• Lifestyle

    Caffeine & Chlorophyll

    “Why do I live somewhere where the air hurts my face?” I thought to myself as I shut the door to my car. The parking lot to the Family Tree Nursery in Shawnee already had quite a few cars in the parking lot for 8:55 in the morning. My stomach growled and my mouth began to salivate thinking of the buttery, flaky, homemade blueberry Poptarts from Heirloom bakery and coffee from Thou Mayest that I knew awaited me inside.

    I made the brisk walk from my car to the entrance and soaked in everything upon walking in. I was firstly greeted by a rambunctious German shepherd that I was ecstatic to see, because dogs. I took a quick glance around and spotted the tiny little café where baristas were busy making piping hot drinks for freezing cold Kansans.

    I looked around for a menu but didn’t immediately see one. As someone who prefers her cream and sugar with a bit of coffee, I’m never sure of myself when ordering coffee at a new place. The barista could sense my confusion in trying to find a menu and greeted me with a smile and handed me a menu. I glanced over it quickly, not knowing what in the world I would like. Sensing my indecisiveness, he asked me what I typically ordered, to which I said some form of a caramel macchiato. Though it more so came out as a question than a statement.

    “Do you trust me to make you something off the cuff?” he asked. For someone who won’t even let their own husband make their coffee, I was hesitant and questioning his ability to concoct something my taste buds would accept. I gave him a side eye glance and reluctantly agreed. I snagged the blueberry poptart I’d seen in my Instagram Stories earlier that morning and waited nearby, taking everything in, anxious to get outside.

    “Lavendar honey macchiato,” a second barista called out. It must’ve sounded appealing as the other two women in line behind asked to change their orders to mine. I now had full trust in my barista and his blend of drink.

    I took a quick look around the store, that was full of everything a gardener or outdoorsman could imagine. There was a quiet little sitting area nearby the café, complete with a leather couch, a huge coffee table, and few bar-height tables and chairs. But I was on a mission. I wanted and needed to get outside to that greenhouse.

    I finally located the exit to the greenhouse and made my way in-between the buildings. The doors to the greenhouse opened and the clean, fresh scent of chlorophyll, plant and earth engulfed me. Indie music bumped over the speakers throughout as I walked around, soaking in the warmth and artificial tropical climate I’d just been transported to.

    My mom was actually the one who told me about this place since she thought it would be good for my seasonal depression. She had told me to find the big, beautiful palm trees toward the back for a more secluded seating area.

    It was still early enough in the morning to be quieter with fewer people taking up space. I pretty much had my pick of seating to settle in and get some work done. I opted for a long, bar height table with backless stools, in direct line of sunshine piercing through the overhead glass.

    The space was full of picnic tables, bar-height tables and stools, patio sets, kids’ tables and chairs, a basket of chalk to keep little ones busy drawing on the concrete floors. Fans circulated perfectly heated, but not too humid air and employees went about their business, working around crowds of people that soon began to pour into the space.

    I knew something so great wouldn’t stay quiet for long, so I took a couple minutes to soak in how good the damp, warm air felt, and how sweet and clean the air smelled as I took deep breaths, inhaling the fresh oxygen.

    Within an hour, the place was filled with chatter and conversations from coffee dates, moms catching up, friends sharing stories, enjoying warm air, hot coffee and great company. Students piled in to enjoy a slice of tropical heaven in a frigid state where most locals thought this was the longest winter we’d had in years.

    There may not have been any outlets for plugging in and charging your laptop, but even the few short hours my Macbook allowed me to spend in this makeshift tropical oasis was enough. As someone who suffers from seasonal depression, getting sufficient amounts of vitamin D is hard to come by in the Kansas winters. The artificial light from my happy lamp can only get me so far before I have to find other avenues to get my fix.

    This tucked away nursery was exactly what my fatigued, exceptionally pale, sun-derived body had been needing. While I couldn’t afford a vacation to the tropics, I could afford the drive and coffee to the artificial tropics to soak up real sun, be surrounded by balmy temperatures and within arm’s reach of fresh plant life. 

    Whether you need to get yourself and the kids out of the house, or you just want to pretend like you’re on an amazing, summerlike trip for a couple hours, this is the place to be. And try out that macchiato – I promise you won’t be disappointed!

  • Uncategorized

    Mama Needs a Break

    When you become a mom, a lot of things happen. The changes are completely overwhelming, and you might wonder what in the hell you just got yourself into. You’re inundated with emotions you’ve never felt before, all while the survival of a tiny human completely depends on you (and your partner) and that can sometimes feel like too big of a burden to carry.

    But somehow, you manage. Because of course you do – you’re a woman and you’re f*@$ing amazing. Then, if you decide to have another baby, the cycle starts all over again, but this time you have two tiny humans you’re trying to keep alive. And you’re just adding more weight onto your shoulders. And even though you may have a partner, it can feel like you’re carrying it all by yourself. And that is when you start to break. Because how could you not under such intense circumstances?!

    Step Back, Take a Break

    This is when you need to step back and take a break. Read that again. Great. And once more. Just making sure you’re understanding me when I say YOU NEED TO TAKE A BREAK. And that there’s nothing wrong with it. It doesn’t make you weak, it doesn’t make you a bad mother or wife or partner. It makes you human.

    Huddy has always been an insane mama’s boy. He’s never really wanted much to do with his dad. And I mean that in the sense that I’m the one he wants to cuddle with, put him to bed, to the bathroom, to hold him when he’s hurt – everything. Not once in his 3 ½ years of life has he requested Mike over me. Add to that an infant who is breastfeeding and needs food from your body to stay alive and it’s a combination for a severe breakdown.

    The Mental Load

    I’m sure you’ve read the article about the mental capacity falling solely on the mother’s shoulders and mind. It’s 100% true. There is so damn much that we keep track of that it’s exhausting us to another level. The doctor’s appointments, haircuts, birthday parties, play dates, shopping, everything. It’s on us. For whatever reason, and we don’t know how to fix it.

    After Harry was born, Mike spent about 8-10 weeks at home with us. It was fantastic. We did the whole divide and conquer thing – I handled Harry since I was breastfeeding and he handled Huddy as much as Huddy allowed him to. But the pressure to breastfeed, and the non-stop of it was wearing on me. Not to mention that I was unknowingly suffering from PPD coupled with seasonal depression. It was a terrible shit storm, if I’m being perfectly honest.

    Why Do I Have to ASK For Help?!

    Now, I’m of the mindset that Mike could’ve offered to help by getting up with Harry some nights to bottle feed him, because I was fine with that. We were well-established breastfeeding by this time. But he didn’t. There was also a laundry list of other things I would’ve liked his help with. Now, I’m not here to bash on my husband – I’m truly not – I’m just telling you what led up to my breaking point.

    After having a baby who wouldn’t sleep unless he was in my arms or on my chest or wouldn’t stop crying unless he was on my boob, and a 2-year-old who was having a hard time understanding why I couldn’t devote my time completely to him anymore, I broke. I needed to get away.

    I had moments where I’d daydream about just getting in my car and driving. For hours. I don’t know where I’d be going, but just to get away for a bit. From the constant crying, the constant spit-up, the constant feeding, and living my life in 3-hour increments. Of being touched by another human being for 20 out of 24 hours of the day.

    A Night Away

    So, I called a hotel nearby and booked myself a room. I didn’t talk to Mike first, didn’t ask what he thought, because it didn’t matter. I didn’t care if he cared (I know how selfish this sounds). I had to get away before I lost my shit.

    He was furious when I told him. He was unsure of what it meant and why I didn’t book a night for the both of us. I tried to explain that I needed to be alone. By myself. With no one else, for at least a night. No one clamoring for my attention, no one to worry about, no one to touch me. He was probably the most mad at me he may have ever been, but I think he was mostly hurt because he didn’t understand.

    That night I packed a bag and my breast pump and checked into my hotel room. It wasn’t fancy, but I had it all to myself for the next however many hours. I stopped and grabbed some takeout, some wine and snacks and went back to my room. I watched Keeping up with the Kardashians, ate my food in the quiet, enjoyed some wine, soaked in the hot tub and went for a swim, pumped, put on a face mask and then went to sleep. It was amazing.

    Did I feel guilty? For a hot minute. But I knew that I NEEDED this. As moms and women, we don’t tend to do a whole lot for ourselves very often, but really, we’re some of the people who need it the most. I truly believe that you can’t keep taking care of others when you don’t take care of yourself.

    When I went home the next morning, I felt refreshed. And Mike understood why I needed to get away. He apologized for getting mad and making me feel guilty about it. I didn’t apologize. I didn’t feel I had to or needed to. I’d truly done something just for me. And I think you should too. Because you deserve it. And it doesn’t mean you’re failing. It doesn’t mean you’re weak or that you love your kids or your husband any less, it means that you love yourself enough to do something just for you because you know it will allow you to be a better mom and partner.

  • Motherhood

    Mom Hack: Keep the Kids Busy

    Diary entry #457: Dear diary, it’s day 923 of winter. The kids haven’t had school on a Wednesday in weeks, they’re getting cabin fever and we’re all cold and tired. Please, send help.

    Ok, that might be a little exaggerated, but it seriously feels like the longest winter ever. We haven’t been able to play outside in months because it’s been below freezing just about every single day. Everyone is sick so trying to get out seems nearly impossible, especially when it snows almost every weekend.

    What is a mom to do?! No seriously, please tell me. I NEED ideas to keep my kids busy, not glued to the tv, and not screaming bloody murder out of shear boredom.

    Ok, so I’ve come up with a few ideas myself that have worked rather well when we’ve been cooped up for far too long. I’m always open to and in need of more ideas though, so please share any and all that you have. But it better not be anything I need to make a special trip out to hobby lobby for – ain’t nobody got time for that.

    Make Some Slime

    Huddy has loved Sid the Science Kid for years now, and for once, it’s actually come in handy. Make some slime at home! All you need is cornstarch and water, bonus if you have finger paint to color it a cool color. Don’t use food coloring though, I learned that the hard way, because that ish stains hands, clothes, everything.

    Start with a big bowl, throw in about ½ Cup of cornstarch, then about ¼ Cup water. This is really just trial and error until you get the right consistency. It should feel hard when you grab it, then dissolve into slime once you pick it up.

    This slime is great because it washes out easy, and the kids love the consistency it has. And it’s a pretty neat science lesson for the older ones!

    Huddy likes to get a little messy with his slime!

    Take a Bath

    Seriously. We get it in our heads that baths are to be had only at night, at that definitely doesn’t have to be the case. Bonus if you’ve got bubbles or bath paint. But even then it’s not necessary.

    Huddy and Harry both love to take baths all the time. I have to drag Huddy out when the water gets too cold. It’s typically a good exercise too as Huddy likes to get a little crazy in the bath tub. Just remember, it’s supposed to be fun and a little water never hurt anyone.

    This has come in really handy for me on days when I have to work from home with one of the boys for one reason or another and need a bit of quiet time or down time where they’re not screaming and asking me a million questions.

    Snow in a Bowl

    If it’s snowed where you live, but it’s too damn cold to go outside and play in it, bring the snow in with you. Grab a big bowl or a couple smallish containers, fill them with snow, lay out a few towels on the floor, grab some kitchen utensils like spoons and spatulas, and let the kids go to town.

    Build some snowmen, a castle, a volcano, anything. It keeps the kids busy for a bit, and nobody has to spend 45 minutes bundling up only to spend 5 minutes outside.

    Snow Ice Cream

    This only works if you received a LOT of snow, and you have a lot of clean snow that you’re ok with eating.

    Go grab a gallon or so of clean, fresh snow. Mix in 1 cup of white sugar, 2 cups of milk, and 1 tablespoon of vanilla extract. Serve immediately before it melts. My kids got a huge kick out of this, and honestly, who doesn’t love free ice cream?!

    Exercise

    On Saturdays, Mike works so it’s just me and the boys. When Harry takes his morning nap Huddy and I typically head downstairs so I can do my workout. He plays with his toys for a bit, then I turn on some exercises for him to do too.

    A quick YouTube search for kid exercises will likely yield you some great results. Huddy especially loves the “walk it out” song. No, not the one by Unk. Check out this one for a quick little exercise to get the kids moving.

    Like I said, I’m always open to new ideas, but I don’t want to have to run to the craft store to do it. Let me know some of your great ideas in the comments. May the odds be ever in your favor.

  • Motherhood

    Baby Registry Recommendations

    As a seasoned mom – I feel like I can say that now that I’ve successfully pushed two babies out of me – I’ve learned a few things when it comes to registering for your own baby.

    A good friend of mine recently found out that she and her husband are expecting a baby, and she reached out for advice on what to register for. And before I get TOO into the weeds on top picks, you should know that Walmart is about to have a HUGE baby savings event. Happening February 23, from 10:30 am-4:30 pm. The sale will feature discounts on car seats (score!), cribs, pacifiers and more.

    Anyway, back to my recommendations – registering for Huddy was stressful. I’ll never forget going to Buy Buy Baby to register, having them hand me the 4-fold pamphlet of things they recommend moms-to-be register for. Holy jeezus. WHO needs all of this stuff?! I remember thinking to myself. Do I really need 3 boppy covers and 8 packs of bibs? That seems a bit excessive.

    Of course, by the time I was pregnant with Harry, I knew exactly what we’d need if we didn’t already have it, and a few things I wanted to splurge on.

    So here’s what I’ve found – I’ve broken this down into two lists. One list is the necessities. Things you will most definitely need. The second list is things you’re eh (insert shoulder shrug here) – someone gave them to me, but I ultimately didn’t have a huge need for them or get much use out of it.

    Necessities

    Diapers – this may seem like an obvious one, but let me say this. Get more of the Size 1 than the size newborn. Even my teeny tiny Huddy grew out of his newborn diapers faster than we could use them all.

    Wipes – dear lord, get ALL the wipes.

    Spit rags – By the time Harry came into our lives, we were pretty much using an old t-shirt as a spit rag, but I SO many moms I know actually swear by the Gerber cloth diapers as spit rags. Who knew?!

    A swing – Preferably one that you can plug in and doesn’t just run on batteries. These are lifesavers and might allow you to put your baby down at some point.

    A few different types of bottles – Even you plan on breastfeeding, you might wanna go out with your hubby for a night out and have the grandparents watch the baby. It’s nice to have them on-hand. I suggest registering for a few different types because it might take a few types to figure out which one your baby prefers. My personal favorite is Dr. Brown

    Formula – Even if you’re planning on exclusively breastfeeding trust me it doesn’t help to just have some on hand. The premade kind for when you first come home with baby is perfect. I wish I would’ve known this when we brought Huddy home because we struggled so much with breastfeeding, it would’ve been nice to have some on hand since my milk wasn’t fully in yet to pump and breastfeeding was hard!

    A few different types of binkies – Similar to bottles, not all babies prefer the soothies that the hospital provides. Huddy hated them, only wanted the Nuks, while Harry only likes the soothies.

    A lounger or bouncer – maybe a bouncer that vibrates or has lullabies. This are easy to move from room to room and you can just plop little baby in there real quick while you shower or fold laundry. Or doze off for a few minutes, whichever. I also have a few mommy friends that can’t live without their boppy loungers.

    A rock ‘n play – Dear god, get a rock n play. I don’t know any baby who came home and went right to sleep flat on their backs. Both of my boys exclusively slept in these until at least 3 months.

    Nipple cream – If you plan on breastfeeding, you’ll want something that can lube those bad boys up because they will get dry!

    A diaper bag – I prefer a backpack specifically. I think it provides you the ability to have more freedom with your arms and carrying baby and bag much easier!

    A sound machine – There are tons out there, like the Shusher that some of my mom friends swear by, but we actually have just used old phones. We use the sleepy sounds app and it has rain, that you can set to be on indefinite so it never shuts off, among a few other white noises and sounds.

    Bottle warmer – I know some people will say this is more of a “nice to have” but it’s SO much faster for heating breastmilk specifically than sticking the bag in a glass of hot water because you can’t microwave breastmilk to heat it up. I preferred one that wasn’t brand-specific so we could use all types of bottles in it.

    A carrier – I’d recommend something other than the k’tan or moby wrap. BY the time I actually followed the directions and got it on after 8 different tries, my kid was already asleep or wanted nothing to do with it anyway. Something easier will do you good!

    NoseFrida and Fridababy Windi – The nosefrida may seem like gross concept but man does it work. Trust me on this. The other is the Fridababy Windi, also from the same makers. These help to release trapped gas in your baby and it was a lifesaver with Harry.

    Boppy – These are great for breastfeeding and just to prop your baby in and even let them nap in if you get the boppy lounger type.

    A highchair – I know it seems like it’s SO far off that your baby will be in one of these, and even if that’s true, you’ll need it and use it for quite a while.

    A rocking chair/glider – If you’re like me, you’ll spend a LOT of time in your rocker/glider. Make sure you get a comfy one that works for you and baby.

    A baby monitor – There are fancy ones that connect to your phone, or just the standalone cameras. I preferred the cameras because it made me feel better, as opposed to just the old school ones. Either way, get a good one because you’ll use to for quite a while.

    Baby bath – I like the plain ol’ lounger one with the net insert to just lay little baby in. Whichever one you choose, you’ll need one.

    A changing pad and at least 3 covers – Any kind is fine, and most covers fit all the ones out there now. Get a few covers because they get dirty quick and you’ll want to have a couple extras on hand!

    A crib mattress – I don’t know why, but I straight forgot to register for one of these. Just slipped my mind completely!

    Car seat carrier – I liked being able to put the car seat in and out of the car and carry it with me if I needed for easier toting. And that way, you and your significant other, and even grandparents can all just keep the base in your car and move the carrier from car-to-car.

    Stroller – I liked the one that was compatible with our car seat. The Graco click connect allowed me to snap the car seat carrier right into the stroller with no problems. So easy! Bonus – it was easy to fold and unfold.

    Playmat – Any mat that has dangling toys is a winner. Something with lights and songs is even better!  Your baby will likely spend quite a bit of time on these either laying there looking at stuff, or doing the dreaded tummy time. Make sure it’s easy to wash – babies LOVE to spit up on them.

    An exersaucer – A jumper or exersaucer, whichever one you choose. Both of my boys loved these once they were strong enough to sit up in them. Specifically the ones that are springy and let them jump! Get that exercise and wear them babies out!

    A pumping bra – Again, if you plan on breastfeeding for any length of time, this will come in handy!

    Car seat cover/baby bunting – If your baby is born in the colder months, on that is fur-lined and covers the whole thing is perfect! If you’re having a warm-weather baby, a lighter one that’s more like a tee-pee offers just enough coverage from the sun.

    Diaper pail and refills – With Huddy, we did without one and just used a trashcan and I’ll never do it again. Get a diaper genie or whatever other ones that are out there that keep the smell locked in. Don’t forget the refills!

    All the footy pajamas – My kids LIVED in footie pj’s. I would’ve solely kept them just in those for as long as possible.

    Swaddles – Most babies, but not all, like to be saddled tight. Tighter than you probably think. Get the swaddles with the Velcro. They’re SO much easier.

    Nice to Have’s

    Shopping cart cover – To me, it was one more thing I had to remember when my kids were old enough to sit in the actual cart and not just have their car seat placed in the basket.

    Wipes warmer – They take up a lot of space and while it was nice to have, you don’t have to have one.

    Safety gate(s) – If your current house has stairs, you’ll likely want a safety gate, but I never used one when we lived in our ranch.

    Teething toys – Neither of my kids wanted anything to do with an actual teether. They preferred their own hands and binkies or my fingers to anything we bought

    Drying rack – We used one with Huddy, but never broke it out with Harry. It ended up just taking up extra space on the counter top

    Baby food-making gear – You’ve got a way to decide if you want to try and make your own baby food or not. And honestly, I just ended up using out food chopper/processor for both boys.

    Dishwashing basket – Gah! I hated these things! I never used it once and never put anything in them, ever.

    Whew. If you’re still with me, I appreciate you. That was quite the list of things. If you have questions about any of them, please don’t hesitate to reach out. Hopefully I can be helpful 😉

  • Self Love

    Reminders for When I Forget to Love Myself

    There are days I am so hard on myself. I’m sure you can relate. There are days I feel guilty for a lot of things – being a working mom, not being there enough for my kids or my husband, being too preoccupied with work, not keeping up with my friends better. It’s so easy to get down on myself, but always harder to lift myself up when I need it.

    Sure, there are days when I feel like I am killing it. I’ve gotten both kids out the door, managed to shower and do my makeup, check off everything on my to-do list, make dinner, write a blog post, drink enough water, exercise. Then there are other days where I simply don’t feel good enough. I question my abilities in every single aspect of my life – work, motherhood, marriage, friendships. It’s in those days – I say days because this feeling isn’t just for a moment, but rather it consumes my entire day – that I try to remember the ways that I am worthy, wanted, needed, and enough.

    But to continue to remind myself during my times of doubt, I’ve written them down. I’m sure if you’re reading this you’ve felt the exact same way as me, and maybe you can find these reminders helpful to you when you’re questioning yourself.

    Life is hard

    Period. There is always something going on, something that needs to be done, meals to be cooked, children to be tended to, family to take care of, clients to be served. The constant imaginary and very real list of to-dos can feel infinite and overwhelming. Cut yourself a break. Take things one at a time and give yourself some grace when things derail.

    I am a damn good mom

    Yes, I’m a full-time working mom, who also has a side hustle blogging, but my kids love me, and their love and affection shows me all I need to know to tell me I’m doing something right. The ear-splitting squeal of excitement and grin on Harry’s face while waddling to see me every day when I come through the door, and Huddy’s insistence on giving me a hug before I can even put my bags down, tells me I know I’m a better mom than I often give myself credit for.

    Nobody’s life is as perfect as it seems

    Working in social media, blogging, and Instagramming are hard on your self-esteem. There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t compare myself to other women I see or follow on Instagram. But even I know that behind the scenes of my Instagram and blog photos, there’s a screaming baby who’s teething and needs my constant attention. There are fights with spouses, laundry piling up on the floor, dishes in the sink, food all over the high chair – all the things you will never see others post.

    I am good at my job

    I’m not perfect at my job, but I am damn good at it and I love it. I know this when my clients jokingly ask me to come work for them directly. I know this in the feedback my incredible boss gives me, because she knows I’ll never give myself the credit I deserve. I know this because metrics and analytics don’t lie. The strategies I put into place for my clients work and get results. I am always continuing to learn, grow, read, research and improve myself at work and I know that helps me be the best I can be at my job.

    My husband is amazing

    While this isn’t directly about me, he does amaze me. Every day. And his character, morals and convictions say more about who I am simply because I’m married to him. He loves me unconditionally. He loves me when I’m being irrational. He loves me despite the fact that I can’t ever seem to shut any cabinet door I open. He cleans. HE. CLEANS. I am not the clean one, he is. He reminds me daily how much I mean to him and how important our family is to him. He pushes me to be better. He pushes me out of my comfort zone and challenges me to be the best me. He supports me. He’s never questioned my intentions or goals or ideas, he just offers his unwavering and full support of me.

    I am worthy and I am enough

    We should all recite this to ourselves every morning and every night because we need to hear it more than we do. I am worthy of love, affection, friendship, my job, my salary, my marriage, motherhood, happiness – all of it. And I am enough. I don’t need to try to be any more than I am. Being a wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend, lover, team member, writer – it’s all enough. And I am worthy of the good things that come to me because I’ve worked my ass off for them and I should be proud. And if I just want to be a Midwest mom with a job, husband, family and blog, and not strive for more, then that’s enough too.

  • Lifestyle

    The Art of the Thrift

    You guys, I’m gonna share a little secret with you. I LOVE thrift stores. And I don’t use the word “love” lightly. I definitely love a good deal, and I love challenging myself to spend less, especially when, if you’re like me, you LOVE to go shopping.

    One of my best friends, Lolo, actually first took me to Goodwill in Wichita a few years back and ever since then, I’ve been hooked. Ya’ll, I had a hair dryer from Goodwill that I used for 5 years! I’ve found straighteners, back massagers, jeans, furniture, shoes, clothes and toys for my boys, luggage, and more. If you come to my house or you’ve ever seen anything I wear, chances are you will see something that I’ve found at a thrift store.

    Now, if you’ve never been thrifting, it can really be overwhelming. The thrift stores in KC can be HUGE. Think of a Forever 21, but more organized. There’s SO much in there. It’s amazing and crazy all at the same time. As a seasoned thrifter, I’m here to share my top tips for shopping at thrift stores.

    H&M shirt ($3), super comfy and cute cardigan ($3).

    Do Your Research

    There are TONS of thrift stores or second-hand stores like Goodwill, Salvation Army, Savers, Ditto, Plato’s Closet, etc. Each one has their own purpose that they’re trying to serve. Some are not-for-profits, and others are simply consignment’s shops.

    You’ll pay more for clothing at shops like Ditto and Plato’s Closet. Shops like these are great if you’re looking for something more currently trending. Whether that’s a cute black faux leather skirt, or a certain brand of jeans. I’ve found you’re often more likely to find those types of items at second-hand shops. However, these places don’t sell other household things like books, furniture, home items, toys, etc.

    Places like Goodwill and Savers have specific missions they serve. Savers utilized a cycle where local residents donate items to local nonprofits that partner directly with Savers. Savers then pays the local nonprofits to purchase high quality items, and then those items are sold in stores. Savers is a little more expensive than Goodwill, but not as expensive as a Ditto.

    Goodwill’s mission is to help create jobs for people with disabilities, single moms, veterans, and more. When you buy items from Goodwill, that money goes to fund job training and other services for people across the country.

    So maybe you’re interested in the mission of each, or maybe you’re just looking for a super cute top on the cheap. Either way, you’ll have an idea of where to go.

    I struggle incorporating color into my wardrobe – don’t judge me! Everything pictures is from the thrift store (except the cute pupper).

    Have an Idea of What You’re Looking for

    Before you head out to get your thrift on, have an idea of what you’re looking for. I repeat – HAVE AN IDEA. You will get sucked into the black hold that is a thrift store and you’ll either come out with a bunch of stuff you don’t need simply because it’s cheap, or you’ll come out in a daze and empty-handed.

    If you’re looking for books to fill your shelves or chunky knit sweaters and cardigans, know that before you head into the store. This will help you find the area of the store you need to be searching AND the more likely you are to find what you want and need. Then, if you stumble across what you’re looking for, then feel free to peruse the rest of the store.

    Snagged this Jessica Simpson coat – basically new – for $25! It fits me perfectly!

    Don’t Forget the Household Section

    The household section of most thrift stores is like one giant aisle of Aldi finds – oh, heyyyyy fellow Aldi shoppers! I never know what I’m going to find. Will I find a new wine glass set? Maybe some electric dog nail clippers or an adorable lamp for my work desk? I love that there’s so many aspects of what I need in one single place.

    Another one of my favorite finds is luggage. Um, have you ever purchased new luggage? Do you know how much that ish costs?! It’s like giving them my first born for a carry-on. Yeahhhhh, that’s gonna be a nah from me dog. Instead, I hit up my local Goodwill and snagged a giant suitcase for $8. Yassssss. After a quick douse of Lysol, it’s smells fresh and I’m ready to go.

    There are 8 books here – all from the thrift store. The cute mug and tulips I also nabbed for cute decor for my hutch!

    Give Back When You Can

    In trying to be a better human, part of that is recycling. Yes, putting my milk jugs in the recycling big instead of the trash is one way, but so is buying gently used clothes and other home goods. As well, it also allows me to give back to a good cause for literally buying a cute cardigan or new lamp.

    As well as shopping at places like Goodwill and Savers, I try to purge my own clothing and household items a few times a year. When we moved recently, a lot of our décor and furniture doesn’t work in our new house, so we took it to Goodwill.

    My rule for giving things away is if I haven’t worn it within a year’s time, it’s gotta go. I’m like the opposite of a hoarder. I’m a purger. Yes, I just made that word up. It feels so good to declutter and get rid of things I don’t use or wear or need anymore, and it makes me feel good because these things will hopefully have another life somewhere else.

  • Love + Marriage

    Valentine’s Day Gift Guide For Him

    Valentine’s Day is literally right around the corner. And, if you’re anything like me, you haven’t quite decided what to get your hubby, boyfriend, significant other. Are we even getting each other gifts? Your guess is as good as mine.

    In past years, we’ve gone really extra and thrown down some $$, and other years, we don’t even do anything – in large part due to my birthday having just happened. Either way, I’ve put together some of my favorite Valentine’s Day gifts that I’ve gifted to Mike – including ones that he requested and ones that I enjoyed giving him.

    A Nice Watch/Cufflinks

    Mike dresses in a suit and tie 4-5 days a week. The man knows how to dress and he enjoys looking nice, and having nice accessories like a watch and cufflinks.

    On separate occasions I’ve gifted him a new watch and cufflinks, as well as a watch and cufflink box to keep them nice and together in. A good watch is something you want to make sure fits their style and is quality, because you want it to last a while. Below are a few of mine and Mike’s faves.

    Books

    Mike has ALWAYS loved books. He has a bookshelf that would make Ron Burgundy jealous. He loves historical books, crime books, and all different types of books. The hard thing for me is finding a book he DOESN’T have.

    Last year I did a lot of researching online to find the perfect book to add to his historical collection and ended up getting him the Federalist Papers. He loved it and had just so happened to have been eyeing it himself.

    Boudoir Photos

    If you’ve never had boudoir photos taken, I highly recommend it. It is such an empowering and sexy thing to do for your lover, or for yourself.

    When Mike and I were first together I had my first ones taken for Valentine’s Day and loved them. And he loved them too. I made a cute calendar for him with each photo for a different month, with racier photos for months like our anniversary and birthday. A book is another great option as well. I’ve used Shutterfly and MPix because they’re local.

    A Cooking Class

    I don’t know about you, but in our house, cooking is not something I enjoy. I only cook because my children have to eat, otherwise I’d live off cereal and turkey sandwiches. It’s also not something enjoyable because we’re trying to also entertain our children while trying to cook something fast and easy, and mostly healthy.

    A cooking class is another element though. It’s fun, you get to do it together, you get to learn how to make something new and delicious together. And there’s something really sexy and intimate about cooking a meal together and having it be enjoyable for you both.

    Pampering

    I can’t speak for the loves in your life, but Mike enjoys a good massage. And while I’d like to give him one myself, I get tired too soon and my hands start to hurt, so I’d rather send him off to get one done by a professional where he can really enjoy it.

    With his stressful job, taking care of himself in this way is not something that’s top of his list, so it’s a nice little splurge for him.

    A night in or out

    If you’re childless, a night out might be easier and more fun for you and your lover to do. Trying a new hot spot that just opened that you’ve both been dying to try is a great option. Or even heading to your favorite spot, or one that hold special meaning – like the place you first met – is super romantic.

    Or, if you have kids and fighting for a sitter on Valentine’s Day doesn’t sound like your idea of fun, a night in is totally doable! I love to grab a really yummy dinner to make like steak and lobster tails, or swing by and grab a to-go order from our favorite restaurant nearby so neither of us has to cook.

    Grab some sweet treats, make yourselves a drink, and snuggle up on the couch for some Netflix and chill and enjoy the quiet – after the kids go to bed of course!

    A Bottle of Their Favorite Beverage

    Last but not least, a favorite alcoholic beverage! Mike and his dad are both whiskey and scotch connoisseurs. They both have quite the collection, but there were a few missing from Mike’s. I’ve reached out to his dad more than once to ask for guidance in buying him a new one to try that he’d like.

    Maybe your person loves wine, or doing taste testings is their thing. Maybe they’re into microbrews – whatever it is that they love, that might make the perfect gift for them.

  • Motherhood

    Ditch the Diaper Bag

    When I first had Huddy, I was naturally all about finding THE perfect diaper bag. I needed something big, with tons of pockets, zippers, hidden compartments, but also comfortable to carry, and as cute as a bag for a baby boy could get.

    We ended up with a green and grey Eddie Bauer messenger style bag. I should tell you that gender neutral diaper bags are the worst. It’s apparently not cool to have a cute diaper bag if you have a boy.

    Along with my huge diaper bag, I also liked to carry a large tote for a purse. Because obviously I had to keep my stuff separate from Huddy’s stuff – duh. So there I was, walking around with a giant messenger diaper bag, with an oversized Kate Spade purse, and either a baby on my hip or in his carrier. With my small stature, all of this was KILLING my body – various parts of it.

    It wasn’t until I was pregnant with Harry that I decided I simply couldn’t carry around all of that stuff anymore, along with carrying a growing baby inside me. So Instead, I ditched the diaper bag – which honestly didn’t last long because the zipper came off the track and wouldn’t shut all the way – and snagged a super cute Bebe black backpack from TJ Maxx.

    From then on, I also made the switch from purse and diaper bag, to just my Bebe backpack. And it was glorious. It wasn’t huge like a backpack I wore in high school. It was adorably sized, and a quilted leather pattern. I could shove everything in there I needed, from diapers, to wipes, to my makeup, snacks, keys, extra underwear (for me and Hud lol) and even my work laptop.

    From that point on, I have been carrying only a backpack that doubles as my purse and my diaper bag, and here’s why I think you should too! Not to mention backpack purses are HUGE this year and there’s so many chic options!

    Less to Carry

    When you have even one kid, it’s hard enough to get you and your kid out the door and make sure you have everything you need, but with multiples, it’s even harder. But it doesn’t have to be. Ditch the purse and diaper bag and put it all in your backpack. I promise you can fit all your essentials in there. You’ll learn that you need less and less to be prepared while you’re out and about with your kid(s).

    You don’t need both

    Let me name off all the things I can carry comfortably in my backpack:

    • 3 diapers
    • Wipes
    • Wallet
    • Fruit pouches
    • 1 bottle
    • Formula
    • Extra pair of clothes
    • Binkies
    • My phone
    • Gum
    • Lipstick/gloss
    • Animal crackers/crackers/finger food snacks
    • And more

    I breastfed and bottle fed, so I know that sometimes you need to tote around a bottle of hot water for when baby gets hungry and you need to make formula. Guess what? I can fit that in my bag! Yes, it takes some minimizing, but isn’t that better anyway?

    It’s Easier on Your Body

    Your body has gone through enough, you don’t need to be carrying around any extra baggage. Between stuff for yourself, stuff for the baby, the baby and/or baby carrier – it’s too much. Consolidating everything into 1 bag is much easier and easier on your body. Not to mention that the even distribution of a backpack is better than the uneven weight distribution of your purse, diaper bag and baby.

    Just the Essentials

    Trust me, I know how hard it is to minimize and really cut down to the essentials when you’re heading out the door with kids. There are so many unknowns and possibilities of what COULD go wrong. Baby could have a blowout and need new clothes, toddler could have a potty accident, baby and/or toddler could have an excessive meltdown, toddler will likely be hungry moments after eating. You want to be prepared. But honestly, if you’re tried to be prepared for EVERYTHING that could happen, you’d be toting around your whole life.

    Practice finding the essentials of what you will need for the length of time you’ll be out with your kids. It will get easier as you go.

    You can Still have both

    Honestly, I do have a diaper bag still for Harry. But only because I have to leave something at my mom’s while I go to work that has to have his diapers, wipes, food, etc., and I need to take my bag with me to work to have what I need. But ya know what? Even our diaper bag is a backpack. So in case I need a bit MORE room than my bag allows, I can stuff even more into Harry’s diaper bag backpack.

    And because I love my backpack SO so much, I’ve rounded up a few of my top faves that are either diaper bag backpacks (but don’t look like it) or are just bags on their own.

    Marc Jacobs Large Leather Backpack

    Skip Hop Diaper Bag Backpack

    The Honest Company City Backpack

    Browse the huge selection of backpack purses on the Nordstrom Rack website to find your faves too.

  • Motherhood

    Tips for Potty Training

    I remember before I had kids and I would see people who had kids posting on Facebook about their kids pooping in the toilet. First of all, your kids aren’t going to see your congratulatory post on Facebook for them pooping in the potty. And second, WHO CARES?! From then on, I vowed I would NEVER be that mom who shared for all of social media, that my kid pooped on the potty.

    But after having my own little guy and going through the hell that is potty training – yes I said hell – I totally understand what all the hub bub is about. So grab some wine, and maybe some notes, and let’s dive in.

    There’s no way to tell if they’re ready

    Let’s just get that out of the way now. I don’t care what anybody says – there’s no way to know. Even if they tell you themselves they wanna go on the potty, chances are that they don’t. They’re lying, because kids are fun like that.

    Pants off, potty central

    Yep, take their pants and diapers off. Let them run free in a VERY closely monitored, small, enclosed area where they have easy access to the potty. Chances are you know when your little one has to go to the bathroom. Huddy used to like to hide behind the chair in our living room for a little privacy, or run to his room and shut the door.

    Having the potty chair close by, in a small area, lets you monitor their body language and helps you both learn when they have to go, so they can get to the potty as fast and easy as possible.

     Be prepared to not leave your house

    A lot of resources say that if you’re going to take their pants off, be prepared to not leave your house for 3 days. This was true for us, but we were all also home on maternity leave after I’d had Harry and weren’t doing much going out anyway, so it worked out well.

    The reason here is that you don’t want to A) put diapers back on them B) they’re not ready for underwear yet and C) you don’t want to have your kid pee all over the floor of some store because you had to go out for something.

    Praise, praise and more praise

    When your child does finally make it to the potty, you act like it is the biggest deal since sliced bread. Do a dance, sing a song, have a treat, and congratulate the hell out of your child. Tell them how proud you are of them and how BIG they are for going on the potty and not in their diaper or on the floor.

    There will be pee (and likely poop) on your floor at some point

    If you go the no-pants training method, be prepared for accidents. If you have hardwood floors where you can close your kiddo in while watching them, great! But chances are there will be an accident or two, and your reaction will set the tone for how your kid views potty training. Knowing that there will be accidents, can help you control your reaction.

    It’s not good to get angry and punish your kiddo during this time, as they’re still trying to learn, and we want to encourage them, not punish them for being little and human.

    Peeing and pooping are completely different things

    Most kids will likely get going pee in the potty down way before they get down going poop. I don’t know why, but that’s just how it is. We tried everything to get Hud to poop in the potty. He would pee pretty well, but would run and hide when it came time to poop on the potty.

    You don’t want your kid to be scared of this, because they they’ll end up holding it in and that’s a whole other mess you don’t want to get into. Just know that your kid will likely get down going pee in the potty long before they get down going poop in the potty.

    They will regress

    It’s inevitable and I don’t know why, but they will regress. You’ll have an amazing streak where you think you’ve hit the potty training jack pot, only to have your child slowly revert back to their old ways.

    Don’t push it during this time. Just let it be. The more you stress over it and get upset about it, the longer they’ll want to stay in diapers.

    Make sure everyone is on the same page

    If your kid goes to daycare or is watched by someone other than you and your significant other throughout the day, make sure that you all are on the same page with potty training.

    Most daycares are great about making sure the kids are going every 30 or so minutes when they’re first starting to potty train. But ensuring that everyone taking care of your kid has the same game plan in terms of your potty training schedule, will help them learn consistently how this is supposed to go.

    Pull-ups or diapers at bed is expected

    There were times when Huddy would wake up from a night’s sleep with a bone-dry diaper, and we praised him and high-fived and gave him treats. There were other days where we leave him in his underwear and he’d wet the bed.

    We figured we were tired of waking up in the middle of the night and changing sheets, so we put pull-ups on at night. But as soon as he wakes up in the morning, we either took them off and put un big boy underwear, or took them off and let him run naked.

    What works for others may not work for your kid

    Every kid is different, and what worked for your brother’s kids, or your best friend’s kids, may not work for yours. And that’s ok. It takes trial and error and trial and error, and just when you think they’ve gotten the hang of it, they’ll go regressing and life will be in disarray.

    Keep trying different things – whether it’s candy or special treats for going, or stickers in a book – find what incentivizes your little one and roll with that. And know that it can take a very long time for them to fully get the hang of it.

    So, my advice to parents entering the potty training world for the first time, don’t give up. Just keep at it, keep trying new ways to entice them, challenge them and reward them. Go easy on them and yourself. It truly is a learning experience for the entire family!

  • Lifestyle

    30 Things in 30 Years

    This is going to sound a lot like the Sunscreen song. Who remembers that song? Can we even call it a song? That guy with the weird, yet hypnotic voice just basically talking the whole time with a chill track in the background. “Wear sunscreen.” Hello late 90s music!

    Anyway, I know that to some people 30 isn’t old enough or that I’m not wise enough to be doling out advice to those younger than I, and certainly not to anyone older than me. But age is a number and life is a journey for everyone. I’m sure my story and my findings will vary wildly from yours. But I’ve discovered at least 30 things that I’ve learned by my 30th trip around the sun that might come in handy.

    Some come in close, deary (can you hear my old granny voice coming through this post?) And let me teach you the things I’ve learned thus far.

    It’s ok to break up with friends that aren’t bringing you happiness 

    Much like the KonMari method, getting rid of things that don’t spark joy can 100% include friendships. It’s OK to break up with friends that aren’t bringing you happiness, aren’t empowering you, aren’t helping you grow, etc.

    Breastfeeding is the hardest thing you will ever do if you decide to have kids and breastfeed

    Why did no one tell me I would feel like dogs gnawed my nipples for the first 6 six weeks? Be prepared to live your life in 3-hour increments and be at the complete disposal of someone who is completely dependent on you to stay alive. But also prepare for the amazing bond it forms between you, and only you, and your baby.

    Just because you’ve been with someone does not mean you have to stay with them

    Change is scary, I know. But just because you’ve been with someone doesn’t mean it’s what is right or what you’re supposed to do. Duration of a relationship should have no grounds for being the final say in your happiness.

    Find your tribe and love them hard 

    Your tribe will likely change throughout your life, or maybe it won’t. Either way, when you find them, love them, cherish them, help them and grow with them. You’ll need them more than you’ll ever know.

    Take care of your skin 

    Take your makeup off every night. Use sunscreen! Protect your beautiful, young skin now to help it stay beautiful-looking, longer. And invest in GOOD skincare products. I could go on an on with this one, but I’ll step down from my soapbox now.

    Workout often 

    At least 3 days a week. And remember how good you feel when you’re done, and use that as motivation. A good workout helps in so many aspects of life that you probably don’t even realize.

    Find a job you love and are passionate about 

    It may take a while to get there, to find what it is you’re passionate about, but don’t give up. I’m 30 and realizing/remembering how much I love to write and how important of a role social media plays in my life JUST happened.

    Shut your mouth 

    You’re never the smartest person in the room, and if you are, please get out of the 2nd grade room. You’ll learn so much more if you stop talking and listen to other people, their ideas, their stories and even their opinions.

    Give back when you can

    If you’re blessed enough to have extra in your life, try and give back when you can. It nourishes the heart and soul, helps others, and sets a great example for those around you.

    Nothing will ever measure up to the day you get married and the birth of your children (if you have children)
    Don’t @ me, just trust me. So if you’re planning a wedding, or preparing for baby, remember it’s not just about that one day, but the journey your life will lead after that day.


    Don’t be a dick 

    Shout out to my girl Ellen Knackendoffel for this one. But it’s really plain and simple. You never know what someone else is going through.

    Be on time 

    Your time is not more important than others, so don’t act like it. Being late is one of the most selfish things you can be.

    It’s ok to not be ok 

    There’s nothing wrong with not being ok. As long as you acknowledge it, get help if you need it, and are able to pick yourself back up. Take care of you!

    Say no to things 

    Food, tequila shots, taking on more than you’re able. Just say no. I promise being a no (wo)man is better than being a yes (wo)man.

    Stop worrying about what other people think or might think of you 

    This is something I still have to practice. But much like Rachel Hollis says, someone else’s opinion of you is none of your business, and it’s not your business to change it or let it dictate any area of your life.

    Nipple cream is the best lip balm and gloss on the market 

    Trust. You won’t find anything better, and it lasts forever. TRUST.

    You will never not need your mom 

    Or your family. But specifically you mom. She knows more than you, and probably always will. And she will be one of the few people who will support you 100% in everything you do. Don’t take her for granted.

    Marry someone who supports you and loves everything about you 

    Even the weirdest parts of you. Part of loving someone is loving their good side and their oddities.

    Don’t talk bad about your significant other behind their back 

    Not even jokingly. I still struggle with this, because as women, we’re oddly trained to complain about our significant others behind their backs. Try not to. Your marriage will be happier for it.

    Don’t compare your beginning to someone else’s middle 

    We all have to start somewhere. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed and doubt yourself when someone else is further ahead in certain aspects of life than you. But at one point, that person was right where you were.

    Put your tweezers down before you think you need to 

    Famous last words. Don’t over-tweeze. Just put them down.

    You can’t take care of others unless you take care of yourself 

    Whether you’re single, in a relationship, married, have kids or don’t, you have to come first sometimes. And that’s ok. There’s no shame in taking care of YOU.

    Vote! 

    Does this one really need much explanation? Your vote DOES matter. Be informed and vote.

    Stop judging other people 

    Don’t do it. Not other moms, women, children – anyone. You don’t know their life.

    Be nice 

    See also, Don’t be a dick. But really, it’s so simple. Compliment someone once a day and just see how good it makes you feel. Promise you’ll get all the feels.

    You don’t have to have a plan or know what you want to do or where you want to be in 5-10 years

    Again, it’s ok to not know. You can be perfectly happy where you’re at in life and just enjoy doing what you’re doing and where you’re at without having to have it all figured out.

    Be present 

    Put your phone down, make eye contact, have conversations with people. Meaningful, undivided conversations.

    It’s never too late to start something you’ve always wanted to do 

    See also, me. If you have a dream and a passion and a fire inside you to do something, do it. Whether you’re 20 or 55, it’s not too late.

    Send handwritten thank you notes 

    After an interview, as a thank you, just to say hi. Handwritten notes hold so much more meaning than a text.