A little message from me…

I started this blog about a year a half ago in order to share more about our experiences through Patrick’s cleft journey. Writing about some of those emotions was an almost therapeutic process for me. Until that point I had spent my days completely engrossed in the care and needs of our baby son. We went to doctor’s appointments multiple times a week. We cried together while I tried to feed him, we survived many sleepless nights, and an extremely difficult surgery and recovery. 

My life had become consumed by his needs. And I was grateful to be the one to take care of every one of those needs. But it was also hard. Being a mom is hard. It can feel isolating, and lonely, and scary. I had moments where I would look in the mirror and wonder who the person was looking back at me.

Lack of sleep, and stress, had meant that most of the things that I had identified as part of me had fallen into the background… This blog, this writing, it began as a creative outlet for me. It meant I spent some time each week connecting with a way to be creative- something critical to who I am.

As our journey has evolved so has the content I have been motivated to share. I have connected with so many incredible women and mamas out there. Some who are also walking a journey with cleft, but also many who, like myself, are just trying to find themselves again inside of their journey of motherhood. 

I believe that the most important thing I have learned in my time as “mama” is that we must make time to connect with the things that make us “us” before our kids. The old saying goes “put your oxygen mask on first”. 

For me, those things include fashion, and beauty, home décor, and writing. And I am so incredibly grateful for every single one of you who have continued to follow with me on this journey. My commitment to you, as we keep moving forward, is to keep bringing you ideas, inspiration, and love. 

I hope you can come to my page and see another mom doing her best to make it work. That you might be able to be inspired to try an outfit or look you wouldn’t have before. That you might be motivated to try a new lipstick outside of your comfort zone. 

I aim to share with you when great brands have sales, or new products worth trying. I aim to share with you what kid and baby products I love, and what is working for us. These are all of the things I love, and I hope can be helpful to all of my mama friends. 

I also come to you today to make a commitment. To always be honest and forthright with you. I will never represent a brand or product I do not truly stand behind. In this space there has become an overwhelming number of people willing to take a dollar to talk about products they don’t actually care for; products they would never spend their own money on. I write to you in part today, as a promise to never talk about a product or brand that I do not truly believe in.  That I would not spend my family’s hard earned money on. 

My final commitment to you when you come to my Instagram page, or my blog, is to never pretend to be an expert. I am just another mom trying her best. I have learned so much from all of you, and I hope to continue to create a community space where women can come to feel good and inspired. Never less than. Never incapable. Never alone. 

Valentine's Day or just a great dress!

Honestly obsessed with this whole outfit right now!

This dress is super comfortable and stretchy. Runs true to size. The square neck line does mean that if you wear it solo you might need a strapless bra, but its so versatile – easy to dress up or down!

https://rstyle.me/cz-n/dzcb3wcterp

These boots were a bit of a splurge but they are SO worth it! They run true to size, comfortable around my calf, and they are the perfect camel suede color! I was nervous about pulling the trigger on them, but I do NOT regret it one bit. They’re as good as I could have ever hoped!

https://rstyle.me/cz-n/dzcb6rcterp

Freezing and Pregnant…

My favorite mom uniform for days like today – freezing and 19 weeks pregnant!

My leggings are some of my favorite maternity leggings- super soft and very supportive! The tank I have layered here is so long! it fully covers my bum and so does the sweat shirt I have over it.

Sweatshirt:

https://rstyle.me/+5MnsNI2rcbS8LMgsCSTmeA

Leggings:

https://rstyle.me/+oPncPXN0SXAlo1cFTRMb7g

Cami:

https://rstyle.me/+gjG7AoaYmUiwOt4ch1__6w

My all time favorite slippers- Uggs are on major sale in 2 colors right now, and would be a great time to snag them!!

Sale color Slippers:

https://rstyle.me/+E0cZg2Q5kpW5YFcsG1AyqA

Traditional Colors: (Not on sale)

https://rstyle.me/+gWc-f833AejbLaHZ6FGS_Q

I don’t know how I waited so long to pull the trigger on my first pair of Nickel and Suede earrings, BUT I am so glad I did with these ones! The light blue color and the enamel are so light to be able to wear all day but a super fun pop of color to brighten up my black on black!

https://rstyle.me/+kvq1TLUe2tU-vRBZU97H0w

The mom life uniform

I am seriously in love with this oversize sweatshirt! I am typically a Small but I really wanted an oversized feel, and still accommodate the bump, so I bought an XL! For a more fitted look buy your regular size!

Also- I haven’t talked about these leggings yet, but I AM IN LOVE! I you haven’t pulled the trigger yet- stop waiting! These spanx faux leather leggings make every look appear pulled together! I bought the maternity ones during their Black Friday sale and they’re perfect!

I am officially on the LiketoKNow.it app and I would LOVE LOVE LOVE if you would go and find me! My username there is the same as everywhere else – mamahouli_

I will be linking everything for you to be able shop instantly right there- From my outfits, Patrick’s adorable looks, a must have baby list – which I am working on right now! and home decor! LiketoKnow.it makes linking and shopping instant and easy to use!!

https://rstyle.me/+KumQ5_epDp3khkPO9I4NWw https://rstyle.me/+nFY82Irou0I8_rU1sUjTFg https://rstyle.me/+dD_DbzMj1AzBu8585bqaxg https://rstyle.me/+cvwUso_oVRdv8YTslSFfbg

Amazon Favorites

Can you even call yourself a mom if you don’t order half of your life off of amazon? I’m sure there are plenty of great moms who don’t, but I’m not brave enough to try it myself!

The past few months I have ordered a few new things that have quickly become my new favorites!

I ordered this journal because my word of the year is CALM! With a wild man under 2 and a new baby coming soon I am hoping to learn how to stay in the CALM during our chaos! Also- I have been known to curse and the touch of humor and real mom life cursing in this journal made me laugh and think it’s something I’ll look forward to jumping into and stick with! I ordered another one for my sister and she has been LOVING it too!! They make a few journals with a similar, but different themes- you will not regret this one, either for yourself or as a gift!

Okay- next are my new favorite beauty blenders. I have always preferred a beauty blender to a foundation brush. I find it streaks less, and it easier for me to use. But I struggle with the cost of the real one. After all, $20 for one little sponge seems crazy. Of course, I wash it and maintain it so that it will keep it as long as possible, but eventually the little sponge breaks down and I’m tossing it for a new $20 sponge. It gets to me. As a result I think I have tried every drug store beauty sponge on the market and they always disappoint. But I heard great things about the ones on Amazon, and the mountain of reviews pushed me over the edge to try one more time. This pack of 5 is just $8.99 and I actually am going to go so far as to say, it’s not just as good as the original – it’s better! It’s bigger and holds up for longer without breaking down! Impressed would be an understatement. If you have not tried these beauty blenders… stop waiting and order them!

Next up is a purchase I made out of frustration. Living in NY we’re currently undergoing a big shift away from straws- if you go anyplace where you might get a drink with a straw, that straw will no longer be plastic, but paper. I am 100% in agreement for the reasons behind this change. I get it. I really do. But I love drinking from a straw and I HATE paper straws. I have tried a few different options over the past few months for a good replacement to a paper straw and finally found these silicon straws that are so great! I love them- easy to clean, without breaking down, no taste or texture aversion. The metal taste like metal, paper breaks down and tastes like paper! These silicon ones are amazing! 10 straws for $5.99, a range of fun colors and a tool to help you clean them thoroughly! I now always have one with me so I can say no thanks to paper, and slip in my own reusable straw!

I have had this next item on my wish list for almost a year. When my parents gave us gift cards for Christmas I knew this would be what I purchase! A weighted blanket! There are plenty on the market, so I took my time reading reviews and looking into the different options. And ultimately this one came out on top over and over again. I bought it in navy and have been loving it so much! It is so soft, comes in different weight options (you want to be sure to buy for your body weight!) The insert with the weight doesn’t shift or move around inside yet at all which is huge! So far- one of my favorite splurges of the year!!

Last, but not least on my list is my handbag organizer. For Christmas Shaun surprised me with a LV Neverful GM bag. I had been wanting one as a diaper bag but I always knew if I had one, I would need this bag organizer. I have talked about this organizer with friends since before well before I ever had the bag myself and more than a few have ordered it and called me to thank me because it is genius and affordable and makes this giant tote bag manageable! It comes in a few colors and sizes depending on the size bag you have. No fret- you do not need to have an LV bag, check out the dimensions and consider it for any large tote bag you might carry around! It comes in a few colors so you can try and match the inside lining color!

LAST ONE! I spoke about these tops in my stories today, but they are so cozy and soft- super bump friendly or just legging friendly! Mostly all around MOM- life friendly. At $16.99 I am super happy I bought these – one in white and one in black- goes with everything and super versatile.

Favorite Dresses that work for the bump…

This dress is so soft, could be worn casual or very dressy without sacrificing any comfort- you can not beat this price at $28! I went up one size to accommodate the bump!

This dress is too good. I wore it last week and got tons of messages about where it’s from! For $14 you honestly cannot beat it. If your tall and accommodating a bump I would consider going up 2 sizes, but if you’re short like me – 1 size up was good! If you’re not rocking a bump get your usual size!

Absolutely cannot say enough about this last dress! – If you saw on my instagram it’s so flattering, super soft, versatile AND affordable at $23.99. Check out all the different styles, and colors they have available. I honestly am buying more colors as we speak!

https://amzn.to/370qAR7

Last Minute Christmas Checklist

If you are anything like me, you make your list, check it twice, and realize 2 weeks before Christmas you forgot teachers, and other small gifts you usually give out during the Holidays. Here are a few simple ideas we came up with this year for last minute gifts!

For Patrick’s teachers I picked up these great, and simple initial coffee mugs from Target. All of their coffee mugs are on sale for $5 and they have so many adorable Holiday designs! I really thought about grabbing some of those, but decided that the initial design they could use all year, and felt more personalized for them! Also! Target is doing free 2 day shipping, so don’t stress yourself about another run to the store, if you buy today, it should ship to you by Wednesday!

If you love giving more Holiday themed gifts check out some of these adorable designs!

I added some of my personal favorites – Assorted Lidnt Chocolates https://amzn.to/2LUTlpI and a Dunkin Donuts gift card. But you could add any candies or gift card you think the person would prefer- maybe you know where they get their nails done, or that they just love Swedish Fish?

My other favorite gift this year are the ornaments Patrick made for our family. They came out so adorable, and a gift made from him means more than anything I could buy from a store. They would also make a great activity for Christmas day to keep the kids busy while you’re working on meal prep!

The pre-drilled wooden discs are on amazon and are on promotion right now with an extra 5% coupon at checkout and deliver by Monday! https://amzn.to/36yq1gp

Patrick made his own creative designs! We also used his thumb to make a snowman, which I later decorated to look the part.

When we did our ornaments we used paint we had in the house, but any washable paint would be perfect! I found this set on amazon that comes with brushes and plenty of paint to keep them busy! https://amzn.to/34kIWKc The ornaments come with string you can use, but we decided to use a red ribbon I had handy to make them a little more festive! https://amzn.to/34kIWKc

We gave one ornament out a tad early and presented it on the neck of a wine bottle! It was great to see them open the the wine, assuming it would be just another bottle of wine brought to a party and see a toddler made gift! It brings a smile to everyone’s face- especially when they can drink wine while loving it!

I have a couple of favorite gifts I am giving out this year that could be perfect for almost anyone on your list! You can’t beat a good favorite from amazon, order this week and have plenty of time to wrap before Christmas Eve!

This neck massage pillow I actually purchased as a gift, and one for us! We’ve been using it daily and it is amazing! A perfect size, you can use on your upper back/neck or lower back- even put it on the floor and use on your feet! It is absolutely amazing and for the price, it cannot be beat!

This wine cooler set is so smart and comes in multiple color options. Great for anyone who drinks wine and likes to stay on the go- I can see multiple people on my list using this at the beach in the summer, on vacation at the pool, or on a camping trip! Such a great gift!

These slippers I bought for myself a few weeks ago and I have to say- they are amazing! So soft and cozy inside, comes in multiple beautiful color options, and would make a great white elephant gift! At $25 for the pair, they make a great gift for any of the girls on your list!

I have talked about this product on my blog before, but I will say again – it is amazing! I had a ton of people reach out me to since chatting about my experience with it a few months ago. I had incredible results with it, and it would make a great gift for any of the women in your life! (Just a quick reminder that it is not recommended to use during pregnancy or during breast feeding.)