An Uncomplicated Life Blog: December 2017

Friday, December 29, 2017

Surviving Cold And Flu Season As A Mom

Moms don't get sick days. Here are some tips to surviving cold and flu season when you barely have time to take care of yourself!

Here we are at the end of December. The holidays are coming to a close. Soon we'll be in the thick of winter and all the colds and flu that come with it. As a parent of two kids age three and under, I can tell you with absolute certainty that there are NO sick days for me! If I start to not feel well, I still have to care for two little ones who depend on my for almost every need they have. It doesn't matter if I have a fever, a runny nose or even worse - a stomach bug. The kids still need to be clothed, fed and generally kept alive throughout the day. Here are my best tips on surviving cold and flu season as a mom!

1) Plan low-key activities 
I've said it a million times here (ok, not a million since I don't even have a million blog posts, but you get me) that I'm decidedly anti-screen time. Our TV isn't on until 5:30pm for the evening news that I barely get to catch the headlines from and the kids get 30 minutes of a movie or children's show before bed so they start to wind down. But when I'm sick, I forgo that rule! Sometimes I just need to lie low on the couch, and if a movie will keep them entertained for an hour (they never sit longer than that!) then I'm all for it. Bend any rules you have so that you can take care of yourself! One extra movie won't hurt your children.

2) Stock up on the best tissue
We have Kleenex stations ALL over our house, all winter long! There's a box in every bedroom, bathroom, in our eat in kitchen, in our playroom, next to the TV... You get my point. If you sneeze and need immediate tissue to remedy your snot situation, you don't want to go searching for the nearest box - you need it right next to you! This also works for constant runny noses of my kids... Every now and then I'll look at them and immediately need a Kleenex so they don't eat their own snot (sounds disgusting, but every parent knows this is a reality!) I love the lotion filled tissues because they're extra soft, and they now have antiviral tissues that kill 99.9% of cold and flu viruses in the tissue itself. Genius! FYI you can get your tissue for an amazing price here and get free two day shipping to boot.

Stocking up on Kleenex!
3) Take Epsom salt bath
It's amazing what the steam can do for a stuffy nose, it's amazing what the salts can do for achy muscles and sore joints, and a bath gives you just a little time to focus solely on YOU and your well being. Do it during nap time, while the kids are at school or after they've gone to bed. Even a quick 15 minute soak has so many health benefits, both physical and mental. Remember to bring in a box of Kleenex though, because that steam will break up your congestion and you'll want to be ready for it!

Cold and flu season is never fun. Cold and flu season as a mom is even less fun because there's so little (or, ahem, ZERO) time to care for yourself. If you get sick this season (ok, I was trying to be optimistic but the reality is when you get sick, not if) make sure you take it as easy as you can. Bend your traditional rules if you have to. Stock up on Kleenex. Take a salts bath. And survive cold and flu season the best you can as a mom!

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Beating The Winter Chill While Staying In Budget

Looking stylish, keeping warm and staying in budget don't have to be mutually exclusive concepts

We're friends, right? Then I'm going to take a minute and keep it 100 with you: Since quitting my 9-5 three (almost four!) years ago to start this blog and work from home, my personal style has... devolved. It's more important to me to be comfy and warm (or cool, depending on the season) than it is to look professional with my hair curled and in a full face of makeup. I keep my makeup routine to concealer, mascara and lipstick. And I've traded in my pencil skirts and high heels for comfy pants, yoga pants and flip flops. It's just the reality of working from home! Also the reality of having young kids at home - they'll spill things as much on me as they will themselves so future moms, #dontbuywhite. That doesn't mean I want to look frumpy though! I've found a great brand that has a fantastic price point and is so cozy, I'll be in it all winter long!

Now, it's true that it's summer nine months out of the year here. But y'all, when it gets cold, it gets COLD. And December, January and February are frigid here in north Texas. I know all my Minnesota friends/readers are laughing at that statement, but it's true! I'm currently tucked under a blanket as I write this and it's a whopping 36 degrees out. It might be a short season, but we do get winter here!

I'm a big fan of turning the heat way down at night so that we all don't wake up with dry mouths and eyes from the forced air heat. Y'all know what I'm talking about? Forced air heat is SO drying! So I turn the heat down to 67 and pile extra blankets on the kids. For me, I'm in love with these ClimateRight sleepwear separates.

Let me keep it 100 with you for the second time in this post: I saw the brand describe the fabric as velour, and I can't STAND the feeling of velour! I was nervous to even touch the jammies in store in fact. But I got my act together and grabbed a shirt, and was pleasantly surprised! It's far softer and cozier than traditional velour. The sleeves are reglan and so soft. The pants have an elastic waist (can I get an amen for that!) and HAVE POCKETS. Pockets! Y'all, I picked out my wedding dress because it had pockets. Jammie pants with pockets = magic. If you're tall and slender like me, you'll be pleasantly surprised with how long the inseam of the pants are. I sized up to a medium and they fit great!

I know we've all seen all the bloggers in their cutesy jammies all over Instagram. I can tell you right now most spent a small fortune on those things and they wore them for the photo shoot, then took them off. ClimateRight is totally affordable even for tight budgets at Walmart or on (with free two day shipping!) and you'll actually want to wear these. They're so soft, so cozy for the winter and I'll say it one more time: Pockets. 

Monday, December 18, 2017

Happy Birthday Otto!

Happy Second Birthday Otto!

Today is my youngest's birthday. It feels like I was pregnant and gave birth 10 or more years ago! That first year of his life really dragged on... Having two under two was no joke. The second year - this past one - has gotten SO much easier! Otto and Henry play together well and when Henry is out of Otto's eye sight, he'll pitter patter around the house calling out, "En'reee! En'reee!" which is his best attempt at pronouncing Henry. Cheers to Otto, who's now two years old.

Smirking Otto
He eats everything put in front of him with gusto. Usually, he uses both hands to shovel it in there faster! He'll finish his plate and usually have seconds, then finish what his picky eater brother did eat. I kid you not, this two year old eats more calories in a day than I do! It's always a pleasure to cook for him because he loves all food, even kale.

Eatin' Otto
Otto is a talker. He usually talks from the moment he wakes up to the second he goes to sleep. He even hummmms when he eats. I like to think it's because he enjoys eating so much but maybe it's because he's like his daddy and seriously never shuts up.

Lil 8 month old baby Otto
He's well over 30 pounds and is in the 99% for height. Everyone who sees him assumes he's 3. He also has long limbs, which cracks me up because when I was pregnant with him, my OB told me that he was measuring short and stubby... Nothing about this kid is short and stubby! (There's also nothing in our gene pool that's short and stubby so goes to show you how accurate ultrasounds are.)

Handsome 2 year old Otto
His favorite thing to do (besides eat) is race cars with his brother, build train sets, swing in our backyard and steal his brother's bike. He's also a big fan of taking crayons to our walls, which adds a nice artistic touch to our home. He's been a great sleeper since he was born. I can count on him to take a 2-3 hour nap and sleep from 7pm to 7:30am. Oh, thank God for good sleepers! Now if only he could teach his brother his amazing sleeping ways...

Oh Otto, you're full of so much personality. You make me laugh every single day. Happy Birthday, sweet boy.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

2017 In Review

Looking back at the wins and loses of 2017 for An Uncomplicated Life Blog

I see so many people saying they can't wait to see whatever the current year is in the rear view mirror. Facebook is full of those memes. Know the ones I'm talking about? I don't get those. Frankly, nothing is going to be different about the next year unless you make different choices, and why wait for a whole new year for that to happen? I can only think of one year that was really awful that I'd post a meme like that for... 10 years ago - 2007. And guess what? It stayed awful through August of 2008 when I made a different life choice (moved to the east coast for grad school) and magically got so much happier! Look at me, I'm being a negative Nancy in my intro paragraph to this post. 2017 was a great year for me and for my blog. Let's look back at how the year went down, shall we?


I chose JOY as my word of the year for 2017. I think there was definitely a ton of JOY! Otto got older and outgrew his RSV. From 4 months old to about 14 months old, he was sick every third week or so because of that virus. Fortunately he outgrew it or the virus ran it's course by about the time he started preschool in January. That was another thing that brought everyone joy - preschool! I got time during the week to work. While we have a wonderful part time nanny, there's something different about having the house all to yourself. It's so much easier to take photos and write in a quiet house! Both boys LOVE going to school. Henry has learned how to spell his name and the alphabet and Otto's vocabulary has exploded since starting school.

My blog brought me a ton of joy, too. I was able to work on some really exciting projects with brands I actually care about. I didn't do any pitching and still managed to reach the former income per month I was making while in the traditional 9-5 workforce in October and November. December I purposely slowed things down, because I take a two week break. Seeing this blog grow in page views and on social media has brought a ton of joy to me!

Personally, I started reading more which was joyous. Cutting down on screen time, whether it's social media or TV watching, has been awesome! Instead of watching dumb reality TV that robs my IQ points, I've begun reading at night. My sleep and brain have improved because of it.

Finally, 2017 saw my biggest travel year since having kids. I went to Richmond, VA twice to visit a bestie in a snow storm, then be a bridesmaid in her wedding. Hubs and I escaped off to Santa Fe for a wonderful long weekend getaway for his 40th birthday. I went to Wanderlust in Snowshoe, WV which was not only amazing, it crossed off another state I hadn't visited yet, leaving only two left on my list (Arizona and Oregon, if you're wondering). We took our annual family trip to my parents lake home in Wisconsin to escape the Texas heat in August. Hubs and I took a long weekend to Boston and then up to Salem for my birthday in October where we did all things Halloween. I may have forgotten one, but phew! That's pretty amazing for having two kids aged three and under.

Me at Wanderlust in Snowshoe, WV in June. Flying Pigeon post on the side of a mountain!


The thing that blew my mind about my blog this year was my recognition from brands as being an awesome FOOD blogger. In every other year, I made the most money from "mom blog" type posts, but this year it was neck and neck for "mom blogging" and food blogging/recipe creation. Let me tell you something guys: Food photography is SO challenging. It's like the photograph just instantly makes your food look horrible! I give serious props to all the constant food bloggers out there, because filming it as you go makes the recipe take 3X as long and then styling the food at the end is absolutely infuriating. It's far easier to capture a great photo of my squiggly toddlers than it is to make a dish look as good in a photo as it does in person.

Grilled Chicken Marinade
Zesty Summer Hummus
Pasta salad
Halloween cookie sandwiches
Tart cherry, pistachio and dark chocolate biscotti
Easy holiday party appetizer
Roasted root veggie pasta
Thanksgiving Appetizer
This is just a small handful of the recipes posted here! Follow along for all the great, hwhole foods and healthy based recipes I post

Social media grew, with the exception of Twitter, which remained stagnant. Anyone else kinda over Twitter? In 2014 and 2015 I participated in all kinds of Twitter chats and loved it and since then, Twitter just seems like the thing you schedule ahead because one "should" have a presence there. Pinterest saw a 25% growth which was super cool because I did nothing to intentionally expand it. Facebook grew quite a bit too, but more importantly than more followers, my organic reach exploded! It's so nice to not have to pay to boost posts. And Instagram... Oh, Insta. Stories became "the thing" this year and sooooooo many people tell me my stories are hilarious. I really enjoy making them, too. But Instagram as a whole is my least favorite platform. I could be on it literally all day, it's so much work. I stopped doing things to intentionally expand it - in part because the algorithm nullified most marketing strategies - and lost about 2500 followers this year. Oh well. I'm excited to see what 2018 brings for Instagram because SO MANY PEOPLE are over it. They're over likeittoknowit and over "swiping up" to buy from affiliate links so I'm looking forward to see how Instagram morphs to adapt to new attitudes.

DIYs with essential oils continue to be a favorite
Along with the good comes the bad, right? In June, Young Living came crashing down on me for some oils posts I had. All of these posts were my most popular, and my most repinned pins. Basically, they carried my page views! Subsequently I took all mention of Young Living off my blog, removed their brand from those posts and re-photographed them. But I had to take the posts down while I was doing all that, and my page views TANKED over the summer. They were cut by 66% level tank! Oh, that was rough. However, I did a Facebook live about my feelings on it, and got about 300 new followers from that video, so that was a silver lining.

Most popular posts of 2017:
How Blogging Is Like A High School Lunchroom
Spring Breeze Room Spray
Fall Room Spray (y'all like the room sprays, huh?!)
Thanksgiving Appetizer
Bath Salts Ornament

It looks like y'all like recipes, DIYs with essential oils and my op-ed pieces. Which is perfect, because those are my favorite things to blog about! I'm pretty pumped for 2018, which will be my 4th year blogging. There's already some super exciting personal things developing which I can't wait to share, and I'm exciting to see where this blog goes.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Currently December 2017 Edition

What I'm thinking, feeling and doing in the month of December

You don't have to tell me; I already know. There was a ton of sponsored content on here and it was all grouped together. Like bam bam bam, I'm just shooting sponsored work at you. As hard as I tried to craft a well rounded editorial calendar that brought you a ton of create, diverse content, it was like every deadline I was on got changed last minute and brands held content for draft approval longer than anticipated. Such is the life of a blogger just trying to get those bills paid, know what I mean? So let's take today and just catch up, currently style. Here's what I'm thinking, feeling and doing this December. Some links may be affiliate. Currently, I'm:

Reading: Anything by Liane Moriarty. Big Little Lies and Truly Madly Guilty were fantastic reads, and I just ordered The Husband's Secret off Amazon. It was a personal goal to get back into reading this year, and I'm proud to say I accomplished it! Prior to 2017, I think I read a half a book a year. This year I've polished off six! Which is still peanuts to the average reader, but a huge leap for me and impressive given my time constraints with kids, working part time and a traveling husband.

Used this pic for our annual Christmas card, because even though it's "fall" and not "Christmas" it was my favorite pic I took all year!

Watching: Not much! It's like it's dead season for good tv, no? I'll be reading until all my fave shows come back this spring (Handmaid's Tale comes back in April, and tons come back this summer!) with the exception of the Olympics. I'll probably watch those.

Eating: Everything. My weight it five pounds out of the heaviest end of my normal range and I need to pull it together! I'm eating lunch out a ton - almost every day during the week. That's a problem. But I look at it like it's my break in the day since my hubby is traveling so much this month and I'm on the clock with them all night long... Ah, excuses. Pull it together Paige. If only tacos weren't so damn good.

Consumed too many of these over the holidays. Oops.

Loving: Several things! 1) Practicing yoga 4-5 times a week 2) Carly Jean Los Angles for comfy but cute clothes (y'all I've ACTUALLY been shopping recently! Who even am I?! FYI, their shipping takes foreverrrrrr) 3) Cutting out all wine during the week - I'm sleeping SO much better, and my complexion looks better too. Not as poofy. I'm even considering cutting out all alcohol, even on the weekends... Is this what life looks like in your 30's? Alcohol is just no longer fun and worth it? Man, aging is a literal buzzkill. 

Hating: I'll tell you what, the latest iPhone update is for the birds. Drains your batteries like crazy, makes my phone get super hot, and apps just randomly shut down regularly. C'mon Apple, Steve Jobs is rolling over in his grave with this crap!

Looking forward to: It goes without saying, but Christmas. Halloween is still my favorite holiday by a long shot, but seeing the looks on my kids' faces during Christmas - whether it's driving my Christmas lights or looking at our own tree or meeting Santa - is just precious and priceless.

Dreading: The January gym rush. UGHHHHHHHHHH!!! Why do people sign up for a gym, tell themselves that "this is their year" to get into shape, go for a month then ghost out? Drives us regulars nuts. I'm bracing myself for this tomfoolery now. If you follow me on Instagram Stories, you also know I'm dreading putting together Otto's birthday present - this guy. It's going to be so fun when it's done though!

This guy turns two on December 18!

Blogging: Looking forward to my annual blog break the last two weeks in December! I'm figuring out dates now, but blogging slows way down for the holidays and I'm in need of some time off after how busy this fall was. A lot of other blogging gals I talk to feel the same way. I'll still be around on social media - just no posts planned for two weeks, exact dates TBD. I'll let y'all know though, and I'll be back for sure the first week of the new year.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Dear Fellow Boymom, Yes, I Judged You

Thoughts on a baseball team's "night out" at a restaurant in East Dallas

It was a random Wednesday night when I looked at my husband and said, "You know what? I could really go for a burger!" There's a great greasy spoon type place really close to us, and even more conveniently it's super kid friendly. They have a massive, all enclosed patio that has a kids play area to boot. It was still warm enough to sit on the patio, even though it was a late November evening (thanks for the great weather, Texas) so we packed up the kids and headed over. You know, at the late night dining hour of 5pm.

Because, that's what happens when you have kids. You eat well before dark. Le sigh.

We weren't the only parents with this idea, as it would turn out. When we arrived, there were two families with a combined total of six kids. They pulled a bunch of tables together, and told us that their baseball team was all coming for their end of the year party. "Doesn't bother us!" we said. "We've got two boys too."

The two sets of parents proceeded to go inside to order (even though there are servers on the patio). They left their kids outside to play. These kids - 5 boys around 5-7 and one girl who looked to be 2 or 3 years old - began to get WILD. Running on tops of tables wild. Climbing the fence that enclosed the patio and jumping off it wild. Taking condiments and dumping them on the ground wild. My jaw dropped and I looked for the parents, but they were busy talking at the bar inside the restaurant. Their kids got so wild, my kids were too scared to play in the play area, and sat at the table with me.

Soon, other families showed up, all with similar aged kids. And things took a turn for the worse.

All the parents were at the large table the initial family had created, and groups of boys sat at various tables around the patio. All of the dads sat on one end of the table, and the moms sat together at the other. The dads cut up burgers and hot dogs for their boys, deposited the cut up food in front of their son, and checked the hell out, as if that was their sole duty of the evening. The moms chatted and drank wine and occasionally yelled at a kid, or told him to calm down.

Meanwhile, the boys... Were completely out of control. The group of seven year olds closest to us decided to start a food fight. A FOOD FIGHT. In a restaurant. I gave the instigator of said food fight a death stare (and if you've seen Otto on Instagram, you know death stares run hard in this family). Then I stared down the adult table, trying to catch someone's eye. A mom looked at me, I motioned over to the food fight table, and she promptly looked away.

Otto death stares so hard. He got it from his mama.

Look, I get being a boy mom is exhausting. They have so much energy, they never sit down. You're constantly playing referee and trying to keep them from doing stunts that would result in their death. But fellow boymoms at that restaurant that night in late November, I judged you. Hard. Just because you're eating outside doesn't mean your kids can have a food fight. Just because you're friends with the other parents on the baseball team doesn't mean you can walk away and spend time at the bar, leaving all the kids unattended. It doesn't mean you can sit with all the adults, and think that someone else will correct your child, or that since there's so many of them and it's an end of the year party, it's ok "just this once" for bad behavior.

I don't care what you do in your own home or how you parent. But when you're in public, at a restaurant with other people eating in it too, you need to step it up girlfriend. Nobody should be jumping off of high fences. Nobody should be playing with condiments like it's a water gun. And a food fight? Are you kidding me?!

Dear fellow boymom, yes I judged you. I was horrified at your kids' behavior and your lack of intervention. My kids don't act like that on their WORST days. That's not to say that they're better kids than yours or I'm a better mom. It's to say when things start to get crazy, no matter how tired I am or how crappy the situation is, I correct that kind of behavior. And if it doesn't get corrected, we leave.

As I was signing the check, preparing to leave, I said to the server, "I hope they leave you an amazing tip!" She looked at me like she wanted to pull her hair out and replied, "No matter what they tip, the lack of tips from the other tables for these wild animals won't make up for it."

Monday, December 4, 2017

Letting Your Toddler Be Little

In an age when kids take admittance tests for preschool and face the pressure of standardized testing, I'm letting my toddlers be little

This post is sponsored by Comforts™ Brand on behalf of Kroger. All opinions are my own.

The other day, I was at my favorite barre class. I went to the 9:30am one, the class I affectionately call "the stay at home mom hour" because all of us are either SAHMs or work at home moms (WAHMs) and have the flexibility to go mid-morning. Anyway, I was getting on my shoes after class and overheard a conversation between two women who had also just taken the class. One was asking about a STEM program-based preschool for her three year old daughter. She was concerned her daughter wasn't being challenged enough at a regular preschool, and wanted STEM (science, technology, engineering and math, for those who don't know) based curriculum so that she would be challenged. In preschool. Now I don't know what school this child goes to or if she is indeed gifted, and I happen to personally really like the mother, but it got me thinking: Why don't we let toddlers just be toddlers?! What happened to allowing our toddlers to be little?

I remember when I was little, all I did was play with my sister. We didn't have cable at my mom's house and were only at my dad's every so often, so we played with dolls, Barbies, made up games, played with our pets, played outside (even in the cold Minnesota winters - sledding and ice skating were our favorites!). We weren't attached to screens doing "learning apps" and we weren't forced to do homework at an early age. Our learning came from play.

Fast forward nearly three decades, and the biggest comment I get on my Instagram photos is, "Your kids are always outside playing! You're always being active with your kids!" And it's true. Henry is only allowed limited time on his iPad on the weekends, the boys only get a half hour (max) of TV a day, and we are always busy playing - usually outside! I structure our days like this because I'm letting my toddler be little. I'm letting them play, and run, and get dirty. I chose their preschool because they believe in play, too. There's no flashcards, the rooms are full of toys, they don't expect three year olds to sit and learn math.

Otto is BIG on playing, constantly! This kid doesn't sit still. One minute he's racing cars with his brother, the next he's dangling from the side of his crib, attempting to reach a toy. Outside, he's helping me water plants, then he's picking up bugs. At 22 months, he's still in diapers, and we're big fans of Comforts™ Brand, available at Kroger stores. They feature Total Fit, which means they'll move with Otto's every twist and turn. They have a wetness indicator so I know when to change him (he see's it now too and tells me when he's wet - first sign of potty training perhaps?!) and they come in fun colors and patterns. The wipes are stationed throughout our house, and work on runny noses, dirty bums or hands that just squeezed a worm. Check them out on Facebook here and grab a coupons for all Comfort for Baby products here.

Look, we all parent differently and we all at least try to do what's best for our kids. For me, that's letting my toddler be little and promoting active play! I'm not going to push spelling or the arts or joining a soccer league this early on in either of my children's development. I want them to be little, enjoy childhood,  and shake and run and wiggle! Comforts™ diapers enable Otto to do that, minus any leaks or blow outs. Let's let our kids and toddlers be kids and toddlers, and let them play freely.