Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Bravado Body Silk Seamless Nursing Bra from Baby on the Breast: Review and Giveaway! (Closed)

Along with unmedicated birth, another natural family practice that's uber-important to me is breastfeeding. I experienced moderate challenges here with both my children (early latch issues with S and sore nipples / low-ish supply with CJ) but was able to overcome them all with determination, assistance and (in some cases) the right gear!

On this note, I'm excited to introduce y'all to Baby on the Breast, a new online shop located in Brampton, Ontario, which sells top-of-the-line nursing wear & accessories as well as name-brand slings, wraps and other carriers. The owner is a mother of two boys (3.5 years and 18 months old) who believes strongly in attachment parenting. Before her second child was born, she knew she'd need a way to carry her baby at all times and nurse comfortably in public in order to get out and about with both her baby and toddler. During her research and material gathering, however, she noted the lack of local resources for babywearing and breastfeeding and was inspired to do something about it. Shortly thereafter, Baby on the Breast was born! In addition to its online store, the BotB website also includes information on breastfeeding and babywearing to help out those in need of a little support (no pun intended! ;)

I'm happy to be partnering with Baby on the Breast to review and give away two different products. The first I'll be covering here, and is for an item I already know and absolutely love - the Bravado Body Silk Seamless Nursing Bra. This was by far my favourite nursing bra while breastfeeding S, so I was naturally super-pumped (no pun intended again - I'm on fire!) to receive another one from Baby on the Breast and sing its praises for all of you! ;)

Product Information:

The Bravado Body Silk Seamless Nursing Bra was designed to melt onto her body, and give her amazing comfort. This molded foam cup bra offers a seamless silhouette, lovely shape and great support.

  • Easy to fit - the body silk sizing system makes sizing your customers a breeze! The Body Silk Seamless Nursing Bra’s ability to gently grow and contract to constantly support her changing shape makes this bra ideal for any stage of pregnancy or nursing.
  • Removable foam inserts - removable foam cups molded to her shape provide great versatility and the ability to hide nipples and breast pads.
  • Seamless support - this bra melts onto her body, supporting every breast shape beautifully while the seamless buttery-soft fabric provides comfort and a seamless silhouette that is virtually invisible under clothing.
  • Signature Bravado B-clips - designed by Bravado because no other nursing clip met our stringent quality requirements! B-clips are a proprietary functional design, and will stay closed with her every move. B-clips are easy to open and close with one hand and are discreet under clothing.
  • Full nursing access - cups that drop fully away from the breast 

Sizing chart:

My Review:

Baby on the Breast sent me a small, black Bravado Body Silk Seamless Nursing Bra to review.

All too often, I find that many of the features listed in a product's description aren't too notable in practice. This isn't the case with the Bravado Body Silk. It is One Fantastic Nursing Bra, for exactly those reasons laid out above which I'll illustrate further for you here.

Easy to fit

First of all, the sizing chart indeed did make it super-easy to select the correct size - without even trying it on! (Certainly nice for online shopping.) I'm right in the middle of Small territory myself, but I'd guess that someone borderline between two sizes should be fine with either one because the bra is so "forgiving"!

The material is super-soft and stretchy over the entire bra. This truly does result in an ultra-comfortable, seamless and dynamic fit and guards against issues such as blocked ducts. (I only had these a couple times with S, and each time followed a period of pronounced engorgement!) For those mamas who experience night-time leakage, the bra can be safely worn overnight to keep things comfy and dry.

In addition to the stretchy fabric, a full four sets of 3-hook closures are built in for even more flexibility achieving that perfect fit.

A nursing mama's breasts can change in size immensely over the course of a single day. I can certainly attest that The Bravado Body Silk adjusts to these fluctuations perfectly - from engorgement following an unexpected 7-hour overnight stretch to tapped out post-cluster feed pancakes. ;)

Removable foam inserts

I love these and wear mine in all the time. They help create a flattering, natural look and completely hide nursing pads. Or, if you're like me and don't have significant leakage issues, it's not a huge deal if you forget (or opt not to) wear pads at all as the inserts do an admirable job themselves preventing the flow from sneaking its way out!

The inserts are tucked in via a pocket opening in each cup. I find it's much easier to position them properly while wearing the bra.

Seamless support

You be the judge - can you spot any seams? (Note - foam inserts are in.)

Signature Bravado B-clips

These clips are definitely easier to unclasp and reclasp than other nursing bras I've tried. Both can be done one-handed, which is very helpful when manuevering a famished or floppy, "mik drunk" baby! ;)

Full nursing access
I love that this bra allows the entire cup to drop down for nursing. This is a jillion times more effective than the "little window" design which is, for some reason, all-too-common on nursing bras. Nothing worse than your little one gumming down onto a big mouthful of material!

Finally, another big reason why I love this bra that's not listed in the description (but should be!) It's extremely durable! As I mentioned earlier, the first one I bought was my go-to nursing bra over the 14-ish months I nursed S, and it's still in excellent condition. I fully expect it to last through nursing CJ and still have some good life in it!

I truly do feel that the Bravado Body Silk Seamless Nursing Bra is perfect in every way. It's ultra-comfortable, seamless, flexible, durable and makes nursing a breeze. No question - every nursing mama should own one. Or several. Y'know, to have one in each colour. :)

One more neat-o thing - Bravado has recently launched a Bra Conversion Kit (BCK) which can turn a Bravado nursing bra into a regular bra, once nursing is finished. I believe a BCK is included with every Bravado bra sold now. I haven't tried a conversion yet (still need the nursing element, obviously) but great to see Bravado's thought of this!

Buy It:

You can purchase your own Bravado Body Silk Seamless Nursing Bra and other great nursing and baby gear directly from Baby on the Breast! Shipping is free on Canadian orders over $50 and US orders over $100! Use the special discount code m2mbotb and receive 10% off your order!

Win It:

One lucky Manager to Mom reader will win a Bravado Body Silk Seamless Nursing Bra of their own, from Baby on the Breast! Winner chooses from among available colours and sizes. Open to Canada.

To enter, fill out the Rafflecopter form below. Please follow all instructions within each entry option to ensure your entries are valid.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure:  The prize is being provided and shipped to the winner by Baby on the Breast.  I received no financial compensation for writing my review or offering this giveaway, although I did receive the sample item free of charge.  This is my completely honest opinion above and may be different from yours.  

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Mama Cloth from Stitched by Hand {Etsy}: Review & Giveaway! (Closed)

Before CJ's arrival, I decided I was going to try out cloth pads (or "Mama Cloth") during my postpartum period. Like cloth diapers, mama cloth comes in all sorts of styles, sizes, materials and patterns, so I was happy to get the opportunity to partner with two different brands to review their offerings.

The first brand I worked with was Stitched by Hand, an Etsy shop owned by mama of 6 (soon to be 7!) and former blogger Holly. This lady is one talented seamstress; in addition to mama cloth, Holly also offers nursing pads, crocheted hats, natural teethers, stuffed baby toys and other hand-stitched goodies. I partnered with Holly previously to review an adorable crocheted owl hat (which S still wears today!) and giraffe stuffy toy. This time around, Holly sent me three different cloth pads to try out. She generously threw in a pair of nursing pads too!

Holly always packages up her orders minimally but attractively. Love it!

Here are the three cloth pads, right side up and upside down. Notice they are all different sizes, shapes, patterns and materials yet use the same type of snap closure. From what I've seen so far (from Stitched by Hand and other mama cloth sellers), the vast majority of cloth pads use this snap closure/attachment method.

Let's look at each pad in a little more detail.

First, the Organic Bamboo Velour Overnight / Postpartum Mama Cloth.

This pad is made with super soft organic bamboo velour on top for a total pampered luxurious feel, a double inner layer of French Terry for absorbency, and backed with a layer of waterproof PUL to ensure no leaks with the fewest possible layers for less bulk. Each pad is turned and top stitched allowing for the most comfortable fit, and has a "channel" sewn in the center to help direct the flow towards the middle of the pad, and not overflowing towards the edges.

Measuring approximately 12 inches long, and 3-4 inches wide on the padded part itself, the snappable wings help hold the pad in place and offer even more protection. The wider ends on this style work wonderfully for a heavier flow, and it's extra length makes it the perfect overnight or post-partum pad. (Choose backing color from: pink, dark blue, seaspray, yellow, or red)

Second, the Extra Coverage Mama cloth in the Funky Flower print:

This pad is made with 100% cotton flannel on top, an inner layer of French Terry for absorbency, and backed with a layer of waterproof PUL to ensure no leaks with the fewest possible layers for less bulk. Each pad is turned and top stitched allowing for the most comfortable fit, and has a "channel" sewn in the center to help direct the flow towards the middle of the pad, and not overflowing towards the edges.

Measuring approximately 10 inches long, and 3 inches wide on the padded part itself, the snappable wings help hold the pad in place and offer even more protection. The wider ends on this style work wonderfully for a heavier flow.

Finally, the Evening Butterfly Mama Cloth:

This style has the same product description as the extra coverage version, however does not have the wider ends so it's more suitable for a regular/lighter flow.

All of these pads have the same laundering/care directions:

For best care, pre-rinse with water and oxy or hydrogen peroxide to prevent staining, and wash on normal cycle with your other laundry. May machine dry.

Holly also offers pads in a minky fabric, if you're looking for some extra-fluffy protection! :)

My Review - Mama Cloth:

Upon opening my package, I was pleasantly surprised to discover that the cloth pads were smaller and trimmer than I anticipated. As a total newbie, I guess I had this idea that mama cloth would be bulkier than disposable pads - similar to the size ratio of cloth diapers to 'sposies. But this isn't the case at all - at least not with Holly's cloth! All three pads are actually much thinner than disposable pads designed for heavy flow/postpartum use.

Prior to laundering, I took measurements and all items were quite close to description for length. I decided to measure the wing span for width rather than the tip. Here's what I recorded:

Overnight/Postpartum: 13 x 6 1/4 "
Extra Coverage: 10 1/4 x 7 1/4 "
Regular: 9 3/4 x 7 1/2 "
Breast pad: 4 1/4 ish

I prepped the pads by laundering once with my cloth diapers (including a hot wash cycle and medium dry). All items came out perfectly - no shrinking, fading or wrinkling. I re-measured a couple of them just to check, and indeed, they still had the same dimensions.

So now the important details - ease of use, comfort/fit and performance!

All of the mama cloth pads are easy to put on - just place, snap underneath and you're done! No fiddling around with throwaway parts and sticky, awkward wings like you get with disposables. All pads are also super soft and comfy to wear - again, a welcome contrast to the papery, rough feel of 'sposies. The postpartum pad feels particularly luxurious with its organic bamboo velour outer. All pads have been cut to a perfect width for a "standard" pair of underwear so there's no jutting out, bunching or pinching of material.

Performance-wise, I was impressed by how much flow all of the pads could handle! I started wearing my mama cloth 3 days postpartum, as I felt more comfortable wearing those pseudo-diapers to contend with the initial super-heavy flow. So I'd say my flow was similar to a heavy period when I started wearing my mama cloth. I mainly used the postpartum pad overnight but I was able to use the other two during the day for at least 2-3 hours at a time. True to description, each pad directs flow along the core and not out toward the edges, providing an effective guard against leaks. All in all, I felt very confident wearing these pads!

The only usage issue I noted is that, with a lot of movement/activity, the larger two pads can shift so that one or both ends are hanging off the side a bit. My guess is that this isn't a problem with Holly's design so much as a challenge with cloth pads in general, since they attach via a single middle snap vs. disposables which stick right down in one spot. This was only a minor nuisance, however.

As for care & maintenance, I rinsed each pad after wearing, stored them in a small wetbag and then laundered them with my regular loads - both cloth diapers and clothing. The pads have generally washed out well, though some minor staining has developed on the postpartum one. Admittedly I haven't used any pre-rinse agents so this probably could have been prevented with a li'l more TLC. Not a huge deal, though, and the staining could probably still be sunned out.

All in all, I love my Stitched by Hand mama cloth from and will definitely use it again when "Aunty Flo" returns! The pads are all sewn extremely well and the material appears to be quite hardy, so I'd expect them to last at least a few years - possibly all the way to the Big M!

As I mentioned earlier, Holly also sent me a pair of nursing pads, in the same Evening Butterfly print as the extra coverage pad.


These nursing pads are made with 100% cotton flannel on top, an inner layer of French Terry for absorbency, and backed with a layer of waterproof PUL to ensure no leaks with the fewest possible layers for less bulk and breathability. Each pad has sheared edges (so slight fraying after washing is normal) and top stitched allowing for the most comfortable fit.

Pads measure approximately 4 inches, and come in a set of two.

My Review - Nursing Pads:

Similar to the mama cloth, these nursing pads are also very trim, and slightly smaller in diameter than other cloth nursing pads I've used. They fit nicely into the cups of my nursing bras and lie flat & smooth so it's difficult to detect that they're on. I do usually wear a bra with a molded insert which fully conceals any nursing pad, however it's good to know these ones are virtually seamless when worn with an unmolded bra as well! As for leakage absorption, the pads do a fine job - no issues here!  I was a bit concerned when I noticed the outer edges beginning to fray following the 2nd or 3rd wash, but Holly reassured me that this is normal and expected. The fraying results in a natural look which is her "signature", and the double zig-zag stitching prevents the pads from coming apart. (Obviously I didn't read the product description close enough as this characteristic is mentioned right in there - oops! I'll claim Baby Brain on this one! ;) Overall, these are trim, well-performing nursing pads with a funky touch - definitely recommended!

Buy It:

To purchase some mama cloth, nursing pads and/or other hand-stitched goodies of your own, head over to Stitched by Hand and shop to your heart's concent! Use the special discount code M2M10 and receive 10% off your order! (Note: Etsy policies apply to all purchases.)

Win It:

Holly has offered to give away 2 Mama Cloth pads from Stitched by Hand to one lucky Manager to Mom reader! Winner chooses from among available styles, materials and patterns. Open to CAN/US.

To enter, fill out the Rafflecopter form below. Please follow all instructions within each entry option to ensure your entries are valid.  

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure:  The prize is being provided and shipped to the winner by Stitched by Hand.  I received no financial compensation for writing my review or offering this giveaway, although I did receive the sample items free of charge.  This is my completely honest opinion above and may be different from yours.  

Sunday, January 20, 2013

CJ's First Month!

Everyone always says that babies grow up so fast. On the one hand, I totally agree - the weeks tend to fly by super-quickly when you're a busy parent, and when I look at how big S has grown and how far she's progressed emotionally and intellectually in the 25 months since her birth, I'm pretty floored. However I have to say our first month with li'l bro CJ seemed to last a looooong time! Not that we were any less busy; infact, quite the opposite! We packed in so many different projects, events and experiences during this timeframe that it's hard to believe it all happened within a mere 31 days!

I'm going to continue the tradition of monthly photos with our little man, like we did with S. Here is his official 1 month photo! Isn't he a handsome li'l guy?

Let's look at what all's been going down since he arrived!

Week 1 (Dec 11 to 18)

I followed my midwife's advice and spent a lot of time resting and relaxing with CJ, mainly in the bedroom. His bassinet is beside the bed (like we had it with S) so he's always nice & close - especially helpful during night-time feedngs! During the first several days things actually felt super-easy; Chris was off work so he was able to help full-time, CJ started off nursing well (such a relief after the trials & tribulations we experienced with S) and when he wasn't nursing he pretty much slept full time. Unlike last time, we felt up for visitors right from the start so many family and friends stopped by over the first few days. (In fact, on Day 1 alone we had four visits - my midwife Katie, my Dad & stepmother, my BFF Maryana and Chris' sister and her family!) Newborn snuggles galore!

I also felt like I was bleeding less and healing better than last time. Yay!

My milk came in Thursday overnight (3 1/2 days in) and by the next evening I was painfully engorged. Oddly, though, my letdown reflex wasn't happening right away so I was huge AND he wasn't getting much out! I did some research and read that frequent nursing and massaging was the best approach (no pumping!), and thankfully I was letting down properly within another 24 hours or so and engorgement was down. My nipples were pretty sore over the first week as well (a downside of having a super-strong latcher from the start?) however the calendula lotion from my midwife provided some relief.

CJ thrived well over his first week! 2 days in (at his hospital visit/bilirubin test) he'd only dropped 6% of his birth weight (down to just under 8 oz, from 8lb 6oz), then he started climbing again right on schedule: 8lb 1oz on Day 3, 8lb 3oz on Day 5 and 8lb 6oz on Day 7! It was so nice having all the home visits from the midwives to check up on both of us. Again, quite the difference from going the OB route!

Another big milestone during Week 1 - our basement got finished! w00t! Finally a proper office for Chris and toyroom for the kiddos!

Week 2 (Dec 19 to 25)

Bring on the holiday festivities! From the 22nd to the 25th, we hosted or attended a total of 6 events, and it would have been higher if I didn't come down with another postpartum infection. On the evening of the 23rd, I started bleeding heavily again and feeling some pressure/discomfort in my abdominal region. The next morning these feelings continued and I passed a large clot. :( Luckily I got in to see my family doctor that afternoon and he prescribed me some antibiotics (clindamycin and flagyl, same as last time). The midwives are totally perplexed as to why I've gotten an infection twice now, as usually this only happens when there are "retained products of conception" (i.e. a piece of the placenta kicks around) which wasn't the case either time. Plus, Katie was super-careful with the post-delivery repair work this time around. By all early evidence, I was healing so well! Very odd, indeed, and frustrating. Antibiotics aren't fun and I knew I'd have an uphill battle keeping my energy up while taking them with everything else going on! Luckily CJ continued to sleep and nurse well, and all the events were a lot of fun for S and kept her busy.

Another big milestone this week - we transitioned S to her Big Girl Room! She was so happy and proud - a special parenting moment for sure!

Week 3 (Dec 26 to Jan 1)

CJ started nursing more frequently this week (especially late in the evenings) so I figured he was either on a growth spurt or perhaps my milk production was low due to exhaustion from all the events / lack of sleep, the antibiotics or a combo of the two. Indeed, at his 2+ week midwife appointment he was only up to 8 lb 9 oz - gaining, but at a slower rate than expected. The midwife suggested I try compressions and work on his latch to ensure he was feeding efficiently. He also got a "refer" on his hearing test (right ear) which means we need to go for special testing. Apparently we shouldn't be alarmed at this point as the vast majority of refers end up checking out OK, but still a bit of a concern - knock on wood! (His test is booked for late this month.)

This week we also purchased new furniture sets for the basement and main floor, did some home organization (gifts away, items up for sale online, etc.) and completed S' room decoration project. New Years was low key - we stayed at home and had my dad and stepmother over for board games. CJ was a quick study! :)

Week 4+ (Jan 2 to Jan 11)

With the holidays over and Chris back to work, "real life" began to set in. I have to say - caring for an infant and toddler on my own has proven to be no trivial task! It didn't help that we all came down with various forms of illness starting the weekend of the 5th/6th....boooo. More on all this later.

CJ's continued desire to nurse super-frequently at night prompted me to pick up some Earth Mama Angel Baby Milkmaid Tea and it definitely seemed to make a difference! Some mornings after drinking a cup I've actually been somewhat engorged - normally not a pleasant thing but in my case (given our low supply concerns) actually welcome!

We had another midwife visit on Jan 7th and CJ weighed in at 9lb 2oz - a much better gain rate than last time! We also got cute li'l ink prints of his feet as a keepsake. Katie re-checked his hearing and we got another "refer" on his right ear, but she reassured us that there was still no real cause for concern. We'll find out this week one way or the other.

All About CJ!

As I mentioned in CJ's birth story, our little guy was healthy, vigorous and a good feeder right from the start! He's also proven to be a pretty easygoing baby. He cries infrequently (usually just when he's hungry or not feeling well, and sometimes he "grump cries" when he's wet/dirty) and has lots of content, alert periods when he is awake. Like S, he had lots of those "twitchy sleep smiles" right from the start, and at around the one month mark, he began showing us some true, heart warming social smiles. Love! He also makes this funny, cross-eyed "alien face" when he gets excited and has the cutest "pout cry" ever. Here's a little video collage of his many adorable little faces!

Sleep-wise, right from the start he went 4-5 hour periods overnight which this tired mama has certainly appreciated! His day napping is all over the board, however - sometimes he'll nap the better part of the day and other times we'll just get a couple 30-40 minute cat naps. Recently the poor guy's been all congested from one of the many bugs kicking around so it's been hard getting him to nap at all. :-/ A car ride is the one sure thing, though - this'll usually knock him out for hours! One thing that's been pretty consistent is that he likes to "party" and cluster-nurse late in the evening. This can get pretty draining as we'll get our rambunctious toddler down for bed just in time for a little man demanding lots of food and entertainment!

Although (as I mentioned in the weekly summaries) his weight gain has been on the slow-ish side, he certainly appears to be growing like a weed! He is already too long for all his newborn sleepers and onesies, and a bunch of the supposed "0-3 month" ones. Looks like he'll outgrow the bassinet at about 2 months too like his sister did.

CJ has already garnered quite a few nicknames. I call him Superman and Bubs, and Chris likes Mr. Man. :) I'm sure he'll accumulate many more over the years!

Naturally, we can't help compare CJ to his sister at the same age. Their mouths and jawlines are decidedly similar and both were born with dark hair, though CJ's is a little lighter/fluffier and his hairline goes to a cute little point at the front, whereas S' mane was longer and shaggier. Both had deep, dark eyes as well. S ended up with light blonde hair and blue eyes so it'll be interesting to see if CJ follows suit! Both of them have long, thin, "piano playing" fingers too. And neither one has been much of a spit-up baby which is nice. As for differences, CJ has a rounder, more "bulby" nose and wider forehead, and S had bigger ears, one of which bent out at the tip. A few weeks in, CJ started looking less like his sister and more "boy-like". Which is good, since he is a boy and all!

For fun, I made a few comparison collages. S is on the left and CJ on the right in each one.

Heading home from the hospital

Sleepyheads - you can really see the jawline and mouth similarities here!

First cloth diaper (8-9 days old) - who do you think rocked it better? :)

Nose kisses with Daddy!

Snuggles with Granda

1 month old "look how I'm growing!" shot

It'd be fun to do a month-to-month comparison vid of our two little monkeys a couple years down the road! Yeah - I think I'll do that. :)

Adjusting as a Family of Four

Elizabeth Banks came under fire the other day when she said she was "really a mom" now that she has two kids. While she arguably could have phrased things more tactfully, I can certainly relate to the sentiment! With a newborn and toddler in particular, both have almost completely separate needs and (likely) very different schedules. You can volley a single child between two parents, but with two young children, each parent pretty much has one at all times. Or one has both - which I'm learning can be very challenging and exhausting! One thing I have yet to do (believe it or not) is embark on an outing by myself with both of them together. The thought of all the logistics involved (especially now during the winter) and the potential for one or both to melt down still intimidates me. I know I just need to DO IT to increase my confidence and get us all out of the house, as it's not fun nor healthy for any of us to hibernate all winter. I have one really good friend (a mama of 4 1/2 and 2 year olds) who is super down-to-earth and helps ground me. She said you have to be OK with letting go of some control - meltdowns happen, one (or both) of them are often going to be upset and as much as you attempt to plan for things, life has a way of throwing you curveballs. So one of my own challenges as a mom of two is to relax, not sweat the small stuff and learn to go with the flow a bit more! Of course everything's harder when you're exhausted, sleep-deprived and/or sick - states I've had the "pleasure" of experiencing in abundance over the past month! :)

Things have been challenging for Chris too, particularly since going back to work. He has a demanding job and tends to work long hours, so it's been exhausting for him balancing this with family life. He works from home which is convenient, however it also makes it difficult to draw a line between work and non-work time. One thing that's nice for him is that he curls 3x/week, so at least he can get out for some fun, exercise and social time.

Finally, the Big Question - how is S adjusting to having a little brother? Well-l-l, she's proving to be a bit of a Jekyll & Hyde! She oscillates between being SUPER-sweet - giving him kisses, singing him songs when he's crying and helping with diapers - and, well, seemingly plotting his demise. :) We've had a number of incidents of biting, slapping and eye poking so we have to be vigilant when the two are near each other. At the same time she seems more inclined toward this behaviour when we make a big deal out of it and/or indicate that he's "off limits", so it's a delicate balance between allowing them to bond and keeping him safe. Apparently all this is a pretty normal reaction for a 2-year-old when their new sibling arrives, however it's one more thing that stresses me out about caring for the two of them by myself!

I could ramble on about all this adjustment stuff further, but I'll save it for an upcoming post (or five) - this one's gotten long enough! (Mine have a tendency to do that, don't they? ;) Plus I've got a small window here to grab a shower - gotta take it when you can get it, right? ;) Ciao for now!

Friday, January 11, 2013

Bringing a Child's Room to Life with My Wonderful Walls: Review and Giveaway! (Closed)

We recently transitioned our 25-month-old daughter S to her new "big girl room" to free up the nursery for her baby brother. We really wanted her to love her new room and not feel like she was getting "kicked out" of the old one (just one of many considerations when a second child arrives!) so we got her a brand new furniture set and set out to personalize her walls with something really special. I recalled how proud and excited my good friend's daughter was when she moved into her own big girl room (she'd just turned 2 as well) which she'd helped design herself - from the purple paint colour to the beautiful butterfly stickers flapping their way across two of her walls. I knew our daughter would love to participate in a special project like this too!

Enter My Wonderful Walls, a family-run company based in Tennessee, which offers nursery murals, wall decals and canvas art for children's rooms, in a wide assortment of gorgeous themes from Jungle Safari to Princess to Flight of Dragons.

I discovered the company via a blog review/giveaway and was impressed by the quality and quantity of products offered, so I was more than thrilled when they accepted my offer to partner up on our daughter's big girl room project!

With a zillion other things going on (baby on the way, basement renos, etc.) we didn't have a lot of time on our hands so we decided to go the decal/sticker route. We hoped this would also allow S to get hands on with the project - something that would be more challenging if we chose the stencil option. Check out this product video showing how quick & easy it is to put up a sticker set!

S and I had a heap of fun right from the beginning, browsing available themes and playing with their Virtual Mural Maker - an awesome tool for trying out image layouts prior to tackling the child's room itself! S' two favourite sets were Under the Sea and Awesome Acorn Family Tree. The family tree is SUPER cute, though I thought Under the Sea would allow a little more creative freedom for her so we went with that. The folks at My Wonderful Walls were generous enough to send not only the sticker set itself, but also a custom name sticker for that extra personal touch!

Under the Sea Wall Sticker Kit - Product Details: 
  • 62 large fabric wall stickers
  • make an Ocean Theme Wall Mural in minutes
  • repositionable and reusable
  • layerable
  • amazing detail in the designs
  • made from SafeCling™ fabric that won’t stretch or tear
  • leaves no residue when removed
  • handmade paper look
  • no white edges – looks like it is painted on the wall
  • just peel and stick

My Review:

Our stickers arrived promptly packaged in a huge cardboard tube. One end of the tube managed to get crushed sometime during its journey over, however I was relieved to discover there was no damage to the product itself. I knew the stickers would be big, but their actual size still surprised me a little! I got S to do her "sleeping bunny" pose beside the fully unrolled sheet to illustrate. :)

Her personalized name sticker came on a smaller sheet of its own.

S was super-excited to get going! Her grandparents were over for a visit the night we started and she pointed out all the creatures to them and chattered on about where each sticker was going to go. We began a little close to her bedtime that night and ended up needing a second evening to complete the project. Overall, my husband, daughter and I spent about 1.5 hours putting up the whole set. Not a huge time investment at all for such a fab result, if I do say so myself! My husband and I put up the bigger stickers (with direction from our daughter) and she put up a bunch of the smallest stickers herself. Admittedly, I had to curb the "Type A" part of my personality a bit ("Wait a minute - shells don't float in the middle of the water!") in order to let her creative juices flow, however (buoyant shells notwithstanding) she already appears to have a keen sense of attractive spacing and layout - don'tcha think? :)

Wall 1 (and the proud artist!):

Wall 2:

When we asked our daughter what she thought of her decorated walls, she remarked "they're pretty!" and said her favourite sticker was her name. She also loves the mermaid stickers, calling them Ariel and Triton (from "The Little Mermaid"). She likes to give people tours of her new "Under the Sea" fantasy world, and she often talks about her stickers first thing in the morning when she wakes up!

Let's look at how the kit measures up under various categories.


Appearance: These stickers are absolutely gorgeous. They are colourful, whimsical and the attention to detail is incredible. Kudos to the artist! True to description, once applied they do appear to be painted directly on the wall for an extremely polished finish.

Ease of Use:  The provided instructions were clear and easy-to-follow, so we were able to launch into the project confidently. The stickers ranged from extremely simple to mildly challenging (largest / most "finicky") to apply. Our 2-year-old was able to peel off and stick the smallest items (shells, schooling fish, etc.) herself, and my husband and I could handle the majority of the larger items individually. We did find it helpful to "tag team" the octopus sticker (the largest of the set); with its five long tentacles it would have been quite tricky to apply this one properly with just a single set of hands. The stickers adhered very nicely to the wall; they're resistant to bubbling and any air pockets that do sneak in are easily fixed by unpeeling and reapplying.

Quality & Durability: With our toddler taking part in the project, we certainly put this category to the test, and lemme tell ya - these stickers are industrial-strength! Several ended up either getting stuck to themselves or applied to the wall improperly and needing to be adjusted. One of the stickers our daughter pulled off the sheet herself was the squid. With its jillion little tentacles we had a bit of a sticky mess on our hands, however with some TLC our husband and I were able to salvage the li'l guy pretty readily. Despite our repeated suggestion that our daughter walk around the sheet, her little feet did a lot of clomping directly on the stickers but this didn't cause any noticeable damage either. All in all, we successfully applied all 62 stickers in the set without a single tear. As for reorganization/reuse, the adhesive on these stickers appears to be quite strong so I would guess each one could be relocated at least 2-3 times.


Overall, my husband and I agree that these stickers are Full of Awesome! In pretty much every way. They are beautiful, vivid, detailed, easy to apply and extremely durable. If we were to embark upon another room project involving kids wall murals (perhaps for the little guy?), we wouldn't hesitate to order from My Wonderful Walls again!

Here's a little video we put together of our experience, from our daughter's initial excitement scoping out all the funky sea creatures, to applying stickers of various sizes, to the grand "unveiling" of the final results (and our DD's commentary). Enjoy!

Buy It:

All My Wonderful Walls products (stickers, stencils, etc.) can be ordered directly from the company website. Shipping is free on orders over $90 within the continental United States and there are flat fees for international shipping. Use the special discount code MTM1217 and receive 15% off your order! (Valid until Jan 25, 2013.)

Win It:

My Wonderful Walls has generously offered to give away a $100 gift code to spend on anything in their store to one lucky Manager to Mom reader! Open to Canada and the United States.

To enter, fill out the Rafflecopter form below. Please follow all instructions within each entry option to ensure your entries are valid.  

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure:  The prize is being provided and shipped to the winner by My Wonderful Walls.  I received no financial compensation for writing my review or offering this giveaway, although I did receive the sample kit free of charge.  This is my completely honest opinion above and may be different from yours.   

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Quickie health update

So as wonderful as my pregnancies tend to be, health-wise, it appears I'm not as blessed during the postpartum period. I just stopped taking a double dose of antibiotics for what appeared to be a postpartum infection the other day only to wake up this morning with a bad cough that has progressed to include aches, pains and fatigue as well. Just looked up symptoms and this definitely smacks of the flu. :( Sooooo unfortunately it looks like I'll be MIA on here for at least another few days until I'm feeling more human again.

Thanks to all my readers and sponsors for your patience - I'm excited to post a bunch of great reviews and giveaways but unfortunately it'll just need to wait until I'm finally on the path toward wellness. Hope all of you are managing to stay healthy so far in 2013!