Family of Four

Warning: This is long. It is for my momma records since I treat this blog like a journal. If you're over all the baby stuff, (and I wouldn't blame you one single bit), I'd suggest maybe skipping over this one : ) 


Did y'all wonder if I'd fallen off the face of the earth? ; ) Hope all of you are enjoying this holiday week with your friends and family!


I had a baby girl on December 10th.

And, we are all slightly obsessed with her.

I know I'm biased. I know I am. But...but.

I think she's kind of perfect. (Aren't all babies?) She's so snuggly and warm and sweet-smelling. And I want to keep her this size forever and always.

Anywhoodle, I thought I'd pop in and give you all a little update on all the goings-on since Ainsley's birthday.

Her birthday...

People asked if we knew that December 10th we'd be having her. The answer? Nope! We had a bag packed just in case, and my parents came up earlier in the week because I just knew that week would be the week. (My body was o.v.e.r. being pregnant.)  However, we had no guarantee that Wednesday would be the day. So, it was a fun surprise for us, too!

That morning, I had my regular twice-weekly appointment, as well as my non-stress test. Ainsley hadn't been moving as much the night before -- something I immediately reported to my O.B.'s nurse when she was getting my vitals. After the non-stress test, which showed heavy contractions, Dr. D came in and checked me. If you've never been "checked", you truly haven't ever experienced fun ; )

After the 30 seconds of hell that is being "checked", he announced I had progressed significantly and he said Ainsley would likely have arrived within the next 48 hours anyway. Since this was a repeat C-section and I was considered a high-risk pregnancy, we decided to get her out that night at 5:00 p.m. So, Dr. D called Labor & Delivery and told them to admit us. And up to Floor 5 we went...

Birth story coming soon!


Ainsley is teeny tiny. At 5 lbs. 13 oz. and only 18 inches long, our little gal is quite the peanut! Funny thing is, even for a petite little thing, she lost the least amount of her birth weight out of all the babies in the nursery that week, only dropping two ounces upon discharge. Girlfriend loves to eat and I'm happy to report that she's thriving. Due to her eating so well, we only spent two nights in the hospital and were discharged! (That's a really short stay for a C-section.)

We have been seriously lucky to get two very laid back babes. Her disposition reminds me a lot of Caroline as a newborn. She cries when she's hungry or wet, (or just wants some cuddles), but honestly, she's pretty content most of the time.

She looks a whole lot like her big sister, too. Her eyes are the same shade of blue as Caroline's, but her skin is very olive-toned, much like her daddy's Italian side of the family. (Caroline definitely inherited my Scot-Irish skin tone and freckles.)

As of now, we are exclusively breastfeeding. I haven't pumped yet, as I really wanted her to get in the habit of latching and feeding easily. Maybe it's because this isn't our first go-round with BFing, but it has been SO much easier this time. I look forward to those quiet, still moments during the night feedings most of all. It's such a cool bonding experience that I loved being able to experience with Caroline and I'm glad that it's working out so far with Ainsley, too.

Big Sister

Caroline is curious about her little sister and definitely likes to watch us feed and bathe her. When people point to Ainsley and say, "Caroline, who is this?",  she'll reply, "Mah' bay-beeeee!" And then I melt because I'm sappy like that. #hormonesforlife

Because of the very small age difference, we haven't had to deal with any jealousy issues - probably the biggest perk I've heard of having them so close together.

I won't lie. The first two nights at home were ROUGH. Caroline woke every hour hollering, which then woke Ainsley, too. We just thought it was because of all the excitement, however, we discovered a couple days later that Caroline had an ear infection, which is why she was so restless. She's still getting over that, but thankfully, she's on the mend and everyone is sleeping better now.

It breaks my heart to not be able to pick her up because of my incision. She'll hang her little arms around my legs and cry, which kills me. Thankfully, I should be cleared today or tomorrow to be able to lift and carry her again.


A very special thing happens when you have kids with someone you love. Despite the fact that you spend 23 of the 24 hours every day covered in the various bodily fluids of a tiny person, annnnd you may not have showered in a sweet forever, you fall even more in love with each other.

Maybe it's that whole, "We're in this together" mentality.

Stephen is a caretaker by nature, so he's been working double-time to make sure I'm comfortable for feeding sessions, that our pantry and fridge are stocked, that laundry is done....the guy has even made us home-cooked meals most nights.

He is also completely smitten with his daughters. (Duh.)

Something about seeing a grown man pull up a chair for a tea party or tell your newborn daughter that she's "the prettiest thing ever" that makes you weak in the knees. Men turn to mush around their little girls. This is fact. And I love it.


I feel pretty good, actually! This C-section recovery has been much easier than the first, probably because my body knew what to expect this time. The day after the CS was horrendous -- hello, second day pain!! -- but after that, things started getting better. I tried to force myself to walk a lot in the hospital, which I credit for getting rid of the bulk of the soreness so quickly.

I only had to take the pain meds for the first five or six days after the surgery and now I'm just taking ibuprofen when needed for soreness.

I did have quite a bit (read: a shiz ton) of swelling in my feet and ankles...and thighs...and hips...and abdomen...following the surgery. It was super sexy and I've never felt more attractive. (Ever heard of pitting edema? A barrel of fun; that's what that is.) Seriously, Lebron James and I could've shared shoes.

It was super sexy and I've never felt more attractive.

(Fluid retention is the new black.)

This is really common after C-sections because of all the fluid they pump into you prior to being operated on. I'm now happy to report that I have noticeable ankles and knees again, though my tummy is still pretty swollen.

And I'm still totally, unapologetically wearing maternity jeans.

Life with two

Having two only 14 months apart is not for the faint of heart. Or those with low energy levels. I don't feel like I had much of a recovery period after the hospital. I just had to jump back into life and honestly, that was okay with me.

Is it tiring? Hell yes.

Do I love it anyway? You bet I do.

We are slowly getting our stride and I'm starting to feel like we're not treading water anymore. The first week was a blur, but this past week has been much smoother. My mom has driven up each week to be here on the days Stephen works, which has been so, so helpful. I'm definitely a little nervous about how I'll handle it once I'm here by myself, but I know that it'll all work out.

I wondered constantly how I'd love another child as much as Caroline. I can't put into words exactly how it feels, but it's like God makes even more room in your heart when you bring another child into the picture. I love them both so fiercely and wholly. They are our greatest accomplishments and the most precious gifts we have ever been given.

I don't care what else I achieve in this lifetime, so long as I do this mom thing right. Yes, Ainsley was a surprise to us, but sometimes the best things in life are those that you never saw coming.


See y'all tomorrow!


Introducing Ainsley

Our biggest (little) surprise of 2014 is also its greatest blessing.

It is with great pleasure that our family introduces our newest little addition

Ainsley Catherine Sisti

Born December 10, 2014 at 5:19 p.m.

5 lbs, 13 oz. |  18 in.

We appreciate all of your sweet emails, comments on Instagram and prayers throughout this pregnancy, as well as your continued support as we begin our journey as a family of four. We are not deserving of the gifts that God has given us, but our hearts are so thankful for our two daughters.

As you can probably imagine, free time is scarce around our house at the moment, (ha!), but I hope to return to regular blogging after the Christmas holiday. I'm going to try to post a little over the coming weekend though, while all the details of Ainsley's birth are fresh in my mind.

Have a wonderful weekend, friends! See you (hopefully) back here this weekend!


Confessional Friday + 38 Week Bumpdate

Hey, friends! Welcome to Friday. Aren't we glad to see her?

So, my post today isn't a confession at all, but I did want to get this bumpdate up, just in case someone decides to grace us with her presence before next week! (And I'd be A-Okay with that at this point!)

You can leave links to your Confessional Posts per usual, of course!


Weeks: 38 as of yesterday

Gender: GIRL! Stephen doesn't stand a chance against all of this estrogen : )

Name: Ainsley Catherine

Cravings: More space in my stomach so that I can eat food again without heartburn. Amen.

And nachos.

(No amount of heartburn can keep me away from nachos.)

Most looking forward to: Being not pregnant. I'm going to level with you here: the fun of this has run its course and I'm ready to feel like my body is mine again. After two years of being "with child", I honestly cannot remember what it feels like to not be pregnant. (I don't know how Michelle Duggar does it. And I do not wish to find out.)

I'm so very, very grateful that we've been given the gift of these two precious girls, and I have enjoyed both pregnancy journeys so much, each for their own reasons. Ainsley completes our family and I'm ready to have her on the outside!

Most nervous about: The C-section. Caroline's birth was a little bit scary with my epidural failing and all, so I'm praying that this time it takes. Because I can tell you first hand, a C-section without a complete epidural does not a fun experience make.

I've prayed about it a lot and now, I'm just giving it up to God.

Cheers to great drugs and a freaking fantastic anesthesiologist (!!)

I can't wait to: Start nursing a baby again. I was shocked out how much I enjoyed breastfeeding Caroline. It was such a cool bonding experience and I'm excited to share that with Ainsley, too.

Updates: We really and truly thought we were having her on my birthday. I joked with Stephen on Tuesday night that all I wanted for my birthday was to get this baby OUT. He kept saying, "Maybe Santa will give you a baby for your b-day!"

The next morning, after a night of contracting and contracting and contracting, I was eating my words. I was in pain and they were so much more intense than any of the contractions I had felt so far. These contractions started in my back and radiated all the way around to my tummy, then down into my thighs. They were the real-freaking-deal and they. sucked. big. time.

I had an appointment for a final ultrasound with our high-risk OB at 8:30 a.m. sharp, so I called ahead, told them how I was feeling and they met me there at 7:50 and got me right back before anyone else. (Thank you, Dr. C and staff!!)

They immediately began the ultrasound and I started contracting...hard. So intensely that our high-risk doc was convinced I was in labor and told me we should probably go home and get ready for the C-section! (Ainsley's head was so low that they couldn't get a measurement on it with the ultrasound...and trust me, I could/can feel it!) Even though they were intense, the contractions were all happening at really irregular intervals, (regularity = true labor), so we decided to go on home until my later appointment at 1:00 p.m.

I was feeling evvvvvvvery contraction, so I went home, packed a bag, put Ainsley's things in a bag and got my game face on.

(For concerned parties about Stephen and who packed his bag: our house is a literal two-minute drive from the hospital we're using, so Stephen will go back and forth when he needs things. And, should he require a bag, he is quite capable and willing to pack it himself ; ) I had SO many people ask me last year before Caroline's birth if I had "packed Stephen's bag yet" and we would both look at each other and laugh. {Y'all, I am serious. Granted, most of them were older/elderly women, but these folks honest-to-goodness wanted to know if and when I planned on packing his things for him.} He's a 30-year-old man who travels across the country for work on a weekly basis. I asked him if he felt cheated in some way if I let him pack his own bag for our hospital stay and he said, verbatim, "I haven't had a lady pack my bag since I went to camp when I was eight." So, there you have it.)

But back to my story...

I remember thinking, as we loaded our things into the car and headed to the appointment, that this could be it. The day the family of three became the family of four. And then The Little Drummer Boy came on the radio. And I thought about Christmas and Hallmark commercials. And puppies. And, of course, I started to get teary-eyed and happy and sappy. And then I was bawling, Bing Crosby blaring in the background and all.

Oh, hormones...

Anywhoodle, by the time we got to our 1:00 appointment with our regular O.B., the contractions were still happening, but the intensity had died down a lot. (This was a welcomed feeling because...OUCH.) After a while on the NST machine, a (super-duper fun) exam and a lot of discussion, we decided that we'd reconvene later this morning (as in today) at 8:00 a.m. and go from there.

So, who knows if we'll have a baby this afternoon, tonight, this weekend or next week...it'll be a surprise for all of us - Stephen and me, included!


    An InLinkz Link-up


This is 30.

This morning at 8:30 a.m. on the dot, I'll be 30! (Fun fact: Caroline was also born at exactly 8:30 a.m. We are soul mates like that.)

At 8:30 a.m. today, I'll also be in the process of getting our very last ultrasound for baby Ainsley at our high-risk O.B. (We'll have one more at our regular O.B. later this week or early next.)

At 8:30 a.m. during said ultrasound, because a woman's mind never stops running, I'll also be going through a list in my head of things I need to accomplish today. I'll be mentally jotting down a to-do list that will need to take place before our second doctor's appointment at 1:00 this afternoon.

Mop the kitchen.

Pick up Dreft and orange juice.

Vacuum the guest rooms.

Check on the status of the wall monogram for the nursery. 

Not exciting things, by any stretch, but things that need doing. And I'll do them happily because I've waited so long to be in a place in life to do them.


I'm not sure what I thought 30 would look like, but I like my life so much more than I ever did when I was a scared, naive 21 year old, (though that 21 year old thought she was big and bad and brave...little did she know...)

As I woke up this morning on the couch -- yup, it's that stage of late-pregnancy where sleep-sitting on the couch is more comfortable than trying to roll out of bed every 20 minutes to pee...

Where was I? Oh, yes.

As I woke up this morning, I heard my husband making coffee. I heard Caroline singing in her crib. I heard Ari, our German Shepherd, "greeting" his dog neighbors through the fence. I heard the low hum of our dishwasher, scrubbing away the sauce from last night's spaghetti dinner.

The spaghetti dinner where Stephen and I laughed so hard at Caroline that we had tears in our eyes. Because it's a hilarious thing to watch a toddler eat spaghetti.

I heard the dings of text messages coming through from my family and friends - the people that sweeten my life so much.

I hear the sounds that fill my every day and make me realize that the best days are being lived right. now.


This year's birthday celebration certainly won't be the wildest or most extravagant. It won't consist of drinking champagne or wearing a sexy little dress. (Though I fully intend to do both those things after this kiddo gets here because FUN.)

But it will consist of sharing some kisses with my husband. It will consist of putting up the last of the Christmas ornaments with Caroline taking them off the tree no sooner than they're hung. It will consist of getting to see the last 4D ultrasound images of our sweet second daughter's face before I meet her in the flesh. It'll consist of me thanking God for all the birthdays leading up to this one - all the experiences and not-so-easy years that make me appreciate this stage of life so much more.

Today's birthday will be the best yet.

If this is 30, give me more.


Dressing a Maternity Body (feat. Riffraff)

Remember years ago when pregnant women were forced to spend the duration of their pregnancies wearing glorified potato sack dresses and horrendous maternity stirrup pants?

I was only nine when I remember my mom having to sport those oh-so-flattering clothes when she was pregnant with my brother. And even then, despite it being the early 90s, I remember thinking, "There has GOT to be someone out there who can make better clothes for pregnant ladies."

Thankfully, designers finally got their heads on straight and heard the cries of mamas everywhere. And do you know what? They found it to be an incredibly lucrative market (!!) (Well, gee golly! Who would've thought that women wanted to wear attractive clothing while they were pregnant?)

Vest c/o Riffraff (mine is out of stock, but similar here) // Charleston Glitz necklace c/o Riffraff // top is old from Loft (non-maternity), very similar here and here //  Fade to Blue Secret Fit Belly Skinny Leg Maternity Jean in dark wash (only $39.99!) // Toms Desert Wedge Bootie in Cheetah
Today, it's easier than ever...EVER...to look chic, put together and on-trend during those precious months of carrying a bambina. You just have to know what to wear, what to avoid and which brands/boutiques to shop.

You'll be delighted to know that you won't have to wear even one mumu.

Tips for dressing a maternity body:

1. You don't have to go up five sizes just because you're sporting a bump. I got a question from a darling pregnant girl on instagram the other night asking if she had to go up a size, just because she was pregnant. My personal philosophy? Nope. Here's the deal: most styles of tops today are very accomodating to a baby bump, (i.e. oversize sweaters, tunics, peplum tops, etc.)

I don't know if the fashion world is designing clothing like this on purpose, but it works. I honestly probably bought two or three maternity tops total that I've worn with both my babies.

Instead, look for styles like longer tunics and bottom-covering sweaters (you'll need the extra length) in your usual size or one size up (if your, um, assets have grown.) DO NOT run out and buy a bunch of clothing that's five sizes bigger than your usual; in ten months, you'll have that baby and be left with a bunch of clothes that don't fit and don't look good.

2. Invest in GOOD maternity pants/jeans. Cheap maternity pants are just...bad. They don't hold up and trust me, when that third trimester rolls around, you're going to want good britches. I'm not saying you have to invest oodles of money into pregnancy pants, but this is the area where you'll definitely WANT to buy maternity. Tops and dresses? Meh. Maternity pants= very necessary.

Also, here's a bit of friendly advice from a gal who has done it before: you'll be wearing those maternity pants home from the hospital and probably for a few weeks after the birth of your babe. Things don't just snap back immediately the day you check out of Labor & Delivery, especially if you've had a C-section and are retaining 20 extra pounds of fluid, (but they do snap back - promise!) You'll appreciate the extra fabric and tummy panel while things heal and return to their somewhat previous shape.

I really like these brands of maternity jeans:

All-time favorite: Fade to Blue Secret Fit Belly Skinny Leg Maternity Jean in dark wash (only $39.99!)
7 for All Mankind Secret Fit Belly Straight Leg Maternity Jean
Mavi Secret Fit Belly 5 Pocket Maternity Jean

3. Buy a BeBand. These have been my best friend during both pregnancies, especially during the second trimester. Essentially, it's a piece of tube top-looking, elasticized fabric that pulls up over your (unbuttoned) pants to allow you to still wear your favorite bottoms while you're pregnant. The Target brand BeBand is great for that transition time between non-maternity pants and the full blown "I'm about to pop" mama pants. It will also help save you money if you're on a limited budget or just don't want to invest in pricier maternity clothes.

I also really like Target's maternity tanks. Buy one in every color!

4. Do not throw in the towel. Trust me, at one million weeks pregnant myself right now, I-FRIGGIN-GET-IT. And yes, there are many days where I don't leave these maternity leggings and sweatshirts, which I may be wearing right at this very moment. But please don't give up for the next ten months. It's so easy, especially at the end, to just say "screw it" and throw on your fiftieth pair of jogging pants, but you'll feel soooooo much better about yourself if you get dressed. Even if it's just jeans and a cute top, I implore you to dress for yourself. It'll make those days when you feel like a manatee a whole lot more bearable. You are worth it. You are worth it.

You are worth it.


Gold, Pearls and Pink

Nothing makes me swoon more than a gorgeous piece of statement jewelry, especially if it falls into the vintage category. So, you can imagine my reaction when I saw this late 1970s Sarah Coventry lariat tassel necklace from Southern Vintage, a Northwest Arkansas jewelry and accessory boutique.

Be still my bauble-loving heart. 

Sarah Coventry tassel lariat necklace c/o Southern Vintage // felt floppy hat in brown, (also love this one and this one)  // Fuzzy Knit Pocket Sweater  // Fade to Blue 5 Pocket Skinny maternity skinny jeans // Vince Camuto 'Kain' heels // Prada Saffiano Tote in Caramel, very similar here and here // pearl ring (also love this one and this one) // bangle set 

The chain...the pearl accents...it's downright dreamy, I tell you.

You can stop in Southern Vintage every Saturday at 123 S Main St. in Bentonville from 10 a.m. - 5 p.m. or by private appointment! You can also keep up with them on their Instagram account (username is southernvintagebentonville) and Facebook page, too. 

Right now, Karey is offering complimentary gift wrapping with every purchase, so it's a great way to knock everything out in one stop. You can also pop in and make your own holiday wish list so that you can be sure you get what YOU want this Christmas ; )


Cyber Monday - The Rundown

Riffraff - 50% off site-wide (Use code BLONDE for an additional 10% your order!)
Savoir-Faire - 50% off site-wide
Maude - 30% off with code MONDAY30 (Plus, free shipping for orders over $75!)
Forever 21- 20% off when you spend $60, 30% off when you spend $100
Loft - 50% off everything with code MONDAY
Ann Taylor - 50% off everything with code CYBER50
Nordstrom - Up to 40% off on women's shoes, handbags and clothing
Old Navy - 40% off everything with code CYBER
Gap - 40% off everything use code CYBER
Banana Republic - 40% off everything with code CYBER


Shop Small, Y'all

So, you've probably heard that some stores may be having some sales or something on Friday. Dunno what that's about... ; ) But seriously, if you plan to do shopping of any sort this holiday season, whether this weekend or later on, I highly encourage you to scope out the stores of some of my friends below.

So why give your business to these small shops this year? If I may, a few reasons:

1) They are ALL women-owned businesses. (Can we say #GirlBoss?)

2) They all have a web or social media presence, allowing you to shop whether you live in Northwest Arkansas (like me), or Timbuktu (like Timbuktuians).

3) They are genuinely nice people you'll be supporting. (A bit of insight: I'm picky about who I work with and promote on this blog. And I don't know about you, but I'd rather buy from people who do right by their customers any day of the week.)

These women and their boutiques are the real deal. So go forth and shop your pants off.

If you haven't shopped from my gals at Riffraff before, the holidays would be an excellent time to do so! Kirsten and her girl gang are breaking records (numbers, not the vinyl kind) and taking the retail world by storm. And the coolest part? The flagship store is still located right smack dab in the middle of Fayetteville.

Riffraff has stocked some darn cute items (per usual) to keep us all in style and on budget this Christmas. Best of all, you can create your own wish list on their site and make sure you get everything YOU want this year.

Find them on Instagram at shopriffraff

I have been collaborating with Maude Boutique on this blog for FIVE years now. Five. That's longer than a presidency.

I can tell you that every year, I'm blown away with their merchandise. (Seriously, Becca and team never disappoint.) The items in stock at Maude currently are no exception. Last year, Maude expanded their offerings to other gift items outside the realm of just apparel and accessories. Don't know what the heck to buy for someone? Call them, hit 'em up on Instagram or stop in and they'll help you select something fabulous for your recipient!

Find them on Instagram at shopmaude and keep an eye out for a 'Very Merry Maude Gift Guide' coming exclusively to this blog soon!

Two words that comes to mind when I think of SF? High style. Tess and the ladies keep their customers looking amazingly chic, but with price points that still allow you to pay your electric bill. If it's big city style - you know, the stuff you see in Lucky every month - Savoir-Faire is your ticket.
I'm loving all of the super fun pieces they just added to their Party Shop! (Takes all the guess work out of planning your holiday looks, doesn't it?) And, their sweaters...my personal favorite section. So many, many options that would tickle anyone on your gift list to pieces.

Find them on Instagram at shopsavoirfaire

If it's a one-of-a-kind piece of jewelry you crave, please get yourself over to Southern Vintage. Stop in on Saturdays from 10 a.m. - 5 p.m. or make a private appointment to stop by on another day of the week! Karey has so many gorgeous pieces that will satisfy any jewelry lover - and for unbelievable prices.
Southern Vintage is located in downtown Bentonville at 123 S Main St., Suite 3. You can also follow them on Instagram and Facebook for daily pics and inspiration. Stop in and make your wish list or get a jump on your Christmas shopping!

Find them on Instagram at southernvintagebentonville

If you live in Fort Smith or the River Valley, you're probably already familiar with this little gem of a boutique. And if you haven't met HH yet? Well, it's high time. Meagan carries only a few of each piece, so you know that wherever you go, you won't have that awkward "she's wearing my outfit" moment ; )

Meagan and her team at Hazel's Haven can help you choose something special for your friends and family in store OR through their Instagram account. Yep - even if you live in another city or state, you can shop their Instagram account and Facebook page to have a little piece of Haven (see what I did there?) sent to your door!

Find them on Instagram at hazelshaven


Baby/Blogging/I'm So Emo Update: 
I've reached a point in this pregnancy that I've been dreading: the miserable point. I never felt like this during my pregnancy with Caroline, but I also didn't have a toddler underfoot then either. Physically, this is the hardest thing I have ever done. I wake up exhausted, ache in places I never thought possible, can no longer wear real shoes -- we're meeting with my O.B. about this crazy swelling tomorrow first thing -- and frankly, I just find myself overwhelmed at the amount of stuff I still have left to do before this baby gets here. 

This morning, Caroline was standing at my feet crying and when I went to pick her up, my back just sort of gave out. I couldn't physically do it. Try explaining to a toddler why momma can't scoop her up and hold her like always. After I got her situated with her toys in the living room, I just sat at my breakfast table and bawled the ugly cry.

We are also hosting Thanksgiving at our house this year and the thought of cleaning house and doing food prep brought on an eruption of tears. (This isn't meant to garner sympathy or scare anyone away from having a baby one day (ha!), but I try to keep it real.)

I know that this will all be worth it when she gets here, but man - I'm tired. Real tired.

With that said, I'm going to take the remainder of the week and weekend off from blogging and focus on our family, our home and my ever-growing to-do list. Unless craziness ensues, I fully intend to be back next week.


Anyway, y'all have a good night and a very happy Thanksgiving! I'm so thankful for your readership and your support on this little platform every day.

See y'all next week!


Gifts Under $30: {No, Really!}

There's nothing that makes me more frustrated than when a blog, magazine, website, etc. brags about their "affordable" holiday gift guide, then you click over, get to reading and discover that the cheapest thing on the list is a $190 coaster set.

This isn't that holiday gift guide. 

Better yet, nothing on here looks like it's less than $30, so they'll think you spent a lot more. (Little do they know...)

1. Pave Pearl 360 Studs in rose gold - $28      2. Faux Fur Infinity Scarf in grey (also available in cream!) - $24     3. Michael Kors-inspired Titanium Crystal Accent Chronograph Bracelet Watch in rose gold (includes FREE shipping!) - $20     4. Women's Cierra Slide Slippers in gray (also available in cream!) - $16.99    5. Pinch Provisions 'Checkmate' Mini Emergency Kit for Her in red plaid - $18 (includes FREE shipping!)

6. Threshold Plaid Throw in navy - $19.99 (buy-one-get-one 50% today!)     7. L'Artisan Parfumeur 'The Perfume Box'  - $20      8. Double Diamante-Trimmed Faux Pearl Cocktail Ring in gold - $6 (great for an under-$10 gift exchange party!)     9. Diagonal Rib Beanie in pink (also comes in gray!) - $26     10. Monogrammed Tassel Bracelet in black (comes in 14 other colors!) - $24.99

Happy under-$30 gifting, gals! And happy Monday.


You can stay up-to-date on all things baby (and otherwise) by following me at ablondeambition

P.S. - Thanks for all the support and encouragement on Instagram (username: ablondeambition) on Saturday's baby update pic! We survived the weekend without a trip to Labor & Delivery and, although I'm still having contractions, they slowed down enough to stay put at home on bed rest, thank goodness. We go back to the doctor for another non-stress test at 1:30 today and we'll get a better idea of when my O.B. thinks we should take her.

Our goal is to try to keep Ainsley in there as long as possible, but at least until 37 weeks, which we'll be on Thursday. She's weighing in average-to-above average, (quite a bit bigger than her sister was at this point!), so they think even if she does come soon, she'll be very healthy. But still, I'd prefer her to grow a little more and get those lungs nice and developed. I'm confident that with our doctor's help and advice, we'll get her here healthy.


Confessional Friday: {Link Up}

Hey, hey! Since I didn't do a bumpdate this week, I've themed mine "pregnancy confessions.

By the way - we're 36 weeks along as of yesterday! Crazy, right? That went by freaking fast. Let's hope these next couple weeks do also because I'm ready to burn these maternity pants.

Taken yesterday at 36 weeks- hey, hey, Ainsley girl!

Here goes:

1) I confess that the entirety of my Christmas shopping this year will be done online. At this point, it hurts to stand, bend and move in any shape or fashion. And battling holiday shopping crowds with nine-months-worth of pregnancy hormones coursing through my veins? Nope. Not happening. {Hello, Amazon!}

2) I confess that I miss having ankles. Holy fluid retention, y'all. I never had this issue with Caroline until after the C-section, but it's so different this time. They look somewhat normal when I wake up in the morning, but by mid-afternoon, they're crazy huge. My mom came up for a couple days earlier this week while Stephen was traveling for work, (just in case I "popped"), and I had to have her help me pull  pry my riding boots off Tuesday night - ha! No more tall boot wearing for this girl until after the baby. Booties, heels and flats only.

3) I confess that while my mom was staying with Caroline and me this week, she made a huuuuuge dish of banana pudding and I singlehandedly ate the entire 9 x 9 pan in three nights. Oops.

4) I confess that I will have been "with child" an estimated 560 days of the past two years by the time this is all said and done. I'm pretty sure my uterus would like to punch me.

5) I confess that the only thing that makes me feel slightly more at ease about that fact is knowing that the Asiatic elephant has to endure a 609 day gestation period. I hope those momma elephants get some reeeeeally nice push presents.

6) I confess that all of the not-so-fun parts of late term pregnancy are immediately forgotten when I go to get Caroline out of her crib in the mornings. Her smile and excitement for seeing me and starting her day just make my heart happy. Parenthood/mommyhood is the single most incredible thing, and Caroline has been such a great reminder of the how amazing the little gift at the end truly is.

Y'all go out and have the best weekend in the history of ever. And if you can't do that, at least have a really good one.

P.S. - Blogging may be a little more scarce next week as I tie up some loose ends around the house/with work/with Thanksgiving prep. (Next week is my last week at work, plus I also very intelligently decided I'd host Thanksgiving this year. Because that seemed like a fabulous idea back when I was 10 weeks pregnant and believed in unicorns.)

I promise in advance that I will not have fallen off the face of the earth, (unless, of course, I do.) I will, however, be posting regularly on Instagram throughout the week, if you want to follow my very riveting life in pictures. My username is ablondeambition.


    An InLinkz Link-up


Buy This - Not That: {Make-Up Edition}

You asked and here it is, chicas!

I was able to locate every single "bargain" product at one or more of the stores below. If they don't have the products in stock in your city at one of the stores listed below, I linked them for you to places you can get them online for the exact same price : )

I'll preface this by saying, I think some brands/products are worth splurging on if you can (i.e. the Estee Lauder Double-Wear Foundation.) To me, some formulations just cannot be matched and that foundation is one of 'em. However, I tried to scope out as many awesome comparable products as I could find...and find I did!

Dior Diorific Illuminating Pressed Powder ($77.78) vs. Physicians Formula Nude Wear™Glowing Nude Powder ($14.95) 

Sonia Kashuk Synthetic Flat-top Multipurpose Brush ($15.79) vs. It Cosmetics Heavenly Luxe Flat Top Foundation Buffing Brush ($48)

Charlotte Tillbury Matte Revolution Lipstick in Glastonberry ($36) vs. Loreal Paris Colour Riche Extraordinaire Liquid Lipstick in Plum Adagio ($9.99)

Essie Luxeffect in Rock at the Top ($8.50) vs. Deborah Lippmann glitter nail polish in Boom Boom Pow ($20)

Mac Blot Powder in Light ($26) vs. Rimmel Stay Matte Pressed Powder in Transparent ($3.99)

indeed Laboratories Hydraluron Moisture Serum ($19.99) vs. Lancome Advanced Genifique Youth Activating Concentrate ($84)

Bobby Brown Creamy Concealer Kit in Ivory/Pale Yellow ($35) vs. NYX Full Coverage Concealer in Yellow ($5)

Revlon ColorStay Shadowlinks in Copper ($2.99) vs. Makeup Forever Artist Shadow in Pinky Beige (21.00)

NARS Bronzer Duo in Orgasm/Laguna ($42) vs. e.l.f. Contouring Blush & Bronzer Duo in St. Lucia ($3) 


I think we all deserve need to treat ourselves now and then on a cashmere sweater, expensive perfume, luxe handbag or department store facial cream -- hey, we're women and we work darn hard -- but, it's always an amazing feeling to find a bargain. Hope you enjoyed this post as much as I enjoyed researching/writing it!

See y'all tomorrow. Be good or be good at it, ladies.


Confessional Friday: {Link Up}

Let the chorus of angels sing; it's Friday, gals! Why waste time? We have a weekend to get to, so let's confess:

1) I confess that I think I should have been more specific when I asked Mama Nature for "cooler" weather. The highs this week and for the foreseeable future are in the low thirties and upper twenties. In November. In Arkansas. We're usually wearing short sleeves at Thanksgiving, so this has taken everyone by surprise. (Yeah, those outfit pics from the Shabby Apple post? It was 27 degrees when I snapped those on Tuesday afternoon. Talk about freezing one's booty off in the name of fashion.)

2) I confess that I'm thisclose to breaking out the Christmas decorations. I don't want to wait too much longer, just in case little lady Ainsley decides to make an early entrance. I'm not entirely sure what I want to do yet, but this pretty pic I found on Pinterest might serve as my inspiration. My MIL is going to help me decorate, so I'm sure she'll have some awesome suggestions on how to recreate this look.

Photo and burlap skirt tutorial via The Frugal Homemaker

3) I confess that I'm in loooooove with this sweater overlay that I bought on mega-sale from Ann Taylor. Outfit post coming next week, but I wanted to spread the word today because it's on super sale right now, (and won't be by Monday!)

Sizing reference: 
I'm 5'4" and I went with a small. Plus, Ann Taylor usually runs pretty big, so I'd size down if you choose to buy it, too. Order now and get an additional 40% off of the SALE price. (Code is FRIENDS40

I styled it with this turtleneck in the navy stripe from Old Navy (also on major sale...like, $13...yeah...) Anyway, both the sweater and the turtleneck are one heck of a bargain at a sliver of the original prices. Tip: the Ann Taylor sweater is only on sale until Monday and sizes are going fast. Trust me, you will want it!

Sizing reference:
I went with a medium in the navy stripe for the turtleneck to accommodate the bump now, but also purchased the burgundy in a small to wear after the baby. For $13, I figured why not get a couple of colors?

4) I confess that I've never smelled a more perfect candle than the Capri Blue Volcano candle. (If you've ever been in Anthropologie, it's the one they're usually burning.) I'm not quite ready to bust out the holiday-scented candles yet, so it's a perfect transition scent for fall-to-winter: deep, luxurious and warm, but really clean. 


P.S. - I LOVED the suggestion that a couple of you had for doing a Buy This - Not That drugstore make-up edition! I did some recon at Target and Walgreen's yesterday, so stay tuned for that next week. Let's just say I even found a couple new favorites for my own collection for a whooooole lot cheaper than I was paying at department stores. 

Your turn. Confess away, my loves!


    An InLinkz Link-up


35 Week Bumpdate: {Baby GIRL Sisti #2}

Just a handful of weeks left until we see our girl. (Insert wide-eyed Emoji face with the touchdown hands Emoji right beside it.)

An outtake from yesterday's outfit post. Hey there, Ainsley Cate!

As enjoyable as the pregnancy has been, (and I sincerely mean that), I'm ready to meet our Ainsley Catherine, (or Ainsley Cate, as we've been calling her), and see this precious girl face-to-face. It's funny, but we have absolutely no idea what she looks like. We saw so many facial shots of Caroline when she was in utero that we had a pretty good idea of who she favored before she ever made her entrance. Short of one profile shot at our 20-week appointment, Ainsley has been covering her face with her hands at every appointment.

Last week the u/s tech at our high-risk OB was able to get a shot of her from the front for a brief second, which was just long enough for us to see that she has her daddy's big, puffy lips : ) And, we are told she has hair like her big sister did. We shall see!

A few fun facts about life in week 35 with little AC:

-She's weighing in around 4 lbs. and 10 oz., and around 18 inches in length

-Ainsley enjoys break dancing on momma's bladder every night from about 10 p.m.-2 a.m.

-She gets the hiccups at least twice a day. I used to love that feeling, (and still do), but now it hurts, ha!

-I started getting all of her little clothes put into her closet on Tuesday night. Most belonged to Caroline, but there are definitely a few new things in there, too!

-I bought newborn dipes again this week...so surreal.

-My ankles have been swelling every night this week. Didn't have this problem at all with Caroline until the very last week, but I haven't been so lucky this time. What can I say? Sitting down is just rare these days.

-My normal bras stopped fitting this week. I mean, woah. (In the voice of Billy Crystal, "Helloooooooo, ladies!") On that note, I'll be making a little detour to Vicki's Secret after my appointment this morning. And what I'll be buying probably won't come from their Very Sexy line.

-I make very glamorous grunting noises when I get out of bed.

-I have been using Ruby, our dachshund, as a heating pad this week to relieve aches and pains. She gets to lay on the bump, I stay nice and toasty, everybody wins.


Stay tuned for week 36...


Be a Gem

Jewel tones epitomize fall, don't they? From deep navy to burgundy and emerald, these shades look good on anyone with any skin tone. The best thing about gem-toned hues is that they always add color to your complexion, even if you're as pale as me : )

This navy blue Anytime Wrap Top from Shabby Apple is about the best thing ever. It's non-maternity, but at nearly 35 weeks, the design and cut made it a home-run for my baby-bumpy silhouette. It's a classic piece that's going to be a staple in my fall rotation now and well after Ainsley arrives.

The breakdown:

Felt Floppy Hat in Burgundy
Anytime Wrap Top in Navy Blue c/o Shabby Apple
Tassel necklace via Evereve last year (similar here and here)
Fitight leggings in Dark Green
Boot socks here

Try to Explain Boots in Whiskey c/o Riffraff (sign up for re-stock notify here!)
Prada Saffiano Tote in Caramel (similar bags here and here)

(Sizing reference: I'm 5'4" and wearing a size 4 in the wrap top.)

I like to pair these colors with gold jewelry instead of silver because I feel like it balances out the coolness of the jewel tones. But, it's your world, so go with silver if that's more your thing.

For more outfit inspiration, you can follow Shabby Apple on Instagram (username: shabbyapple). I like to keep up with them for daily outfit ideas, which is great when I'm feeling a little uninspired - easy to do when the weather gets colder!

Until tomorrow, gals--