An Uncomplicated Life Blog: November 2015

Monday, November 30, 2015

Winter Maternity Style

Cute maternity fashion and style ideas for winter pregnancies

Ahh, winter season is upon us. And I'm STILL pregnant. And oddly, I know so many others who are expecting as well! They say that you notice things more when it happens to you, so it would make sense that I'd notice other pregnant women more, but I'll be danged if it doesn't seem like every blogger and a good chunk of my friends are expecting and due between Feb-May of next year. So ladies, this post is for you! A cute maternity look you can rock all winter long.

Winter maternity style. How to look cute pregnant this winter by layering fabrics to stay warm and fashionable in maternity clothes

We don't really get "winter" here in Dallas. We usually get one ice or snow(ish) storm a year and maybe two weeks of weather where the high's are in the 30 degree range. Other than that, it's how my Minnesota self would define "fall" weather. After putting in the better part of a quarter century in the most miserably cold place in the world (besides Canada), winters in Texas are absolutely amazeballs.

Sperry duck boots are perfect for Southern winters - keep your feet dry and warm!

You know what we do get, though? Rain. Lots of it. So these Sperry duck boots are great because unlike Hunter boots they're lightly lined to keep your toes warm in the cold, but just like Hunter boots the bottom is all rubber so you'll stay good and dry!

How to layer fabrics for winter maternity fashion and style

Another winter phenomenon here is rapidly changing temperatures. In the morning it can easily be in the 30's, so a down vest is perfect for warmth! But by 11am, it could already have climbed into the 50's, so a long sleeved shirt with an infinity scarf is what you need. Sometimes it will even be 70, so I'd ditch the scarf in that case, too!

Layers keep you the perfect temerature all winter long. Long sleeved tee shirt, down vest, wool infinity scarf

Basically, winter fashion in the South is all about layering and being prepared for rain. The mornings require a good amount of warmth, while the afternoons could even be "balmy"! This winter maternity look is perfect for that level of unpredictability with jeans, long sleeved tee shirt, a down vest, duck boots and a scarf. Put it all on in the morning and take most of it off before lunch - or not!

Layers for winter maternity fashion and style

Want to shop this post? Check it out:

Maternity style can be hard, especially during the winter months when you can't wear a maxi or a skirt! These items fit well and hold their shape, are layer-able for ever changing weather and look great whether you're a part of this baby boom or not!

Friday, November 27, 2015

Anti-Black Friday & Saving For Your Child's Future Instead

I was going to take the day and hide from America's display of ultimate consumerism, but Voya reached out to me to ask if I, as a former financial advisor, would talk about children and savings. The irony of my ability to post about this insanely important topic on such a huge spending day wasn't lost on me, so I jumped at the opportunity! While I won't sit here on some high horse and tell you to skip Black Friday all together, I will tell you why saving for your child's future is important!

Hubs and I might be what you call a financial "power couple." We both have our securities licenses, therefore passing the "bar exam" of the financial services industry, and since hubs is still employed in this area, he has his insurance licenses in all 50 states. We don't carry debt outside of the mortgage we have on our two homes. Hubs might have more licenses, but I had nearly a perfect credit score by the age of 25. I remember buying a car when I relocated back to Minneapolis for a job, and the salesman looked at me in awe and said, "I've never seen someone so young have a score that great before. That car is all yours!"

Am I bragging there? I sure am. Absolutely. Because being financially responsible IS something to brag about. It's rare. And the education and discipline it takes begins with teaching your children how to manage money and save. You as the parent need to lead by example.

Not everyone has hundreds of dollars to pump away into a savings account for their child, and the good news is THAT'S OK! You don't need that much money (but if you have it, I recommend saving it over spending it...) Can you start with small increments? Absolutely! The key to building a great savings account is actually starting it, and contributing to it regularly. Even if it's just $20 per paycheck, putting that away will add up over time. And odds are, you won't miss that $20, but your child will benefit from 18 years of you putting that away every week!

Ok, so we know that starting the savings process is key. We know that the amount being saved is less important that the consistency of adding it to a savings account. But what else can be done to build a great financial future for your child(ren)?

Ask your friends and families to make contributions to that (or other) savings accounts as gifts to your kids instead of spending money on toys and games! Last year for Christmas, we had both our folks make financial contributions to Henry's account instead of asking more toys he doesn't need, and frankly - he doesn't even want. Now both sets of grandparents contribute to that account and simply mail him a book or small care package over dropping tons of cash on toys that will be worthless and meaningless to Henry in a matter of months or years.

We aren't alone in that strategy, and if you implement it, you won't be either! Did you know that over 33% of parents reported in a Google Consumer Survey that they would prefer monetary gifts for their child over anything else? Consider that the next time you go to a child's birthday party!

And check this amazing opportunity out: If your child was born on Oct. 19, 2015, all you need to do is go to Voya and enroll your child for a $500 mutual fund. They're giving all babies born on that day a jump start in their savings by just giving away the money! Now I'm not sure why they didn't pick Oct. 16 (my birthday) since it's an awesome day, but I'll never shun a financial institution for helping families get more financially secure, so I'll deal with them selecting the 19th at random. Registration is open until Dec 18, 2015, so hurry and get it done!

Look, if you've already enjoyed a good spending splurge on your Black Friday, don't feel bad. Spending sparks the economy and that's important! Just don't forget to save for your child's future, too. Voya makes it easy for you, and they're also giving away $500 in mutual funds to all babies born on Oct. 19 of this year, so be sure to enroll or pass that info along to anyone who has a child born on that day. You're responsible for teaching your child good financial habits, and that starts with modeling great financial responsibility and demonstrating the ability to save.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving! I hope you're either off work already, or sitting at a desk in your office reading this because you're the only one holding down the work fort, doing a little blog reading and online shopping until you can safely leave the office extra early. Yup, I've been that employee! In fact, I used to never take the day before Thanksgiving off because it was so awesome to be at the office. Can we say two hour lunch?!

Is this what the first Thanksgiving looked like? Doubtful, but its a pretty image regardless! Image source

My sister and her fiance are in town, we're baptizing Henry tomorrow at the Thanksgiving service, and then we'll cook up all the traditional Thanksgiving eats. I really only care about the stuffing/dressing. Y'all know the difference between the two? Stuffing is what's cooked inside the turkey; dressing is what's baked in it's own pan. Other than that, it's the same! I plan on eating nothing but stuffing and gravy, all day tomorrow. Hope Otto likes carbs, fat and salt, because it's coming to him in the biggest way!

Happy Thanksgiving, friends. May your day be full of friends and family, early morning parades, perfectly cooked turkey's and multiple flavors of pie. Enjoy your families and Black Friday, if that's your kinda thing. It's certainly not mine. But shop on, shoppers. Shop on.

Monday, November 23, 2015

9th Month Bumpdate

It's the LAST bumpdate! Holy cow. I'm technically one week away from the 9th month, but I never go to 40 weeks, and I got some information last week that confirmed we will be having this baby SOON {details below}! I'm so ready to get this little baby out. All the way up until about 34ish weeks I kept thinking to myself, "Oh no! I'm getting close and I'm not ready to be done yet - I want to stay pregnant!" And then sometime in my 34th week a light switch went off and I thought, "Yeah. Now. Now is good. I'm done."

All about the final month of pregnancy, and a look back at all nine months of the baby making process

Thankfully, my body is bizarrely connected with my mind, and "being done" will indeed be the case in the next week or two. Wait, what?! You read that right. Read on for the details!

Want to catch up on the previous months? Here's my pregnancy with Otto, month by month:
4th month
5th month
6th month
7th month
8th month

Mood: This isn't exactly a mood, but I have been insanely tired. I'm talking anemic-level tired, for those of you who have been anemic before. I go to bed at 9 and sleep until 6:30 and if I didn't have a toddler to chase after, I be taking a two hour nap at 1 or 2 in the afternoon, and I'd be resting/sitting on the couch immediately after dinner. As it would turn out, I have a toddler who makes that impossible. Better luck next time. Oh wait! Nope. Not how that works either. If you're on your first pregnancy, soak up all your ability to actually rest, 'cuz you ain't never gonna get that again!

Craving: It's officially official: Pregnancy cravings are a bunch of bunk. It's emotional/hormonal eating... So if you don't eat/crave weird things on your period or just generally in life, you won't while you're pregnant either. Nine months of two pregnancies and not one single craving. Oh well!

Weight &Workouts: The workouts slowed to just 3-4 a week - see below in updates for why! Walking causes MAJOR, timable contractions and yoga and barre put MAJOR pressure on my cervix. So at the 34 week mark, I toned all the workouts way, way down just so I'd make it to 36 weeks! At 35 weeks, I'm up just shy of 20 pounds. That's a huge jump from last month but I got reprimanded from my OB about it, so I went on an eating mission to find extra weight. And I was successful, my friends. All in all, looks like I'll be up 22-23 pounds with this babe. I'm quite pleased with that!

Updates: I had my last growth scan at 34 weeks. Otto has a massive head (so does Henry - tall and brainy, just like their mama!) but his abdomen was sizing small. There were already calcium deposits growing on my placenta, which means that's it's aging. My doctor looked at that and said we'd likely be inducing at 36 or 37 weeks! (No definitive date yet because I'm seeing a specialist to confirm dates this week, after this post publishes.) He was still thriving, but she doesn't want him to get to the point where he isn't, so an early induction for me it is... That is, IF I don't go into labor on my own. I was also 1.5cm dilated, 60% effaced and his head is fully engaged in the birth canal (LAWD HAVE MERCY, have I been feeling that pressure, too!) so I might just go on my own. I'm contracting regularly, and it really picks up steam after I workout. And thus, why I slowed the workouts down.

  • I think this baby will come sometime in his 36th week (that's NEXT WEEK, just FYI), just like Henry did (H was 36 weeks, 4 days). I have a OB appt on Dec 7, and I'm not convinced I'll make it to that - I think it will happen before, just based on pressure and the strength of contractions I'm already having. 
  • I think he'll weigh just about what Henry did (H was 5 pounds, 12oz - not shabby for a 36 weeker!) because at my 34 week scan he was sizing about 4.5 pounds. 
  • But unlike Henry, I think Otto will come out with a head full of dark hair, just like his daddy! I had HORRIFIC heartburn with Henry - I'm talking vomiting your stomach acid multiple times a day, every single day level heartburn - and I've had all of about 10 Tums with Otto. So I think he'll be my dark boy, simply because he's the opposite of my blond boy. 
We'll see if any of my predictions are right! I'm ready to meet this little guy. And for some Christmas cocktails. That's a wrap on 9 months of bumpdates! Watch for the flood of newborn baby pics on social media in the next week or two. Ahhhhh!!

Friday, November 20, 2015

When Bloggers Give Bad Advice

Honesty moment: I'm terrified to write this post. I do not mean to offend any of my fellow bloggers, or upset them, or berate them in any way. But there's a current trend in blogging that bloggers are using to get higher traffic (no shame there, we all want higher traffic!) and more pins on Pinterest and it's to the detriment of blog READERS: Tips posts, how-to's, and advice columns. I'm reading so many of these that are genuinely bad, bad advice and I need to call attention to it.

Tips, how-to's and advice posts are EVERYWHERE, and bloggers have jumped on the trend to increase page views. But what if what they have to say is bad advice, outright wrong, or worse yet - illegal?

Before I jump in, I want to clarify that I'm not perfect. I make mistakes. I don't live some dream life where I have everything figured out. I think I've even written one or two tips posts myself, although honestly that's it because I despise them. I'm much more into story telling, and telling my own truth, and if you relate to that then lets hang out and talk and be friends! And if not, move on to another blog post, it's all good.

That said... Tips and "how-to" posts. Oh bloggers. Please stop. Please? We know people have PhD's in "google" now and head there first for information. You write these posts because it up's your search rank and people pin the heck out of "How to Improve Your Marriage in 8 Simple Steps." That increases your page views and makes you feel more successful, and perhaps even lands you a few more lucrative sponsored posts. But the reality is, you're not a therapist. You're not a counselor. You're not a Pastor/Priest/Rabbi/etc. and odds are very good that you're still in your 20's and trying to figure out the direction of your own life. Bottom line: You're in no position to write these kinds of posts.

I'm not talking about the tips posts on how to get the perfect holiday pout, or 6 new ways to have fun during girls night out, nor even "how to blog" posts where bloggers share how they've achieved results in something. Those posts are harmless, fun to read and can even boost your own blog with someone else's knowledge! I'm talking about the stuff that can really impact someone's life.

Like the breastfeeding post I read (I was interested in some tips as someone who is about to start breastfeeding again) that belittled formula and mom's who used it and could be summed up as one judgmental rant against moms who "bailed out" of breastfeeding, for whatever reason, and how *that blogger* deserved praise because she just stuck it out. Literally, her advice was "it's so hard but so worth it." Well, thanks for nothing but judging people, blogger. You really contributed to the tips for breastfeeding success club. I'm so much wiser because of your words. Cough *sarcasm* cough.

Or the post I read providing educational tips for youngsters that ended up being a sponsored post for a grammar/spellcheck company (no disclosures to tell that it was a sponsored post either, which you know is a huge no-no!) The bottom line of her advice? Just let the teachers handle education, then hire this company to proofread your child's college application essays and other important high school work. No. I'm not joking.

Those are easy to snicker at because they're clearly bad advice. But some of it isn't so easy to decipher.

There are countless posts on marriage advice, how to interact more/better/deeper with your spouse, what to expect in the first year of marriage, how to best move in together, how to handle the birth of your first child... And on and on. Some of these are just plain BAD posts with BAD tips, and some are fine but guess what? Because it worked for you and your marriage doesn't mean it should be branded as "10 ways to have a more meaningful marriage." If it worked for you, that's great, but that doesn't mean that will work for anyone else, or that you're the marriage expert, or that you're now in the position to help others find meaning in their marriage. All it means is that it worked for you. That's it. You're not an overnight marriage counselor, and while I'd love to read your post as a story on how YOU found meaning in YOUR marriage, it's irresponsible to come across as some sort of expert who's in the position to dole out advice to people who are desperately searching google for legitimate help.

There, I said it. Those posts are irresponsible to write and put out in the public sphere of the internet.

Before you get too bent out of shape, I'm certainly NOT saying that you can't share with your readers your struggles and what has worked for you! Those posts make you relateable and likable as a person. Let me use my own work to illustrate the difference I'm talking about. I wrote this post on how I get my toddler to bed every night by 7pm. It's written as a narrative but outlines what I do each night that results in zero bedtime struggles. The title is how I get my toddler to bed every night by 7pm, not "8 tips for a better sleeping toddler", nor "3 steps to have your toddler sleeping every night." I have no idea if what works for me will work for you. One child doesn't make me a sleep expert, nor will two, nor 10 (NOT having ten kids, just saying!) I simply shared my story, and if you find some helpful hints in it, I certainly hope they work for you too!

Another example: This post on how I struggled with breastfeeding and incorporated formula, which resulted in everyone in the house getting more sleep and generally being happier. The title is happy baby, happy mama: my formula for happiness. Not, "How to get more sleep with an infant" nor " 5 tricks to get your baby to sleep through the night." Again, I don't know if it will work for you, I'm certainly no baby sleep expert! Not only that, it's actually illegal to recommend topping a breast fed baby's feeding off with formula so that they sleep longer. Yes, there are actual laws that govern advice columns (because so much of it on the web isn't from a legitimate source!) If you're throwing tips/advice out there for kids, mental health, adult health or even fitness, you'd better be aware of them. Which again, is why it's better to simply share YOUR story and what worked for you and leave the actual advice giving to the professionals.

Look bloggers, I get it. We all want more sponsorships and we want clicks and page views. You want it and I want it. But I'd really encourage you to think about the implications of your tips posts before you hit publish next time. You don't know who's reading your post, and odds are really good you're not actually an expert (and may even be giving bad or illegal advice!) in education, or marriage, or breastfeeding or a host of other topics. I'd love to see us leave the advice to the professionals and focus more on sharing our stories. Because at the end of the day, that's all we have. Our stories. Bloggers are simply people with stories to share, not experts with advice to give.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

A Christmas Cookie That Actually Tastes Good

Make the holiday calories worth it with this Christmas cookie recipe that tastes great!

I'm not a sweets person. And while I find Christmas cookies usually beautiful, I'm often left thinking this after I've indulged: "So that was really pretty but it didn't really taste that great and now my mouth is coated in butter and sugar and my hips have an extra 150 calories on them. Fan-friggin-tastic." My MIL sent me my husbands (who I should note does indeed have a sweet tooth!) favorite cookie recipe, so I decided, hey! What about if I turned it into a Christmas cookie so that we have some around the house that actually taste good?

Christmas cookies always look beautiful, but many don't taste as good as they look! This is a Christmas cookie recipe your whole family will love

Winner winner, Christmas cookie dinner! I turned these traditional "Monster Cookies" into Christmas cookies, and they're festively delicious.

Monster Christmas Cookies
- 4.5C quick oats
- 1C packed brown sugar
- 1C refined sugar
- 3 eggs
- 1/2C butter
- 1.5C smooth peanut butter
- 2T baking powder
- 1T vanilla extract
- 1/2t salt (cut this down to 1/4 teaspoon if your peanut butter is already salted - mine wasn't)
- 1/2C chocolate chips
- 1/2C M&M candy pieces
- decorative sugar crystals, if desired

In a large mixing bowl, blend together the peanut butter, eggs and butter. Add in the refined and brown sugar, baking powder and salt and beat well. If you have a Kitchen Aid, this will be easy for you! I didn't so I used good old fashioned elbow grease and worked up a sweat mixing it. Fold in the chocolate chips and candy pieces. Try not to eat all the dough.

Mmmm, cookie dough!
Take about two tablespoons of dough and roll into balls in your hand. Place on a nonstick cookie sheet. These cookies don't spread, so you can load them up on the sheet! Then use the flat bottom of a glass to smush the cookies out to your desired thickness. A thicker cookie will be chewier; a thinner one crispier. Sprinkle with decorative sugar crystals and bake for about 12 minutes (give or take, depending on humidity and elevation. Check cookies at the 9 minute mark to see how they're progressing and how much more time they'll need!)

Once they're just firm to touch and golden on the bottom, remove from oven and immediately use a spatula to place them on baking racks to cool. Wait until fully cooled to remove and store in an airtight container. I'd tell you to wait until they're cool to eat them too, to prevent them from falling apart in your hands, but who am I kidding? You think I waited? Nope. Dive in friends.

Christmas cookies can look beautiful, but many don't taste as good as they look! This is a Christmas cookie recipe that your whole family will love making and eating

Serve them up with a glass of milk for Santa, a dry white wine for dinner party guests, or leave them out for snacking whenever! Enjoy these Christmas cookies that actually taste good.

Monday, November 16, 2015

3 Myths of Parenting

Some parenting advice is legitimate, and some of it is complete nonsense. Here are the 3 biggest parenting myths, busted!

When you're pregnant and in those first few months of having a new baby, EVERYONE and their mom will tell you all about parenting, how to do things, and what to "watch out for" or "just wait for." I happen to believe that most of these folks have good intentions... However, now that I've been a pregnant lady and parent for several years, I have to say: So much of what they said was bunk! I feel the need to dispel these bogus parenting myths.

Have you ever been given bad parenting advice? This article calls out some of the worst parenting advice and busts 3 of the biggest parenting myths

3 Myths of Parenting:

Myth 1: "Just wait until your kid starts walking - then you'll REALLY have your hands full!"
Reality: Ummm, nope. In fact, my hands are quite literally empty, because my child can now walk instead of me lugging his 30 pound body around. In fact, my life got exponentially EASIER when Henry started to walk. I have no idea why people say it will become some sort of challenging feat when your toddler starts walking, but it's BS. It's amazing. Don't want them going into certain rooms in the house? Close the door and baby proof it so they can't get in. Problem solved. Walk on, little babies, it makes our jobs as parents so much easier!

Myth 2: "You won't really mind or notice or smell it when your own child vomits - you just clean it up and move on."
Reality: Are you even kidding, vomiting is DISGUSTING. Yes I notice! Yes it smells! Yes I wish I were anywhere but there, cleaning it up! Yes I cover my nose and try not to gag too! Whoever the heck said this "wasn't that big of a deal" must be a nurse or nurses aid and gets puked on regularly. Let me tell you; you notice and it's disgusting and it ruins your day.

Bad parenting advice called out and parenting myths busted!
Walking is rad. Vomiting is not.

Myth 3: "You'll always think your own child is the cutest."
Reality: Now I was graced with an insanely handsome boy, but let me tell you: He looked like an alien when he came out. It took a few weeks for him to get cute. And he's not that cute in the mornings, either. And he's certainly not cute when he fusses or tantrums. I also have some less than flattering photos of him, none of which will make it to this blog or social media, because I have enough sense to not post them. So, no. You won't always think your child is the cutest, not if you're connected with reality!

Everyone has their own ideas about parenting, and that's totally the way it should be! But there were some consistent themes in the advice I was given when Henry was young that simply weren't true. In fact, the reality turned out to be the exact opposite of these so-called parenting myths I was told nonstop about! Have you ever been given completely wrong, or just bad, parenting or pregnancy advice? I want to hear about it!

Friday, November 13, 2015

The Level I'm At Right Now

Hey friends! My pregnancy brain is REAL. I thought I'd confess with y'all the level I'm at right now. And have been at this whole week. You're welcome to laugh at my expense.

1) When I sneezed on Thursday night, I peed myself. Like, preggo-peed-in-pants peed. I hear that's common in late pregnancy. It never happened with Henry. He was also a c section baby so loose Kegals aren't to blame here. I'm just at that level.

2) I spent my 10 Henry-free hours this week editing photos for future posts. Way future posts. Then when I realized how far out these posts are scheduled and that I *should* finish my work for this week, I went and played on social media. My brain gave zero you-know-whats. I'm just at that level.

3) I DID make it to 2 barre and 3 yoga classes! Some of the moves in barre were putting a lot of pressure on my cervix so I just sat on my mat and watched people. The instructor came over to give me some modifications and I was like, no. I'm cool. I'm just going to sit this one out. Then I was that creepy pregnant woman people watching in a barre class. At least in yoga I'm kicking in in child's pose, but barre? Yeah, I'm watching you do your planks, what now?! I'm just at that level.

4) I tried to shave my legs in the shower, and grabbed my hoo-ha because I seriously thought the use of my abs to pull my leg up to mow down the small forest growing there my slight leg hair was going to immediately eject Otto from the birth canal. So three lines got shaved into one leg. Then I called it a day. I'm just at that level.

5) My contractors showed up to finish my bathroom! But first, I used my ability to put the fear of God in a person. You see, people weren't returning phone calls and being generally elusive and this bathroom should have been done the first week in October. I was done playing nice, and it wasn't getting me anywhere anyway. So I lit a few fires, cracked a few skulls, dropped a few f bombs and low and behold! Contractors showed back up to finish the job. My level of crazy assertiveness was just at that level.

My level hasn't stopped my ability to link up for the Friday fun with Amanda, Karli, April and H54F!

Yeah, so that's what's been going down this week. Scatter brained, pants-peeing, creepy and crazy Paige was out in full force. That's the level I'm at right now.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Little Mover Henry

It's been ages since I've written one of my traditional "Mommy Monday" type posts. Henry is in a REALLY fun age where he's moving and wiggling and squealing all over the place! He's going to be a big brother soon. So this post is all about my big, crazy, active, soon-to-be big brother Henry.

#SetBabyFree with Huggies Little Movers Diapers!

Oh my sweet boy! How grown up you've become. You started walking at 15 months, and started running a month later. You haven't slowed down since! You love being pants-less. You love being naked even more!

You're adventurous yet cautious. You love to explore the great outdoors and dig your hands in the dirt. You're fascinated by leaves. You love going shopping with mama. I love that I can let you walk freely around the store because you won't run off to a place where I'm not in sight. You want to move and explore, but you make sure to look back over your shoulder to know that mommy is near.

Moment of calm before you're off to get that green ball!

You eat everything we eat. Your favorite is when daddy makes pancakes on the weekends and you get to eat sugary syrup! You think spoons and forks are interesting, but eating with your hands is far more efficient. You hated everything about sippy cups, but that's ok because you already know how to drink out of a normal glass like a big boy.

Your favorite activity is playing with Otis! He's your best friend. I'm not sure if you're HIS best friend, but he tolerates your hugs, kisses, chases and tail pulls. Throwing the ball to Baxter is your second favorite thing to do. You two love to go and explore the yard together! Well, Baxter mostly is interested in following that ball around, but he's close by your side to make sure you're ok.

Photo: Adrianne Mathiowetz Photography (c)

You rarely sit still! One minute you're playing with a race car set; the next you're climbing up on the child's table in your playroom. You love pulling every single book off the shelf and reading three pages of it before you move on to the next book. Soon, you'll be sharing this playroom with your little brother! Which is ok, because you're really good at sharing. You offer me a bite of whatever I've made you for lunch, and you bring me all your toys to play with too. You smile and look pleased when you're able to share what you have with others. I love this about you.

You're active and crazy and a mover and a shaker! You dance to whatever music comes on. You wiggle and squirm with the best of them! So much so that I'm glad we found Huggies Little Movers Diapers. They have amazing grip, fit and wetness protection - we haven't had an accident in ages!

Check out how these diapers grip, fit and move with your little one!

By the way, If you want a chance of having your little mover featured on the Huggies website, tweet or Instagram a pic of them and use the hashtag #SetBabyFree! Huggies will be selecting photos to feature and show everyone what awesome little movers we have.

You are a sweet and kind soul. You love to hug people and blow kisses. You're active, and anything that involves a ball is THE MOST FUN thing. You're crazy and wiggly. You walk like a pro and are learning to jump too! I can't wait to watch you become a big brother. You have learned so much, and have so much to teach your soon-to-be little brother Otto.

Friday, November 6, 2015

8th Month Bumpdate

It's the final countdown! (Anyone else just cue that obnoxious song in their head? You know, the one from like, the 80's big hair metal band that's played at sporting events? Just me? Dang.) Yes, I can indeed believe I'm 8 months pregnant. Why? Because even though it's going by quickly, much faster than Henry's pregnancy went, I'm friggin huge. It's hard to move. It's hard to breathe. But hey, that's how it goes in these final few weeks. Let's get on to the 8th month bumpdate!

Check out the unfinished (STILL) bathroom! No doorknobs, no fixtures, angry Paige

I'm doing it Friday Favorites style, so here are 5 key takeaways from being in my 8th month of pregnancy:

1) Mood: Not too shabby considering I'm a huge rolly-polly! I seriously cause mini-earthquakes when I roll over in bed at night. So if/when you see in the news about all the bizarre earthquakes in Dallas, it's not due to the fracking - it's just Paige, rollin' over, trying to catch some zzzz's.

2) Craving: I might get punched for this... But I'm 8 months into my second pregnant have have yet to have any fun, bizarre cravings, with any baby for any reason. So I officially think it's a crock of crap pregnant women pull to eat their inner desires/weirdness. I have a few pregnancy apps where women post alllllllll kinds of stuff, and some post pics of their "cravings." Sorry Amanda4593*, your flamin' hot cheetos mixed with cheap dill pickles gross me the eff out. Why would you eat that?! Anyway... I had some pomegranate the other day that tasted pretty good! Does that count?

*Name changed out of safety concerns. Anyone who's nuts enough to eat that nasty mixture, and openly tell people about, is nuts enough to hunt me down for calling her out. No thanks!

3) Weight & Workouts: 32 + weeks and I'm up 15 pounds. I had an OB appt this week and I only packed on 2.7 from last month. My Dr told me to eat more. Maybe I should hang with Amanda4593 and eat some of her concoctions? JK! My tummy has run out of room, but I'm working on the mini-meals to get more calories in. I just really, really hate that overly-full feeling being this pregnant makes you. I also hate heartburn. So eating lots just isn't in the cards for me. Still hitting up yoga (not prenatal yoga - normal yoga. I don't understand why people waste money on prenatal yoga and that's coming from someone who promotes any and all things yoga!), barre classes and walking 4-5 times a week. Otto loves to move and shake and punch after I workout! I think it's his way of telling me he feels as revitalized as I do.

4) Maternity clothes: I'm pretty much set considering how pregnant I am, and not a big shopper anyway, but my sister was in town this week and we decided to spend an afternoon shopping with Henry... When I saw these on super sale at the Gap, I just had to. Looked too comfy NOT to. They were even cheaper at the register (only $19 including TX's ridic high sales tax! FYI, link isn't as "on sale" as I got them in-store and is not an affiliate link. Hilarious that they're full length on the model and capris on me, yeah? Not really. My struggle is REAL) You'll find me in them everyday from here until March.

Maternity jogger pants from The Gap

5) Excited for: I'm pretty pumped to stop the Dallas-based-pregnancy-induced earthquakes and sleep on my back again! I'm so not a side sleeper. Although I have to say, having a Tempurpedic mattress is AMAZING. And their side sleeper pillow? I have no ear cartilage pain (if you've never been pregnant that likely makes zero sense to you, but if you have, you're already on your way to get one of these pillows!) and the two together means I'm still sleeping really well. I'm excited for new baby snuggles, and awkward newborn baby hands! (They're so big compared to the baby, and babies never know what to do with them... It's adorable.)

That's about it guys! Only one more of these posts until Otto gets here. Wow! What will I regale you with when I no longer have fun pregnancy facts to share?! I'll think of something. Until then, sit tight for one more month of bumpdates, mmmmk?

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

November Blog SMART Goals

It's a new month, so it's time for the October goal review and November S.M.A.R.T goal setting! I discussed in October's goals about how doing this, as cheesy as it may seem, has taken my blog to the next level in terms of social media following and actual income earned. In fact, since starting and sticking to S.M.A.R.T goal setting, my blog has quadrupled what it earns every month - or more! This is why S.M.A.R.T goals are essential for blog growth.

Can I be honest with you? I'm sitting down to write this after about 12 hours of sleep and my husband and toddler are at swim lessons so I have the house all to myself. This never happens! I'm in a good mood. Logically, all I could think of was THIS song, so I turnt it up to get motivated for November's goal setting. Cheers to all my other dirty-thirty-somethings who are both old and young enough to remember getting down to this jam in the 90's!

Ok, back to business or I'll waste all my time on 90's hiphop and miss my chance to write this post! Here's how October shaped up:

1) Improve photography on my Instagram.
CHECK! I worked really hard and played around with making these DIY photography backdrops to improve my aesthetic. I participated in my first loop giveaway to see how that would effect engagement and followers. I did an Instagram challenge that provided me a subject to focus on everyday, which took "one more thing to think about" off my to-do list. I'm really happy with how cohesive my feed looks now! And I'm gaining new followers everyday without trying - just by posting photos daily, improved photography, and hashtag use.

Easy #DIY project to improve your blog and Instagram photography!

2) Make 4 evergreen posts for my "blogging maternity leave." 
CHECK! I actually knocked out 6 posts, and have them all scheduled. Of course, I have no idea when I'll actually go into labor so I might switch all the schedule dates around, but the point is I have some GREAT content to post after Otto comes. So y'all can still come here and read good stuff, not just "sorry readers I'm too tired to even open a laptop correctly, be back later!"

3) Pitch 4 brands for collaboration.
FAIL! I pitched 2. One told me to reapply in the new year because their "blogger queue" was already full for the year and the other was responsive and said they'd be happy to re-gram some of my shots on their Instagram feed. So all in all, not a bad response! But I did stop at two... If you remember, I lessened my posting schedule (which allowed me to get all those maternity leave posts written!) and I didn't think adding in more brand work made sense. So I guess it wasn't a total fail but more of a direction change mid-month. I still have my short list of people to reach out to when I'm ready to add more back to my plate though.

And now, what I hope to accomplish this November. I'm going to make it a light load, with being a full 8 months pregnant and the holidays coming up. But yes, I still think it's important to have SMART goals driving my month and my blog growth (despite any baby arrivals or major holidays!)

1) Expand my reach on Instagram.
I told y'all I was going to be spending the remainder of the year improving my account. When I focused on my Pinterest, I saw (and still see!) amazing results. First step in the IG improvement was to get my photography and aesthetic in shape. Now I want to focus on my reach. This means gaining new followers and utilizing new hashtags to make my account more searchable - and therefore, findable. I plan on continuing to post at least one planned photo a day and utilizing established hashtags to become a constant presence within that hashtag, as well as utilizing new hashtags to reach new potential followers.

2) Write 4 more "maternity leave" blog posts.
Evergreen content, relevant topics, great photos - blah blah. Just to have something in my scheduler for those days I'm struggling. Because I know I will have some rough days after Otto gets here, this aint my first infant rodeo!

3) ACTUALLY Optimize AdSense, and explore new ad contracts.
You saw this in my September goals, but I was unable to really play with AdSense because of my BlogHer publishing contract. Well here's the skinny on BlogHer: They weren't actually paying me! I'd get random contributions to my PayPal every so often, none of which matched THEIR records of what my blog was earning. It was less - way less - then what their own accounting system said I was making. I would get PayPal contributions of 42 cents y'all. Not even kidding.

After not getting paid for over 5 months, I mean paid NOTHING, not even my 42 cents, I had enough of their crappy pay and crappy service. I cut ties with them. I'm still working with SheKnows Media and SheKnows Experts Among us on social media campaigns, but have no desire to ever even see the BlogHer name again. Alas! I can actually optimize my AdSense now. I have a few resources I'm excited to share with you, because in 4 days (it's Nov. 4) I've already seen my earnings go up 39%. I also will explore other advertising contracts to see if there's a more lucrative deal out there. BlogHer just ISN'T it, for anyone else shopping around. I do NOT recommend working with them.

That's the plan for November! You'll see that my SMART goals are measurable and specific - not "post on Instagram more" but "utilize new and existing hashtags to drive engagement and new follower growth." That's the difference between a SMART goal and a goal that won't take you very far. It has to be specific, time sensitive, feasible and measurable. If you do this every month and faithfully work towards those goals, you WILL drive the growth of your blog!

Monday, November 2, 2015

Maintaining Your Sense of Style as a Mom

The busy holiday season can leave Mom's tired and frumpy, but there's help for maintaining your sense of style year round!

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #HuggiesForHolidays #CollectiveBias #CVSHuggiesHeroes

Now that Halloween has passed and we're into November, the Holiday Season is in full swing! I've already gotten a small mountain of emails for holiday parties, bake sales, fundraisers for Henry's school, neighborhood gatherings and so forth. This means we will be on the go a lot for the next few weeks - and my final few weeks of pregnancy. That level of busyness makes it challenging to maintain ANY level of style when you're toting around a toddler and extra 15 pounds of internal-baby!

How to remain stylish as a mom when you're busy running after little ones #HuggiesForHolidays #ad #CollectiveBias

Why is it so challenging, especially during the holidays? It's full-out cold season. So that means somebody's nose is always running. It's holiday treat season, so that means there's always sugar on somebody's hands. In Texas, it's finally cool enough to spend some time with play dates on the playground, so that means there's always (ALWAYS!) dirt on hands and faces, and usually a scrape or boo-boo to clean up after.

And, ahem! By *someone* I mean Henry. I don't have any sugar on my hands! Nope. Not me. Not here. Not guilty.

Huggies Clutch n' Clean wipes make it easy to take care of the problems mentioned above, and to do it in style. Sticky hands, running noses and dirt are no match for a mom with these cute and durable - not to mention tote-able with a wristlet attached - baby wipes!

I appreciate any company who understands how messy "holiday parenting" is, and Huggies does. The wipes we use are over 99% water and dermatologically tested. In fact, I even use them on myself sometimes! If my eyeliner or mascara has started to "run" while we're out running errands, a quick wipe with Huggies fixes that real quick. Next time you're stopped at a light and see a woman wiping her own face with the wipes for her baby's bottom, you just go ahead and think of me! Because yes, I actually do that. Often.

Easy to grab and easy of the eyes Huggies Clutch n'Clean wipes

Even better, Huggies has lent moms a helping hand in the style department! They've made cute and convenient Huggies Clutch n' Clean wipe packaging, which puts their wipes in a durable and CUTE purse-like package. Better yet, this packaging is refillable. It's so easy to grab these and a diaper for a quick change at a restaurant or in a friend's bathroom - I can grab it easily out of the diaper bag instead of lugging the whole kit and caboodle with me for a simple diaper change. Winning!

Huggies Clutch n' Clean wipes help you maintain your sense of style as a mom - year round, but especially during busy times like the holiday season! It's easy to pick up a pack or two at CVS Pharmacy and throw them in your bag for all the not-so-unexpected messes babies and toddlers make during this busy time. There are plenty of styles available in the baby aisle!