PLAN FOR THE FUTURE

I’m thrilled about our new sponsor: CFP Board. They’re shedding light on something I want all of us to think about and discuss – our finances. It’s not always comfortable, but it is extremely necessary.

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As you may already know from my other posts, Joel and I are thinking about expanding our family (eeep!); this has led to discussions about our finances.

Lately, I’ve been waking up in the middle of the night with my mind racing about these discussions. I know stress is not the best during this “process,” but it’s also hard to avoid.  Joel and I both have family in the financial world that have impressed upon us the importance of planning for the future. We were told it was time to get help and make a plan created by a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professional.

First off, I’m learning that many people without the necessary qualifications call themselves financial planners, so just beware. It’s essential to get someone who has a CFP® certification upholding the ethical standards required of a CFP® professional. Just like you want a doctor that has the proper license, you want someone guiding your finances that has the proper qualifications.

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Like my desire to KonMari style organize my house is strong, my desire to get organized financially is even stronger. Meeting with a CFP® professional near us (letsmakeaplan.org) can help Joel and I start working on all of those questions that keep popping up in the middle of the night. I mainly want to plan for education (from preschool to college) and know how much we should be putting away for retirement and life insurance. It must be our age, but retirement seems to come up in conversation a lot lately. It’s easy to get stuck in the day-to-day and be happy just making ends meet every year, but I know there is a way to WIN the rat race one day–and enjoy retirement–IF we stay on a targeted plan.  

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Like most Americans, our financial needs range and change. The above thoughts are my urgent issues today, but I also have so many others. For instance, lots of little questions about our personal taxes for those of us with blended families. A CFP® professional will work with us today and grow with us as our needs change, especially if (and when!) another little one joins the family. How can we make our money work for us, not the other way around!??  My father gave me the best reason to work with a CFP® professional: worry less. He said money is a terrible master, but a wonderful servant.

Do you feel like your money is working for you? I hope so! But could it be working harder? I’m excited to let the professionals do what they do best, so I can be the best for those I love and be the best at what I love.

It’s so easy to just meet with a CFP® professional. Go to letsmakeaplan.org and find one in your area. The best part of CFP® professionals is that they work with you to build a plan to take care of a myriad of needs–both big and small. If you are starting your own family, there is NO better time than now to start planning ahead and securing your future. If you’re even younger, let me tell you: when I bought my first house in my 20s, I thought that was enough to secure my financial future, but in hindsight, I could have done so much more had I retained a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professional. See what they have to say!

If you’re interested, I hope to share our journey with you all–and show you how much financial planning can serve you in your lives. It can be a lifelong relationship, my CFP® pro and me!

As always, any comments below are welcomed! Have you ever worked with a financial planner?

xox

AJH

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BACK FROM TEXAS: traveling with a toddler

Hayden and I are back in California and I'm missing my family. I'm not typically a jealous person, but I have to admit, when I see other people with their family surrounding them all the time, I wish we had that! But, alas, life choices took me away from Texas years ago and our family lives here in California!

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1. My Exact white dress (comes in 9 colors)  2. Variation of the dress 3. V-neck dress & bell sleeves

4. Similar Option to Sister's dress

BLENDED FAMILIES

I've been asked about life with a blended family. I don't feel like an expert on the topic, so I rarely comment. However, I realized sharing my experience is simply that... I'm not trying to give advice. There are so many beautiful aspects of a blended family. We cherish the time when our whole family is together (Hayden and Huck are very close-- it's chaotic, but great). But, when it comes to schedules and trips and visiting family, it gets hard. Although Huck was on spring break while Hayden and I were in Texas, that time is split between Joel and Huck's mom. Since I want to see my family as much as possible, often that means I am in Texas with just Hayden. We make it work like many of you do. Family trips just take more pre-planning and time. Who went through something similar recently? 

TRAVEL TIME WITH A TODDLER

It's a joy to see Hayden with his grandparents and my siblings. He loves his Aunt Jordyn! As hard as it is flying by myself with him on my lap (oh.my.goodness!), it's worth it. I think we are at an in-between stage traveling with him. A little bit older and he'll want to watch a movie. A little younger, he'd sleep on the plane. Right now, he just wants to roam. I tried to be overly prepared with a kid's headset, downloaded movies, snack packs, etc. and it definitely helps, but if you guys have tips from your own experiences, I'd LOVE to hear. I do love the backpack diaper bag. It's genius for traveling and walking through airports while pushing a stroller. 

I don't know about you all with toddlers, but we always seem to get our groove of naps and bedtime the last day or so. I have yet to figure out the best way to handle time changes and sleep routines. Hayden has done well recently in his own bed. Outside of his own bed, it is challenging. I've heard other kids sleep like champs in a pack and play, but Hayden fights me! This explains the lack of sleep and why my hair is usually in a bun! Lol. Of course, the very last day, he slept in the pack and play. 

WEAR IT AGAIN? yes, and again and again!

Okay, if you all visit the blog or follow on social media, you are well aware that I like this dress. Yes, this is the same one I wore last year on Easter. I love a great new dress or item of clothing, but I also appreciate pieces I already own. I've talked way too much about this dress, like I did HERE, so I'll move on now. Oh, and my flats are washable, sustainable and I love the petal pink. 

My sister's dress is so cute on her. Love the style and type... she got it from chicwish, a site I like, but it's sold out. So, I found great similar options. ALL the dresses below are under $100. So great for summer parties, date nights, baby showers, etc. And the dress I'm wearing comes in 9 different colors!

1. My Exact white dress (comes in 9 colors)  2. Variation of the dress 3. V-neck dress & bell sleeves

4. Similar Option to Sister's dress

 

I promise to move on to other fashion options soon! Hope everyone is having a great day. 

xoxo

 

SOAP OPERA DIGEST column- I need your help!

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Maybe you've been in the supermarket and grabbed a Soap Digest in line? Maybe you flipped through and caught the new column I'm contributing about parenting and everyday life? Or maybe you're a diehard fan of the soap genre and get the magazine in the mail!? Many, many, many people do!!

I'm so excited to be contributing fun tidbits in this new column. The first one was on time management... how to be a more efficient person (because I need all the help I can get). Slow cookers topped the list of items that are helping our household....If you missed the column the first time around, you can take a look below. 

THE FIRST COLUMN: more daily efficiency

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By the way, Joel and I have been working on our diet after the food intolerance test. Some of you were so encouraging- thank you. I will write a post about that all soon. 

THE SECOND COLUMN: bag lady

The second column was a question I am asked constantly... what is in my diaper bag? It seems like a basic question, but I remember being pregnant or just after having Hayden wondering what other women were toting around all day. I remember my dear friends giving me a huge diaper bag when he was first born... they said I'll probably be like everyone else and learn the hard way. At first, you'll bring the house with you, then over time, you'll par down and realize you don't need to travel to every location in your city with half your nursery. Ha. They were right. Take a peek below:

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THE THIRD COLUMN: gift guide for the hurried parent

I was JUST at the market and saw the 3rd column on the stands. It's the basic gift guide for moms/parents (or kind of for anyone needing gifts). It was fun to put this one together. Ideas include DIY teacher gifts to a great go-to for girlfriends, sister, boss, etc. I'm really loving doing this type of column/project. It's a fun creative outlet and genuine opportunity to share with you all. The holiday gift list was a bit longer than the magazine could allow, so I'm making an extended list that will be up very soon (one list is HERE already for the under $25 gift ideas).

WHAT I NEED FROM YOU: what would you like to read about in 2018 Soap Digest columns? I would love to know what interests you... the best "non- mom" mom jeans? Technology? More kitchen type activity? Family travel?  Please leave your ideas in the comments section below. I'm excited to read them. Thanks, Y'all!

 

Family/Friendsgiving Dinner

We had a very impromptu family/friendsgiving dinner last Saturday. Maybe you caught some of it on our instastory or Facebook (and btw- started a new facebook "page" if you wanna glance! Trying to add to that page everyday.) We were on our way inside this building downtown and I asked a passerby on the street to snap a family photo with my iPhone. I wanted to try and get one picture of all of us before it got too dark. We don't always have Huck on the weekends, so if we're out as a family and all cleaned up, mind as well snap one, right? We were a tad late to our dinner at this point. (Had a couple meltdowns getting ready. The older one switched bowties and shirts more than once. #ThisIs5. I'll leave it at that). ANYWAY--Joel didn't want to stop and have a mini photoshoot. But, he humored me for 3o seconds. 

Those of you that did tune in to instastory left so many fun DMs. Thank you for chiming in and making the interaction fun.  After enough of you asked about what I was wearing (especially the earrings), I promised I would link them. The earrings are 25% OFF right now HERE. I wasn't sure I'd wear them all the time, but I do!! I'm wearing the dress a lot more than I thought I would, as well. I wore it to a Pepperdine charity luncheon event I had earlier in the week. And don't laugh at me if you see me in it a few more times...!! I bought the grey, but I kinda wish I had picked the white. The winter white dress with the black bow seems holiday to me.  FYI: I'm wearing a 2 regular. The dress ($88, but check J.Crew for sales) runs big in my opinion. It's J.Crew (they have more size options on this site). So, if you need an easy go-to holiday outfit in totality- look right below. 

When I saw this dress on the mannequin in J.Crew, I thought it had an Audrey Hepburn feel to it: A classic, timeless feel. I'm not the only one that saw a throwback to the Hepburn days. The reviews agree it's a great staple. I chose to pair the simplicity of the dress with louder earrings and boots. But, you could easily go for pumps and stud earrings to complete a daintier look.

Oh, and... the longer version of the Huck dressing story? He wanted to wear Christmas colors. He's already asking for stockings and Christmas music and when we can put up the tree. (I secretly love it!). So, we worked hard to pull something together in "Christmas colors." And we did it! (Get his cute blazer HERE;) Both kiddos are in these shoes that are suppose to help them walk properly: pediped. I know they are a pretty penny, but if you are looking for a great shoe for your kids, check them out. They are sturdy and last. 

I don't usually match with Joel -ha!- but I guess we were both wearing grey. He loves this shirt I got him by Hugo Boss at Nordstrom Rack on sale right now. Note: do not dry it! It takes away some of the original texture, but he's wearing it anyway;)

As always, if you have any questions or comments, please ask....

xoxox Ashley

 

 

 

Rare Moments (and leopard prints)

Hi! Jotting down a few lines before I head out for the day. After seeing how crazy fast the green sweater is selling out I posted about earlier this week. I wanted to share some of my favorite sweaters before they starts to sell out, too. I have received the DMs about the green sweater. I will let y'all know as soon as I hear it's been restocked. Fingers crossed. 

This cardigan sweater caught my eye. So glad I snagged it. I love the color scheme and the way the blue pops. I paired it with jeans, a white tee and boots for a casual look, but it could easily be dressed up, too. I'm wearing the same earrings I wore earlier in the week...the delicate threaded hoops for only $28.


side note: I just read in the comments this sweater is already selling out (!). I added this note:

Ugh! How did it sell so fast? When I posted this they had EVERY size. Ok.... first of all, I just checked my sweater. It's a 2. I saw that it looks like it runs small, but in my opinion, I liked the size I got (and I usually wear a 2-4, sometimes 6!). But, since it's more of a cardigan, I think there's some wiggle room there in sizing.
Great thing is there are free returns!! I also found it HERE  (free shipping both ways). It comes in tall and petite on that website.
BTW- (giving a lot of info here) that site works best with chrome. Safari sometimes does't work well. (you could cut and paste to put in chrome if need be).


 

Joel and I had a very rare moment without kids to say goodbye before he left for work. It looks so posed, but it was actually real, or at least started out that way discussing schedules for the next few days. Life gets busy before the holidays!

I had just given him this new messenger bag that doubles as a diaper bag for dads. He loves it. For those moms that would like a gift for dad this holiday--- this is a great one from Petunia Pickle Bottom. His laptop fits perfectly (along with all his other stuff he totes around, too). 

all photos by @Ographr

Got a lot going on today... what's up with you guys? Have a great Thursday!

 

A BIRTHDAY CELEBRATION

I didn't know where to begin with this post because it's hard to comprehend it's been a year already since Hayden was born. But, here we are... celebrating his first birthday with a smash cake and all! Thank you to People and SoapDigest for writing about Hayden's day, but I also wanted to write a bit about it on my own site, too. 

My awesome friends at Good Carma Studio hosted the day with us. Ladies, you outdid yourselves. Thank you!!  I know the animal theme was part of my baby shower (and then his first nursery!),  but we came full circle with a "WILD ONE" jungle theme. It was a jam packed party full of love and fun, bubbles and special touches. We made sure no one left Adam's Garden hungry (thanks to StoneFireGrill---amazing!) and PolkatotsCupcakes!

My favorite part was sharing the day with friends and family. It's always a joy to see others have fun, especially Hayden and Huck having a blast with so many "little" friends at this indoor playground.

I had to combat the post party blues a bit...has anyone else experienced that? So much build up, then it's over! And it goes by so fast... the guest come, the kids play, everyone eats and visits and then you cut the cake! Huck said it best on the way home, "That was the best party. I wish it could last forever." I feel that way so often about moments in time. It's bittersweet to witness our babies starting to become independent. But, there's never a dull moment with the Hayden and Huck, more work coming up and getting situated in a new house. Always more to look forward to right around the corner. 

Photo: Linger Photography -  Location: Adam's Garden LA (such a bright and cheery indoor space and staff. Clean and lovely- they use only organic cleaning products!) everyone seemed to love the playground:) The staff play with all the kids, too!

Hayden is proud of his   milestone chalkboard . It looks like he's telling his brother all about it. Thank you, Kelly Patrice

Hayden is proud of his  milestone chalkboard. It looks like he's telling his brother all about it. Thank you, Kelly Patrice

Sharing some of our favorite photos: 

My mom gave Hayden is little birthday outfit he wore, then we changed into Fayfaire's "I'm This Many" birthday t-shirt, which also comes in an adorable pink ruffled version, before we had the smash cake session. I love Fayfaire's mission to pay it forward by donating a onesie to the neonatal unit of Miracle Babies for every purchase sold. 

And since we're talking outfits, many of you have messaged asking about my pants and top, so here are the quick details!

Pants (love love) are on sale at Topshop for under $40 with free shipping and returns. And my TOP that I LOVE is under $40, too. It comes in three designs. And nude sandals...


I have to thank all the visitors that come by here and comment and enjoy sharing ideas and thoughts and support. A few of you sent the sweetest gifts and cards for Hayden's birthday. I look forward to sharing pictures in some upcoming posts. And wanted to share one of reader's birthday poem:

One year ago, on this very night Hayden Joel Henricks was born. What a beautiful sight. 7lbs 9oz 21 inches long with love and a heartbeat oh so strong. The world watching as you laugh, learn and grow bringing more joy than you'll ever know. Seeing things through your eyes has been the greatest gift and a big surprise. I can't believe you're turning 1, such an amazing little guy you've bcome. On this very special Birthday may all your dreams come true as everyone comes together to celebrate you. - Leslie McFadden

THANK YOU ALL.  XOXO ASHLEY

HANGING OUT SAFARI STYLE: nursery talk

The Italian Magazine,  DiPiu,  featured a sweet story about Hayden when he was only a little over 2 weeks. His nursery was barely finished, but we had some of the basics up. Boy, that time was nutty... no sleep is an understatement. 

The Italian Magazine, DiPiu, featured a sweet story about Hayden when he was only a little over 2 weeks. His nursery was barely finished, but we had some of the basics up. Boy, that time was nutty... no sleep is an understatement. 

Hi there! I'm finally putting up some little shots of Hayden's nursery. Time just keeps going and life keeps happening. So much so that we may already be moving soon. No one is more excited than Huck, my "4 and three-quarters" stepson. He's been patiently waiting for HIS OWN ROOM. (Although he did tell me last night that he is going to miss sharing a room with Hayden so much that he may NOT want his own room!). Anyhow, before we actually make it to a new spot, I wanted to share how we split the (tiny) space into a nursery and room for Huck. We just took more photos of the whole room that I will be sharing soon, but here's a sneak peak! Oh and by the way, this used to be my dressing room! My, how times have changed.

When I need to clean up the boys' room, sometimes I bring his   4Moms highchair   in there and let him commiserate with his "friends!" He loves being more eye level with   the giraffe  . And he loves being higher up in general, so we get a lot of use out of this chair. And I enjoy the sleek look. 

When I need to clean up the boys' room, sometimes I bring his 4Moms highchair in there and let him commiserate with his "friends!" He loves being more eye level with the giraffe. And he loves being higher up in general, so we get a lot of use out of this chair. And I enjoy the sleek look. 

There is kind of a theme going on here... the best we could do! The theme started in Home Goods shopping with Kaley while I was pregnant! Lemme explain something about my girlfriend Kaley Cuoco...she is decisive. So, the fact that I hadn't come up with a theme for the baby shower or a nursery was not good. In Home Goods, she found a brass elephant statue and said, "Why not do a elephant/animal theme?" I liked the idea, but couldn't visualize it. Once I started searching online stores, I realized I could create a space that had an element of sophistication that would appeal to a baby and my stepson. Kaley ran with the idea for the baby shower! And so the safari theme began. 


I'm excited to do a more detailed post about the room once the recent pictures come in. But, I can say the safari theme worked well for both kids. My mom stepped in and helped me tie it all together. She is blessed with an incredible eye and imagination. She found whimsical, fun additions, like the Noah's ark, safari themed mobile over Hayden's crib. Huck is obsessed with the oversized stuffed animals...Mr. Giraffe! And Hayden wakes up talking to giraffe often. You can surprise your kids or brighten up your nursery for under $100 with this stunner. Read the amazon reviews! People love this guy! Here are some snaps I grabbed two months back. (Now, the crib mattress has to be ALL the way down due to Hayden's height!) 

I'm loving how this   handmade mobile   adds a pop of color to Hayden's nursery. And his grandmom gave it to him! It's the sweetest thing to see him watch it turn. He coos and talks to the little animals wearing his ridiculously soft little   animal/safari print onesie  ! ha! 

I'm loving how this handmade mobile adds a pop of color to Hayden's nursery. And his grandmom gave it to him! It's the sweetest thing to see him watch it turn. He coos and talks to the little animals wearing his ridiculously soft little animal/safari print onesie! ha! 

The oversized elephantsare an affordable, fun addition and so soft. And to add an element of sophisticated whimsy, my mom added the paper mache animal heads. Huck thinks they are "the coolest things ever." The decorative wall animals* worked well to tie in a nursery with a preschooler's room. If I keep going, I'll spoil the pictures that are coming next week, so I'll stop here. 

Do any of you remember coming up with a theme for your child's nursery? It's not always easy! Especially if they are sharing a room, right? I've missed hanging out here on the blog...between family and work, it's been a while. How is everyone?

xoxoAshley

*not exact item as shown in nursery pictures, but similar item found.

Body After Baby

I have to thank Soap Opera Digest for their latest interview where Mara Levinsky got me talking about body after baby (on stands now- with a blurb on the cover!). I haven't written much about this topic because in no way do I feel like an expert. However, I think it's good to talk about the reality of life and getting in shape after having a baby. Or the reality of what it takes to get in better shape for anyone: discipline and work. The article goes in depth about the things that I didn't expect, the struggles and the joys of postparatum. Let me know what you think!

This photoshoot was two weeks after giving birth, right before I went back to shoot GENERAL HOSPITAL. I was EXHAUSTED and emotional and elated simultaneously. 

I took long walks several times a week and kept as active as my energy level allowed during the pregnancy, trying not to gain unnecessary weight. Hayden got fairly big toward the end (I wrote this post after the baby shower, and this post was three days before I gave birth). I admit, I was lucky I initially lost some of the pounds I gained, but it started to creep back. I had to eat more to keep breastfeeding and wasn't working out enough. The struggle to get back in the same shape I was in pre-pregnancy has been real for me. I haven't done it yet, as I discuss in the article. My body looks different. One of the biggest struggles has been learning to accept myself for where I am in life today. A reader (thank you Cara Sue!) left a comment in another post about resolutions for 2017. She simply said she wanted to have "more self care." I love this because it encompasses more than just vanity; it's a whole lifestyle practice mentally, emotionally and physically. My priority now is my baby and my family. This used to sound like an excuse to me when other people said it, and it is to an extent, but it's simply the truth. Do you feel like you have time to workout? I don't want to be that person with excuses! My husband reminds me it's all about prioritizing the day, making smart choices.

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So, I am trying to look at this as an opportunity to adjust to a new lifestyle! I strap the baby on and go hiking or walking. I use my Joovy jogger to jog if I'm not too tired. I have grand plans to escape to yoga, but my membership doesn't get as much use as it used to. So, I go when I can. Some days I feel like I'm running around in circles not being as productive as I'd like. I have to let my preconceived expectations of the day go as I step over full laundry baskets and Huck's toys. I have a feeling some of you can relate?  

I try to stay well so I have energy by implementing super simple tips I learned from Dr. Oz! I have to say, my whole household has been sick, but I have not! I still take Proglucamune, the immunity supplement from Usana.  I promised myself I would drink two glasses of water with my supplements every morning. I'm proud I have made that a habit. My mom recently reminded me of a tip we both learned from Ronn Moss (from BOLD AND BEAUTIFUL) years ago... hot water with lemon first thing every morning to detoxify the body. I remember him drinking it during the day on set, too. He swears by this habit. Healthy (and free) habits are the best! 

In order to make progress for tomorrow, I have to do something different today. Doing the same thing every day and expecting different results is the definition of insanity. So, I am making a list of easy, healthy habits to incorporate change in my life as part of my new year's resolutions. I'm going to force myself to try them--- wanna do it with me? Leave a comment of things you'd like to try. Drink more water? Vitamins? Less soda? Less sugar. Take more steps (literally walk more)? I'm thinking I'd like to start one habit at a time and build from there. 

In the meantime, in honor of the Golden Globes tonight, I'm sharing my favorite tricks I've learned over the years from wardrobe, makeup and hair that have helped me during this transition period of body after baby.  Read them HERE! 

My First Christmas!

Sometimes I ask myself if it's silly to put Hayden in little "get-ups" like this in the photo above? (or like THIS one on SALE for under $20 I just ordered?) Am I too old to get excited about these little things? Then I look back at a picture and realize it was totally worth it! I will frame his "My First Christmas" onesie picture and have it out every year. He took these pictures right around his 6 month birthday. He was almost sitting up on his own. After looking at a few photos last night, I realized I wanted to share in case any of you all wanted to capture these same moments with the babies in your lives. This little gift under $25 is so adorable. It comes wrapped in a mason jar with a little party hat on top (see photo below). And my sweet mom sends him gifts all the time....he's having way too much fun with his rattle santa socks. It especially keeps him occupied when he's in his car seat and can kick his feet to hear the rattle sounds. 

Thanks for following along on some of these posts. It's fun to get to share some special moments (like meeting Santa!). There's still time to grab some of these holiday picks for baby below----(I even just amazoned some Christmas baby books!) enjoy!

Flashing Back this Friday for Upcoming Holidays (and for SHOPBOP sale alert!) xo

This was one of my favorite dresses to wear when I was pregnant and figuring out what worked best for me! See my original post about it HERE. I recently discovered it's available for the holidays in four gorgeous colors: pink, black, white and navy. I love color, but really love it in winter white. This is the type of strong, stretchy, textured material I could wear even now post-baby. I'll let you know if I decide to go white. ps- it's under $100 and if you are a SHOPBOP addict it's part of their MAINEVENT16 sale!  I have more to add...check back in later today. Off to work and bringing baby, wish me luck!

Play dates! Play dates!

AshleyAJones.com

While some friends are living it up at #NYFW as we follow their every move on social media, it's hard to believe I'm 40 and making playdates with my three-month-old but here we are and I love it. Hayden has had a few dates lately. Earlier in the week, he had a date with Miss Molly Manno...and of course, had to dress up! 

AshleyAJones.com

Then, we're losing it over here at these photos from our triple date today with Lennox and Molly! It's like Hayden had a chance with Molly, then Mr. Lennox came calling! And, it looks like Molly chose Lennox!! So funny. 

I can't get over how adorable these kiddos are together...I also can't get over how much our have changed in a phenomenally short amount of time. I mean, we were all just pregnant together! The three of us moms all had a busy day, but I'm so glad we still got together. Our dear friend Lacey had her baby, too, so we can't wait to bring Julia into the mix! It's good for me to see and hear how other first time mothers are handling their new lives with the baby. Having that village of other women is important. Hayden still isn't sleeping as much as I'd like at night, so Molly's mom (follow Ali Fedotowsky's blog here) shared some ideas. I'm laughing as I write this because no one sleeps as much as they would like to anymore. I can't believe I ever complained about a)sleep or b)my back hurting pre-baby. I had no idea what real sleep deprivation was! If you all have tips on babies sleeping longer stretches, let me know. I appreciate your comments. Meanwhile, Hayden is sleeping longer right now than he has maybe ever. And here I am not able to sleep! It's literally 2am and I cannot sleep. I'm learning lines for an audition and now writing here...Tomorrow may be rough. 

AshleyAJones.com

Our get togethers are much quicker than they used to be and involve a decent amount of chaos (check our snapchat: @ashleyaubra), but still just as much fun. ps- Check out Amy's blog here!

AshleyAJones.com

Hayden loves his....

NO MORE CRYING OVER SPILLED MILK! What items are saving me (and my milk)!

AshleyAJones.com

First of all, I'm grateful I can breastfeed at all. I know it's a privilege.  With that said, it's been an incredibly trying, challenging, emotional roller coaster. For me and my husband! Sleep deprivation is a real thing! Although it hasn't even been a month, there are a few key materials I wish SO MUCH I had utilized from day one in the hospital. I'm back to work today!!  And these products have helped me save extra milk for Hayden. This is simply my experience... I'm obviously not a doctor (even though I play on one on B&B- ha!), so do your own research and find what is best for you. 

First off, I've had issues. I'll write more in another post for those that are curious of my experience, but to spare you the morbid details, I'll just say my nipples got so raw, I couldn't breastfeed.  I was still pumping, but it hurt. Badly. Finally, I listened to my mother and bought breast shields. Immediately, I was able to go back to breast feeding with Hayden.  It doesn't take away all the pain, but it lessens it by about 75%.  (***Please note: before you use these, do your own research. I believe they can help temporarily, but over time, could lessen your supply of milk.)

                         Medela Breast Shield

                        Medela Breast Shield

Secondly, my husband did his own research and ordered me Milk Savers.  After seeing how desperate I was to produce and save milk, it crushed us to see wasted milk in breast pads or dripping down my clothes.  When I would nurse on one breast, the other one would leak quite a bit.  It would've saved me  a ton of grief, pain and spilled milk!  You know the saying... no sense crying over spilled milk? Well, let me tell you. I've shed a few tears over wasting this precious liquid gold.  Every girlfriend (nursing or about to try nursing) I have told about this product wants it!

While the Milk Savers are great while I'm nursing or even around the house, I am using breast shells inside my nursing bra occasionally between feedings. They collect excess milk and it can really add up. (TIP: if you use the lids with ventilation at the top, be careful when you lean over--- it will spill out!!). This is an easy way to collect milk when you aren't feeding or pumping. Plus, at least for my situation, it protects the nipples while they are healing.  I really used them mainly for that. I didn't love collecting milk in them.

Below, I rounded up the products that have helped me the most with breastfeeding.  I added my favorite nursing bras, too.  They are priced low to high (some, in my opinion, high).  But, so far, the ones I've chosen are worth the money.  (ps- click on each picture if you're interested because some items on sale are not reflected in this post, but will show up when you click).  I'm still in shock how quickly they get messed up and need washing... one minute we're good and the next... oops! We're leaking! Anyhow, check it out... and please--- this takes a village, if there are products you highly recommend, PLEASE leave a comment.  

Check out the nursing tops I have used the most. To read more about nursing, or see where I was wearing some of these, type NURSING in the search box at the top right. You'll see more posts!