is here. We are right here beside you. We will always be here for you.  We love you so much.  You are so deeply loved.

·      I can’t wait to spend time with you tomorrow. You are my favorite part of the day.

·      Good night my Love. Sleep well. Have sweet dreams.

·       We love you Milly.  Mommy loves you. Daddy loves you. Jesus loves you.

Putting Milly to bed at night is some of my favorite time with her because I know I am teaching my daughter how to empower herself and I’m filling her mind with positive thoughts.  If you don’t already, I really encourage you to create your own affirmations for yourself and/or your child.  What will you say? What do you want them to be? I’d love to know what you come up with. Let me know in the comment box below.

A Letter to Milly, an 8 Week Update
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Happiest two months baby girl!  You are so incredible. You have really lived up to your name @LittleAmazing.  I knew when you were in my belly you would be like this-calm like the ocean and bright like the sun.  You radiate light, my love. I could stare at you forever. 

You're 8 weeks old today and it has been the most powerful time in our lives.  You've taught me so much patience, a trait I've never really had before.  But I'm not talking about patience with you. I mean patience with myself.  Expectations I have for myself as your mama, as a working mama trying to balance it all are somehow not so high because all that matters is I'm doing my best. There are so many firsts and so many new things but we are learning together and I couldn't do any of it without Daddy.  We are so lucky to have him.  When you were born he did all of the night feedings. Do you remember, baby? Daddy let Mama sleep and he took such good care of you.  In the mornings he helps take care of you too so I can sleep in.  And he feeds us. He makes us breakfast every morning with lots of coffee and he makes dinner for us too. That's why I have so much energy when we're together lovey.  He does so much for us. He loves us so much. 

I love how you make me slow down and pause.  I am soaking up every bit of you. I love spending time with you. I love our conversations. You're such a good listener, so alert and interested.  You seem to love the sound of my voice and I love the sound of yours.  You started trying to talk to me. We've been communicating since you were in my belly but now you are cooing and singing to me a lot.  Your voice is sweet like honeysuckle. And your soft milky breath is like heaven.  

You never cry. You yelp if you're bored and ready to be held and you fuss when you're hungry but you aren't a crier. You have so many expressions.  You are so good about telling us exactly what you want.  When you were itty bitty you would inch your way up daddy's chest until you were right under his chin and couldn't go any farther and then you would sleep there for hours.  We would call you our inch worm.  Now we call you our little hungry hippo. You love to be in the water and I started taking baths with you. It's such a peaceful time and it reminds me of when you were born...in the water, my little mermaid.  You're an easy baby and we are so grateful.

Before you go to sleep at night is one of my favorite times with you. We talk about our day and how much mommy & daddy loves you. I tell you about Jesus and how much he loves you too. You always look so relaxed and you go to bed happy, baby.  You love when I massage you and when I touch the back of my hand on top of your head. I massage the spot between your eyes and you fall fast asleep.  But at night I've been missing you.  That's because you've been sleeping 6-7.5 hours. I'm still getting up to pump, baby girl but when I look over at you in your bassinet you look so peaceful dreaming deep in your sleep.  Sometimes I just stare at you and then have to stop myself from picking you up.

This week we started our Mommy & Me class, baby yoga and infant massage. You really enjoy going to class.  You are not a homebody that is for sure.  You thrive being outside, in the stroller, in the carrier, in your car seat.  You love watching, looking, observing and exploring. 

We are so in awe of you, Milly. It has been an absolute gift calling you ours.  We love getting to know you and are soaking up every moment.

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A Tour of Milly's Nursery
Photo credit: Jenny Quicksall Photography

Photo credit: Jenny Quicksall Photography

Just when I thought the kitchen was my favorite room in our house, we created our nursery for Milly and I found myself always wanting to be in there.  Despite being a room for our baby girl, something about it seems sophisticated. The vintage persian rug from Zartiques.com is not only warm and super soft (perfect for tummy time) but feels like an extension of our home decor. Our vibe is very boho mid century modern with the charm of our 1930's Spanish bungalow.  That was something that was important to Mr. A and I. We didn't want the room to feel like a baby's room. 

Photo credit: Jenny Quicksall Photography

Photo credit: Jenny Quicksall Photography

Some of my favorite elements of the room is the yarn wall hanging by the Dancing Tapestry above her crib. I love the image of the sunset and the rose gold beads that play off some of the other rose gold elements in the room. Another special piece is the mini wicker chair that was mine when I was a little girl! I can't wait for the day Milly is old enough to sit in it while I read to her. 

Photo credit: Jenny Quicksall Photography

Photo credit: Jenny Quicksall Photography

You can see more photos of her nursery by heading to the feature on POPSUGAR.com and shop some of my favorite pieces in the nursery here.

 

These Brownies are the SHI*

With a slightly crispy exterior and a chewy interior, these super chocolatey brownies are some of the best I've ever have. There are so many fun occasions you could make these for! Your friend gets promoted-give them these brownies with a note that says "You're the SHI*!" or if your friend is going through a break up you could give them these brownies with a note that says "He/She was a piece of SHI*!" Or you could just give them to the Ex and tell them to "Eat SHI*!" LOL. I'm dying...I digress. Hopefully you're not offended. 

It was such a treat to finally work with Rosanna Pansino and I'm so excited to check out her new line of bakeware and goodies from Wilton! Check out our collab we did for my show, Eat the Trend on POPSUGAR FOOD and then scroll down to see & shop some of my favorite items from her new line available August 19th! I'll take one of each! 

Hearts & Gems Molds

Hearts & Gems Molds

Mr. A's Bacon, Brie & Jalapeno Pizza

Every Friday we host pizza night at our house. Mr. A will make several different pizzas in the Big Green Egg and we'll invite some friends over to enjoy. No matter what flavors he makes, the most popular pizza is always his bacon, brie & jalapeno pizza! It's spicy, salty, meaty and I love the creamy sour bite the brie adds to the pizza. The best part about this pizza is you don't really need a recipe. We use pre-made dough from Whole Foods, an easy pizza sauce (or you can make yours homemade) and then as many toppings as you want. Cook the pizza in your oven according to the directions on the pizza dough package OR if you prefer to use your grill (like Mr. A), cook until dough is cooked through, cheese is melted and toppings are crispy but not over done. Watch the video below to learn how to make it and to see what NOT to do when you make it...or are helping your husband make it. Then, let us know in the comment box below what else you want to see us make together! Thanks!

Our @LittleAmazing Birth Story PART TWO
Photo Credit: Jenny Quicksall

Photo Credit: Jenny Quicksall

If you enjoyed reading PART ONE of Milly's birth story, keep reading to learn what I think helped me have a smooth labor and delivery. 

THE “A” TEAM From the moment I met the Owner/Certified Nurse Midwife, Simona and her team of professionals at the Natural Birth Center, I knew it was the place I wanted to deliver our baby and where I would get the best care possible. I appreciate that Simona is a certified nurse in addition to a midwife. She has attended over 1,000 births and her reputation precedes her. The environment she has created is welcoming, empowering and their philosophy is simple.  They believe that "every woman has the innate wisdom, power and sensibility to birth her baby naturally."  Our bodies were made to do this and their midwives and birth team trust in your own strengths and wisdom as a woman and soon to be mother.  It made me feel good to be in a place where I would be surrounded by women who support my decision to give birth naturally, a place where I would have a voice to make decisions about myself, my baby and my birth. I also loved the idea that I would be in a comfortable environment similar to my home, not a sterile hospital that would make me feel like I was having a medical procedure done instead of a beautiful, natural birth. And, since the birth center is across the street from Cedars Sinai Hospital, it was comforting to know that if myself and the baby needed to be transferred, we were close by.  I also loved that I could have the water birth I had envisioned for myself and our baby at the birth center-something you can't do at a hospital.  And finally, I loved the sense of community at the birth center and the complete trust and love I felt when I was there. 

HYPNOBIRTHING So much of our amazing birth story I credit to hypnobirthing.  Mr. A and I studied with Nina Phelan of The Soulful Birth every week the month before Little A was born.  Nina's class absolutely prepared us for our natural birth.  She was imperative to our birth journey.  Using the Mongan Method, Nina taught us how to relax and trust our birth journey.  I learned how to connect to my body and our baby and tune in to the natural birthing process.  She is an incredible teacher.  Because of the breathing and visualization techniques we learned I was also able to get through the intensity of labor in a relaxed pain-free state. The hypnobirthing classes very much prepared both of us. Nina's class prepared Mr. A so he could be the best possible birth companion.  He was able to help me stay focused and grounded during labor. He knew exactly how to support me through breathing, counting the waves (or contractions) and offering massages during the different stages of labor. He was my constant and my rock-keeping me motivated throughout the process.

No matter what kind of birth you envision for yourself and your baby, hypnobirthing is a powerful, priceless skill that will help you release any fear you have about birth, help you manage pain and stress levels and an incredible tool you can take with you throughout other areas of your life.  

DOULA  I think having a doula is key especially if you're having a natural birth and plan on laboring at home as long as possible.  We were referred to our doula, Darla of Darla's Darling Doula Service from our good friends who hired her for the birth of their daughter two years ago. They swore by her and said it made all the difference in the world having her on their birth team. We really appreciated that she is also a labor and delivery nurse so her birthing experience was unparalleled. I also liked that she is a wonderful mama of four, also had natural births and is extremely tuned in and was supportive of our birth plan. The way I thought of our relationship with her was that Mr. A would be in front of me so I could lock eyes with him, hold his hand and lean on him for emotional support. Darla would be behind me, giving me pressure massages and offering physical support. This would allow Mr. A to be my husband, my rock, my birth partner-and for him to not have to stress or worry about knowing all of the answers or to need to remember everything we learned in our birthing class because we had Darla.  For us, being first time parents, there are so many unknowns and having a doula on call was imperative. As soon as my water broke I texted Darla to give her a heads up and keep her posted on my progress.  A lot of first time parents end up going to the hospital or birthing center too early so having a doula helps you determine how far along you are so you don't go to the hospital prematurely.  In our case, Darla saved us from having Little Amazing at home since my labor did move so quickly! I thought I had time but if she hadn't of told Mr. A to get me in the car and head to the birthing center, we would have definitely had Little A at home (which was not the plan at all)!

MIND, BODY, SOUL I believe the harmony of mind, body and soul played a huge part in the ease of Milly's birth.  Labor and delivery is obviously a very physical journey so I knew I needed to keep my body strong throughout my pregnancy.  From the beginning of my pregnancy I practiced stretching to keep my pelvis and hips open, stayed extremely hydrated, did light exercise (mostly walking) and attended prenatal yoga a couple times a week at Happy Baby LA.  I'm obsessed with this studio and their holistic approach to creating a safe, nurturing place for mommy and baby.  I love the sense of community there and how you are surrounded with other mamas. The instructors, the people and the vibe is all positive. It's completely different than going to a traditional yoga studio that offers prenatal yoga. One of my absolute favorite prenatal yoga classes is taught by Khefri who uses Kundalini Yoga, meditation and mantra to nurture the mind, body and spirit. Her class helped me practice my breathing, allowed me to focus on my baby and really put me in touch with my body.  Her class really prepares you to have an empowered pregnancy and birth. The hour and a half I was there each week was so powerful. Every time I left class I felt closer than ever to my baby and more excited about my delivery.

I've always believed in the power of affirmations. During my pregnancy I consistently told myself affirmations. I wrote them down over and over again, would say them out loud and focused on them throughout the day. "Thoughts become things." This is a belief I carry with me through other areas of my life as well.  I told myself I would have a beautiful, calm, peaceful, healthy natural birth. Anytime I heard a positive birth story, I would think about it, take all of the amazing aspects from it and visualize my own birth story. I imagined it all of the time and I was very specific. I even told myself I wouldn't be at the birth center longer than 3 hours...and I actually believed it.  I would paint the picture over and over again of what Little Amazing's birth would be like. I think half of having a natural birth is committing to it. Most importantly, I really believed it would happen that way. In the deepest part of my soul, I believed that's exactly how it would be.  I would consistently have talks with God about his plan and praised him for this blessing. Everyday I would thank Him for choosing us to be Little A's parents and for this healthy, amazing baby.  It's such a miracle to get pregnant and to have a healthy pregnancy and it's something neither of us takes for granted.  And so I would quiet any negative noise I would hear anytime I shared I was having a natural birth at a birth center (which happened often). And Mr. A and I would choose to only focus on our choice, our pregnancy and the power of positive thoughts.  Even when I started getting painful back labor and acid reflex toward the end of my pregnancy we fed our minds with positive thoughts and focused only on the positive. This painful back labor only meant we were getting that much closer to meeting our baby!

YOU & ME + BABY MAKES THREE  I couldn't have done any of this without Mr. A. Having an active, hands-on partner during my pregnancy and delivery made a world of a difference.  I can't imagine going through any of this without him.  My "easy" pregnancy was mostly easy because Mr. A helped me so much. In the first trimester when I was so sleepy I could barely keep my eyes open after coming home from work at 7pm, he would do all of the cooking and cleaning. During all of our baby classes Mr. A is the one who took notes, asked questions and made sure we did all of our homework.  All of the day to day mundane "life" things at home he handled. This allowed me to focus on my body and the baby and not worry about anything.   He gave me a break when I needed it and even when I didn't think I did. He encouraged me to go to prenatal yoga, booked prenatal massages, helped me eat right, made sure we went on date night each week.  When I started getting pregnancy insomnia in my third trimester and the braxton hicks and back labor would hit in the early morning hours, he would get up with me and massage my back, get me water and help me go back to sleep.  He came to every baby appointment with excitement and joy. And on the morning of July 7, 2017 when my water broke and our pre-labor began, Mr. A was there supporting me, holding me and encouraging me. When I got tense and my breathing got off track, he helped me relax and calm down. His overall excitement about us being pregnant was powerful in making me feel secure and excited too. 

TRUST When it comes down to why I think I had such a beautiful birth experience it is all centered around TRUST. I trusted my birthing team beyond measure. Even when I realized my midwife's assistant would be delivering Little A because our midwife wasn't there yet, I felt confident and had complete trust in her.  Hypnobirthing taught me to trust my body, trust my baby and trust the birthing process.  Most importantly, I trusted my partner that no matter what, he'd be with me right by my side. I knew I would never feel alone or scared because I was holding on to him. Mr. A was holding me up when I was too weak,  and holding my hand when I delivered our baby girl. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our Maternity Photoshoot in Flat Rock, Palos Verdes

After the sun didn't cooperate for us during our Malibu maternity photoshoot at El Matador Beach with Photographer Jenny Quicksall, we decided to try again a couple weeks later. Jenny was really hoping to capture some images with a fiery sunset. Mr. A and I were thrilled with the maternity photos we took in Malibu so we figured this other shoot was like a bonus round.  Unfortunately because of June gloom we still weren't able to get that sunset shot Jenny was hoping for but what she did capture was still just as magical.  For this shoot the vibe was very editorial and Drew of Rogue & Fox Floral Co. created a beautiful floral installation. Mr. A and I totally felt like we were models with the romantic table set for two dressed like we were going to a fancy dinner or event. I rarely wear black so I really felt out of my element but it was fun to show this side of our personality.  Being up on Flat Rock was pretty breathtaking. You really feel like you're on top of the world up there. Take a look at the entire shoot featured on POPSUGAR now. 

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What I Couldn't Drink Fast Enough During Pregnancy

Everyone would always ask me what cravings I was having when I was pregnant and I really didn't have any...except orange juice. I wanted to drink orange juice all. of. the. time. Ironically, when I'm not pregnant I don't really drink oj at all! 

When Mr. A and I were on our honeymoon in Italy we had the most delicious blood orange juice. It tasted so fresh and smooth. It was a little sweeter than the regular orange stuff and the color was this beautiful bold red.  When we took the train from Florence to Naples, we drank it with champagne and it was the perfect compliment to the golden bubbly. 

So when the craving hit for this juice, it took me .2 seconds to get some fresh blood oranges from Melissa's Produce.  This recipe is super simple and as fresh as it gets.  This juice also a great base for mocktails and cocktails. I like to add equal parts juice to sparking water and garnish with a splash of lime and sprig of basil for a refreshing mocktail. It's also great added to a glass of prosecco or in your margarita in place of triple sec!

Homemade Fresh Squeezed Blood Orange Juice

by Brandi Milloy

Ingredients

1 serving

3 large blood oranges

ice

1. Rinse blood oranges and slice in half. 

2. Juice oranges. 

3. Pour juice over ice and garnish with sliced blood orange and enjoy!

My Top 10 Baby Shower Gifts to Give & Receive

Whether you're pregnant now and creating your baby registry for your upcoming baby shower or you have a friend who is expecting and not sure what to get them, here are some of my absolute favorite gifts I received from friends & family!  Scroll down to shop all of the items featured! Be sure to subscribe to my YouTube channel for more content and let me know in the comment box below what other videos you want me to make! Thanks! xo


#1 Cloud Be Sleep Sheep http://rstyle.me/n/cratnxcbzxp
#2 Personalized Clothing http://rstyle.me/n/cratp5cbzxp
#3 Children's Books http://rstyle.me/n/cratq6cbzxp
#4 Moby Wrap http://rstyle.me/n/cratswcbzxp
#5 Munchkin Mozart Music Cube http://rstyle.me/n/crattkcbzxp
#6 Moses Basket http://rstyle.me/n/cratuscbzxp
#7 aden + anais swaddles http://rstyle.me/n/cratvjcbzxp
#8 California Baby Products http://rstyle.me/n/cratwhcbzxp
#9 Personalized Towels http://rstyle.me/n/cratxscbzxp
#10 Homemade Gifts-needlepoint art http://rstyle.me/n/crat2ecbzxp

Our @LittleAmazing Birth Story PART ONE
Our precious babe!

Our precious babe!

Full disclosure: Little A is currently on my breast learning how to latch so I’m using two fingers to type.  Today was a big day! We took her to her first visit to the pediatrician, ran some errands and got home later than I thought we would. I planned on writing this birth story last night but was so sleepy between feedings! Plus I can’t put her down and I know I’m supposed to sleep when the baby sleeps but how is that possible when I can’t stop staring at her?

Our @LittleAmazing Birth Story PART ONE

Milly Blake Simon

Born 7.7.17 at 7:07am

6lbs. 7.5 oz 19.5” long

Despite having an “easy” pregnancy and really enjoying being pregnant, like many other mamas-to-be, the last couple of weeks of pregnancy are tough.  You feel like your body is maxed out. There’s just no way there is any more room for this baby to grow.  It was getting harder to bend, harder to breathe and days on set were leaving my ankles as swollen as softballs.  During the last two weeks it was especially tough as I started getting Braxton hicks and back labor. The Braxton hicks were manageable. The back labor on the other hand, was brutal. It felt like fire and it would come every hour or so…even at night- so not a lot of sleep for this mama-to-be.  The only thing that would relieve it was stretching my back and doing cat cow pose on all fours or rotating my hips on a yoga ball for several minutes. I actually had a segment on the 4th of July for KTLA and between teases I left set to go to the green room and do cat cow pose on the floor to relieve the pressure! Thank goodness no one saw this pregnant lady in her dress on all fours!

The day before Little A came I was ready. Mentally and physically I felt like she was going to come on the 7th of July. My original estimated due date was 7.17.17 but Mr. A and I had joked that it would totally be OK if Little A came on 7.7.17. Both dates are pretty lucky! On Thursday July 6th, I had a meeting in Studio City and then decided to go to Caioti Cafe to get “The Salad.” This magical salad is known to naturally induce labor. I had heard all about it and definitely wanted to try it. I mean- it couldn’t hurt. Plus, I had to eat something for lunch! The salad is basically greens, walnuts and Gorgonzola cheese but the secret is in the balsamic dressing. I ordered the salad and asked for extra dressing. I stopped by POPSUGAR Studios to grab some mail and told all the girls to send 7.7 vibes my way.

When I got home I decided it was game time. I started going down the list of natural ways to induce labor. I ate the salad, drank some raspberry leaf tea (another thing known to get contractions going), did some lunges and continued down the checklist.  I even had Mr. A do some acupressure on me.  We went to bed around 10pm and I put it all in God’s hands.  I obviously know the baby will come when the baby is ready but I had a good feeling going to bed. 

At 1:24am I was jolted awake by a contraction and the feeling that my water was breaking. I ran to the bathroom just in time and felt my water break. Immediately I started having contractions about 3-5 minutes apart. I texted our doula, Darla to let her know what was going on.  I thought maybe I’d try and go back to bed a bit. What a joke. The contractions were too close together so I stayed in the bathroom for a little over an hour and timed them on my phone. They were strong and consistent.  The hour flew by.  At this point I didn’t realize Mr. A wasn’t awake. He had been waking up with me every hour for the last two weeks to give me counter massages anytime I had back labor so I didn’t realize at 3:00am that he was still sleeping. I decided to wake him up and tell him the exciting news. I was beaming from ear to ear. Knowing my water broke and I was in active labor just made me so excited because I knew Little A was on their way! 

Mr. A immediately started helping me relax and breathe into each contraction.  During my pregnancy we had been practicing hypnobirthing at home plus we had taken hypnobirthing classes with Nina Phelan of Soulful Birth for the past month every Sunday for three hours.  Nina was absolutely imperative in making us feel confident and ready for natural birth. Her class is phenomenal and equipped us with so much strength and power to conquer our natural birth journey. I feel like she really prepares the fathers and significant others of the mamas to be doulas.  I know I couldn’t have gotten through each wave (the term we use for contractions in hypnobirthing) without Mr. A. He was the best partner ever.  He started timing the waves and letting me know when they’d be over. That’s the beauty of labor. People never talk about the space between the waves when you aren’t contracting. Your contraction might last a minute but then there’s space between each one-even if it’s just four minutes or one minute like what I was experiencing. They are just like the waves in the ocean. The wave comes up and then there’s a beautiful space where the water is still.  The ocean is calm. This is a gift and a powerful time for your body to relax, breathe oxygen in and not focus on the wave that’s up ahead.  He would count down and keep telling me “Only 20 more seconds left baby. You got this. You’re so strong. I love you.  Just breathe. Thank you so much for doing this for our baby.” I could cry just thinking about how grateful I am for him.  He was incredible. 

Around 4:30am the waves were getting more intense. I decided to get in the shower hoping it would relieve the pressure.  It was absolutely fantastic. The warm water felt like a massage and made the waves bearable. I didn’t want to get out but was worried it might relax me too much and slow down my labor.  I continued to trust my body. I kept thinking to myself “Your body was made to do this. You are doing this.”  Leading up to my delivery I knew I wanted to labor at home as long as possible. I knew I would be most comfortable at home and had set goals for myself to only get to the birth center when we were ready to start pushing. Little did I know I should have been a little more specific with my goals and vision.

Our doula checked in with Mr. A at 5:00am and quickly realized I was probably farther along than we all thought. Anytime I had a contraction I would lean against the wall and just breathe through it.  I was taking sips of water between each wave so I could stay hydrated.  Looking back I didn’t think a first time delivery could go that quickly but now it was 5:30am and things were really picking up.  Mr. A texted our certified nurse midwife, Simona around 5:45am and first she said “Why did you wait this long to text me? And why are you texting me and not calling me!”  Whoopsy!  She was concerned I could have the baby at home!

I could feel the baby move. Around 5:50am I felt Little A in the birth canal. The baby was coming! All I wanted to do was bear down (Go Wildcats! U of A reference) and start pushing.  It took so much strength for me to decide to leave the house and head to the birth center but I wanted my water birth damn it!

I told Mr. A to grab our bags and put them in the car and then as soon as he’s ready I would start walking to get in the car.  Both our doula and midwife said they would meet us at the birth center.  As we were leaving Mr. A asked me “Are you sure it’s time lovey? You’re still communicating.” One thing we learned in our birthing classes was that when a woman is in transition or ready to start pushing she will go inward and quiet and won’t be able to talk. She will be primal and focused on her body and the baby and probably not able to communicate anymore. I, however was so verbal that when we walked outside I reminded Mr. A we needed to move my car to the driveway so we didn’t get a ticket for street cleaning that morning.

We got in our car at 6:15am and headed to the Natural Birth Center.  Mr. A put on our rainbow relaxation guided meditation to help me relax and stop from pushing and drove us as safely as possible.  Keep in mind this is a Friday morning in LA. We live in the South Bay and had to get to Beverly Hills.  If we had left any later, it would have taken us at least an hour to get there. Luckily it took us about 25 minutes. They were the longest 25 minutes of my life.  I kept my eyes closed during the drive to stay focused on my breathing and listened to our tapes. Mr. A gave me constant updates on how close we were and how much farther we had to go.  A couple times I started moaning and pushing and then I would try and stop myself. In between the intensity I would talk to Little A and tell our baby to stay in there a little longer. “Not yet baby. We aren’t there yet. Almost baby. We are almost there, baby.”

We got to the birth center at 6:40am and I jumped out of the car and flew up the stairs like a monkey.  We had arrived before our certified nurse midwife and doula.  Luckily the other midwife on call, Addi was there with a nursing assistant, Mayra. As soon as I saw them I was so relieved.  We’ve gotten to know both of these women for the last 10 months at every check up and every appointment and it was so surreal to see them that morning knowing that we were about to have our baby.  As they were turning the lights to the office on, I told them to get the water in the tub because the baby was coming. I’m not sure if they thought I was really ready or if they were trying to have me wait for Simona but there was no time for that.

I got in the tub around 6:45am. I remember my sister, Sonya (who also had a water birth with my nephew, Bexton) said that as soon as you get in the water, you feel amazing relief. She was right. It felt wonderful but I also knew it was game time. At first I was just trying to breathe through the feeling to push. I didn’t want to rush things and all of the sensations were so foreign. It’s an unknown sensation you’ve never felt before. It’s what other moms tell you about but you can’t really explain until you are actually experiencing it. I knew I wanted to surrender to my body and let it do what it was meant to do.  In that moment I also recalled my prenatal yoga instructor, Khefri telling the mamas in her class that pushing “feels good”. I know that sounds bonkers but I think what she meant by that was it feels good to finally be able to push the baby out knowing that you are that much closer to meeting your baby. Right before 7:00am I started breathing the baby down and pushing.  I pushed three times and then held her there. As I held Mr. A’s hand I took one big breath for more energy and pushed once more. Then I grabbed my baby under the water and pulled her to my chest.

I did it! I did it! That’s all I kept thinking after I had Little Amazing.  Our baby was here. It was really happening.  It was almost like I was having this out of body experience.  It didn’t feel real.  I had watched so many beautiful natural birth stories including my sister’s and now I was living it. I had just delivered our baby all natural, medication free in the birthing tub. I had been visualizing this exact scenario over and over in my head for months and now it was actually happening. I remember locking eyes with Mr. A, both of us absolutely beaming with astonishment and saying “I love you” to each other. 

I held the baby against my chest and couldn’t stop staring. I was in a baby daze! Finally I asked Mr. A what the baby was. Boy or girl? I turned the baby around to face him and he said “It’s a girl!” And immediately I knew she was. 

She was so tiny-like a glowworm. I couldn’t get over it.  I was finally meeting this precious gift from God that He chose for us.  This little baby we had been talking to, singing too and loving on for 10 months. I was holding our love baby, our baby we were meant to have exactly when we had her.  Milly Blake Simon.  We had always known our baby girl’s name. We both had thought of it together-inspired by my maiden name, Milloy. Mr. A would always say, “It’s the best name. How could you not love that name?” It always felt right. Even when we were looking for our first home, we would go to open houses and if we didn’t think the house had a room that was right for Milly, we knew it wasn’t our home.  And I think even though we waited to find out the sex of our baby, deep down we knew it was a little girl. 

Minutes after I delivered Milly, our certified nurse midwife and doula showed up. I told them I was so sorry they didn’t make it but they were both so happy for us. I was still in the tub and it was perfect timing. We were able to do delayed cord clamping, cord banking and I delivered the placenta with ease.  Little A got so much skin to skin time with Daddy and we both got to love on her for hours. I started breastfeeding baby, we called our families to share the good news and by 11am we were on our way home! Welcome to the world Milly Blake Simon. You are so loved!

I will never get over how amazing our natural birth story was but I’m confident there were several factors that made my delivery smooth. To find out what I did that I attribute to having a short labor and smooth delivery, stay tuned for PART TWO of our birth story. In the meantime, let me know your thoughts in the comment box below and be sure to subscribe to my YouTube channel for more or our Amazing Life!

Minutes old Milly in Mommy's arms and already stealing Daddy's heart!

Minutes old Milly in Mommy's arms and already stealing Daddy's heart!