Casual Claire

Newborn Pictures with Amanda Nicole Photography

You know who sometimes you meet someone and you know immediately that you want to be friends? Isn't it weird how that works? Well that's how I felt when I met Amanda. My friend Jessica from Happily Hughes met her first through Instagram, and when I met her she was 37 weeks pregnant and I asked how she was feeling and she said "I'm miserable" and I knew we would get along. Well it also turns out that Amanda is the amazing photographer behind Amanda Nicole Photography who specializes in maternity and newborn photography. Did I mention she's really, really good?

Oh, my sweet baby Tripp at only 8 days old! You better believe that's going on his birth announcement. And he was being impossible that day! Wouldn't sleep, wouldn't pose, wouldn't really do anything - and Amanda still managed to get the shots that I'm going to frame and cherish forever.

Seriously this is my newest favorite picture of me. And just so you know Tripp peed through this outfit and all over my shirt about 5 seconds after this shot was taken. It was lovely. 

Amanda Nicole Photography is based out of Roswell/Cumming (right outside of Atlanta, GA) and she takes pictures all over the Atlanta area, although the newborn studio is currently in Roswell and soon to be in Cumming. You can check out her online galleries: newborn, maternity, babies/kids and family. And check out the maternity shots by her I posted on Instagram here and here. I'll do a whole post on the maternity shots in the near future, because it somehow made sense chronologically to do the newborn pictures first. I really think both newborn and maternity pictures are completely worth the time/effort/investment. All of these pictures are going to be hung in our home and put in many different scrapbooks and looked at forever. I just love them so much and they make me incredibly happy. 

Oh and of course this one of Trippy and his future wife Henley (Happily Hughes) that will be in their wedding slideshow for sure just melts my heart. Thank you Amanda for these amazing pictures and if you live in the Atlanta area and are looking for a newborn, maternity, or family photography make sure you check out Amanda Nicole Photography and follow her on Instagram and Facebook for more updates!

2 Under 2 [Featuring Zutano Giveaway]

If you follow me on Instagram you may have picked up lately on some of the struggles we've had with our daughter Maddie Grace (who turned 21 months the day her brother was born) and her adjusting to having a baby brother in the house. I've also been surprised how many comments I've gotten on these posts thanking me for being real and honest - no point in sugarcoating things. 21 months is a hard age in general. Add in their whole world being turned upside down and them not being the centre of attention anymore? Well that's something.

Maddie Grace: Dress c/o Zutano; Tripp: Footie, Hat c/o Zutano

Shirt: c/o Zutano; Pants: c/o Zutano

We had high hopes for how Maddie Grace would handle becoming a big sister, and she had a great start. When she met Tripp in the hospital it was love at first sight. I mean it was all "awww baby cute! MY baby" and hugs and kisses. The first week at home was smooth sailing as long as Tom or I were giving her attention.

Then Tom went back to work an there were a lot of emotional breakdowns and tantrums in between the hugging and kissing of baby brother. Then she figured out baby was here to stay and Maddie Grace became... well rather violent. Sometimes she is sweet and will hug and kiss Tripp, but then when she is close enough to scratch or hit him she flips and does so which lands her in time out and me very angrily yelling "why would you do that?" But then she will look at me from time out and say "I sorry baby I sorry mommy love you" with her big blue eyes and all I see is my baby girl who doesn't fully understand what she's doing or what's going on and my heart breaks for her. Parenting is hard. And I've never wished more that I could have handbook to tell me what to do in these situations.

Kimono: c/o Zutano; Pants: c/o Zutano; Booties: c/o Zutano

I've been focusing on having more one on one time with Maddie Grace but it's so, so hard. I'm always nursing Tripp it seems and he really doesn't like being put down ever. I can typically put him down for 15 minutes to give her all my attention but it almost seems that's just enough time for her to get attached to me and then be super clingy when he gets fussy and I go to pick him up. And of course between the two of them I struggle to get any housework done (blogging is possible by typing one handed while holding a baby). Thank goodness Tripp really is an easy baby and is so laid back - we would be struggling if we had another Maddie Grace. Today I picked up Maddie Grace from school and her teacher told me she scratched every kid in the class. This is my sweet baby girl who has never had any behavior issues before. I'm at a complete loss at what to do with her to get that sweet girl back!

Jacket: c/o Zutano

Blanket: c/o Zutano

I know that one day Maddie Grace and Tripp will be best friends and I'll be glad that they are this close together. Several friends of mine with siblings that are around 21 months apart from them have told me how much they loved having a sibling that distance apart and how close they are with that sibling, even when the opposite gender. Because of this I look forward to watching their relationship grow and hopefully improve over the years. Just now she gave him the sweetest hug and kiss and said "aw baby" and then kicked him in the face. And until they're best friends I will dress the in matching outfits because I can.

I actually learned about Zutano when we were given an outfit as a gift for MG and instantly became a fan because it was the most adorable little outfit and so soft! Their pieces are fun, colourful, cute, and ridiculously soft. Zutano has unique prints that you won't find anywhere else and I love that I'm able to put the cute elephants on both Maddie Grace and Tripp because they are just adorable. And the flower print for Maddie Grace is going to carry us into spring perfectly.  I took a quick peek at the Zutano website at the baby girl elephant print clothing and really wanted to order all of those too to give to friends. But one lucky reader is going to win $75 to spend on cute clothing for their littles from Zutano! Enter just using the form below - good luck!

$75 To Zutano

Summer Colour Now

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #RethinkColour #CollectiveBias 

Does anyone else just have summer on your mind? It's basically all I think about - I can't wait for the warm weather, trips to the pool, and summer clothes. Those things will have to actually wait until May, but there are some summer things we can go ahead and change now to help get us in a summer state of mind. Why not go ahead and work on summer hair now? We can't make it warmer outside but for me summer always brings about lighter hair which is one thing I can go ahead and make happen with John Frieda Sheer Blonde® Go Blonder products!

As part of my lightening routine I use Joh Frieda Sheer Blonde® Go Blonder Shampoo, Conditioner, and Visibly Brighter In-Shower Treatment. The in-shower treatment is a new product that will instantly soften dark roots and can boost your shade by 1 color without the damaging qualities of traditional hair color. And of course it's safe to use on color-treated hair. If you're like me and really push how long you can go in-between highlights this product is a must have for in-between colourings. It's easy to use so you don't need to worry about messing up the color, and doesn't make hair brassy like some at-home lightening products.

The Go Blonder Shampoo and Conditioner can take your hair color up to 2 shades lighter (when you use shampoo, conditioner, and lightening spray) and gradually lightens hair for a natural sun-kissed look. It's also super moisturizing and great for color and chemical treated hair. I loved how soft my hair felt after using this and that it seems to keep my highlights from turning brassy.

You can find John Frieda Sheer Blonde® Go Blonder products at Target - look for them in an endcap display! If you buy 3 you get a $5 Target gift card through 3/5. I buy all of our family needs at Target - I love that I can go and buy beauty products, groceries for the week, and pick up some new clothes, all while drinking my favorite Starbucks Green Tea Frappucino. Any time I can't find something I just ask a friendly sales associate for help and they will grab the product for me!

Check out John Frieda for more color inspiration! Are you already thinking about summer? Tell me what you're looking forward to below!

Staying Active with BabyBjörn

If you've followed along with me for a while you know that there are certain things we love doing as a family - one of the biggest is traveling and exploring the outdoors. With one kid it became a little more difficult, but totally do-able. We took lots of hikes and explored parks all around Atlanta. We haven't traveled yet as a family of 4 (since our youngest isn't even 3 weeks yet) but are already anticipating our first trips - we will most likely travel to Savannah for a weekend at some point in March or April and have a trip to Disney World for a whole week booked in April for Maddie Grace's big second birthday celebration so we are making sure now that we are prepared for the trip! We have already gone on a couple of very short hikes (if you can even call them that) as a family of 4, and look forward to doing many more when it gets a little bit warmer here. Today I'm highlighting some BabyBjörn products that are going to be huge for getting out of the house with 2 little ones in tow.

BabyBjörn Baby Carrier One

BabyBjörn is known for their baby carriers. And the Baby Carrier One is the creme de la creme of baby carriers. This was developed by BabyBjörn alongside paediatricians to be both comfortable and ergonomic for baby to support baby for wearing longer periods of time, making it perfect for long walks or wearing to events around town.

The Baby Carrier One can be used for babies 8 pounds to 33 pounds giving it a huge age range - you can use it with newborns without having to purchase an extra insert. It's comfortable to strap on and wear, and Maddie Grace loved riding on daddy's back in it for a quick hike and so far I've only worn Tripp around the house for short periods in it but he enjoys it as well. There are four different carrying positions that can be used with the carrier - front facing you as a newborn, front facing you as a baby, front facing out, or back carry. This carrier has a ton of different options and straps to make it as comfortable as possible but can be a bit confusing - I found this video by BabyBjörn to be really helpful in making sure I was getting the most out of the Baby Carrier One.

The new denim color of this carrier is fun and something different than other carriers on the market. This carrier is a must for any mom or dad who wants to be able to take baby on trails that strollers can't handle or just want the ease of not having to push the stroller. It's also a must have for any mom who would like to be able to do daily activities hands free, something that particularly comes in handy when you have more than one kid. It stays cool and comfortable for me and both the kids seem to like being worn in it.

BabyBjörn Travel Crib Light

Any parent who has traveled with a young child and attempted to take any type of pack n play or travel crib knows the dilemma - too heavy, too difficult to put together, and just not worth it. BabyBjörn is on a mission to change this with the Travel Crib Light. This travel crib weighs an astonishing 13 pounds. It's also incredibly easy to set up. The legs unfold automatically so the mattress just needs to be placed in it. It's also easy to undo the legs and fold back up and into the carrying bag. The sides of the crib are made from a soft mesh so that baby can breath easily and parents can check in and see baby. The crib fabric is washable and it is a very durable crib which is important for traveling.

The BabyBjörn Travel Crib Light features a very comfortable mattress perfect for when you're away from home, or even if  you just need an extra crib at home (I find it helpful to keep this set up downstairs so that we do have an extra sleeping space and I don't have to go upstairs to put baby down). It's designed for children 0-3 years old so when we travel Maddie Grace can sleep in it as Tripp will still be in a bassinet or a travel bed in our bed.

I love that the BabyBjörn Travel Crib Light comes in this pretty teal color in addition to pink, black and silver.

Have you tried either of these BabyBjörn products? Or know of something else that would help a mama get out and about? I'd love to hear your thoughts below!

Homemade Energy Bars

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #SweetNewYear #CollectiveBias

Since I'm working on losing the baby weight I'm trying to focus on healthy recipes to keep me on track. One way I'm doing this is by cutting back on sugar in everyday life. I'm always on the go and in need of energy, but hate how full of sugar and preservatives the granola bars and energy bars that I buy at the store are. That's why I've started making my own and am loving the outcome.

Here's what you need:

2 Cups Rolled Oats
3/4 Cup Peanut Butter
4 Tablespoons Truvia Spoonable
3/4 Cup Craisins
1/4 Cup Vanilla Protein Powder
3/4 Cup Coconut Flakes
1/2 Cup Chopped Walnuts
2 Large Eggs

Here's what you do:

Preheat oven to 350F. In a large mixing bowl combine oats, Truvia Spoonable, craisins, protein powder, coconut, and walnuts. Using an electric mixer add in peanut butter and eggs.

Press mixture evenly into a a greased 9" by 9" pan. Bake for 30 minutes.

Remove from oven and allow to cool. Cut into bars and enjoy!

I'm using Truvia Natural Sweetener Spoonable products in all kinds of recipes to cut back on my sugar intake. Truvia Natural Sweetener Spoonable is a zero-calorie, stevia-based sweetener. I love using Truvia Natural Sweetener Spoonable because it can be used to replace sugar in recipes perfectly, and has a great taste whether you are adding it into baked goods or using it to sweeten your morning coffee. Head to Truvia Natural Sweetener Spoonable to request a free sample, and here for a coupon to save $1.50 on any ONE (1) package of Truvia Natural Sweetener (excluding 7 ct.), Truvia Baking Blend or Truvia Brown Sugar Blend. I find Truvia Natural Sweetener Spoonable at Walmart in the baking aisle:

Be sure to check out other great Truvia Natural Sweetener Spoonable recipes here! What are you doing to keep your health goals this year?

Valentine's Day Gift Guide (+ Helen Ficalora Giveaway)

Valentine's Day is so close I can smell the chocolate and flowers. Seriously, two of my favorite things, how could I not love the holiday? My husband always needs some hints about what to get me so I threw together a little gift guide of things I think would make great gifts and am sharing here today. One of these little gifts came early for me this year - my Helen Ficalora Charm Necklace - and I'm giving one away to a lucky reader so don't miss out!

PJ Salvage Pajama Bottom Pant

Natural Life 'I Love You' Trinket Dish

Kate Spade New York Dot Candle

Valentino Donna Fragrance

Barefoot Dreams CozyChic Robe

Sugarfina Candy Bento Box

Kendra Scott Danielle Large Oval Statement Earrings

Tory Burch York Passport Wallet

Helen Ficalora Charm - I got this Helen Ficalora Garnet Birth Jewel Heart Charm necklace in 14k yellow gold in anticipation of Tripp's birth and have worn it pretty much every day since he's been born. It's small and simple but so pretty, and a very sentimental piece for me since Tripp's birthstone is garnet and it goes with anything I wear. It's a necklace I'll cherish forever and always make me think of him. Helen Ficalora has a great assortment of meaningful charms that make for perfect gifts for anyone!.

To help one reader have an extra special Valentine's Day I've teamed up with Helen Ficalora to give away a sterling silver heart cutout charm on 18" fine chain (worth $105)! To enter just use the form below, good luck!

Helen Ficalora Charm Giveaway

Making Time for Mom: 5 Minute Skincare Routine

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias and AVEENO®. All opinions are mine alone. #BestLovedBeauty #CollectiveBias

I didn't think having 2 kids would be easy. I certainly didn't think having 2 under 2 would be a walk in the park. But boy has it been an adjustment. When Tom is home each of us can tackle one kid, but he works pretty long days and I have to figure out how to take care of both kids AND myself. I love it - the newborn snuggles, the toddler laughs - life is really good. But I've also found that I don't have time for a lot of the things I did before. The biggest luxury right now? Finding time for myself. Taking a shower. I really wish I hadn't taken long warm showers for granted before. With one kid it wasn't that bad - when she was a baby I would put her in a bouncy chair in the bathroom and she would sleep while I showered. As she got older I just learned how to time showers with her nap time - no big deal. But now with a toddler who hardly ever naps and who I have to keep a close eye on around the newborn, it's next to impossible.

Since showers have become so rare, I make sure to really enjoy them when I actually am able to take one. It's the little things. I also make sure that one way I take care of myself (which is almost as important as taking care of the kids) is by having a healthy skincare routine. Skin is the largest organ of the body after all. That's why I follow this 5 minute skincare routine:

(1) Wash - Well this is obvious. That's why I'm thrilled to have discovered AVEENO® Skin Relief Gentle Scent Nourishing Coconut Body Wash and Soothing Oat & Camomile Body Wash. AVEENO® uses ACTIVE NATURALS ingredients sourced from nature that deliver real benefits and give clinically proven results. These products are gently scented and proven to provide relief for itchy, dry skin. They both smell amazing and give a great shower experience, which is something you really cherish when you're covered in the smell of baby spit up 95% of the time.

(2) Face - The face needs special attention from the rest of the skin. My skin is crazy right now because, well, postpartum does that. That's why I use AVEENO® Clear Complexion foaming cleanser.

(3) Lotion - Never miss out on lotion, no matter how busy you are. Not only does AVEENO® Skin Relief Gentle Scent Nourishing Coconut Lotion and Soothing Oat & Camomile Lotion smell amazing but if you are someone who gets dry skin in the winter like I do you will love the itch relief it provides. I also always use a lotion on my face because I know moisturizing is the key to healthy, glowing skin. I use AVEENO® Clear Complexion Daily Moisturizer which moisturizes while helping prevent breakouts.

Other ways to make time for mom? Enlist the help of friends and family - if they're willing to help clean or bring you food, let them. That's the last thing you want to do with a newborn, toddler, or really child of any age. Or if you're not up for visitors tell people that. Sometimes visitors can be overwhelming, as well-meaning as they are, and other times it's awesome because who doesn't want adult company? But be honest and tell people how you are feeling and how they can help. And if grandpa wants to rock both fussy babies to sleep let him and sit back and relax for a minute. Oh and bouncy chairs never hurt. If it's the only way you can get some time to yourself or some sleep then go for for it.

You can find the AVEENO® Skin Relief line at Target in the lotion and body wash aisles!

How do you find time for yourself? I'd love to hear more below!
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