Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Product Review: The Wet Brush

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When it comes to brushes, I've used a paddle one since junior high and just recently got a new one in my Christmas stocking this past year (but the old one is still hiding in my drawer!). I like the new one, but the bristles are hard and don't flex much and sometimes if there's a big knot, it rips out a ton of hair no matter how slow or gentle I go. My girlfriend got a Wet Brush for Christmas and loves it, so when they contacted me I replied immediately! I couldn't wait to try it out on my color treated hair.

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Ellie's hair is still baby fine and she has the most wicked bed head I have ever seen. I have to douse it in detangler and gently comb her tangles out. Most of the time she goes running away when she sees I have a comb in hand and I usually have to bribe or distract her to put her hair up. Wet Brush was kind enough to send me a surprise child one for her! She was so excited and brushed mine and her daddy's hair with hers.

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So Ellie and I have been using our brushes for a few weeks (more like months since I'm behind on posts!) now and we love them! I feel like it gets through our hair like a hot knife through butter. I have some really gnarly snarls at the base of my neck and it takes a bit of work sometimes to brush through them, but it's half the time with The Wet Brush compared to my standard paddle brush.

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The rubber covering and handles are shaped in a way to keep the brush in your hands and the bristles are a unique Intelliflex design to gently go through your hair without pulling or tugging it. I'm so happy with this brush! I don't think I could ever go back to a standard brush and plan on buying the paddle one myself. It's a great brush for those with tangles, long hair, or for children and it comes in so many different colors and patterns- it would be a great stocking stuffer too!

What's your hair brush of choice? Have you tried the Wet Brush yet?

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Emma's Birth Story

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Leading up to Emma's birth, we had the option of doing a second c-section or trying for a VBAC (vaginal birth after c-section). My husband and I talked about it and considered the different options and possibilities, then at one of my appointments, Emma was Frank Breech just like Eleanor, so the decision was made! C-section it is for the safest delivery. We felt good about having a second c-section, my first one went really well and was a great experience so our minds were at peace. Then, about a month before Emma's arrival, she flipped! Having a VBAC was an option again, but we were already prepared for a c-section and kept our expected surgery date.

The day before my c-section was a busy day. I had my hair done in the morning and then ran out to my pre-op appointment, ran some last minute errands, did some laundry and cleaning, and took 30 minutes to myself to just relax and zone out watching some TV. We spent some quality time with Ellie, talking to her about the baby, reading books, and playing with her toys. Matt and I then relaxed with some Big Brother and turned down for bed. Around 5am, Ellie came in to sleep with us and it was nice to get some good snuggling with her. I started getting ready around 530 and started my day with a prayer just like before- I prayed for strength, bravery, a good delivery, and a healthy baby. We were all so excited for our new arrival, we couldn't wait to meet her and welcome her to our family.

We dropped Eleanor off with Matt's sister and headed in for our family's big day. I went right up to Labor and Delivery where they monitored both the baby and I. It takes about two hours to prep for surgery, I met the nurses and anesthesiologist who would be in the room with us and then my Dr came by before I'd head to the operating room. Once in the room, they gave me my spinal and the anesthesiologist kept giving me the play by play which I asked him not to do because I wasn't nervous, but knowing everything that was going on and about to happen made me nervous! He kept talking about everything and finally the nurse asked him to stop too, it was really funny and he was so nice. I really liked him a lot and he was good at his job. The spinal pinched this time (last time I didn't even feel it!) and the warm sensation started right away at my feet and came up my body. They had me lay down quickly and let Matt into the room.

Everyone was so friendly and relaxed, we all talked and made jokes. The anesthesiologist started giving me a play by play again so I had to distract him with personal questions- Do you have kids? What are their names? How old are they? How long have you been married? Where did you meet? etc. He was very friendly and said that most people like to know what's going on so he's used to giving them all the details to keep them calm. Not me! Ignorance is bliss, I just want to show up to the hospital and leave with a baby in my arms. Done and done. He was really great at asking me how I was feeling and telling me I was doing a great job.

When they were getting ready to deliver Emma, I felt a bit light headed from all the pressure, but thankfully didn't get sick. When they were delivering her one of the nurses referred to her as a "he" and Matt and I immediately repeated "HE???" then everyone laughed because she had accidentally just slipped. She was indeed a girl! Once Emma was here, the doctor put her over the sheet so I could see her and her gorgeous little face! She had brunette hair just like I had called! For some reason, I just knew she would have dark hair and in all my dreams of her she had dark hair. She was so perfect and I couldn't wait to see her up close!

My heart grew so much and I felt so much happiness. She was finally here! Another sweet girl for our family to love and care for.  When I got to hold her up close and really see her, she was everything! I couldn't stop kissing her and telling her how much I loved her. She was beautiful and perfect and so much more than I could have ever expected. I loved our bonding time in recovery and nursing her for the first time. She latched right away and it was such a special time for us. Matt and I again, couldn't stop staring at her and talking about how happy we were and how we couldn't wait for Eleanor to meet her little sister. It was a perfect day filled with so much love, friends, and family.

Thank you so much for all of your support these past few months during the pregnancy and these last few weeks! It's been an incredible journey to add to our family and I'm happy to share it with my blogging family! I'll be doing a future post about having a second c-section and the differences during surgery and recovery. If you have any specific questions you'd like answered, let me know below!

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Nursing Necessities

Nursing so far with Emma has been going great! I'm more relaxed this time and hope that I have more success and can go for as long as I did with Eleanor. I wrote about our Breastfeeding Journey recently and you can click the link to check it out. Nursing is not for the weak of heart, it's tough work and was so much more difficult than I had expected it to be.

A few things I'm doing differently this time than I had with Eleanor:

- Keeping up on my water intake
- Eating good meals often and healthy snacks
- I've started pumping sooner, just 5 minutes after a feeding at least once a day. I'd like to increase this to twice a day, but we'll see how time permits once Matt goes back to work.
- I bought more nursing friendly garments and tanks which make life so much easier!

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Here's a breakdown of my favorite nursing basics:

Nursing Shaping Cami- This tank is so comfortable and offers a lot of support to your breasts. It's lined and shaped at the top, similar to a bra and not just a built-in shelf bra like other tanks. I would take the "shaping" in the title loosely, it's just has extra elastic and is comfortable to wear, nothing like wearing Spanx. I bought this top in both white and nude.

Slimming Nursing Cami- This tank doesn't offer quite as much support as the above shaping tank, but is super comfortable. It's probably the most comfortable nursing tank I've worn!

Full Coverage Bra- A real bra people! It's so hard to find good nursing bras that offer the same support as a regular bra and I really like this one. The only flaw is that it does have an underwire (they say to avoid them for milk production), but if you're going somewhere special or wearing a top that requires more support a few hours or a day or two I wouldn't think would hurt your supply.

Seamless Bra- This bra is amazing! Lots of support, feels like a sports bra, and is seamless so it's easy to wear. This one is my favorite to wear, especially on these hot days we've been having.

Sleep Bra- I don't care much for these during day wear, even just around the house, but they're great for sleep! That's why it's probably called a sleep bra, duh. They're soft and comfortable, not a ton of support which is why I don't care for them for the day.

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As for accessories, here's what I prefer to use and have the most success with:

Medela Pump In Style- I love this pump and used it every single day when nursing/pumping. It's easy to use and I like that it's convenient to shop for. In the event that you left pump parts at home you can always run to Target or another nearby shop and pick up parts and accessories on your break.

Car Adaptor- I didn't have to use this often, but it really did come in handy, especially when Black Friday shopping! Sometimes you have to pump while on the go and the adaptor is a life saver.

Pump Accessories- When you're pumping on the daily, it's nice to have extras because washing these puppies every single day gets tiring. I love having some extra this time around (they should also be replaced every 6 months...or at least with each new kid!), it makes cleaning and being ready to pump so much easier.

Aquaphor- When you first start nursing, your nipples are so sore and feel like they may fall off with every latch. Plus, they can get cracked and possibly bleed. So much fun.... Of all the products I've used, I've always stuck with Aquaphor, it heals so quickly and you don't have to wash it off before nursing. I give it to all my mama friends as gifts.

Breast Gel Pads- Also, another must have throughout all of nursing/pumping. You can heat or freeze these babies and they feel amazing when you're breasts are engorged, have a plugged duct, mastitis, or are still tender from the start of nursing. If you buy anything to help soothe the pain, buy these! Matt ran out and bought these for me the first day being home with Ellie and I've used them since.

What are your favorite nursing/pumping necessities?  What are some of your best tips for success?

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Recent Beauty Faves + Reviews

In the last few weeks I've bought and have been sent a few new products and after trying them out, I wanted to share! I'm such a beauty junkie and love checking out what other people are using and buying. I've been pretty lucky recently and haven't bought any duds so this post is nothing but goodies!

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The first thing I want to share with you is a new subscription service for perfume- Scentbird. They have over 350+ scents to choose from, you log on and take a test on what types of things you lean towards and what perfumes you already like and then they suggest perfumes to try based off of your answers, or you can choose a scent on your own! The subscription is only $14.95 and they send you a month's worth of a sample (a larger size than standard perfume samples) so you can see how it really wears on you and if you like the scent before purchasing it. I also like that you get a new scent every month to try and you don't have to commit to one scent that you bought full size. For my first sample, I chose Issey Miyake d'Issey Floral and I absolutely love it! It's so fresh and not overpowering, I've worn it nearly every day. Now, I just need to select my next scent!

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During the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale, I snagged this Lorac palette for $15! It's no longer available, but here is a very similar Lorac set for $28. The first four shades are perfect for everyday wear and the last three shades are a bit dark for daytime, but make a fantastic smoky eye for the night. The colors are matte, but I've found if I wanted them to have some shimmer, using Maybelline Color Tattoo in Barely Branded gives it a shimmer base (see my review here). They last all day, but have a stronger pigment at the end of the day if I use a primer (either the color tattoo or my fave UD Primer Potion). I've never used Lorac brand before, but these shadows are really great quality and I'm so happy I snagged them at the sale. I'll definitely check out more from the brand.

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So I'm totally late to the Covergirl Lash Blast cult, but I wanted to pick up a waterproof mascara for Emma's birth (check out my Iphone Pics of our hospital stay here) for the waterworks that totally happened when I got to meet my sweet babe for the first time. So, I've used it a few times before and after and I like the length it gives my lashes, but it doesn't give me a lot of fulness. I found that I have a better outcome when I use my L'Oreal Voluminous mascara as my first coat and top it with the Last Blast. I always use two mascaras for this very reason, but I really do like this CG one. I'm not sure if I'll buy it repeatedly, but it's definitely a contender in the top 5 of fave drug store mascaras (who am I kidding, I only use drug store ones!).

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I was sent this Skindinavia Makeup Primer for consideration and wanted to share it with you guys. It's the first makeup primer spray that's silicone-free and works to reduce redness and pore size. I haven't used this every single day, but mostly for special occasions, when I'll be outside for the majority of the day, or when the weather is supposed to be extra hot or humid. One thing I love most about the spray is how it sprays- it's so even and really is a mist that covers your face. When I use it, I spray maybe 3-4 spritzes on my face and let it absorb in before applying my makeup. I think this is one of the best primer sprays I've used; it lasts all day, doesn't leave any residue, and there's no scent. I really love it!

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Hello best gel top coat ever! I picked up this Essie Gel Setter a few weeks ago and have been really happy with it. Before, I was using Seche Vite, but it hasn't been working as well as it used to- it's gotten really thick so I bought a new bottle and it just seemed like the formula has changed and my mani lasted only a few days. With this Essie top coat, I love that I don't have to buy a different polish for it, I can use it on any of my Essie polishes (or really any polish for that matter), it dries super quick- less than ten minutes, and my mani lasted 4 days with getting only a very minor chip. It's not as shiny as I would like, but I'm so impressed with it! Definitely a must have for any polish lover!

What have you bought recently? Any goodies? Do you use any of these items? How do you like them?

FTC: All opinions are my own, based on my experience with the products. All products bought on my own, unless specified above.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

IPhone Birth Pics

I can't believe it's been a week since our little EB joined our family. I'm still getting the hang of things and it's been wonderful having my husband home with me. I'm dreading getting out of the house by myself with two little munchkins- it takes Ellie like 20 minutes to leave because she wants to do everything herself and takes forever to decide which baby to bring and which accessories the baby might need while out. This last week though has been incredible and doing the mothering thing the second time around is pretty amazing. I'm hoping to have some good posts up soon- what I packed for the hospital, some beauty reviews, our birth story, etc. So please hang in there with me!

Hope you enjoy these pics from my phone in the hospital- there's a few repeats that have been posted to Instagram (Kristen_Lawler), but mostly new ones that I really love and wanted to share.

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Our last family pic of 3

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Getting ready for baby

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When I was wheeled into the bonding area, Matt was absolutely adorable kissing and talking to our Emma

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First family pic of 4!

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Ellie was pretty excited!

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The kissing still hasn't stopped

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Nursing is off on the right foot

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I can't get over how tiny she is

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Her little face is just precious. I don't see me at all in her, just Matt and Eleanor!

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Look at that sweet nose and chunky cheeks!

Thank you so much for all of the sweet comments and support this past week! We are so happy and my heart is so full it's spilling over. I love reading everyone's kind words and love this online community so much! Hope you're having a great day!

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Our Newest Bundle of Joy

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Introducing Emma Brooke, or as we call her "EB" for short. 
She is beautiful and perfect and so so tiny. 
She was delivered Thursday, August 6 and our lives couldn't be more full. 
Eleanor is obsessed with her and so protective and asks to hold her all the time and gives her a million kisses. 
We are over the moon with happiness!

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Baby 2 Bumpdate: Week 39 (My Last Bumpdate)

38 Weeks, 4 Days

It's almost baby day! I've been busy, busy, busy, busy, this week getting prepared. My last day of work was Monday and I've had errands and appointments filling up the last two days (gotta get my toes and hair done!). Today I have my last doctor appointment before her arrival and I can't wait to see her little face!

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- The last two weeks have been tough for me. My body aches, I'm popping Tylenol some days as soon as my 6 hours are up, I've been grumpy, have had a hard time sleeping, etc. No fun. I didn't really have this same pain with Ellie and they say each pregnancy is worse than the last and I'm glad that I've let my dream of 7 children go. 

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- This weekend I boiled/sanitized all of the bottles, nipples, pacis, and pump parts. I'm absolutely dreading pumping when I go back to work. I loved nursing, but pumping sucks. You can read about Our Breastfeeding Journey and I'm hoping that it will be just as successful  this second time around too and that it will be a bit easier for us.

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-Her nursery is just about complete, it's done decorating wise, but the closet needs help. Oh, and we need a different lamp. On Saturday, I washed all of her blankets and her take home outfit. I can't believe how small newborn clothing is! I was looking at it while folding and couldn't really remember Ellie being so small, why do they grow so fast?

-This past weekend we took Ellie to her first movie with us and spent the afternoon playing and savoring our last full afternoon as a family of 3. It was so much fun and I can't wait to see her as a big sister, she's going to love having a lifetime best friend.

Happy Wednesday! Thank you again for following along the last few months, hoping you're having a good week!

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Ellie's Big Sister Gift

In case you missed it.... it's baby week! I know I’ve said this so many times already, but I can’t believe how quickly this pregnancy has flown by. It seriously shocks me how fast time has flown. I was reading an article recently about how life changes when you have your second baby and one of the points that stood out to me was how quickly time goes the second time around. With Eleanor, I truly savored every minute of it. I held her constantly, I took a million pictures, I sang and talked to her, and it wasn’t perfect every day, but I really did relish in the moments. Thankfully, I was there for all of her firsts- first word, crawl, and steps (I’m 99% positive I was there for the firsts, but in the event that I wasn’t, thank you to our wonderful daycare for keeping it a secret so I could enjoy it). Having a second one coming so soon, I am absolutely thrilled and terrified at the same time. I texted my girlfriends about being in the single digits and how all of the emojis capture my feelings- I can’t wait to meet our little girl, I can’t wait to see Eleanor as a big sister, I’m scared about the adjustment to two children, of starting over with the newborn/infant stage, etc.

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A few weeks ago, I posted about getting Ellie a Big Sister Gift and had such great ideas and suggestions from your comments- thank you so much. One idea was to not give it to her all at once, but one gift at a time as needed. That seems like such an obvious thing, but I hadn’t thought of it! I was just going to give it all to her at once in the hospital. We didn’t buy her a ton of items, but a few quiet activities to give her as we transition to a family of four. In the book Big Sisters are the Best, it talks about playing quiet games inside or noisy games outside so I chose items that would be great for inside when the baby is napping or I need to buy myself a few minutes of sanity.

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I was going to hold off on getting her a doll because she has so many already, but I went ahead and got her another one. As a child, I loved bottles like this where the liquid disappears as the baby “drinks” it all and I know Ellie will enjoy it too. We plan on giving this to her in the hospital, that way she has her own baby to take care of while she visits.

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Sticker Books
I bought her several different sticker books (Frozen from Target and the other two from the dollar store!) and I’m hoping that each book will give me about 15 minutes of activity before she moves onto the next activity. The things I can accomplish in that 15 minutes of glorious time includes; shower, do my makeup, fix my hair, pick up the house, solve world peace, I mean the possibilities are endless!

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She loves when it’s Play-Doh time at pre-school and we don’t have any at home for her, so I’m excited for her to have something brand new for herself. I think this will be a nice quiet activity to do together.

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Frozen Fan
Our Frozen obsession is still going strong and it’s super hot in CA right now, so I figured why not?

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Ellie loves to color and I love these twistables for her! They don’t break and they’re so easy to stash in my purse or diaper bag to keep her entertained while we’re on the go.

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Since we love reading books together, I bought her two special ones. On the Night You Were Born is such a sweet story and I can't wait to snuggle up with Ellie and read it to her. My sister and I always watched Madeline when we were little and when I saw this book I couldn't help but add it to my cart and check out! 
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So we didn’t get her a whole ton (but more than I remembered as I bought everything separately), but enough items to make sure she knows she’s just as special to us as before and items to keep her busy when the baby needs tending. We have some planned activities for her once the baby arrives to make sure she’s getting attention from Matt and I and some outings with family. I’m really looking forward to our new addition and the transitions happening for our family.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Decorating a Diaper Genie

It's baby week everyone! We spent the weekend getting the nursery ready for our little one's arrival and I did a quick DIY on one of my must-haves for any nursery- The Diaper Genie Elite. When it was my first rodeo, I didn't pay much attention to which diaper pail would be the best, just registered for one and called it a day. Ummmm, poor choice! It didn't last long in our house; it didn't keep the smell in, once her diapers were a larger size it filled up quickly, and then it broke! I made sure that this time around we got the best diaper pail to begin with.

Having great products can make a huge difference in taking care of a baby. Especially when it's your first time and you just buy everything. Luckily, I've learned what works for us and knew what to get for our second time around. The Elite is perfect at keeping the smell at bay with a carbon filter and how the bags are multilayer and are kept at the bottom part of the pail. Another feature I love is how easy it opens with its foot pedal! With our last disaster pail, the lid was such a hassle we ended up wrestling with it to go down. It was such a pain, the Diaper Genie is amazing!

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A few weeks ago, I picked up the Diaper Genie Elite and a refill pack at Target with some wall decals to decorate it. I like how sleek the Diaper Genie Elite is, but I want to add a little bit of punch to the look. I've seen tons of cute DIYs and thought I'd extend our nursery theme to the pail as well. It's sleek look is the perfect palette to create something special.

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After such a busy weekend getting everything ready, decorating the pail was a nice way to unwind. It was fun and I was excited to put it together. It would be such a cute gift to give a decorated pail as a shower gift too- you can literally decorate it any way you want to personalize it and have it match a nursery. I thought about doing different things to decorate it- markers, paint, fabric, etc. but I felt like I couldn't go wrong with wall decals. If I messed up, I could take them off with ease and place them again on the genie. I really like how it turned out, I love the 3D texture and the color combinations. 

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Be sure to take advantage of the Diaper Genie Mommy Time” Rewards Program!  Earn points to use towards great rewards for yourself every time you buy or register for Diaper Genie products. By enrolling in the Mommy Time Rewards Program, moms can take a little more ‘me’ time. Once enrolled, every time you register or purchase participating Diaper Genie products, you can earn points towards rewards for your favorite products and services. It's such a great program and so easy!

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1. Buy: Purchase participating Diaper Genie products

2. Snap: Take a photo of your store receipt using your mobile phone or upload a photo of your receipt or baby registry from your desktop and create your own Mommy Time Rewards profile at www.MommyTimeRewards.com

3. Redeem: Log in to your Mommy Time Rewards account to redeem your points for eGift Card rewards. Mom can reward herself with her favorite products from participating retailers like Sephora and Zappos, or eGift Cards for massages, dining and more.

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What are your nursery essentials? What products did you learn were best for you?

This post is part of a social shopper marketing insight campaign with Pollinate Media Group® and Diaper Genie® but all my opinions are my own. #pmedia #PlaytexEssentials http://my-disclosur.es/OBsstV