When I began this blog over 2 years ago, I began with my reconversion story. I wrote it in three installments, but after looking back over it, I realized I didn't really finish it! So today, I'm going to finish it and may come back and add to it over the years......

I find it funny that I'm finishing up this story in the Feast of St. Ignatius Loyola. Iggy has played an interesting role in my faith journey. Back in 2008, I began an internship with an organization that was housed in an old building that had at one time been a Jesuit seminary called St. Loyola Academy. Right next door was St. Ignatius church. I began this internship right around the same time my brother joined the Society of Jesus/The Jesuits, an order that was started by St. Ignatius. It was around that time I had started coming back to the faith after several instances where God made it absolutely obvious He was pursuing me. So, now that you know that interesting little side story, I'll continue with part 4 of my reconversion story!

Happy Feast of the Most Holy Trinity!

It's June 11th, which means we are getting SUPER close to meeting our little one!

While I've been busy nesting, I've been re-thinking what I'm packing in our diaper bag for a newborn this time around.

Here's a list I've narrowed down to from my first round as an over-prepared new mom. I hope it helps lighten your diaper bag load!

What's in my diaper bag

Diaper-changing clutch-I prefer this awesome gadget to just a changing pad and wipes from a diaper bag, because it's wrapped up with diapers and wipes so you can grab it separate from the bag and take it on walks, into a cramped bathroom, etc. You can also attach a little bottle of sanitizer to the wrist band in case there's no place to wash your hands after changing. Make sure it's stocked with 4-5 diapers and a packet of wipes. I love using this re-stockable wipe container and will re-stock it with a cleaner alternative of wipes once the first batch runs out.

Extra pacifier and paci-clip (if baby uses one)

Arm and Hammer Paci Wipes-these are great for wiping down dropped teethers, pacifiers, or bottle tips if you're nowhere near a sink.

Change of clothes (including socks)-because messes happen!

If you're breastfeeding, I love this non-toxic nipple cream by Mother Love. It comes in a super-small jar to save space in your diaper bag!

Wet-dry bag or gallon zip lock bag-to contain a fresh set of clothes and store the messy or damp clothes

The Microcube- This brilliant little invention is super compact and allows you to collect that first 2-3 oz of breastmilk during your letdown on the opposite breast from the one baby is feeding on. Instead of letting it get soaked up by a breastpad, this collects the milk for you. Quick tip-once the Microcube has collected the initial letdown, set it into a mug or into something to prevent it from getting tipped over so you don't cry over spilt milk;-) Pour the milk into a bottle for the end of the feeding to give baby those extra ounces, or store in the fridge for later!

Baby Calming Diaper Rash Cream-Beautycounter for the win, again! Their non-nano zinc-oxide, fragrance, soy, and nut free formula is super nourishing and doesn't leave a super greasy-residue; making it safe for cloth diapers! Their products bring such peace of mind knowing there aren't any toxic chemicals or skin irritants. If you or your littles struggle with eczema or other skin issues, I highly recommend the entire Beautycounter baby line! Tip: Use this for underbra-itch caused by excess moisture from breastfeeding!

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Snacks/food pouches for little ones eating solids

Bottle of hand sanitizer-I really like the Babyganics foaming sanitizers, which last a very long time!

Bottle or sippy cup-choose ones that don't have a million pieces to clean! Here are two options I LOVE and make life so much simpler!

Five Phases Bottles  

Nalgene Grip-n-Gulp Water Bottle 

Both options are BPA free and are SUPER durable if they get dropped or stepped on!

Powdered formula and bottled water-if not breastfeeding

Muslin or flannel swaddle-depending on season. These can add extra warmth in the carseat or stroller, provide extra shade, be placed on the ground for play, act as a burp rag or towel in a pinch. The Aden + Anais muslin swaddles are high quality and will last for multiple babies! If you need a lower price-point, Aden + Anais has a line of products called "Ideal Baby" that uses a lower thread-count-but you can hardly tell the difference in quality!

If it's summer, pack sunscreen and a hat! I LOVE Beautycounter's sunscreen stick. It's non-toxic and safe if accidentally ingested, and it goes on like a deoderant stick. You can hold your busy toddler still with one hand and there's no greasy mess! Plus, I love how small and compact it is.

Small nail clippers and file-I swear their sharp little nails grow overnight!

A few small books or toys

Phone charger

Teether- while you won't need this until baby starts teething, the chewable Rosaries from Chews Life are adorable and would also make a great Baptism gift! They are durable so you can also use it for your own prayer in your busy day-to-day without worrying about your little one breaking it.


Photo courtesy of chewslife.com


Happy Easter!

With baby number two coming very soon, I definitely find myself in the "nesting" phase. Washing onesies and blankies, sorting clothing by size, creating a registry (mostly for my own organizational reasons and to make sure we're budgeting for things we need!), and making sure everything is ready for when our little one makes their appearance!

This time around, since I have a little more experience navigating the world of baby gear, I've compiled a list of my favorite things from my first baby and with this one! I hope you find these suggestions helpful and if you don't see something on this list that you think should be, please leave your suggestion in the comments! If it makes a momma's life easier or more fun, I want it on this list! Also, I've thrown in some items that are conventional, and others that help us keep the most important thing; our Catholic faith, in our day-to-day as moms!


1. Rilos and Mimi Bibs

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Image courtesy of www.rilosandmimi.com

Not only do they come in ADORABLE patterns, but they are made from non-toxic materials, are constructed super well, and have a washcloth material on the back. This allows you to double the bib as a wash cloth for post-meal messes. This will be fantastic to pack in the diaper bag without having to pack both a bib and wash clothes for clean ups! The price is also just right- $14 for a high quality bib. You can get yours HERE! They have other patterns and colors available, as well as other beautifully made baby goods!


2. Angelcare Movement and Sound Monitor

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Photo courtesy of Amazon

This was a favorite with our first one, but I cannot recommend this product enough! The Angelcare Movement and Sound Monitor brought me such peace of mind when we brought our first home. As a first-time mom, I had trouble sleeping because I was worrying if baby was okay! This was especially true when baby had a cold or had trouble breathing, or any other health concerns. This would also make a generous gift for parents who are bringing home baby after a NICU stay, and would like extra peace of mind that their baby's safety is being monitored while they can get some sleep. This monitor has a motion-censing pad that goes underneath their mattress, and will sound an alarm after 20 seconds if it doesn't detect movement-including baby's breathing. Just a warning-it may need some fiddling to figure out what setting is best for your baby's mattress, so a few false alarms may happen. However, I found this item was TOTALLY worth the investment! You can find yours for a great price on Amazon HERE!


3. BOB 2016 Revolution FLEX Duallie Stroller


Photo courtesy of Amazon

While this is a hefty investment, we already know it will be worth every dollar after putting it together and playing around with it. Jogging strollers, even if you aren't a jogger, are much easier to push and navigate all over the place-whether it's on the sidewalk, over a curb or uneven sidewalk, in the grass, or on the trail. Definitely shop around for the best deal before ordering. We found that these strollers and other baby gear usually have great discounts in January pre-baby shower season! Just two months after we got ours on sale, it went up nearly $200 in price! Also, for the past few years, all models of BOB's double strollers have been super high quality, so if you don't mind buying one used or getting an older model, definitely do it to save money! I've also had good luck finding additional accessories for the stroller used at consignment sales/stores. Oftentimes, simply ordering a color other than black will save you money, too!

When purchasing this stroller, don't forget to factor in a protection plan and the approximate $50-70 you'll need for the adaptor bar necessary for attaching a carrier carseat. BOB makes various models to fit various carseats. Before purchasing your stroller, make sure it makes an adaptor for the carseat you have. If you're an Amazon shopper like me, you can find a BOB 2016 model HERE.


4. Beautycounter Baby Calm Diaper Rash Cream

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Photo courtesy of Beautycounter

Mommas, I cannot recommend the baby line from Beautycounter enough! I may be a bit biased since I'm a consultant, but I fell in love with these products before I began referring people to their high-performing, EWG-verified products. I have annoying eczema, so I can use their baby line on myself and our little ones without any worry about toxic chemicals or nasty reactions on my (or their) skin.

Their recently launched Diaper Rash Cream is soy, nut, and fragrance free. It's safe for cloth diapering, and its active ingredient of non-nano zinc helps reduce and prevent redness. A little goes along way! This product is also fantastic if you have issues with itchiness due to additional moisture and leaks from breastfeeding. If you'd like to check out this and other fantastic baby products, go HERE!


5. Green Toys Tea Set


Photo courtesy of Amazon

Someone made a great suggestion to me that to ease the transition into a family of four, it's a neat and helpful idea to have the new baby "gift" something to the older child so they know they are very much loved and appreciated, despite how much attention the new baby is getting. For Easter this year, we got our little one this tea set and it has been a HUGE hit! Such a hit, in fact, that our little one was so obsessed she would NOT go to bed unless she could take a cup and saucer with her! Green Toys are made from recycled plastic, are food and dishwasher safe, and are free from BPA, PVC, and pthalates. They have several other high-quality and innovative toys, too! Like many of my favorite things,  you can find this on Amazon HERE.


6. Chews Life Rosaries


How adorable are these?! I so wish these were around when our first was born. Not only is it a great way to distract a teething baby, but it's also a great way to introduce little ones to the "Key to Heaven"! They also have decade bracelets and other adorable chewable items.

These Rosaries are made from soft, chewable, food-grade silicone, and beads are strung on organic cotton chord. All their chewable baby products are super durable, but accidents do happen, so please only use beaded baby products with adult supervision. They also offer FREE shipping on orders over $60! You can browse and shop HERE. This is an excellent idea for infant baptisms!


7. Catholic Baby's First Handle Bible and Baby's First Prayers

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Photos courtesy of The Catholic Company

We were gifted these books with our first. We take them with us EVERYWHERE! The handle on the book makes it super easy for your little one to hold onto and take with them. They are also very sturdy and are easy to wipe off if your little one's have sticky hands. Our little one loves all the colors, layers, and textures! You can find your copies HERE. This is another excellent gift for infant baptisms!


8. Beautycounter Body Butter


Photo courtesy of Beautycounter

If you're wanting something to pamper yourself while combating stretch marks, I LOVE this product from Beautycounter. Not only does it smell wonderful, it also adds wonderful nourishment and moisture to your skin. Pair this with Beautycounter's Baby Oil for extra oompf. All Beautycounter products are completely non-toxic and are scented using only essential oils. If you need someone to help you shop, message me!


9. The Catholic Feminist Podcast


Photo courtesy thecatholicfeministpodcast.com

I've really started enjoying Catholic-inspired podcasts that I can turn on and listen to while playing with our little one or getting house work done during naptime. It has really helped me grow in my faith amidst my busy life as a SAHM. This one started a couple months ago, and has been very thought-provoking and enriching! You can tune in HERE.


10. Bundle Organics Pregnancy Wellness Tea

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Photo courtesy of Amazon

This is a super flavorful tea that contains organic ingredients of Rooibos, orange peel, Cardamom, mango, blueberry, and coconut. The formula is USDA-certified organic, naturally caffeine-free, and OBGYN-approved for mom's wellness throughout pregnancy. It tastes great either hot or iced! You can find it for the best price HERE.


What favorites would you add to this list? Comment below!



Today's blog will be featuring a mother and daughter duo. Andrea and her daughter Grace are participating in Pure Fashion, 2017, in Ames, Iowa!

For those of you who've never heard of Pure Fashion, they are "an international faith based program designed for girls 14-18 to help young women re-discover their innate value and authentic femininity. They are a character formation program that enhances not only a young woman's external appearance, but more importantly, her interior beauty and balanced self confidence."

Their goal is to emphasize a young woman's inherent dignity and therefore create in her a desire to dress and act in accordance with that dignity. They understand that many women today are losing their sense of innocence at a very young age, and Pure Fashion aims to reverse this trend by offering a fun, exciting and effective virtue formation program that can impress the hearts and minds of young girls at a very critical stage in their lives. To find out more, visit: www.purefashion.com


Andrea enjoys carefree timelessness with her family, running/exercising, gardening, and watching her children in all the activities they participate in.  Homeschooling her children has been an enlightening experience, both educationally and spiritually. It has allowed her to dive into learning with her children, and has opened her eyes and heart to a whole new appreciation and approach to education. It has also deepened and strengthened her knowledge of the Catholic faith, and allowed her to share that love and wisdom with her children in endless hours of reading, listening, and discussion. The path that God has led her and her husband on is one they never would have imagined 19 years ago, but because of the church and all it professes, here they are six kids later, doing the best they can to follow where God is leading them!  A verse Andrea takes inspiration from is Proverbs 31: 'Though I have far to go to even compare to the woman described in this verse, it encourages and reminds me of the kind of godly woman I can strive to be for my husband and children.'

Grace is a junior in high school and enjoys drawing, painting, piano, and playing soccer in her free time. She loves art and design, and is planning on majoring in something in that area when she goes to college. She is very passionate about soccer and it has been a huge part of her high school experience. She is also very involved with the youth groupat her church. Some of the most impactful moments in her life have been through the retreats and trips she's taken with this youth group.

Andrea, how did you hear about Pure Fashion and what inspired you to get involved?

Andrea: I first heard about Pure Fashion through our Pure Fashion group leader Kim's Mother-in-Law, at a bible study I was in. I was really impressed with the results I heard about with those participating and thought it would be such a great opportunity for my daughter Grace, but at the time she was only in 8th grade. The seeds were planted and I kept thinking about it until she was a teen.

Grace, your mom heard first about Pure Fashion, but what ultimately inspired you to get involved?

Grace: At the time, I was homeschooled and felt very strongly about the same values that Pure Fashion promoted, so I liked the idea of being a part of a support system and group of like-minded girls. At my age, these values aren't often practiced or encouraged, and are often looked down upon, so having that support network was really important to me. The events also sounded super interesting and fun!

Grace, how does the mission of Pure Fashion help you navigate your life as a teen?

Grace: The ideals of modesty and purity help shape my decisions and actions, and help me stay true to myself. They help me understand why remaining pure and acting with modesty is the best choice and I don't feel as much of a need to dress or act in order to impress others. It's very freeing.

Andrea, how does the mission of Pure Fashion help you navigate your life as a mother?

Andrea: The things were are learning with Pure Fashion help reinforce and support the foundation and character we're trying to instill in our children-both our boys and girls. It really helps us when our kids are surrounded by those who don't just say to do these things, but also to live by them.

Andrea, what does purity mean to you?

Andrea: To me, purity means we're temples of the Holy Spirit and striving to keep our bodies sacred, beautiful, and respected, at every age. When we do this for Christ, we are also showing respect for ourselves, and.........

Grace: When we do this and portray ourselves in this way on the outside, it is a way to draw people in and get to know Christ through us.

Andrea: Good answer, Grace! Yes, you don't want to take away self-expression through fashion, but make sure your dress is also showing that you respect yourself and your fashion choices don't distract others from getting to know who you are.

Grace, do you have any other thoughts on what purity means?

Grace: Yes, being pure-intentioned and keeping our actions and purpose driven and focused by Christ.

Andrea: I love watching speaker Jackie Francois Angel because she exemplifies living in purity and being so joyful! I also think chastity is a huge part of purity-both as a single person and in marriage.

Grace, what do you find, as a teen, makes it the most difficult to dress with modesty and act with purity?

Grace: Being around friends at school. Most of them dress to impress others in order to model famous people and with an impure purpose; trying to attract boys. It makes me sad that the fashion and entertainment world tells us that as women, the only way to be powerful is to dress a certain way so that you have power over men. I really believe that these women would be more happy if they dressed for themselves and dressed to celebrate who they are as themselves, rather than defining their fashion choices to please others.

Andrea, what made it hard for you as a teen to live a life of purity and chastity?

I didn't have the voice that showed me this path or any Christ-life mentoring in my life. My husband and I were high school sweethearts and both look back and wish we'd known these things.

We took a "growing kids" class and learned how growing kids' lives are like a funnel and we have to be a guiding influence on our children. 

Andrea, what advice would you give yourself back then that you can now tell your daughter?

Andrea: Treat your body as a temple. Respect yourself-it's hard now, but in the end, you'll be so grateful you did and you'll see the fruit of it and it really is the best thing for you! I love my parents, but we had no guidance on purity back then. I wish after taking a course on Theology of the Body, that I could share its messages with everyone!

Doing things like Pure Fashion with your children, keeps the dialogue and conversation going. It can be hard to approach the subject of sex and chastity sometimes, so when we go to these events, it gives us common ground to work from and keeps us parents engaged.

We are so grateful to have Andrea and Grace at The Purifed Palate! Please keep them, all Pure Fashion participants, and young people in your prayers!

P.S. If you're in the Ames, Iowa, area on Sunday, April 2nd, be sure to show them your support by attending their fashion show at The Gateway Hotel and Conference Center. Doors open at 3pm and the show begins at 4. Artists Luke Spehar and EllieMae Millenkamp will be performing and there will be several Catholic vendors for you to browse! Here are the details:

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 We hope to see you there!





I see so many moms-to-be on social media asking our tribe what they should pack in their hospital bag when they're going to deliver their baby.

I often found myself re-posting my must-haves, so I figured I'd just post it all here in one place so I can easily share it whenever the opportunity comes up! I recommend having your bag packed around the 8 month mark, just to be prepared.

For Momma

Flip flops

Warm robe to wrap around you quickly for taking strolls around the hospital while in early labor or post labor

Eye covers and ear plugs-because it's super hard to get any sleep with all the random lights and noises of a hospital!

Do not disturb door knob sign- Sometimes, your Labor and Delivery floor will require periodic checking of yours or baby's vitals, but if you ask, sometimes they will respect that you really just need a few straight hours of uninterrupted sleep! Putting this on the door will remind them or any unexpected visitors that you, your partner, and your new little one really need to rest.

Lip gloss or chapstick-hospitals can be super dry. I especially love the Lip Balms from Beautycounter, as all their products are completely non-toxic and safe for pregnancy and breastfeeding. You can find them HERE. The Rejuvenating Eye Cream is especially a treat because it soothes and reduces dark circles, wrinkles, and puffiness if you're sleep deprived. This is a huge treat for a new momma! (Hint-place the cream in the fridge for a cooling effect!)

Essential oils-if you're into these, finding one you really like can be super nice for calming and relaxing you, or for drowning out the weird smells of a hospital. Otherwise, an essential oil-based lotion works great, too! Make sure it does not contain peppermint, as this can affect your milk supply.

Warm socks

Water bottle with straw for easy sipping

Throat lozenges- for dry hospital air

Healthy snacks-for you and dad to munch on during downtime or when cafeteria is closed.

Spare change for vending machines

Hair brush

Hair ties

Contacts case, solution, eye glasses, extra contacts

Blow dryer-if you want to dry your hair, hospital hair dryers aren't usually that effective

Soft medium-sized towel/towels for your face. Hospital towels are full of bleach and can be hard and scratchy

Your own shampoo, conditioner, face wash, body wash, deoderant, etc.

Non-toxic wet wipes to wipe down post labor if you aren't able to take a shower right away

Adult diapers-yes, this sounds gross, but the disposable underwear and pads provided by the hospital are really awkward and don't stay put very well! A friend shared this advice with me for my first, and she was totally right!


Phone charger

Baby book, pregnancy journal, or small notebook/pencil-to record any special moments or memories and baby's first hand and foot prints

Rosary or any other special devotional

Print and bring this beautiful religious piece: How to Have a Baby

My brother, who will be ordained this summer, found this and sent it to me years ago. It is a beautiful and brilliant piece on the sacredness of motherhood and how close childbirth and motherhood bring us to Christ. It is a wonderful way to prepare your heart and mind for bringing baby into the world and it gave me so much courage and comfort during a time filled with so many emotions ranging from joy, excitement, fear, etc. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!

Nursing bras-I recommend buying them in cotton, to absorb any additional moisture from sweat or breastmilk. Also, I highly recommend investing in a good quality bra, so they give good support but also last through other children! I use Bravado bras and have been very happy with them. You can find them on their website or through Amazon.

Breastfeeding pads

Clothing for you to go home in. Make sure the waste band is relaxed and stretchy in case you end up having a c-section. If it's summer time, a maxi dress is perfect!


For Baby

Outfit for going home

Stocking cap

Warm socks or booties

Baby mittens/hand covers-their new little hands sometimes come out with super sharp fingernails! Keep baby's hands covered to prevent them from accidentally scratching their face.

Warmer clothes if it's winter and a blanket to cover them while in the carrier to the car.

Light muslin swaddle blanket for added warmth from the A/C in the car if it's summer time.

Carseat for taking baby home

At around the 8 month mark, make sure to have a professional make sure you've installed your car seat correctly and that straps are in correct place for baby. You can often find someone to help at a local police or fire department. Not sure how to correctly strap in your baby? Read HERE. Also, if it's winter, be sure not to strap infants in a car seat with bulky winter gear. This can be a safety issue.

Carseat mirror

This is so helpful so you can watch baby from the front seat while they're in a rear-facing car seat!

*hospitals usually provide all diapers, clothing, swaddling blankets, breast feeding supplies/pump, etc, for when baby is in the hospital, and usually send you home with some additional supplies. I recommend calling ahead and asking them, as each hospital may be different.

We received this awesome recommendation from our reader, Theresa:

"Even though I had all of my kids in the Catholic hospital here in town, there was not a Crucifix in the labor rooms. There was a Cross but not a Crucifix. When my youngest was born I finally had the forethought to bring a Crucifix and, let me tell you, that made all the difference in the world to me during labor. I doubt that is what shortened the labor... she was born after only 20 minutes of real labor, but that Crucifix made everything more meaningful after she was born."

Is there anything you would add to this list? Feel free to comment and share!