XO, Noelle

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

NCLA Daisy Dukes - Review

XO, Noelle Wednesday, October 15, 2014
2 Comments
Hi babes! Just because it's October doesn't mean you have to put away your "Daisy Dukes" just yet! No, seriously. Today was 80 degrees in Connecticut. Fall, get your stuff together! 

Daisy Dukes is a baby blue background with white daisies in two different prints. These nail wraps are described as the essence of the magical season of musical festivals. The collection comes with 26 ultra-thin adhesives and a cute NCLA nail file. The wrap sizes range from wide to small so they fit just about any nail bed.

How to apply NCLA nail wraps:

  • Start off with fresh, clean nails and than apply a coat of basecoat (I used NCLA Gloss It!) and let it dry.
  • Find the size that best fits your nail and peel from the sheet by the flap. 
  • Apply the most round part to your cuticle and stretch down until it fits perfectly. I know some are afraid to stretch it because they think it might break, but I promise you it won't. This is the most crucial part to get a nice, flat, flawless nail. 
  • Once you've fit it to your nail, firmly flatten it down starting from the cuticle and pressing your way down to the tip. 
  • Use the nail file in a downward motion to remove any excess wrap left over. Apply another coat of Gloss It! and you're all set! I really like using a coat for Gloss It! over it because it softens the nail wrap (as well as adds a shine to it) so you can go in one last time and press down anything you missed or smooth out any mistakes.

NCLA Daisy Dukes Buy - Price: $16
* Press Sample

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Baby | Meet Baby XO + Birth Story!

XO, Noelle Thursday, October 9, 2014
8 Comments
Hello my little boobalahs! I know it's been a little while. I'm still trying to juggle this whole mommy/blogger/sleep-deprived chick deal and how to work them all together but I promise I'm not going anywhere and I'll get back to daily posts as soon as possible. I mean, Halloween is coming up. I totally can't miss celebrating that on the blog. DUH.

I've been DYING to share my birth story with y'all. Around week 39, I started getting nervous because I had absolutely no signs of labor besides a few Braxton Hicks every once in awhile. I was pretty convinced that Baby XO was in no rush to come out and that I'd go into 41 weeks and have to induced. In fact, everyone thought that.

So imagine my surprise when on September 8th, I had my bloody show. Your bloody show is basically your mucus plug that blocks your cervical opening. #facts For some people, when you lose it, shit's about to go down but for others it could be a few days before you give birth. I figured I was probably the latter. I went out on our boat that night with my fiance and brother and started having contractions. To be honest, I didn't really know they were contractions. It just kind of felt like I was sitting uncomfortable. Like when you wear tight pants that dig into your stomach? Weird way to describe it, I know. When we got home, we got ready for bed and I fell asleep. I kept waking up from the contractions but again, they didn't hurt, they just felt uncomfortable and weird. Kind of like your body saying, "Whoa, hey. Something's going on here." I barely got any sleep. The morning of September 9th, my fiance wasn't sure if he should go to work or not because I kept having contractions. I was timing them but they were all over the place. From five minutes apart, to ten, back to five, down to three, up to fifteen. Nothing was consistent so I told him to go to work. I called my doctor and ended up talking to a nurse who said to not go in unless my water breaks or my contractions are less than five minutes apart. As the day went on, the contractions got more and more intense but still all over the place. When Ant and my mom got home around 5:30PM, they were hitting a little harder but I wanted to stay home as long as possible. Serious #whitecoatsyndrome, fo' real. At 7:30PM, I finally decided that maybe we should go in and started crying. It was becoming a little too real. My mom and fiance packed up the car and away we went to the hospital. The entire car ride, I was squeezing my mom and fiance's hands with every contraction. 

When we got there, the contractions were definitely getting a little rough. Probably about five minutes apart and all up in my back/behind area at this point. I was still convinced that nothing was going to happen so I told my mom and Anthony to leave our stuff in the car because I'll probably be sent home anyway. I then spent a good twenty minutes in registration at the hospital >:0 I'll never understand why you pre-register but still have to go into the registration area and basically register all over again. Finally, we went up and they gave me a room in L&D. The doctor came in and checked me and lo and behold - I was already at 5cm! They told me we were staying and Ant went and got our bags out of the car. The nurse said to walk around and bounce on a labor ball for an hour and then she'll come back and check on me and see if I progressed any. Walking around sucked. The contractions, at that point, were so hard in my back and butt area. Not painful, just super pressure-y. I kept having to stop and basically bang my head against the wall until it passed. Long story short, every hour I progressed a cm. I made it up to 9cms but I was so exhausted from not sleeping the night before and having bad back labor that I asked for an epidural. Actually, I got a shot in my butt first that was supposed to take the edge off but it didn't work so then I asked for an epidural. At this point, we were looking to have the baby at 1:00AM. 

Getting an epidural was the craziest feeling ever. It felt like someone was tickling my vertebrae. I swear, it doesn't hurt but it's such a weird feeling. After it was in, I was in heaven! It was such a relief. The nurse told me to get some sleep and she'll keep checking in on me to see if I'm ready. The epidural ended up slowing down my contractions but I ended up getting the best night's sleep of my entire life instead. Seriously. Best. Sleep. Ever. I wasn't looking to get an epidural but I'm SO happy I did. I think if I didn't have back labor I could've went without but still. So happy I went with an epidural.

Around 7:30AM on September 10th, they came in and checked me and I was at 10cm and ready to go! The epidural was working amazing and just my pelvic area was numb. I could still feel my legs and everything. Then my doctor came in and was like, "Oh hey, do you mind waiting on pushing? The woman next door thinks she's ready to push so..." I'm like, "Oh yeah, sure. I'm not going anywhere. Nothing to do today besides have a baby. No big deal." So all the nurses and my doctor went to the next room. They came back like 20 minutes later and was like, "J/K." Our nurse was like, "It's a race between us and that woman! We have to deliver first!" My delivery was definitely lighthearted and fun which is exactly what I wanted. I hate seriousness. It was also a party. I had my doctor, a student doctor, a nurse, a student nurse, the infant nurse and my mom and Anthony. The nurse started telling me how to push, Ant and my mom held my legs and she told me when I felt a contraction to push through it. Except I couldn't feel any contractions. Like, at all. So I lied. Within about ten pushes, they could see the head and about ten more pushes, he was out! Just 30 minutes of pushing! It was so amazing. No pain, no nadda. Definitely my dream labor.

He came out face up so they think that's why I had such back pain from the way he was positioned. They immediately put him on my chest and that's when I fell in love. Apparently, I tore a teeny tiny bit so they stitched me up while I held him but I didn't feel a thing. After about a half an hour, they asked if I wanted him bathed and I said sure so they bathed him in the room. My fiance, who faints at the sight of blood, watched the whole thing AND cut the cord! So proud of him :) Hands down, it was the best day of my entire life! He came out 6 pounds, 7 ounces. 19 inches long. I had the most amazing, perfect labor and delivery. I consider myself so blessed and lucky. Honestly, if I could be promised my pregnancy and labor would be like this every time, I'd have a billion little babes.

Breastfeeding has been going awesome. He had a great latch at the hospital and has been doing awesome since! He's such a happy, chill baby and only cries when he's getting changed and if he's hungry. Since day one, he's been lifting his head and was given the OK at two weeks for tummy time! Since then, he's only gotten stronger. He also likes to "crawl" where he grabs my shirt on the top and wiggles his way up to my shoulder. He makes these little chipmunk noises all day and smiles and just started cooing. I love reading, singing and dancing with him. 

And now the moment you've all been waiting for...

Introducing - Hunter Anthony!

(At three weeks old!)

I mean, c'mon. Is he not the most gorgeous little guy you've ever seen? I just want to eat him up! 

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Book | The Power of the Heart by Baptiste de Pape - Review

XO, Noelle Tuesday, September 30, 2014
1 Comment
This book couldn't have come at a better time. I'm a new mommy and there's nothing like having a new little one to completely question everything about yourself. I don't usually read self-help books (I'm more of a "The Devil Wears Prada" type of girl) but I love broadening my literary horizons so I decided to check this book out.

"The Power of the Heart by Baptiste de Pape explains how to listen to your heart's voice and hear its wisdom. It also explains ways to to develop your intuition, create synchronicity, clarify your intentions and exercise the power of gratitude. All of those are powers of the heart."

The book contains life lessons in courage, forgiveness and more from eighteen iconic world teachers including:
- Maya Angelou
- Neale Donald Walsch
- Michael Beckwith
- Marianne Williamson
- Ruediger Schache
- Gary Zukav
and more!

Throughout the book, they have little exercises you can do to get in touch with your heart. My absolute favorite chapter is 5. Coherence: Living in the Now which has an exercise called "The Inner-ease Exercise or Love Response". The chapter talks about how to sync up your heart with your emotions to create a stable coherence with both and how to feel calm and positive by doing so. I love living in the "now" but it's definitely easier said than done. I'm constantly going over my day with things I could've said, things I could've done and can sometimes beat myself up over it and get lost in "what ifs". With the "Inner-ease Exercise", not only am I taking a few minutes to myself but I'm connecting with my heart and being content with my day instead of questioning it. My favorite quote from the book is, "Every moment is unique, unknown, completely fresh." said by Pema Chodron because it's a new way to look at the day.

The Power of the Heart will be published in hardcover, ebook, Spanish and audio on October 7th. Make sure to pre-order your copy today at ThePoweroftheHeart.com! Also, keep up-to-date with new info:

* This is a sponsored post for SheSpeaks/The Power of The Heart. |  #poweroftheheart

Monday, September 22, 2014

Baby | What's In My Hospital Bag

XO, Noelle Monday, September 22, 2014
3 Comments
Hey little babes! I finally finished packing my hospital bag. For about two months now, I've been "packing" it, adding a few little things to it, taking a few out. I like to have all the bases covered but I hate overpacking. So after reading and re-reading a million packing lists from other bloggers, I've come up with my own. I think when you get down to it, it's more or less what makes you comfortable. Some are cool with hospital towels, some aren't. Some don't mind giving birth naked while others want to get their own gown. Whether you overpack or underpack, the hospital will always have your ultimate must-haves so don't worry, lovebug.

(As you can see, I wrote this before I had my baby! Baby boy came a few days early so I couldn't get this up in time. I decided to leave the post the way it is but edit in what I actually used and what I didn't.)

Before packing your bag, definitely check with your hospital beforehand and see what they provide for you and your baby.

My Hospital Bag:

- Bag | Forever 21 - Love how spacious this is yet it's not humongous. I also really like that I could probably rock this afterward as a nice bag or weekend bag.

- Soft Black Robe | Target - When I went on the hospital tour, I couldn't help but notice how freakin' cold it was. I'm sure when I'm in labor this robe will be the last thing on my mind but afterward, I think I'll be thankful I have it. It'll be nice to just cover up with when there's visitors as well. Oh, and it's incredibly soft. Like, "mmmmm" soft. I actually didn't end up using this :( I was insanely HOT the entire time (go figure) I was in the hospital. It's still nice to have if you want to cover up when guests come.

- Night Gown | Target - I also really wanted something to change into when visitors come that first day that's still cute, dark and has easy access for nurses to check me out and for skin-to-skin/breastfeeding with baby. The one I bought is pretty long which is what I wanted and has a buttons that button all the way down to the belly. Loved having this! I actually wore it two nights in a row. Super soft and comfy and it was just nice to wear something that wasn't a hospital gown.

- Cute Socks/Slippers | Target - I've heard that so many moms wish they brought socks because it's so cold. For $1.50 a pair, I couldn't help but snag these. They serve the purpose and they're adorable! Slippers are also really nice to have if you want (or better yet can) walk around the hospital. Thick socks also work instead of slippers. I loved having the socks but I didn't end up using the slippers. I wore the flip flops I walked in with when I needed to walk around. The socks kind of acted like slippers so I guess you don't need both.

- Nursing Tank + Comfy Pants | Target & TJ Maxx - Basically my outfit for day two (my hospital has you stay for two nights). I figure the nursing tank is still cute to rock for pictures and I'll probably want to put some pants on by this point. I'm a total pants kinda girl. They're comfy and baggy so I can still slide them down if the nurses need to check me out or anything. I ended up wearing the night gown both nights I was at the hospital but I loved having these there as an option. 

Going Home Outfit | Target - I'm just keeping it simple. Stretchy leggings and a cute tank. Can't go wrong! I've heard sometimes after you deliver, you can retain a lot of fluid between the IV's pumpin' and water retention so they say to bring clothes that would fit you if you were six months pregnant. The stretchy leggings and tank top were perfect! 

- Towel + Flip Flops | I'm definitely going to want to take a shower if I have the option but I've heard hospital towels suck so I'm bringing my own. Plus nothing makes someone happier than a little piece of home when you're in the hospital. I'm also bringing flip flops to use in the shower. Definitely was a good idea bringing my own towel! The hospital's were very small and rough. 

- Nursing Pads + Large Underwear | TJ Maxx & Target - Usually, your milk doesn't come in until about 2-3 days after giving birth but I like to be better safe than sorry plus I'm already leaking as it is so this might come in handy. They're small so even if you don't use them, they're not really taking up much space. I also bought some soft underwear in about two sizes larger than I normally am to keep comfy while I'm wearing pads the size of Texas. I didn't need the nursing pads but the large underwear was great. I also used the mesh underwear they had as well. So I guess you don't need your own, but it's always comfier.

- Nursing Bras | Target - First off, I highly recommend checking out the Gilligan & O'Malley nursing bras at Target. They're so comfy but are still incredibly supportive. I plan on bringing two of these in place of bras. Thank goodness I had these. They were great for feeding baby in the hospital. They were super comfy and had easy access :)

My Make Up / Toiletries Bag

- Bag | Breakups to Makeup - I absolutely love this bag! You can see my review (and just how much you can fit in it!) here

- Hair Ties + Bobby Pins | These are always in my bag anyways but I threw a few more in just in case.  I think I'll probably want my hair up when I'm delivering. 

- Batiste Dry Shampoo | Ulta - My absolute favorite dry shampoo and the only one that works with my hair. Definitely good to have if I can't take that shower to make me look at least a little presentable.

- Deodorant | Walmart - I think this goes without saying.

- Make Up | Just some good ol' faithfuls. It Cosmetics CC+ Cream - The CC cream is just the right amount of coverage without overdoing it and can be applied with my fingers, if I need to. MAC ProLongWear Concealer - The concealer is a must because after pushing, I'm sure I'll have some lovely little broken blood vessels all over my face. I swear, I get them so easily. Maybelline One By One Mascara - My absolute favorite mascara right now. It delivers just the right amount of length, volume and lift to make me feel like I'm wearing falsies.

I actually didn't use anything from my makeup bag! I liked knowing I had it there but we had visitors almost immediately after delivery and I just didn't care how I looked after. I was WAY too tired.

Baby's Diaper Bag

- Diaper Bag | Betsey Johnson - I don't know what made me buy this as a diaper bag but I'm so happy I did! It has a bunch of pockets inside and out for bottles, pacifiers, diapers, etc. I absolutely love it! 

- Two Sleeper Onesies | Carter's - How cute are these? Ugh. So adorable. I figure one for each night we're there. To be honest, I think he'll probably be just swaddled in a diaper most of the time but bringing these along just in case doesn't hurt. Didn't use.

- Going Home Outfit | Carter's + Freshly-Picked.com - As soon as I saw this online, I knew this would be his going home outfit. It's camo which makes his dad happy and it has little elbow patches on the hoodie which makes me happy. I have no clue if these Freshly Picked moccasins will fit him but they match the outfit and they're so freakin' adorable.

- aden+anais Swaddling Blankets | Buy Buy Baby - I'm bringing two even though I know that they give you ones at the hospital. It's more just blankets to swaddle him in for pictures and bring him home in. I ended up using one for covering him when we left.

- Mitts + Hats + Socks | Babies R Us - They're just SO tiny! Mitts are great to have so the baby doesn't scratch his face up. Hats are also awesome (although I think they offer them at most hospitals) to keep your baby warm. I'm just bringing my own because they're cuter ;) Socks are also great to have to keep your babe warm as well.  These were great to have! The hospital supplied a hat but my son came out with shanks for nails so we put mitts on him ASAP so he wouldn't scratch his face.

- Dr. Brown's Gia Angled Breastfeeding PillowDr. Brown's - I'm SO excited to bring this with me and will definitely be doing a review on it afterward. I've read a lot of moms that are breastfeeding wished they brought their breastfeeding pillow with them. I think it's more a comfort thing than a huge necessity, but I'm happy to bring this with me! The Dr. Brown's Gia Breastfeeding Pillow was designed by a lactation consultant and is angled to help digestion and reduce reflux. It's super soft and is made to sit taller and wider for different positions while breastfeeding the baby. Definitely can't wait to try this! If there's one thing I could recommend bringing it would definitely be this - and this one in particular! This makes breastfeeding SO much easier. I plan on doing a full review because I'm so in love with this pillow. It brings your baby up to a perfect height to feed. Ahhh, it's just so amazing!

Friday, September 19, 2014

#BeTheGood

XO, Noelle Friday, September 19, 2014
2 Comments
Hi loves! SO much has happened these past few weeks. First off, guess who's a mommy?! This chickie! I promise a real introduction post/birth story so y'all can officially meet Mr. Baby XO (I swear, he has a real name!) but I wanted to share with you a really cool movement going on right now that you can be a part of!

Recently, I was challenged by Jane.com & Cents of Style to #BeTheGood - a campaign focused on simply being nice and spreading kindness. I believe there's an opportunity for kindness every single day. Whether it's holding a door open, footing the bill at lunch time, donating clothes to a charity or a simple compliment to someone - nothing is too big or too small. 

I believe there's always an opportunity to be nice. A few days ago, a little boy was in front of me at Dunkin Donuts, ordering a Coolatta. Just as he took out some cash to pay, the cashier told him that they were only taking card (DON'T YOU HATE WHEN THEY DO THAT!?). The kid looked totally crestfallen. I stepped up and told him I'd get it for him and paid for his drink. It was a win/win: The kid got his Coolatta and I felt amazing the rest of the day. There's no better feeling than helping someone out! :)

How can you participate? I'm challenging ALL of my readers to:

  • Choose a good deed! It can be anything from donating to your fave charity to buying a coffee for a friend. No goodness is too little!
  • Share the good! Pick your favorite social channel (Facebook, Instagram, Vine, Twitter, etc.) but first, make sure to take a selfie (or something appropriate to your story), and share your story, big or small. Be sure to use these hashtags to help this campaign spread: #BeTheGood #JaneCares and #CentsofStyle. You’ll see your story featured at Jane.com!
  • Tag your friends! Challenge them to participate in the campaign within 24 hours.
  • Buy a shirt! Jane.com and Cents of Style are selling SUPER CUTE #BeTheGood shirts for only $11.95. All profits are donated to Girls Inc., an organization that inspires girls to be strong, bold and smart.
|| #bethegood #janecares #centsofstyle

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Nexxus Color Assure Pre-Wash Primer + System - Review

XO, Noelle Tuesday, September 9, 2014
1 Comment
My recent hair color change has been a long, long, long time coming. I'd been rockin' an unintentional ombre look for quite some time now (ahem, like a year). Last year, I was this awesome mahogany shade, right? Ugh. I loved it. But naturally, I forgot to save shade it was and then I just keep procrastinating trying to match it and then decided to let it grow out instead, etc. It was a mess. It ended up going from this gorgeous red to my natural brunette roots on top and a weird, brassy red/blonde/I don't even know on the bottom. It might've looked okay in pictures but sweet JAY-SUS it looked crazy in person.

Nexxus Color Assure System - How pretty is the packaging? 
Fast forward to early last month when I had it up to here with my weirdo hair colors and decided to just dye it all one color - my natural hair color - for the sake of looking somewhat put together when I have a newborn.
 
Before: Excuse the bushy eyebrows and my piercing popping out || After: Ahhh. Nice, healthy color! #shamlessselfie

One of my biggest fears since dying my hair back to it's natural color is that those weird brassy ends will pop up through. Cue: Conde Nast and Nexxus who were so sweet and sent me their new Nexxus Color Assure System to try out with  my freshly dyed hair.

The Nexxus Color Assure System is the first oil-infused color care system that locks in your new hair color by keeping water out (wait-what?). Okay. Obviously it doesn't really keep the water out, if that makes sense. You still wash your hair and all that stuff like normal but I think what they mean is that it keeps out the harshness that comes with washing your hair and protects your color. The line is sulfate-free and features White Orchid extract that seals and protects each hair strand to help repel water and prevent it from entering the core. Also included in the mix is almond, coconut and argan oils to nurture and keep color-treated hair vibrant and looking fresh for up to 2x longer!

I used the whole system but if I had to choose one main star from this collection, I'd have to say it's the Nexxus Color Assure Pre-Wash Primer. I didn't even know they made "primers" for your hair but it's so easy to use. Right before you shower, on dry hair, apply two-seven pumps concentrating more at the ends and then working your way up. I used four pumps on my shoulder-length hair and it was no bueno. Even after washing my hair, it felt greasy and gross which they warn you will happen if you obviously use too much. I used two less pumps the next time and it made all the difference. My hair was super soft and healthy looking. After about two weeks in, I noticed that even with as often as I wash my hair (about every other day) my color had yet to fade! Talk about this primer being a total game-changer. I also noticed that my hair didn't feel dry like it sometimes can after dying it and especially with the crazy weather changes going on. 

Like I said, I used the whole system which includes the Color Assure Vibrancy Retention Shampoo and Conditioner (talk about smelling amazing!) and then finished off on dry hair with the Color Assure Glossing Tonic for extra shine. I noticed that if I used all four products together on my thin hair, it would sometimes feel a little weighed down so I'd choose to either just use the shampoo one day and then use both the shampoo and conditioner the other.

A month later... my hair is still all one color and still feels soft and manageable - not dry and straw-like. Whoop whoop! I'm still using the shampoo, primer and glossing tonic. I don't really use conditioner on a daily basis anyway but found that the shampoo was conditioning enough for my thin hair. I recommend using this system 

For more info on the Nexxus Color Assure Pre-Wash Primer as well as the entire system:
Nexxus | Twitter

* Sponsored post by Nexxus for the #ColorAssure campaign but naturally all opinions are 100% mine!