An Uncomplicated Life Blog: 2017

Thursday, October 19, 2017

What I Think When...

Unedited thoughts in real life situations

I wrote this post almost a year ago, and it exploded on the Internets. It was so fun to read people's comments about it my inner thoughts! Since some time has passed, there's been more real life moments that I have some real thoughts about. So friends, here's the second installment of What I Think When...

I hear Sam Smith's "Too good at goodbye's" on the radio:
Dude, get a f**king therapist! Get over your past bro. Stop whining about it and making yourself (and everyone else listening to the song) miserable. Ahhhh, stop it Sam, stop it! Ok, I'm turning the station now, I can't take your sh*t.

The face of a woman who's judging Sam Smith's emotional intelligence 

I drop Otto off at preschool, and *that one mom* beats me to the drop off door:
AHHHHHHHH DAMNIT WHYYYYYY! Kids you dragged your feet and now we're going to have to stand here while she tells the teacher every detail about her daughter, and hugs her and kisses her for a full five minutes which makes her daughter scream and cry which means Otto is going to cry. I want to punch this woman. Tomorrow, we're leaving five minutes earlier so we beat this chick to drop off. Most annoying mom in the world. Plus she's short. Why are short people SO ANNOYING? No, don't fix the bow in your daughter's hair, move out of the way! Your turn is done, like five minutes ago. You've created a line and every other parent is annoyed with you, bish get to steppin'.

(I've seen this woman for almost three years and we still don't say hi to each other so I'm more than sure my disdain for her shows on my face! Oops.)

I'm getting gas at the gas station:
Ok, which side of the car is the thingy on? Oh man, wrong side. Now I look like a dumb blonde. Ok, why isn't it reading my card?! Oh, oops I cancelled the transaction. Everyone is staring at you, stop being dumb Paige! Just put the pump in the car like a normal person. Why won't the pump go in the car? Is that man laughing at me? Ok, got it. Hopefully this is the hardest thing I have to do today, and the stupidest I look... Why did the gas stop after $7, my car was almost on empty? Ughhhhh gas stations I hate you!

I'm feeling a cold coming on:
Ok, which one of you rugrat kids got me sick?! Y'all use me as your personal Kleenex all day long so obvi this would happen. Nooooooo go away sickness!

These cuties will get you sick.

I'm the only mom in a mom group/at a play date who doesn't use her phone for her calender:
Yeah, I'm 33 going on 70 guys. I use a paper planner. It's color coded. *Lowers head in Type A shame* No, it's cool, I'll remember the next play date until I get home and write it in. Actually, I totally wont remember a date for that long, so I'll text you when I'm by my planner. Obnoxious, I know.

I've waited three weeks too long to get my hair done:
*Looks in mirror* Oh God, why?! Paige, go make the appointment. Go. Make. It. Right. Now. *Doesn't make appointment* PAIGE GO MAKE YOUR HAIR APPOINTMENT! Ugh, whatever, dry shampoo will lighten it up a bit.

I'm in a public restroom with my potty training three year old:
Please, Henry, just go potty. Just do it now. *Waits 10-15 minutes, attempts to keep Otto entertained* Henry: "Mommy, I POOPED!" Me: Looks around to see if there are any other feet in the stalls "Good job Henry!" But crap! I don't have any wipes and this public bathroom toilet paper is for sh*t. *Gets poop on hands* UGHHHHH why don't I keep wipes in my damn purse?! First thing I'm doing when I get home is putting some wipes in here *Forgets wipes upon getting home, repeats entire exchange on next outing*

That's a glimpse into my distorted mind, guys. Please tell me I'm not the only one who hates looking at her roots but struggles to actually make the hair appointment to get it colored?! No, just me? Awesome.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Total Lies Told To Me About Parenting

Every parent thinks they know best. These are the best lies I was told from other parents about parenting!

Just like every soon to be parent, I thought I knew exactly how things would go when my child was born. I thought I'd breastfeed for at least a year (hahahahaha) and I thought we'd co-sleep (aaaaahahahahaha hell no) and I thought a whole lot of things. In addition, I had people tell me a whole lot of things about my thoughts on parenting. These people could see my ignorance, and they also wanted to take out their own short comings on me. These, my friends, are the biggest "I told you so" parenting lies I was told!

Common myths and lies told to new parents about parenthood, babies, toddlers and children

"You'll end up letting your kids eat in the car."
I was adamant about never letting my kids eat in the car. Have you ever seen a car where the parents allow the kids to eat in the car seats?! It's a wreck. The car stinks. There's literally crap and food particles everywhere! I told all my friends and family that I'd never let my kids eat in the car, and they laughed at me. "Oh, just you wait!" they said with creepy glee, as if they were waiting for me to fail. Well wait on, jerkholes, because my kids still aren't allowed to have anything other than water in the car! Yup, I've made it 3 and a half years and there's no snacking in my car. See, I like nice cars. I drive a nice car. I like my nice car to actually be NICE. As in, clean, maintained, conditioned leather, washed, etc. And it is. What's the point of driving a luxury car if you treat it like crap?! Two kids later, and my car is still immaculate. We have snacks before we go places and I've actually taken food out of their hands and tossed it in the trash. My three year old will toss his own snacks because he knows there's no eating in the car! (I also don't eat in my car, ever, because you can't tell your kids not to do it then do it yourself.) So... That was a lie.

"You'll end up feeding your kids fast food."
Y'all know I don't do fast food. And by do, I mean eat it. I don't see a reason for it, honestly: Why can't you wait to get home to eat? Why can't you pack healthy snacks if you're going to be out and about for a while? Why don't you get healthy food at a sit down restaurant? This also plays into never eating in my car - we just don't eat and run or eat on the go. Ever. But when I told my friends and family that, they laughed. They said, "Oh just wait! You'll have a hungry kid and stop through a drive through!" Well, think again guys. Maybe I care too much what goes into my and my children's bodies, but I don't go to the drive thru. Like, ever. No eating in the car, and no fast food.

"You'll get your baby on a schedule, then have to break it because you want a life."
Now what is true is that I want a life... But what is not true is schedule breaking! Otto is the only napper left, so we do things in the morning before nap or in the afternoon after it. If we go out to eat, we go at 5pm so that we're home in time for a 7pm bedtime. We do NOT miss a nap and we don't do late bedtimes, ever! My kids (and me) are really into routines and while our daily activities change regularly, the structure of the schedule never does. When we do date nights we leave after 7pm (and are home well before 10pm, haha!) and if we go to a birthday party or some kind of daytime social event, it fits in with nap. Period. Why so crazy about the schedule? My kids walk themselves to bed at night and fall to sleep without issue. All I do to get Otto to nap is lay him in his crib and walk out. These kids know exactly when to sleep, thankyoubabyjesus.

"iPads will be your best friend when you have a toddler!"
NOPE. No. I've been against screen time since the beginning. My kids KNOW/were trained not to even touch my phone. In fact, Henry asks if he can carry it and put it in my purse and acts like it's a special treat when I say yes. We don't have the TV on until the 5:30 news and the boys get 20-30 minutes of a movie to watch as they drink a sippy of milk before bed. That's literally the extent of their screen time during the week. On weekends, Henry can play iPad games for an hour while Otto naps, and many times he plays with it for a half hour, then asks to go outside or simply puts it down to play with his real toys instead. I've been against over-stimulating musical/flashing light/noise making toys since day one. Personally I think it negatively impacts their social development, over stimulates them, and is bad for eye and brain health. So, ugh, yeah. I don't rely on screens, and that was a big ol' lie.

Why are these grown ups telling you all this rubbish, mommy?

Here's the thing about parenting: We all have our priorities. Some people will tell you total lies about YOUR parenting because you have different priorities. Clean car not your thing? Then you'll let your kids eat in it and it won't bother you. Healthy food not a major concern? Then you'll hit up the drive thru. Don't need good, consistent sleepers (and sleep yourself)? Then you'll throw off the schedule to attend that party or stay out late for a good supper. See what I mean? I'm sure I've told some mega lies about parenting to my own friends, because we prioritize differently.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

What Pregnancy is REALLY Like

Some women love it, others can barely stand it. Here's what pregnancy looked like for one woman with two very different experiences

This is a sponsored conversation my Mums The Word and The Stork OTC. All opinions are my own.

If you saw my post a few weeks back, hubs and I are on the fence about adding to our family. The thought of having a newborn again is frightening! It's also gotten me thinking about the two very difference experiences I had while pregnant. One was a breeze and one was extremely challenging. What if I get another challenging pregnancy?! Ahhh, there's so much to consider when family planning, isn't there? I've shared both of my birth stories here before (see here and here) but I haven't really talked about what those pregnancies were really like.

Henry was a surprise baby. Everyone thinks Otto was because he came so close after Henry, but oh no - it was Henry! It was October 2 and I was on a flight home from a day-long work trip to Houston. My period should have come at 10am that morning (yeah, I know even to the time of day when she's due to arrive) and it was now after 4pm. I had just run a half marathon a week before, so I figured that could be the cause of the delay. I ordered a glass of wine on the flight because I thought, "Oh girl, you better enjoy this while you can just in case!"

Next morning, I took a test and the test came back positive before the pee could even reach the control line. Well, hell! I thought. I'm going to need to figure out what to do about that wedding dress... And my bachelorette was planned for the following week. I wasn't immediately thrilled because of the timing, but hubs and I were planning on starting a family right away anyway so I got over the sober bachelorette and got excited about having a baby instead.

I felt nothing - no symptoms, nothing - for the first seven weeks. Then it was light a freight train hit me. I was nauseous, and had a non-stop headache but worst of all was the exhaustion. I remember being in my office at work and literally having to hold myself up at my desk, because sitting was too much work. I'd often leave work at 1 or 2pm and work the rest of the day from my couch, laying down. Soon, I developed such bad heartburn, I'd vomit my own stomach acid several times a day. I had serious food aversions and couldn't even let my husband eat meat around me or I'd heave and gag. I basically lived off avocado and cheese sandwiches and berries.

At 28 weeks gestation, I quit my job. The baby was breech and I swore he was going to head-butt his way out of my bellybutton. I was sick constantly. My face had changed shapes (my nose got HUGE) and I was retaining water everywhere. At 29 weeks gestation, I went into labor. My midwives put me on bed rest. At 35 weeks, I was referred to a MD to attempt an external cephalic version to turn the baby. It was unsuccessful and I was left covered in bruises. My midwives told me they were sorry, but there wasn't anything more they could do for me. I started the process of being transferred to an MD for a hospital birth, even though I had spent the last eight months preparing for a natural birth at the birth center.

At 36 weeks, my water broke. I called my husband to tell him he needed to come home and we googled directions to the hospital. We didn't even know where we were going because we didn't have time between the failed version and learning our way to our new birth location. We got to the hospital at 5:00 on a Friday, and had Henry four weeks early at 10:15pm via emergency c-section (they checked before they operated and yes, he was still stuck breech). My biggest memory was laying on the table, and having all the back pain immediately disappear as they pulled him out of me. I was SO glad to no longer be pregnant. Henry was, surprisingly, extremely healthy. He nursed right away and needed no NICU time despite his early birth date and being a white male, who notoriously have under-developed lungs.

Just 10 months later, we were ready to expand our family. My sister and I are only 18 months apart and were so close growing up, I wanted to provide that for my kids too. We tried for one month with no success. I talked with my mom, who was an infertility nurse for over 20 years, and she told me this was how she recommended women attempt to get pregnant: Have sex every other day the day your period ends. Keep your stress levels as low as possible and just have fun with it! My mom and I have the kind of relationship where that conversation wasn't awkward at all, and I took what she had to say to heart. I knew a part of my job would be managing my husband's stress levels too, since males play an equal role in conception. Since our kids would be so close and we had just started trying, we were able to keep things light and as "fun" as attempting conception could be!

The following month, I took a pregnancy test on Day 29 (the same day I found out when I was pregnant with Henry). It was negative. Dang it, I thought! Ok period, just get here so we can start again. My sister came into town, and we had a couple of late nights with wine. But my period never showed up. On day 35, I was super annoyed and went and bought what I thought was a bulk pack of pregnancy tests. I open them up, and wouldn't you know, I had just spent a fortune on ovulation tests! I became even more annoyed. I couldn't return an open box of tests! Luckily there was one pregnancy test in there. I took it, and again, the positive line turned before the control line.

With Otto, I became bloated and nauseous pretty much the day after the positive test. We had a big party planned for Henry's first birthday, and I spent a good amount of it sitting outside in the fresh air, trying not to get sick, sitting by myself! All of that started to clear up by 15 weeks and I felt much better.

I felt amazing in fact. I didn't have any heartburn. I had no back pain. He wasn't trying to create an escape route from my belly button like breech Henry did. He was head down. All was perfect! As far as pregnancies go, it was a breeze. I was able to work out the whole time and only put on 19 pounds (partially, I believe, because I was chasing after Henry the whole time). After the first trimester, I had no food aversions and could eat everything. In fact, I even loved spinach salads and all the other things "they" tell you to eat for a healthy pregnancy. 

My midwives welcomed me back to the birth center, but since I was only 19 months out from my c section, I decided to attempt my VBAC (vaginal birth after Cesarean) at the same hospital with the same MD I was transferred to with Henry. I really liked the staff and loved the OB. I was 38 and a half weeks when my water broke at 2am with Otto, and 16 hours later I had him just the way I wanted, via VBAC.

The two pregnancies could not have been more different! One was a surprise and full of issues and massive discomfort. The birth went literally 180 degrees from the way I had wanted and planned. The other was planned and relatively easy. It was a textbook pregnancy and resulted in the birth I wanted. See, that's what pregnancy is REALLY like. You can do everything right and everything can get derailed. You don't get to know or prepare for how it will go. It could be easy and you love it, or it can be a long, hard nine months.

Trying to conceive? Check out The Stork OTC! It's available at CVS and Target (as well as through their website) for less than $60. It's used at home with no shots, so scans, no prescriptions or procedures. The Stork OTC assists you in your chances of getting pregnant and is a drug free option in the next step towards conception. Want to learn more? Check out their Twitter party on October 19 at 8pm EST!

Monday, October 9, 2017

Which Car Seat To Get For Your Little One?

There's so many choices to make as a new parent! Here's why we chose Graco car seats to protect our most precious passengers

I can still clearly remember it: I was 28 weeks pregnant with Henry and we were standing in a big retailer, looking at all the car seat options with glazed eyes. "Babe, how on earth do we know which one to get?" I asked my husband. He immediately whipped out his phone and called his brother's wife, a soon to be mom of three (and now she has four!) She gave us the two brands she preferred, then we looked at consumer reports and safety ratings for the two. Graco won by a landslide! I ended up letting my husband pick the color since we both agreed on the brand and the style, and since he was so proud he was having a boy, he went with a blue. Good thing our second baby was also a boy, because we were so happy with the Graco seat we didn't want to replace it! But it's a tough question new parents have to ask themselves: which car seat do you get for your little one?

There's a few tips I have as an experienced mom for new parents. First, look for great safety. That is, after all, the reason for the car seat! Consistently high ratings, few to no product recalls, and meets or exceeds US FMVSS safety standards are great things to look at in regards to safety. Second, look for excellent quality. Is the fabric washable and will it hold it's color? Is the plastic durable? How heavy is the seat? Heavy, by the way, does NOT indicate quality. And if you're getting an infant carrier, I recommend going as light as possible because when that baby comes, it's amazing how heavy the seat gets so quickly! Our Graco infant carrier was super light at just 7.5 pounds and made getting baby in and out of the car much easier. Finally, look for affordability. Just like weight doesn't indicate quality, price doesn't indicate the car seat's safety or quality either! Graco has so many options, you'll be able to find one whatever your budget allows.

Graco Forever 4 in 1 car seat
Fast forward from Henry's birth to today, and I have two toddlers. Clearly we've outgrown the infant carrier car seat style and had to look for new options for the boys. I picked the Graco Forever 4 in 1 car seat for both the boys for several reasons. First, we were familiar with the brand and very happy with our infant carrier seat, so we knew we'd love a Graco convertible seat. These seats are good for children from birth through the booster seat phase, so this would be the last car seat we'd have to buy them. There's built in, easy to use (and understand!) safety features, like the side level that tells you when your seat is level (and therefore safe to travel in). It has five different reclining positions from rear facing to forward facing, so the seat will grow with the boys as they grow. And the LATCH system makes them super easy to install in my car or a car rental if we travel.

We have the same seat for both boys - Henry is forward facing, Otto rear facing. This car seat grows with your kids!
LATCH system FTW, y'all

Funny side note about LATCH systems: When we first had Henry, my husband had a 2006 SUV that didn't have a LATCH system. I guess they became standard in all cars in 2007. Anyway, he attempted to install the infant carrier seat in his car so he could take Henry somewhere. He was in the garage for so long, I thought he'd gone off somewhere. Nope! It just took him about 30 solid minutes to figure out how to get the seat in his old SUV! Let's all take a minute and be glad we live in 2017 when car seats are super easy to install, shall we? :)

One of the easiest ways to buy your car seat once you've picked out which Graco seat fits your style is on They have SO many Graco car seat options in so many different colors, you'll find exactly what you're looking for at a great price. Since I let hubs pick out the blue infant carrier, I went ahead and selected the boys' convertible seats - a nice neutral dark grey! You can buy it online, and then go and pick it up at the store, most the time that same day, and get it, or get two day shipping. I live three miles from two different Walmart's, so I opted for the in-store pick up. I have to be honest with you. I was seriously impressed with this feature! There were signs in the parking garage where to park and arrows directing me where to go to get my online purchases. The location was clearly marked in the store, too. It was truly a seamless process, and I had a gentleman carry the car seat to my car and load it in the back for me to boot.

Picking out a car seat is overwhelming as a soon to be parent. There's so many styles and brands and colors to chose from. We've been thrilled with our Graco car seats from the very beginning because of their safety, quality and affordability. 

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Flavors Of The Season: Thanksgiving Appetizer

This tangy and sweet appetizer is perfect to serve your guests on Thanksgiving as you wait for that turkey to be done

This post is sponsored by Bonterra Organic Vineyards. The recipe is my original creation and all opinions and photos are my own.

The holidays are upon us! Soon your home will be decorated and your kitchen full of all those great smells of the season. Thanksgiving happens to be my favorite meal to actually cook for others. I like to start things at 9am, and slowly get everything together as I sip on a glass of wine. One of the keys to making this holiday as stress free as possible is to prepare what you can ahead of time. I like to have one casserole done and the potatoes peeled and waiting in water the night before so I just pull it out of the fridge and get it heated up when the timing is right with the turkey. This appetizer is another one that you can make mostly ahead so that its an easy addition to your holiday meal line up.

I've found that the better I plan the menu and am familiar with cooking times of all the various dishes, the more organized I am on Thanksgiving but most importantly the more fun I have cooking it all. And as much as tasty food is important, having fun with friends and family is the most important thing of all during the holidays! 

Personally, I don't think there are many things as fun as cooking with a good glass of wine. Bonterra has an amazing selection of even more amazing wine. Literally, I haven't tried one I didn't like and would be proud to serve any of them at my Thanksgiving table! Even the chardonnay was great and I don't typically care for chardonnay. This recipe is versatile in that it pairs well with a red or a white, so no matter what your preference is, it will taste great. Want to try Bonterra for your holiday table? Get 30% off your first order with code BLOG30. The only thing better than good wine is good wine and a deal!

Sweet Potato Crostini - A Perfect Thanksgiving Appetizer
- two large sweet potatoes, peeled and ends discarded 
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 2/3 cup chopped pecans
- 3 tablespoons salted butter
- 3 tablespoons dark brown sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon Pumpkin Spice seasoning
- 4oz package goat cheese
- sea salt
- chopped chives to garnish

First, in a medium sized skillet, melt the butter over medium-high heat. Once melted, add the brown sugar. Allow the sugar to cook for several minutes so that it melts into the butter, stirring constantly. Once the mixture is fully combined, add the pecans and pumpkin spice seasoning. Stir to coat the pecans in the butter-sugar-spice seasoning evenly. Pour mixture onto wax paper to cool, leveling it out to a single layer. Set aside.

Preheat the oven to 420 degrees. Slice the sweet potatoes in about 1/8 to 1/4 inch slices. They should be thick enough to hold the topping, but not too thick to dominate the flavor. Pour the olive oil on a large sheet pan, and arrange the sweet potato slices in a single layer, so that every slice is touching the pan. Bake for about 17-20 mins, or until the side facing the pan is golden brown and the top side is soft but not mushy. Remove from pan and allow them to cool on paper towels or a cooling rack. Sprinkle with sea salt.

Allow the sweet potato crostini to cool COMPLETELY before applying a thick layer of goat cheese to each crostini. Break up the cooled candied pecan topping and sprinkle on each piece of sweet potato. If you prefer a sweeter appetizer, use more of the nuts per piece; if you'd prefer a more tart appetizer, use fewer nuts. Garnish with chopped chives, and serve at room temperature. 

I hope you enjoy this easy Thanksgiving appetizer! Bake the sweet potatoes the night before to make it easier and to ensure they're cool enough for the goat cheese the day of Thanksgiving. Pre-making parts of dishes also means there's more time to spend with friends and family, and more time to enjoy some amazing Bonterra wine with your holiday meal.

This easy Thanksgiving appetizer is sweet and tangy. It can be made ahead of time for easy entertaining, too!
Like it? Pin it!

Monday, October 2, 2017

Weekend Update

What we were up to this weekend

I used to write these kinds of posts all the time! Since I've monetized/turned "professional blogger" I rarely get the chance to just talk about normal, everyday life. We had a pretty fun weekend with lots of fall-like activities, and the weather was almost fall-ish (by Dallas standards, anyway). In the words of Henry, "I had a fun day!" And we did - we had so many fun days, back to back. Here's what we were up to, complete with semi-blurry snaps from my iPhone:

Friday night we watched more of The Handmaiden's Tale, and finished the season. O. M. G y'all, I can totally see why this show won all the awards. Also, I feel like I need some therapy after watching it. It is MESSED up. It's like the wreck you pass on your morning commute that you can't stop looking at, but wish you could, but not really. Does that make sense? If you haven't watched it, do yourself a solid and start. You'll be hooked.

Family Oktoberfest selfie. The least blurry one out of the bunch.

Saturday had a slow start, but we went to our neighborhood's Oktoberfest celebration after Otto had a good long nap and it didn't disappoint! Some community festivals can be pretty boring, but this had live music, a bajillion food vendors, tons of beer that wasn't overly priced, a huge park for the kids and about 20 different bounce houses. My kids LOVE bounce houses! 

We bounced, drank and met up with friends who all have kids the same age as ours. Otto discovered his love for German food and Henry ate about two bites of a pretzel before he decided he'd rather stick with the conventional snacks we packed. This kid will be the death of me with his picky eating! At least he tried a bite of a pretzel, right? Ugh.

I caught Otto stuffing his face...
Then he threw me some major shade. Don't interrupt this boy's eatin'!

Sunday brought in a new month, and hubs finally got around to decorating the outside of the house for Halloween. I've had the mantel and a few things up around the house since the beginning of September, but he says we have to wait for October to get the outside set up. Whatevs. Henry loves all things spooky, just like me. Otto... Not so much. We were at Target this past week and I always take the kids to the holiday section to look at stuff. There was a blow up pumpkin head man and I tried to grab it's hand to spook Henry a little. I ended up pulling the whole damn thing over, right on top of Otto, who screamed in terror. Oops! Henry thought it was hilarious, but Otto was legit shaking, poor boy. I won't be grabbing those things again.

Graveyard landscaping
The lighting was too good in this one not to share! 
Spooky entryway

Otto had to play with everything before we put it up

Since the weather was so nice, we ended up going to a neighborhood burger joint that has a huge patio and play area for kids for dinner on Sunday night. The boys play in the dirt with trucks and it allows us to eat in (mostly) peace. It was a nice, mellow end to a very fun weekend! The only thing we didn't get around to was visiting the pumpkin village at the Dallas Arboretum, but there's always next weekend for that.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

My Back To School Routine

The kids are back in school and our mornings start early. And for mom, nothing comes before coffee!

This post is sponsored by McDonald’s, but the thoughts and opinions expressed here are my own. The new McCafé espresso menu is available at participating McDonald's.

Whoohoo, my kids are finally back in preschool three days a week for 5 hours at a time! We were honestly the last school to go back in Dallas (most schools here start in the last week or two of August). We're back, and while most moms shed a tear this time of year, I dance a jig. That's right, I'm thrilled when my kids go back to school! They're so young that school is only 15 hours a week which means we still get plenty of playtime, but those 15 hours enable me to get SO much done. From blogging to hair appointments to lunch dates to home organizing, I love my 15 kid-free hours a week, and I'm not ashamed to admit it. What I'm not a fan of is how much more rushed school days make our mornings. And how much earlier we have to get started. I'm NOT a morning person, y'all. I'll share my "not morning person" routine with you, but before anything else,  - COFFEE!

Before I was a mom, I wouldn't drink my coffee until I arrived at work. But now that I am a mom, I understand the key difference: I wouldn't have to speak to anyone before I arrived at work. Sure, I had to walk my dog, but he didn't require any conversation or brain usage. Now that I am a mom, there's no quietly getting ready in the mornings. I'm awoken most days to my oldest hollering out, "MOMMY! DADDY!" between 5:30 and 6am. Bless his sweet heart, he doesn't get out of his toddler bed, but he yells so loud we can hear it clear across the house.

I like to have my coffee before talking to other adults at preschool drop off. Enter McDonald’s: it has a completely new espresso menu and it. is. good. I'm a fan of hitting up the drive thru so I've already had some delicious coffee in me before I have to face the chaos that is preschool drop off, but even the restaurants themselves look completely different than the Golden Arches of my childhood.

I, being the fall lover that I am, opt for a seasonal Pumpkin Spice Latte or the Vanilla Cappuccino. Pumpkin Spice Latte available through October 2017 at participating McDonald's. It might still be 100 degrees here in Texas, but it's back to school time, football time, my fireplace mantel is decorated and so help me if I have to will the weather into being fall myself, I will! It is a delicious treat that I get to sip on, congratulating myself for getting everyone ready (well, I might be questionable, but my kids always look on point) and out the door on time. And we're usually EARLY for school.

Deal lovers, when you buy any 5 McCafé beverages, you get any sized McCafé beverage FREE with the app! (Valid 1/18/17 - 12/31/17. McD App download and registration required. Valid only at participating U.S. McDonald’s. ©2017 McDonald’s) You can try any small size beverage for $2, so this coffee habit won't break your bank. You can even start hitting them up as part of your back to school morning routine. A la carte only. Limited time only at participating McDonald's. Cannot be combined with any other offer or any combo meal. ©2017 McDonald’s.

Monday, September 25, 2017

You're Not More Important Because You're Busy

In a world where being busy is the norm, take a step back to evaluate exactly how "busy" you are

I'm on a roll with these op-ed type posts, huh? I think after spending the summer doing a ton of DIYs and crafts, the heat starts to fade in Texas and I get my mind back to do some deep(er) thinking. This one has been on my mind for months, actually. No, YEARS. It started as a gut feeling in my last job I had in Minneapolis, where the culture was to always complain about how busy you were, and I found it so odd. Fast forward over five years, and while my life looks completely different than it did when I had that job, I have the exact same feelings about "busy" people. Those feelings can be summarized by saying this: Busy people, you're not more important than anyone else. In fact, I feel sorry for you.

These boys were SUPER busy chasing ducks and chickens at a zoo in Wisconsin recently

Have you ever asked a friend or acquaintance how they're doing and s/he responds, "Busy! But good. So busy though!" What's that even about?! Like, is responding to my greeting even too much for you? You're so over-scheduled that you can't even be a decent person and respond to cultural politeness? A simple "I'm good!" would have done. Or if you're not good, let's sit down and talk about it. But please, don't tell me you're "busy." 

How busy one is (or isn't) is a choice. You have the ability to say yes or no to social obligations, work projects, meetings and deadlines. You have the power over signing up for extra-curricular activities, booking travel, and whether or not you cook a meal or grab fast food. Let me say that again. Being busy is a choice, made by you. And to me, busy people have lost control over their own lives either because they're so unhappy they don't want to live in the present, or they're looking for someone to blame for being absent from their own life.

Let me paint a picture for you. I bet you know someone who has sounded something like one of these two people before:

"Ugh, I have so much work to do, I'm going to have to bring home a project for the fourth night in a row this week! I'll be lucky to get five hours of sleep tonight. My boss/job sucks. I'm so busy with nonstop work!"

"Tommy has football practice, then Sally has dance, then we have piano lessons and will spend the whole weekend at a tournament, it's no wonder I've gained 15 pounds! All we do is eat on the run because we're so busy."

Guess what? Both of those examples are busyness choices made by YOU. You prioritize your workday; if you can't get all your work done regularly and are unhappy about it, seek help from your supervisor or coworkers. Reassign tasks off your plate. Odds are, it's not that you actually have too much to do, you just like to complain. Because if you were truly unhappy, you'd do something to change it. As for the second example, that parent is the one responsible for not only signing their children up for all those activities, but also for the food choices they make. It sounds like they want to blame busyness for their weight gain, but in reality, all of that is a choice that they've made. The only blame is on themselves.

When we're in Dallas, they're also always busy in our pool. But they don't think they're more important than anyone

See why I said I feel sorry for busy people? They love to complain about being busy, because it makes them look important. Needed. Indispensable. But in reality, overly busy people lack accountability TO THEMSELVES. They blame external factors for their own unhappiness. And to me, that's so sad. It's sad that they're unaware that the only person who can make them happy is THEM. Odds are good it would start by them saying no to something, and freeing up some personal time.

There are times when I'm busy, absolutely. In fact, most days of the week from 8:30-2 I'm sometimes sprinting to get all the things done that I need to while I have childcare. Here's the difference between being occasionally busy and chronically busy: I have no complaints about it! And at 2pm when I pick the kids up from preschool, I put my phone down and concentrate on them. We slow down and play together. I cook homemade meals and play cars and dinosaurs and take time to live in the moment.

As a mom, of course I have busy periods of time in my week, month, year. But it's a season. It passes. I don't complain about it. Sometimes, I do some intentional "un-scheduling" when there's just too much going on. Busy people don't take the steps necessary to slow down and enjoy their lives. It's not a race to be won guys! It's the daily living that makes your life great. So no, busy people. You're not more important.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

My Favorite DIY Beauty Hacks

These DIY beauty hacks are easy to do and WORK

If you've been hanging around here for any length of time, you know that I love essential oils and love making my own products from them. There's seriously some amazing benefits in essential oils, especially for the skin! I've had terrible skin since I was about 15, and the face wash I'm linking cleared it up! All of these DIY beauty hacks can be made in less than 5 minutes, and I've linked all the materials in the posts in case you don't happen to have coconut oil (if you don't keep coconut oil on hand all the time, you're seriously late to the party and how many amazing benefits that stuff has, so GET SOME) or apple cider vinegar (again, this is always in my pantry) fear not! It's an amazon click away. Now, here are my favorite DIY beauty hack posts:

Face wash
If you don't believe that this cleared my skin, there's some amazing before and after shots in the post. My skin is 100% (yes, 100 percent meaning completely clear) free of breakouts now! Ditching the harsh "acne fighting" cleansers and cleaning my face with oil and essential oils enabled my skin to "reset." When you fight breakouts with harsh cleansers, your face produces more oil. More oil clogs pores, leading to more breakouts. But this blend cleaned my pores and helped moisturize my face so it didn't have to produce as much oil, which led to fewer and fewer breakouts. Now, I don't even wear makeup (like foundation or tinted moisturizer) because it's totally clear. I haven't had skin like this since I was in grade school!

Is there anything that apple cider vinegar ISN'T good for? It helps with gut health if you ingest it, it's good for your skin, it can be used in homemade cleaners, it makes amazing vinaigrettes, I mean the list goes on and on. Now I will say that it has a very particular smell that carries through the toner. The first time I made and used it, I went directly to a hot yoga class and smelled it the entire class! I hated it, but I hugged a friend and she said, "oh my gosh, you smell good!" so I think it's a hit or miss smell. After a week or so, I got used to it and now it doesn't bother me at all. Full disclosure: I still can't drink the stuff straight. I have to mix it and dilute the heck out of it!

This stuff smells amazing and leaves your feet with that tingly feeling of peppermint! I used raw sugar so that it would be a little more coarse to exfoliate dead skin off of feet. But you could use traditional sugar if that's what you've got on hand. In fact, I made this in bulk and gave it away as presents to my girlfriends last Christmas (just get some cute ribbon to make it "gifty" and attach a tag - boom, Pinterest worthy DIY gift) and it would probably be more pretty and "glittery snowflake like" if you used plain white sugar. Anyway you make it, the peppermint makes it smell. so. good.

Ever been out shopping and get conned into buying the jewelry they strategically place near the check out? Yeah, me too, especially at Anthropologie. (I mean, after you've been staring at $250 price tags, a $40 pair of earrings seems like a steal!) Hopefully you're not as gullible as I am, but if you have sensitive skin like me, you get an allergic reaction to costume jewelry almost immediately. Anything less than 14k gold and I start to itch, get red, get inflamed and sometimes - depending on what metal is used - actually start to get a headache and a fever. The hack in this post enables me to wear costume jewelry with no reactions! It's a trick my aunt taught me when I was just a girl, and it works like a charm. Pun intended, I think...

Those are my favorite DIY beauty hacks I've published throughout the years! Like I said, there's nothing coconut oil and apple cider vinegar isn't good for, so go invest in some and keep it on hand all the time. You'll be glad you did! All of these hacks are super simple to make and can be whipped up in less than 5 minutes. You can also make them in bulk and gift them away for this upcoming holiday season! The price point per jar is a super budget friendly way to give ALL of your friends and family a homemade treat that won't go straight to their waistline this year. 

Monday, September 18, 2017

The Art Of NOT Being Offended

In a world where everyone takes offense at everything, be secure enough in who you are to practice taking NO offense

Two things have spurred me to write this post. The most recent one was a group chat I was in with several other bloggers. We always have light hearted, fun discussions about a whole variety of topics. Except this time, one of the bloggers took serious offense to what another said. She basically stopped the whole conversation with, "OMG, how rude! I can't believe you just said that to me!" It changed the whole vibe of the group chat because nobody knew where to go from there. I don't think anyone else took offense but this one particular blogger, but her offense ruined the conversation for everyone. That exchange reminded me of a seminar I went to at Wanderlust (a big yoga/love fest festival) where the speaker was teaching us the basics of Bhagadad Gita, a seriously life changing way of processing the world around you. One of the many things he had us repeat was, "I take no offense." Because offense means you're making someone else's statement about YOU, and odds are, it has nothing to do with you. The world does not revolve around you. So let it go. I want expand on this and tell you all about the art of NOT being offended.

Just sitting over here, not being offended at things and it's SO FREEING

It's an interesting world we live in, isn't it? Social media is where most people get news about the world, family and friends, yet most of us criticize it for not being "real." Bloggers talk incessantly about "stuff" - what they're wearing, where they're traveling to, their cars, their weddings, all this material stuff. That, I should add, they hope makes you want that "stuff" too. It's a pretty pathetic world if you really think about it: Fake news, excessive materialism and nonstop comparison.

When that blogger took offense at the light-hearted comment, I wondered how awful it must be to be her. She was so wrapped up in the comparison game that she couldn't handle playful comments. She took it as severe criticism and took offense. It has to be absolutely oppressing to be that wrapped into what other people think of you, don't you think? To turn a fun conversation into something that was all about HER, and negative and offensive, is absurd. What a waste of her (and everyone else involved with that conversation) energy!

Why be so concerned about what other people are doing and thinking? Why not focus on making yourself a better and more positive person? Because here's the thing: You don't control what others think or do. You can only control your reaction (including taking no offense). Let what other people are doing and thinking go. Especially if you're processing their thoughts and actions as negative. There isn't much we actually own in this life, but our thoughts and actions, including how we react to others, are two of them.

One of the biggest lessons I've learned in life is that if someone lashes out at you, or has some sort of sharp criticism, or in my case - leaves a negative comment on your blog or social media - it's actually not about you but instead a reflection of something that's going on with THEM. If someone were to call me a bad mom, for instance, it's not that I'm indeed a bad mom. It's more that they're struggling with something they did as a parent.

Henry taking offense at the flower falling apart. It's ok, he'll learn the art of letting it go soon.

When you start to process the world in a way that it's not all about you, it's so freeing and it becomes much easier to NOT take offense. It also enables you to be a more compassionate and emphatic person. Empathy is something the world needs so much more of! Think I'm a bad mom? Cool, I hope you figure out what it is that's bothering you about motherhood. Offended by my lack of makeup on a daily basis? Awesome, I hope applying makeup on thick makes you feel better about yourself but odds are you feel some type of way about your inner beauty. See what I'm saying here?

There's definitely an art to NOT being offended. And it takes regular practice. You have to train your brain to let things go and to not make a given situation about you. A huge part of this process is letting go of comparison, letting go of the importance of material items (after all - you can't take any of that stuff with you when you leave this earth and they are just things that don't define your importance) and realizing other's words or (re)actions aren't about you. In the wise words of the yoga instructor at Wanderlust, "Repeat after me: I take no offense. Now do it again. I take no offense."

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Blogging Supplies That Get You Organized To Make Money Blogging

Get the supplies you need to successfully organize your blog and start earning money blogging!

Friends and strangers alike reach out to me often to ask me "how do you make money blogging?!" I have a couple posts where I outline my favorite public relations firms to work with and some lessons I've learned about blog moneitization, but the real key to earning a consistent income blogging is twofold: 1) you have to consistently publish content (that means you need to take blogging seriously, like any other job you've held down) and 2) you need to stay organized and on top of your business and your brand. I'm listing out the items I use and how I use them to keep myself organized, and dishing some blogging for profit tips along the way. Without further ado, here are the blogging supplies that get you organized to make money blogging! Affiliate links used.

Everything you need to start get your blog organized and start making money blogging

Not surprisingly, blogging relies on technology. Technology relies on a power charge. It's really easy to have your desk get cluttered with iPhone, iPad and laptop cords! My battle is keeping the cords away from tiny toddler hands that love to play with them, too. These nifty little clips keep your charging devices in order so you're not fumbling around when your charge gets low! You can keep all your devices fully charged so you're not running out of battery when you're about to capture that perfect Instagram shot, or are trying to shoot a product in the few minutes of "good light" that's left for the day.
Mobile device holder 
Have you ever watched a video with terrible camera shake? It's awful and looks unprofessional, and likely won't do anything to expand the reach of your blog. This phone holder can also hold tablets, so no matter how your filming, you'll have a smooth video. It's for desktops, so you can look up and not get the "double chin" problem of simply propping your phone on your desk. If you're not into producing videos, it's nice to have so that you can facetime and work. If you use your camera for photos, it's a great holder to use the timer function for shots that require you in them.

A creative space
One of the biggest things that's helped my blogging was when I got my own desk. I picked it out and styled it just how I wanted. Having your own space - whether it's a desk in the corner of a room like me or you get your own whole office - is KEY. When I started blogging, I did it from our breakfast bar, which meant I couldn't keep paper supplies and pens and all sorts of other office "stuff" nearby. I also didn't have it well lit, using only the icky overhead lights. Invest in a cute desk lamp  like that one or this one so your lighting doesn't give you a headache and you're able to create a personalized, creative space to write and edit photos.

Spiral bound notebook
Sound old school? Maybe, but I find that when I'm writing on my laptop about one thing, other ideas often pop into my head. I have a spiral bound notebook on my desk where I have an on-going list of blog post ideas so I never run out, keep my financial records (I also track them electronically but keep paper records for backup) and take notes at any conferences or workshops I attend. The spiral bound is essential because you'll constantly be switching back and forth between all your sections. Pro tip: get two and keep your finances in it's own notebook so if you lose it/forget your "ideas" notebook, your finances aren't lost (or found by the wrong hands!) too.

Paper planner
Yup, old fashioned again. I know some people love their phone calendars or apps to track their editorial calendars, but not me. I'm a visual person, so I like to write out my calendar on paper in an actual calendar! My planner is my most used "thing" beyond my phone - even more than my laptop! I plan my goals, editorial content (basically, what posts are going to publish when), daily and weekly to do lists, brand collaborations and even personal appointments like the kids' dentist, when they don't have school, etc. This way EVERYTHING is in one place, laid out for me week by week. This planner is super cute, but so is this one and neither will break the bank. No, you don't need an expensive customized planner to get the job done!

Multi-colored pens
This goes hand-in-hand with the planner. I color code my planner so that at a brief (or sleep deprived glance) I know what's going on for the day. Blog posts are listed in orange, paid collaborations in green, personal appointments in purple, the kids' schedules in blue and so forth. I started doing this mostly because I had fun with it, but soon realized how helpful it is to stay on track! I pay most attention to green things, because hey - that's how I get paid! I'll list deadlines for drafts and reporting forms in that color. If you're a visual person like me, it's extremely helpful to organize yourself "in color." I like this pack because the pens write nicely, and I know I won't run out of colors for all the different topics I track in my planner.

DSLR camera
This doesn't have to do with organization, it's true. But I can tell you that after I invested in this DSLR camera (this is the actual one I use, with this lens) my Instagram account exploded past the 20k follower mark, brands began reaching out TO ME to collaborate, my monthly income more than doubled and I finally got accepted into some great blogging groups and PR firms, continuing my cycle of more money. It's true that my most viral pin was shot on an iPhone, and I even started making about $500/mo with only an iPhone camera, but if you want to be taken seriously and make more than entry level income for each paid blog post (and Instagram post!) you publish, invest in a DSLR, learn how to use it and best of all, write it off on your taxes as a business expense. It's worth it's weight in gold, and I wish I'd have had it sooner. Blogging is 50% images, 50% writing, but social media is far more image-focused, and to promote yourself you'll need those high res shots.

Being organized is essential for any business owner, and if you're trying to make a go at blogging for a living, it's no different. You have to be on top of your content. You need an editorial calendar so you're not posting the same posts consistently and can create a great content mix for your readers. These supplies got me organized so that I started to make great money as a blogger. Used consistently, they can help you too.

Monday, September 11, 2017

How Do You Know When You're Done Having Babies?

The family planning struggle of determining when you're done having more children

After we had Otto, we agreed to wait a full year before we even remotely discussed having more kids. We had two babies under two, and I knew that first year would just be about surviving. When that deadline approached, it just so happened that one of my dearest friends got engaged, and asked me to be in her wedding. I looked at my husband, and said, "No baby talk until after the wedding!" to which I think he was relieved. Her wedding is this coming weekend, and as far as I know, there's no more need to delay the conversation. What I'm stuck on is how do you know when you're done having babies? I honestly don't know how I feel about adding a third child to the mix.

I think about having a newborn again and shudder. Some moms love that phase, but I don't. I don't enjoy how needy they are, and waking up every few hours. They don't look at you and know that you're mommy, they just scream out in needs they can't communicate. It's easy when you only have one because you can rest when they rest, but now that I have two other toddlers, it will just be a sleep deprived nightmare! However... that's a relatively short period of time. I really start to enjoy the baby by about 6 months, when they can coo and laugh and sit up and play.

I look at how close Henry and Otto are and I have mixed feelings. Three is a crowd, as they say - will they welcome in another little person to their play group or will they pick on him and make him the odd one out? They're such friendly and loving kids, I have a hard time believing that they wouldn't welcome another playmate into their bond, but you never know. If I have a third boy, will he be able to keep up with brothers who are only 19 months apart while he's the youngest by almost three years? Don't even get me started on the people who tell me to have another baby to "try for a girl." You get what you get and just hope that everyone comes out healthy.

Think these two look friendly enough to add a third into their baby-thug-club? 
I think about my age. I'll be 33 next month. I had Otto when I was 31. It feels weird to be so young and to already be "done" having kids! I have a lot of fertile years left, right? It's 2017, I could get pregnant all the way until 40! Done at 31, what?! And only two kids... I had always envisioned myself with three. But that was before I had any children at all, and was oblivious to how much work they are.

Right as I decide, YES, I'm ready and want another baby, I think about something stupid like baby weight. Ughhhhh, it was so hard for me to lose the baby weight, and get my abs back. It's stupid to think about something so vain, but it is a thought that runs through my head. And then there's breastfeeding. Another ughhhh. Some women make a billion ounces of milk, but not me. It's a struggle to keep up. I have to go out of my way to eat when I'm not even hungry and constantly have a bottle of water at my side. I wouldn't go so far as to say I hate breastfeeding, but I definitely don't love it. And I may have danced a little jig the last time I BF'ed both Henry and Otto. Freedom!!

And every time I decide, NOPE, we're done having kids, I get a nagging feeling like our family isn't complete yet. We have enough money, we have a big enough house, we have enough love to add a third, so why wouldn't we? When I packed away Otto's baby clothes, I honestly didn't cry because I thought, "Meh, I'll be seeing these again!" But now I'm not so sure. My fear is if we do decide that we're done having babies, I'm going to wake up when I'm 38, 39, 40 and have huge regrets that we only had two kids. You know, right at the cusp of realistically not having the ability to get pregnant easily again, but with a 10 year age gap between our oldest and the desired baby. And my husband would be almost 50. I guarantee you he'd NOT want to start over at that age! He'd be 70, paying college tuition. Ha, no thanks.

That's where I'm at. It's like I'm at war with myself, changing my mind every other day on having another baby. On the one had, "starting over" with an infant seems DAUNTING. The sleepless nights, the postpartum hormones, breastfeeding - all of it, ughhhhhhh. Then on the other hand, being done so young with the ability to have more seems strange, and not quite right. Having a small family seems strange. It kind of seems like someone is missing from the family, but the thought of an infant is terrifying to me. It's just become easy with the two boys I have, and a baby would erase all that ease. I wish I could birth a 6 month old and just skip the newborn stage. That'd be the answer to my dilemma. Alas, science doesn't work that way. So I ask you, how do you know when you're done having babies? Help me. Please.