My Hair Donation To Wigs 4 Kids

There is no denying it — each of us has had cancer impact our lives in some way or another. This week I had a new reason to say screw cancer, because two family members were diagnosed with it.

Like most of the world, I loathe cancer. I hate that it hurts so many people, and I really hate that even children endure it. My heart goes out to all dealing with this terrible disease.

When I learned about hair donation to help cancer patients a few years ago, I knew it was something I wanted to put on my bucket list. In the past, I always grew impatient and cut my hair before it met the required lengths {most organizations require between 8 and 12 inches}, but when I learned I was pregnant, I knew I could make it happen since prenatal vitamins help with hair growth and I knew I wouldn’t be dying my hair.

I was thrilled when a friend mentioned Wigs 4 Kids, a St. Clair Shores, Michigan-based organization. Something that struck me about them was that they give wigs to children free of cost. I also love that they provide hair to children with other hair loss issues such as alopecia, trichotillomania, lupus, hydrocephalus, burns and more.

To me, it’s just hair…But to a child who has lost her hair? It could mean the world.  

So when I cut off 11″ of my hair today, I didn’t mourn my loss. Instead, I celebrated the fact that I am lucky enough to give it to someone who needs it more than I do.

My amazing stylist Jill at Maki J’s Salon in downtown Howell reassured me that I could pull off short hair, so I put my trust in her and let her go with her vision. Since I have really thick, wavy/curly hair, she made sure to give me a mom-friendly ‘do that I can wear both curly and straight. While it is going to take some getting used to, I couldn’t be happier with her work. Here are the results:

My Hair Donation to Wigs 4 Kids

I can’t wait to ship off my hair this week and help a local child in need!
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Our Newborn Photo Session with Deanna Spivey Photography, Metro Detroit Photographer

Deanna Spivey Photography

I often like to stand on my soapbox and tell moms-to-be a few things they should consider getting with a new baby. Skip the $500 strollers and the heaps of things you may never use — get a great camera, a great rocking chair, and a photo package for the baby’s first year of life, or at the very least — professional newborn photos.

Deanna Spivey Photography Newborn 1

Why? A baby changes before your eyes during the first year of their life…and there is nothing quite so heartwarming than looking back at your nugget when they are just days fresh. {Their skin, hair, eyes and more change just a couple of weeks after birth, so it’s really neat to look back and see the changes.}

I was beyond ecstatic to work with Deanna Spivey Photography again, this time for Miles’ newborn shots.

I can take decent photos, and for that, I feel lucky. But I can in no way manipulate a baby quite like a professional can {nor do I have the energy in those first postpartum days}, and watching Deanna work was like watching a sculptor with clay. It was nothing short of amazing!

I mean…LOOK. Babies in baskets for the win!

Deanna Spivey Photography Newborn 2

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Miles’ Birth Story: Third Child Charm

Last Wednesday I went in for my midwife appointment at 40 weeks, 5 days. She swept my membranes for the third time. THIRD time’s a charm, right? I was dilated to 4cm and 80 percent effaced. But where was my baby?! After she reassured me it would be literally a day or two, I went on my merry way and that was that. I was just thrilled to hear an induction had a slim chance of happening and I had made my peace of going all the way to 42 weeks if it meant he would come on his own terms.

Nighttime hit and I went into nutso nesting mode and cleaned the house. By the time I hit the hay, I was exhausted and so afraid of baby coming and me not having the energy. Someone was looking out for me because I got the best pregnant sleep I had gotten in a month. I woke up at 6:30 a.m. with minor cramping and just knew it would be the day.

I made some lists, had some bonding time with Karina while Kinley slept, responded to emails all while feeling a bit off. Then 9 a.m. hit and I had a hard contraction. All of the sudden I was getting contractions 10 minutes apart and then every five minutes. Though they were bearable, I called my mom and told her to come over figuring even if I labored for a bit, it would be nice to have her there just in case. After a few more contractions, I called the husband as well so he could make the 35 minute commute from work home.

I stayed busy with the kids while the contractions came, and they didn’t even notice anything was wrong, which was my goal. I didn’t want to scare them or see me wince too hard in pain.

When the hubby got home, I told him to grab the suitcase and food and we’d better get going. The contractions were getting closer together and stronger and I did not want to feel uncomfortable on the 25 minute drive to the hospital.

Before the hospital

Before leaving for the hospital. As you can tell, Karina didn’t want us to go…Ha!

On the drive, I shed a few happy tears: So far, my labor was going exactly how I had hoped — it was happening during the day, the sun was shining, I was in a great mood, and beautiful music played {Enya Pandora is amazing for relaxing}. Also? One of my best friends had delivered a healthy baby boy {her first after two girls as well} that morning. The thought of our little boys sharing a day gave me desire to press on and let my body just open up and birth.
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Letter To My Daughter On Her Second Birthday: My Dear Karina

Karina, Age 2

My Dearest Karina,

It’s hard to even write Karina, because to me you are Kar, Kar-Boo, Karina-Bo-Bina, Kar Bars, sugar booger, and more. Seriously, your list of nicknames may be slightly out of control. But truly, they seem to sum you up well: You are a little spark plug, and I can’t believe you are already TWO years old!

This past year has been C-R-A-Z-Y. Crazy busy. Crazy wild. Crazy beautiful.

First, it’s hard to remember, but I nursed you until you were more than 18 months old…and even then, you weren’t ready to give up. I have major guilt for weaning you, but I think you *finally* have forgiven me. I’m so sorry. The fact is, you are a happy child now and that’s what matters, right? Right. {sensitive subject for mama!}

On that note, I know the whole “breastfeeding makes kids healthier” notion can be controversial and not always true, but I have to say — you’ve held up your end of the deal! You’ve only had one ear infection your entire life. Pretty incredible how healthy you are considering you are my child who has licked a window at a bar in town, licked a sign at Lowe’s, ate various food off the ground, and more I probably didn’t even see. When doctors say those kinds of things build up immunities, I believe it. Disgusting at times, but I am SO happy you’re so healthy ;)

Health aside, one of my favorite parts of our day is when you and I are alone for a few minutes while I put you down for a nap. You pick out a few books, I read them to you, and then we rock a bit. For awhile, you would scream when I sang to you…and honestly, that stung since I love to sing. But the past few months, you have requested I sing, and you often say “again,” the moment I stop. Your current favorite is “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star,” but also love a German lullaby I sing. You sing along in your little babble and it tugs at my heartstrings.

If we’re not confined to rocking, you LOVE dancing and start moving the second you hear music. I’ll never forget the time we went to a tractor show and you went nuts on the dance floor to a band playing 60’s music — completely alone. I adored your moves and your confidence. I hope it stays with you for the rest of your life.

You are such a lover, and so far, don’t have a shy bone in your body. You crack me up when you find the creepiest looking man at the store and wave and say “Hi!” to him. You are not afraid of much {with the exception of loud things like 4-wheelers and boats}, and can often be found getting into trouble, whether it’s wandering off somewhere or climbing to the top of a play structure that is way too big for you. Also, let’s not forget that time you fell into a river. Ugh. Everyone warns me that boys are crazy, but I think you have prepared us very well for the transition!
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To My Son Before You Are Born

To My Son {Before You Are Born},

In a few weeks {perhaps even days}, we’re going to meet for the very first time. You’re likely going to cause me an incredible amount of pain and then you’re going to make your grand entrance into the world and fill a section in my heart where I didn’t even realize there was a void.

Anyway, I wanted to take a moment to tell you what’s on my mind before you come. Of course I’m nervous about everything that’s inevitable {giving birth, keeping you alive during those first few months, how your sisters are going to adjust, etc.}, but truthfully, I’m more nervous about the bigger things, like the man you’re going to become.

I by no means have all the answers on how to make a mentally and emotionally strong man, so I hope you don’t expect that out of me. Shoot, I don’t even have things figured out for myself most of the time. But I promise to always give you my all, and listen to your thoughts and concerns with an open mind and heart. I hope in my heart for the type of relationship where you can talk to me and your daddy about anything and everything, even if it means seeing things differently.

In fact, here are more of my hopes for you:

  • I hope you find something in your life that gives you passion early on.
  • I hope you listen to and respect your big sisters. I already know they will be very protective of you, their baby brother.
  • I hope you always feel love from your daddy and I.
  • I hope you are never afraid to express your feelings — the good and bad.
  • I hope that you never give up. I want you to follow your dreams without fear, and never let worry hold you back from the man you will become.
  • I hope you turn out like your father. I want you to know there is no better man out there, and you are going to be very lucky to have him in your life. Nurture your relationship forever.
Whoever you are now as my youngest baby, and whatever man you become, I promise to always love you. I can’t promise to be perfect along the way, but I can promise to always do my best.
See you soon, sweetheart.


35 Weeks Pregnant

35 Weeks Pregnant When you’re a third time mom, it’s kind of hard to get those cute belly pics without a mini photo bomber. Related: I am too big and hot to do my hair, so waves and ponytails is likely what you will see from here on out ;)

35 weeks pregnant?! Oh man. My heart just skipped a beat just typing that. How has this pregnancy gone by SO fast? Just yesterday I found out I had another little bean in my belly! It’s officially go time.

Time to finish organizing, put together the nursery, pack my hospital bag and prepare several weeks worth of content for my job. And people say to sleep and relax in the final weeks…HA!

Speaking of relaxing…Ugh. Sleeping has not been fun lately. I am constantly hot and uncomfortable. Since nighttime is rough, I am exhausted by afternoon and have been trying to sneak in a cat nap for 20 minutes or so when Karina naps. Once in awhile, Kinley lets me get away with it. Other days she throws a ball at my head or shouts “mommy! mama! mom!” in my face until I move. This is the reality of my life. No rest for the weary.

When I do catch some shut-eye, I dream of baby boy. I have a great, speedy birth and he’s another big baby {9 pounds, 6 ounces in every dream, actually}. He latches, I cry, and another chapter begins. I’m hoping if I keep having this dream it will come true but I am realistic in knowing that births rarely go how we plan them.
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Letter To My Husband: Our Marriage, Six Years Later

Marriage, 6 Years Later

Photo by Lara Douglas Photography

My Love,

I can’t believe we have been married six years today. To many, this may not seem like much, but according to divorce statistics, I’d say it hopefully means we are in it for the long haul. {According to stats, 20 percent of marriages end in 5 years.}

Isn’t it insane to think about how much our marriage has changed in the past six years? We’ve moved several times, had two children {almost 3!}, changed careers, seen life/death happen before our eyes, and more.

What started out as hot and heavy with physical touch as our forte, scoring 100% in the sexuality category in our pre-marriage assessment, has blossomed into a more realistic view as we deal with the mundane things like a budget, housework, and of course, raising kiddos.

I have certainly learned there’s some things relationship books don’t tell you. They don’t give you a realistic expectation of what butterflies feel like six years in.

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Where I Hope To Grow In My 30s {Happy Birthday To Me!}

Today is my 30th birthday and despite a surprise pregnancy altering my view of how exactly I would celebrate, I am determined to live it up in the decade ahead!

I have grown SO much during the past 10 years and I look forward to continuing to refine myself more during the next 10 to create Lauren: Version 3.0.

With that said, I have some advice for myself on where I hope to grow in my 30s:

  • Stop working for free. You are worth it! With that said, know when to say yes because sometimes it pays in ways you’d never expect.
  • Don’t keep putting effort into dying relationships. If a friend isn’t going to meet you halfway, it’s not worth your time…You’re too busy to waste time with lame excuses.
  • With that said, always make time for those friends who have been there for you. Kids are an infinite source of joy, but they are not your only joy. Never lose sight of your girlfriends.
  • There are few things that make you cry harder than hearing about cruel people. Do less clicking on the morbid stories.
  • Don’t get your panties in a twist over ignorant things people post on Facebook or news stories that are meant to ruffle feathers. Learn better word vomit control in the next decade. It is not worth an argument where people can hide behind their computer screens.
  • Dishing out truth can be incredibly valuable, but don’t dish it out too harshly. It’s not worth hurting someone’s feelings. Especially remember this with your daughters. Be helpful; not critical.
  • Keep making an effort to know your neighbors. Have beers together and help each other where possible.
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A Pregnant Lady, Hudsonville Ice Cream and Detroit Tiger’s Baseball

I just ordered a Detroit Tiger’s maternity T-shirt because…

Tigers Paws

Me and my buddy Paws, the Detroit Tigers mascot a few years back.

I am throwing the first ceremonial pitch at the Detroit Tigers game next Friday, June 13th {versus the Minnesota Twins} on behalf of one of my favorite Michigan brands, Hudsonville Ice Cream!

When the company asked me to do it, my first instinct was to say no. First off, I am at a disadvantage since I will be 33 weeks pregnant. Second, I haven’t thrown a baseball since college, and before then, it had probably been since 5th grade softball {and I was not good}.

But, then I re-thought it. After all, this is like a major bucket list item. How many people get to do this in their lifetime? And how many people get to do something on behalf of their favorite brands and for one of their favorite sports teams? Plus, how cool will it be for my son to say he stood on the Detroit Tigers pitcher’s mound while in his mom’s belly?

All good reasons to say YES. So here I am, getting ready to ROCK next week. Maybe I will even let the boys rub my belly for a little luck ;)

The first thing the husband said when I told him was “You need to practice so you don’t end up on one of ESPN’s worst first pitch videos.”

I’ve thrown the ball a bit, and while I’d say my form isn’t pretty, I’ve done pretty decent at throwing it {somewhat} straight and making it just about the distance it is from the mound to home plate. Here’s hoping it all goes well and nerves don’t get the best of me!

Stay tuned as I will be sharing lots of photos and such on my Instagram of my experience with Hudsonville and the Detroit Tigers.

Take me {and my baby} out to the ballgame, indeed, and thank you Hudsonville for giving me the experience of a lifetime!


When Your Child Is “Behind.” My Experience With Early On Michigan

A few months ago, I heard something that was a bit of a shock from our pediatrician. She was worried that Karina {then 18 months old} may be behind with her language development. She told us to wait until 20 months, and if there wasn’t a lot of improvement, to give Early On Michigan, a call to screen her for developmental delays.

Her language understanding is there — she can hear what we’re saying and react. She’s affectionate. She looks us in the eye. She giggles and has stranger danger — just like any kid at 20 months. But, her language is pretty limited. Sure, I get what she is saying most of the time, but outsiders do not. {For example, “apple” is “ba-bo” and “blankey” is just “b”}

Comparison is deadly, but no matter what you do — it’s there. Especially when you have more than one child.

Kinley was an early talker. She “babbled” starting at 6 weeks and hasn’t stopped talking since. She sings, makes up songs, plays pretend and talks to herself constantly…and those are all things she has done from a young age.

Karina has never been a big babbler, but she has skills Kinley did not have at her age — she can build with LEGOs for long periods of time, she has fed herself from day one, she is extremely affectionate {Kinley is just now starting to become more of a lover…and I think it’s because Karina inspires her!} and she is SO brave.

Early On Michigan

It’s astonishing to me how different siblings can be from each other — but really, it’s absolutely wonderful, too!

As we approached 20 months, the worrying started to creep in. I watched videos of Kinley at the same age saying “Happy Birthday,” and grew concerned since Karina still hasn’t mastered a single two-syllable word. I observed other kids in her age range and could see she wasn’t talking/attempting language like they were {without her sister helping!}. After stewing over the fact I might be over-reacting, I went with my gut and scheduled an appointment with Early On Michigan.

Early On is a FREE program through the State of Michigan that works with children from birth to age three, that specifically looks for developmental delays and/or disabilities.

Two women came to our house {one was a former special education teacher and one was a speech pathologist} for the evaluation. My girls HAMMED IT UP. Seriously. They must have thought these ladies were the coolest people ever the way they kept bringing out “toys” to play with and showering them with attention!

They asked me questions about Karina’s development and personality, and interacted with her with several games to test her fine/gross motor skills, language, memory, and more. The entire evaluation took a little less than an hour, and I felt that it was pretty thorough.

At the end, we discussed what I needed to do moving forward.

It was determined that she is behind in her language skills {she is speaking at a 16/17 month level versus where she should be at 20 months}. But we also learned she’s ahead for her age in adult interaction, social skills and concepts, so that helped some of my mommy guilt fall to the wayside.

Our plan of action is to just work with her more during the next few months {incorporating more sign language, working with flash cards, and soliciting Kinley for help — she truly is her best teacher}, and re-screen her in a few months if her language doesn’t improve. Additionally, I have scheduled a hearing test just to be sure that isn’t an issue, though that isn’t suspected.

I am SO thankful for this program to put my mind at ease, or if needed, help my child, in the future. Early intervention is absolutely key when it comes to little ones!

The reality is there is such a huge range of what’s “normal” for a child, especially during these early years, and reading things on the ‘net will only scare or confuse you. Only a parent can determine when something is just off with their child. Don’t hesitate to ask your pediatrician questions or get an evaluation to determine where your child stands if you’re worried. I am so happy I did!

If you think your infant or toddler may have a developmental delay, contact Early On at 1-800-Early-On or complete the online referral form.

This is not sponsored in any way by Early On. I just really appreciated this program and wanted to sure my experience in case there is a parent in my same boat!

Was your child a late talker? What helped them develop their language over time?


My 2014 Springtime Favorites

IT’S SPRING! OK, while this phrase seems to be meaningless here in Michigan this year, it’s still fun to think about, right? I have to say, I am certainly digging all the pastels I’m seeing in stores…and I’m not one to typically be drawn to pastels. Clearly it has been a LONG winter. Today I’m sharing some of my current springtime favorites to get me in the mood for sunshine.

But what is the sun without a little rain? Which brings me to item #1:

Western Chief Rain Boots

Western Chief Rain Boots - Spring Favorites

These aren’t as “in” as the name brand boots, but they are affordable and most importantly — functional. I don’t know about you other mamas, but I have been a splashing fool already this year. My girls and I all have a pair! Mine {pictured above} were $25 at Tractor Supply Co. and worth their weight in gold for keeping my feet dry while walking with my minions through puddles. Note: I have VERY narrow feet. These are not made for wide feet. They have lots of fun patterns on Amazon, too! See here.

Reese’s Easter Peanut Butter Eggs Reese's Peanut Butter Easter Eggs These are my absolute favorite candy ever. Seriously. Move over fancy chocolate, this is the way to my heart! The Reese’s Easter Eggs pack a lot more peanut butter than Reese’s cups, therefore, they are my favorite. I usually sneak a few packs each year into my purse and try not to share with anyone ;) The hardest part this time of year is not buying them every time I see them! So.Good.


Asparagus - Spring Favorites

On the opposite end of the health spectrum, I present another spring favorite of mine: Asparagus. It’s in season in Michigan April through June and it is my absolute favorite green veggie. Check out my favorite recipe for maple glazed asparagus here.

Method Squirt & Mop Wood Floor Cleaner

Method Squirt & Mop - Spring Favorites

Spring = spring cleaning, right?! Uh-huh. I love Method products, but this one takes the cake for my favorite! I started using this when we lived in a house with all wood floors. I kick it old school and literally use a cheap mop plus this, and it does the trick for cleaning my floors in a jiffy. I love that it’s environmentally-friendly and does not leave streaks on my floors either. Plus, the smell {almond} is nice.

Lemon Essential Oil

doTerra Lemon Essential Oil - Spring Favorites

This is my absolute favorite essential oil. Just smelling it puts me in a good mood and totally has me thinking spring. I love how long it lasts me, it’s inexpensive, and pretty much can do anything! Four of my favorite uses:

  • As a chemical-free antibacterial hand sanitizer {I love it in the car with the kids if we go to eat}.
  • In homemade cleaning supplies {I use it on my laminate bathroom floors mixed with vinegar}.
  • In water to change-up the flavor. It’s the best energy booster for a preggo like myself!
  • To freshen that load of laundry I almost always forget to throw in the dryer before bed.

So there you have it, folks. A few of my springtime favorites.

What are you digging this spring?

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links. When you purchase something through one of links, you support my family. I would be discussing these products no matter what though ;) post-signature

Karina’s Day at 18 Months Old

My dear Karina,

You’re 18 months old today and just as sassy and adorable as the day we met; the day you were born. You fill such a huge piece of my heart with your giggles, little teeth and dance moves and I simply can’t imagine life without you.

Although 18 months isn’t my favorite age {I’ll be honest with you…It’s downright exhausting}, you are learning at rapid speeds and just becoming your own little person. It has been an absolute blessing seeing you grow since your first birthday.

Can you believe you stopped nursing a few weeks ago? This has changed our day so much. Part of it was me pushing you to cool it a bit, part of it was you being OK with it. I am so sad in many respects, but you have adjusted beautifully, so I’m not going to complain. Thank you for being open to change — my body appreciates the break ;)

I thought I’d show you what a typical day at home is like for you these days. Of course, our days are ever-changing, but this is a good synopsis of what you do on a daily basis.

Karina’s Day At 18 Months

8 a.m. You’re up! Not in the best mood, but you settle for a few cuddles before begging for some food.


I prep you a little plate of fruit to eat before we make breakfast when your sister wakes up. We play with your Little People while Curious George plays in the background.

9:30 a.m. Breakfast and free play while mama is on a conference call.


I help you build with your LEGOs and you bring me all your doctor tools. The stethoscope {your favorite thing ever} goes on and stays on for the next few hours. You and your sister do great while I’m on my call…Thank you, girls!


11 a.m. We head into town to register you for “school” next year. By school, I mean an educational playgroup you and I are going to do together next year one day a week. Before we get into the car, you and Kinley demand a snack and you get excited as I offer you an apple, your favorite!


How you eat them always amazes me. For only having 5 teeth, you chow down like a champ!


11:45 a.m. We’re back home and it’s time for lunch, which is bananas, a piece of cheese, some cucumber and half of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, in which you proceed to take apart before eating. Can’t complain about your appetite. You eat just about anything I give you. Except raspberries!


Noon. More free play, followed by reading books. You don’t have a lot of patience for them today, so we settle on a few quick ones where you laugh and point at doggies and kitties. You also enjoy flipping through the pages of The Very Hungry Caterpillar. The page with all his food is your favorite!

1 p.m. – 3:30 p.m. You fall asleep within a few minutes as a rock you into your nap. I cherish these moments with just you and I so much. You are seriously the best cuddler ever and I love kissing your head as you drift off to sleep. Sweet dreams, baby girl.

…A few hours later, Kinley barges in after she’s heard you stirring. She’s asked me about 5 times if you are up yet because she’s ready to play. You are so proud to show her how you pulled your socks off!


3:30 – 5 p.m. More free play. This time you and Kinley play with stuffed animals in the crib for a bit and then we have a living room dance party to solid gold oldies!

This day daddy also surprised us with an early arrival home. You get so excited when he comes home at the end of the day and always run up to greet him. He entertains you while mama gets dinner ready.


5 p.m. Crock pot dinner. Rice with salsa chicken, black beans, corn and avocado. You absolutely LOVE holding hands to pray beforehand. Melts our hearts on a daily basis.


5:30 p.m. Daddy play time. He tickles you and tosses you into the air and gets you laughing hard. I love watching the bond grow between the two of you.

As I clean dishes, we sing songs. You adore “Wheels On The Bus,” and are so proud to have recently mastered moving your hands like the wheels. Of course your other favorite part is saying “shh shh shh” like the mama’s on the bus.

6:30 p.m. Bath time followed by some more play and a little TV. You and Kinley laugh a ton in the tub together. It’s adorable. Of course, she can’t let you get out without us making a spike in your hair with the soap!


7:30 p.m. Books and bed time. Tonight’s favorite was your Thomas the Train book. You love trains and cars and almost always have one in your hands while you walk around.

After rocking you for awhile, I lay you down and you drift to sleep. Nighty-night, my precious little gal!


I love you so much, peanut, and can’t wait to see you continue to learn and grow more in the months ahead. Keep being the happy, independent and stubborn girl you are and I have no doubt you will reach for the stars and beyond in your lifetime.

Kisses to the moon and back,


Karina's Favorites


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