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Ariah Turns 2!!!

Somehow… and I can barely believe itour little Ariah turned 2 today!!! It’s been the most amazing whirlwind time of my life and every day it feels like I can love her even more. Now, we’re entering the “Terrible Two’s” so I’m preparing myself but for now we’re soaking up every minute of this cuddly, adorable little lady we love so much!

Here’s what Ariah’s life looks like these days…

Her schedule:

8:30 AM Wake Up

8:45 Cup of Milk

9:30 Breakfast

10 Brush Teeth + Get Dressed

10:30- 12:30 PM Playtime

1 Lunch

1:30 Nap

3:30 – 6:30 Play + Snack Time

7 Dinner

8 Bath

8:30-9:30 Play + Read

Milk

9:30 Bedtime

What She’s Up To:

She is now forward facing in the car seat…

Ariah really loves her all of “her babies” right now + loves to play “mommy and baby”…

She’ll pretend to cook in her little kitchen + as she says, she’s always “cooking mama”…

She’s starting to piece together the words of her favorite nursery rhymes + can finish sentences…

She’s also singing her alphabet clearer every day + counting to 10…

Our Struggles :

Pacifier

She’s still wanting her “wubba” as she calls it to sooth her but I try really hard to only give it to her when she’s getting sleepy and going to bed, so she doesn’t have it too much throughout the day.

Eating

She is beyond picky and really sticks to just a few of her favorite things. Some days she doesn’t want to eat anything at all and is just fine to drink her milk (which is not good AT ALL, so any tips on how to get your toddler to eat, PLEASE drop them in the comments below!)

Potty Training…

She is not interested at all!!! Any tips on potty training girls? Help a mama out!

I love being able to document all of these moments + milestones of our baby girl. I’m so blessed to be her mom and I can’t wait to continue sharing these moments with you all!!

HAPPY BIRTHDAY ARIAH, WE LOVE YOU!

TODDLER GIFT GUIDE:

 

Stay tuned for my new blog posts coming soon!!

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Ariah’s 18-Month Update <3

Let me start by saying, I CANNOT believe my baby girl is already 18 months!!

For those of you who aren’t parents, yes… you usually still count the months until your child is 24 months (2 years old)… and YES, there’s a HUGE difference between 1 and 2.

I know so many of you have followed our growing family over the years, so I wanted to give an update on Ariah and everything she’s learned up until now, what she eats and of course some super cute pictures of her!

Being a mom to a toddler can be challenging at times (think: trying to get them to eat new foods, tantrums, potty training *which we aren’t there yet* and many other challenges)- but I also feel like this is one of the best stages yet! This is when they’re learning sooo much and it’s amazing to watch her explore the world and want to learn more! I love it.

So what’s Ariah up to these days? Let’s find out!

She’s Learning + Loving…

It’s getting harder to take her places in public because all she wants to do is run around and touch everything. And if we don’t let her…of course… tantrum!

And flying? Not exactly as easy as it used to be. Lately Mike and I have only been flying with her together because it’s just so much easier to have the extra hands to help with her and to carry bags, push strollers, grab car seats <<— You get the picture, right? When she was a tiny baby she would sleep… but now, it’s a whole other story since she hasn’t slept on the past four or so flights. Yayyyy me haha!

She really loves anything that can go on her head… and basically thinks everything is a hat. We have this popcorn tub at our house that she always has to have on her head as her “hat”- and I won’t lie, it’s pretty adorable.

She also loves wearing sunglasses on her head or on her eyes depending on how she feels in the moment. Doesn’t matter if we’re inside or outside, she has to have her “hat” and “glasses”….I have a fashion diva on my hands already!

At this point she likes to mock everything we say, so thankfully she has a really great vocabulary for her age.

Favorite Words to Say…

Her Favorite Things…

Baby Dolls and Playing “Mom”
Hats & Sunglasses
Teddy Bears
Balls
Music and Dancing
Mickey Mouse

Her Current Schedule…

8:30AM Wake Up

8:45 Cup of Milk

10-10:30 Breakfast

11-12:30 Play/ Change Clothes For the Day

12:30-2:30/3PM Nap #1

3 Lunch

3:30-5 Play Time

5-6:30 Nap #2 If Needed (especially if I want her to stay up later!)

7 Dinner

7:30-8:30 Play/ Read

8:30 Bath/ Get Ready For Bed

9 Cup of Milk

9:30-10 Sleep

Her Favorite Foods…

Oatmeal
Mac + Cheese
Guacamole
Beans
French Fries
Mashed Potatoes
Crackers to Snack On
Chicken Noodle Soup
Chicken Nuggets

She’s not into meat too much right now… and I think it’s a texture thing. We’ll get there though, because she does like to try things we’re eating… and of course, if we’re eating it, she likes it too. Kids, right?

And obviously, she loves her sister big time <3

Happy 18 Months Ariah… we love you so!

Loving these looks? Shop it here 👇🏾👇🏾👇🏾

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Newborn Essentials

What an amazing learning experience it has been this past year. As we quickly approach the one year mark with our baby girl, I can still remember all the newborn moments and firsts we experienced- every time looking for advice from friends and family.

Every mama + baby is different, so this may not be a “one shoe fits all” approach, but these are some of the best products I found when Ariah was a newborn- and I hope they help you just as much as they helped me! And since my life is a constant go go go, I really wanted to make sure that the items I was using were practical for our fast-paced life!

 

Baby Bjorn Carrier/ Solly Wrap
What a lifesaver! If it’s any indication, Ariah’s first plane ride was at 2 months old, so we had to become instant pros at maneuvering an airport with a baby on board. I used the Solly Wrap a few times while she was smaller, switching to the Baby Bjorn when she was about 4-5 months and she could support her neck. It was amazing how I could carry my baby, keep my arms free and keep the weight off my back all at the same time.

Boppy
OMGOSH, we used the Boppy since DAY 1 and never looked back! Every day I found myself more in love with the Boppy, whether I was supporting her while breastfeeding or using it to keep her still in one place for a moment or two… of course, this was all before she learned to roll and crawl, then it was game over!

Diaper Genie
Who wants to smell the stinky diapers piling up in the trashcan, right? Having the Diaper Genie right next to her changing table kept everything clean and easy- without a single dirty diaper smell!

Maxi Cost Car Seat (From Seedlings– A Tampa Baby Boutique)
Easily one of the toughest decisions to make, we researched nonstop about which car seat to get for our daughter. Safety was obviously our number one priority… but that doesn’t mean it can’t be cute! We eventually found the perfect seat at our friend’s boutique in Tampa (Seedlings) and knew it was exactly what we were looking for. 10 months later and Ariah is still enjoying the safety and comfort of this seat, though it’s almost time to start looking for another… our baby girl is getting so big!

A major plus of the seat was that our favorite stroller, the Bugaboo Chameleon 3, had adapters to connect the two together, which made moving on the go a breeze! Snapping her in or taking her out was no problem, so whether we were doing it together or playing a little 1 on 1 with Ariah for the day, we were good to go.

Gucci Diaper Bag
While I was pregnant I was on the hunt for the perfect diaper bag. I knew it was something I felt comfortable splurging on since I would be using it ALL THE TIME- and yet it had to be practical for traveling as well.

From the start I knew an over the shoulder bag wouldn’t work well for me, so I had my eye on backpack diaper bags instead. When I found this Gucci bag, I was immediately obsessed! It is hands down one of the best investments I’ve ever made as a mom and I have no plans of putting it down anytime soon. With all of the different compartments and portable changing pad, it has everything we need when on the move.

Velcro Swaddles
Our little wiggle worm never liked to stay tucked in her swaddles, so when my mom found these Velcro swaddles, they were an absolute game changer! She stayed tucked and slept SO much better… and you know what that means, right? Yep… I slept better too!

Doc A Tot
I know that sometimes things don’t seem worth the money- and honestly, I went back and forth about buying this as well- but when I heard all of the moms raving about them, I knew it was worth a shot. I gave in and ordered the Doc A Tot bassinet dock and WOW, were they right… it was amazing! I used it everywhere: in our bed while we were watching TV, on the couch, traveling or staying at Grandma’s… you name it and we used it there. With so much added cushion and comfort, this is definitely a must-have!

4Moms Mamaroo
Knowing that I had been eyeing this for a while, my Nana and Pop gifted this to us at our baby shower. I loved all of the different settings, and obviously, it was adorable, so it was a must in our house! Ariah loved hanging out in it around the house, when I took a shower (can I get an AMEN for showering in peace mamas!?) and even napped in it during the day. Now that she’s a bit older, we still get use out of it, strapping her in for her morning bottle or to play and watch a few baby cartoons.

Babocush
I actually found out about this item from my wedding makeup artist and thought it was the coolest thing! You strap your baby in while they are laying on their bellies. Then you can turn it on to any of the different settings, add music or vibrations and just let them lay there… or even sleep for a few hours! Obviously, it has to be on a safe surface… it does vibrate after all… but it’s perfect for soothing them or relieving gas in their tiny, little, bellies.

Baby Tracker App
As first-time mamas we want to make sure we’re doing everything right, and the Baby Tracker App helped me to do just that. You can keep track of how much your baby is eating, ounces they are drinking, how long their naps are, when you changed their diaper, etc. Honestly, with everything going on… and hello, #MOMBRAIN is a real thing… it just helps to stay on top of all the things you need to do for your little one.

Wubbanub
At first as a newborn, I’ll admit, we were scared to give her a pacifier with a stuffed animal attached to the back of it for fear of it being a choking hazard. But we quickly fell in love with it and the Wubbanub has been her favorite comfort item ever since. Stay tuned because I think it may be a bit hard to wean her when the time comes!

Zip Up Onesies/ Gowns
Like a typical new mama, as soon as I found out I was having a girl I immediately thought about ALL of the adorable clothes I was going to dress her up in. And then I snapped out of it, haha! I HIGHLY recommend investing in long gown or zip up onesies ONLY and nothing with buttons if you ever want to get that squirmy wormy dressed!

Gripe Water
Where would we be without all of our mommy friends, right? Thankfully one of my friends recommended Gripe Water to me because though I had never heard of it before, I quickly found out that it’s basically magic for your baby’s tummy! It helps with hiccups and works to prevent colic or tummy discomfort so babies can pass all of the milk they’re drinking without getting fussy.

If Ariah was screaming her head off and I didn’t know what to do, I immediately went down the list: Sleep? Food? Diaper change? If nothing else worked I would give her some Gripe Water and the all-natural water would soothe her belly and change her mood within moments!

Dreft
Finally, I highly recommend this laundry detergent (or another baby safe brand) to keep your baby protected- especially for those with sensitive skin like Ariah. Remember, our clothes are always in constant contact with our little ones and even other people’s detergent would irritate her soft skin. Having natural and safe products to soothe our babies in should always be at the top of our list!

 

Down below I linked a bunch of our newborn must haves that I hope helps all of you new mommies, mommies-to-be or for you to pass to your friends that are new expecting!

 

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Our Love Story: From the Beginning…

They say nothing really ever happens by chance.

That the way two people meet…
Or the circumstances that brought them together…
Or the instant connection they share…

It’s not by chance- but by f a t e – and I couldn’t agree more.

That destined day back in 2013, when Mike and I met seems like a million years ago some days, and yet I still remember it like it was yesterday.

At the time he was at Texas A&M and I was attending Blinn Junior College, still trying to figure this thing called life out. It could have been like any other normal college day: friends getting together, meeting new people, hanging out and having fun.

But it wasn’t any normal day… it was the day I would meet the love of my life.

Our connection was intense from the moment we met: I’m talking butterflies + fireworks— the real deal.

We quickly realized that we shared so many of the same interests, one of them being going to the movies, so obviously it was a no-brainer to make that our first date. From that point on we spent every minute we could together, hanging out with our friends, seeing movies and going to Northgate.

And then football season started.

Of course I had heard how amazing Mike was- I mean, people literally stopped and asked him for a picture everywhere we went– but it wasn’t until I saw him play with my own two eyes that I was truly blown away.

He had such natural skill at Wide Receiver that he made it look almost easy! The chemistry he had on the field with his quarterback and good friend Johnny Manziel, his talent, and obvious love for the game was so impressive to watch!

I loved going to every one of his games, cheering him on, being there to support him- but it was the game that I finally got to meet his daughter Mackenzie that will forever hold my heart. It was a game against Auburn and his mom brought Mackenzie to watch her Daddy play- and WOW, did he play for his little girl! As it turned out, that game would be one of his best college career games ever and she was there to watch it all.

Meeting his daughter, spending that time with her, and seeing who Mike was as a father brought this whole new kind of love for him that I never knew existed.

What I DIDN’T know was that Mike’s college career was about to be over! He entered the 2014 NFL Draft and was drafted the overall 7th pick by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers!

How incredibly crazy/beautiful it was to watch the moment he was drafted- I almost remember it like it was yesterday.

It was such an anxious moment for everyone… so many mixed emotions and so many nerves… yet a lot of excitement! I remember the moment Mike got the phone call sitting at the round table, it was such an emotional moment for him, + then they called his name and it became real! He was holding Mackenzie and just thinking about how blessed he was to be in that position. It was incredible.

And that was that: we packed up and moved to Tampa… new town, new home, new team.

That first year in the NFL was crazy! We learned so much about each other and ourselves… and HELLO, remember, we were only 20!

But you live and you learn and you love and you grow… that’s life, right?!

So there we were later in 2014, it’s almost my birthday and Christmas is (TOO QUICKLY) approaching. All I wanted to do was plan the P E R F E C T Christmas for Mackenzie and our families. It was so important to me to welcome them into our home and make this an unforgettable experience for everyone.

We celebrated Christmas a few days ahead because the truth is that life in the NFL doesn’t always mean being there for the holidays, but making the most of the time you do have.

Sooo… again, there we were enjoying everyone’s company, exchanging gifts and loving this time together. After everyone finished opening their gifts Mike hands me one more gift to open… in the shape of a shoe box.

If you know me at all, you know how excited I was… and if you know my husband at all, you know it “probably” wasn’t just any pair of shoes.

I unwrapped the box and immediately see it’s none other than a box from Christian Louboutin… eekkk! Inside was THE cutest pair of blue Pigalle’s.

But that wasn’t all…

My eye quickly saw a smaller blue box from Tiffanys inside- and at that point I’m ecstatic thinking that I’m about to get new earrings too- but everyone gets super quiet.

Like waiting to hear a pin drop kinda quiet.

I’m staring at the blue box, hardly realizing that Mike is getting down on one knee right.in.front.of.me.

He takes the box from me….
Opens it…
I’m shaking…
And he asks, “Ashli Nicole Dotson, I have one question, will you marry me?”

Half crying/ half screaming I say “YES!”… and then cry and cry and cry.

It was absolutely beautiful and perfect: surrounded by our family, everyone in the holiday spirit and me completely surprised. To this day Mike says it was one of the most nervous days of his life… but like always, he does an amazing job.

We immediately set the date and I got to planning the wedding of a lifetime.

On February 13th, 2016 we had the dream wedding I had always hoped for… but that’s a story for another time…