An Uncomplicated Life Blog: November 2016

Monday, November 28, 2016

What I Think When

Real thoughts on real life situations

I've been riding in the front seat of the struggle bus for blog post ideas lately. Normally, I have a running list of about 10 topics that I can write about and I'm thrilled to sit down to write about any of them. But I just haven't had it in me lately. I blame Instagram - that thing is a tremendous amount of work! Now I understand why people ditch their blogs and just run social media accounts. Anywhoo, so I was reading a mom blog group page when I saw they had 101 ideas for mommy blogger posts. I came across this idea and thought it was clever! I don't know about you, but my brain is ALWAYS running a thousand miles a minute. A lot of what I think is wildly inappropriate. So here's a little glimpse into what I think, in various day to day situations.

What I think when...

I drop my kid off at preschool:
"My kid is f*&#$ing so kicka$$! He's the most confident one in the room. Never cries. Follows directions. What a little peach of a toddler, that boy! But ugh... That doesn't mean I want to keep him home with me today. I've got five hours of freedommmmmmm!"

Who wants freedom from this face? I do.

I'm standing in line at the grocery store checkout:
"That person just spent $40 on six containers of coconut water. What the hell is the matter with them? Who likes coconut water that much? Then there's that person in the next line, buying vegan cookies. With some eggs, so you know she's not a vegan. I wonder if she knows that a vegan cookie is just as unhealthy as a regular cookie? Like, you're not going to stay thinner eating that crap just because there's no dairy in it, sweetheart."

I'm stopped at a red light:
"Why isn't there a decent song on the radio?! Ok, let me check Instagram real quick. Oh that's a cute pic! I wanna comment on it... Dangit, light's green, I'll comment at the next light."

I'm cooking dinner:
"I wonder if Henry will eat any of this? Probably not. I'll just give it all to Otto, bless his little heart. He's the only reason I even attempt to cook dinner. I bet he shovels this in his face with both fists! Ugh, why is my toddler such a pain in the rump?" *Note the contrast from preschool drop off

Otto has a judgey face, but he eats without discretion.

I first wake up in the morning:
"No. Noooooooooo! No. It's too early. Why? Whyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy?"

I've poured my third glass of wine on a Tuesday night:
"I changed three poopy diapers in 45 minutes and only got a little bit on my knuckle. Cheers to meeeeeeee, world's fastest poopy diaper changer! God, why do my kids poop so much? Why can't they poop for daddy?"
6am on Wednesday morning:
"Good Lord, why did I think three glasses of wine were necessary last night?! Whyyyyyy? I hope my husband made the coffee strong today. Poor decisions, Paige. Poor decisions."

11am on Wednesday morning:
"Whew, just sweated out all that wine in hot yoga! I only got the spins once. Aaaaaaaand, I'm back!"

11:15 on Wednesday morning:
"Crap I spent all my time in yoga. Now I have three hours to do eight hours of work before I go get Henry from school. Why does my laptop need an update right NOW? Ugh! Technology, you're garbage."

1:45 on Wednesday afternoon:
"Dang, I just got a whole blog post written, edited and photographed. Whoohoo! Crap, Otto has a poopy diaper and we needed to leave the house five minutes ago to get Henry from school! Why do these kids always poop when we need to leave the house? Ugh, poop, whyyyyyyy?"

2:02 on Wednesday afternoon:
"Made it just in time! Hey Henry!" *Henry runs to me with his arms wide open for a hug and kisses his brother on the forehead* "Omg, my kids are the best! Henry, you're the best big brother. Ugh, my heart is exploding!"

2:15 on Wednesday afternoon:
*Sniffs air* "Henry, did you just poop? Damnit, why can't you poop at preschool? Or wait until your daddy comes home? Why do I always get the poopy diapers?! Oh man, Otto, you pooped again too? WHY. Is it too early to pour a glass of wine? Oh yeah, it's not even three yet, that's way too early."

What I look like when I actually get a shower.

When my husband comes home from work at a decent hour:
"I know I should cook dinner, but can you watch the kids so I can shower? I haven't showered in four days. There's a forest growing in my armpits. I even embarrassed myself at yoga today."

When I get to take a shower:
"Ahhhhhhhh. I should do this more often. Except Henry would crack his head open jumping off the bed and Otto would stick his finger in an outlet, so looks like I lose."

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Happy Thanksgiving!

Taking the day off to cook, drink wine and kick it with my husband and babies. I hope you all enjoy your time off with your friends and family. I'll be back on Monday with some fresh content, pinky swear! Now, get off the internet and go eat another piece of pumpkin pie - or if you're like me, a second helping of stuffing with gravy! So much gravy. All. The. Gravy.

I typed gravy so much, it got me thinking about what a strange word it is... Anyway, Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 21, 2016

Why Bath Salts Are Important for Self Care

Taking a bath in Epsom salts feels great, but it also has important health benefits

Last weekend, I went over to a girlfriend's house for a "make and take" class, where we made several products (breath freshener, room spray, bath soak and lip balm to be exact) and got to learn from an experienced lady on all things holistic health. I already knew that conventional mints and gum are chock full of chemicals (hello, artificial sweeteners!), that scented candles emit toxins that are actually really bad for you (ever get a headache from the scent of a candle? Me too) but I had no idea how important taking a bath in Epsom salts regularly is. Turns out, not only is it relaxing (duh) but there are some really important health benefits too!

Soaking in salts is not only relaxing, it's good for you and your body

First, the essential oils! Revive oils are my new go-to. Yup, I used to be with Young Living, but the expense of those oils were insane. I asked some of my oily gurus who they got their oils from and learned about Revive. They're therapeutic grade, indigestible essential oils that are NOT a multi-level-marketing structure. You can go on their website and buy them like you'd buy something on Amazon - no need to sign up for some membership! They have packages with diffusers and single essential oils, plus roller bottles and other lifestyle items. Use code Paige10 for 10% off your order and experience the same quality of Young Living or doTERRA without the obnoxious price (and minus the sales people always trying to get you to buy things...)

I've never been a great sleeper. I love to sleep and I love to be in bed for 10 hours a day but I don't sleep through the night. I wake up multiple times a night, and most nights I'm awake for several hours. It's absolutely frustrating. I've even seen specialists about it and it hasn't helped. I know many people experience sleep issues! Whether you can't fall asleep or you're like me and can't stay asleep, sleep problems are rampant. There's a point to this paragraph, I promise.

We sit down to hear our leader speak a little bit about what we're going to make and why it's helpful. She said many things I already knew about the chemicals in scented candles and the fake sweeteners in gum. I've ditched all those products from my home or personal use for years now! But then she started to talk about the bath salts and my ears perked up like a little doggie who was just asked if she wants a treat.

She quoted a study that found nearly 80% of American's to be deficient in various minerals, but one of the most common was magnesium . Decades ago, this wasn't the case. Due to modern agricultural practices that over farm the soil, the food that we eat simply isn't as nutritious as it used to be because the soil is depleted of those minerals from constantly being farmed. Magnesium is a mineral that helps your body and muscles relax. Now there are multiple factors to why people are having a hard time sleeping, but lack of nutritious food that results in magnesium deficiency is a contributing factor!

How do we make up for the lack of magnesium? Sure, there are dietary supplements. I actually take one myself. But your body doesn't absorb nutrients from a pill as well as it does from real food. You can take a larger does of the supplement, but it can cause diarrhea. That's certainly not fun for anyone. Enter the bath salts!

Epsom salts are full of minerals. Your skin is your body's largest organ. So when you sit in a tub and soak in the salts, you're absorbing all those needed minerals. They're seeping in through your skin and getting into your body without the need of the digestive tract. Plus, you know, baths feel great, so that's a bonus.

Easy DIY to help you sleep better at night

Here's how I made this DIY bath salt soak:
-1/2 pink Himalayan salt
- 5 drops lavender essential oil
- 5 drops cedarwood essential oil

In a glass container, mix together the two kinds of salts. Drop in your essential oils and shake vigorously to disperse the oil. Add several tablespoons to a bath. The lavender and cederwood promote better sleep, too!

As it would turn out, baths in salts are an important part of self care! You get some alone time, it feels great, and it's replenishing needed minerals in your body. I just made these bath salts with Epsom and pink Himalayan salts and a few essential oils. Now that it's finally cool in Texas, I hope to incorporate a bath into my self care routine several times a week. I know this won't instantly help my sleep problem, but I'm hoping it's another piece of the puzzle that I've put together to get the sleep puzzle whole again. 

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Creating Holiday Traditions

Why it's important to create your own holiday traditions after you've started your own family

This year, we're celebrating Thanksgiving with just us; a family of four. Last year we had family in town for both Thanksgiving and Christmas (since I was 89 months pregnant and couldn't travel) and the year before that, we only had Henry and it was "easy" for us to fly to our extended family. This year though, I had no desire to brave the lines at the airport and face weather delays with two kids. Nope. So we're having a simple holiday. But I'm excited that it gives our young little family the opportunity to create our own holiday traditions.

Why it's important to create your own holiday traditions with your family

When I was little I remember my dad always made cinnamon rolls the morning of Thanksgiving or Christmas (my parents divorced when I was very young so they traded off holidays). We would eat our turkey around 3pm so we'd have a big sugary cinnamon roll to tide us over until the meal was ready. I remember the smell of them baking and taking turns with my sister as we licked the icing container, waiting for the rolls to be cool enough to eat.

Christmas Eve was always spent with my mom, and it was always just the three of us. She'd cook a big meal, usually a fancy ham. We'd set up a table in our living room so we could eat by the light of the Christmas tree and be in front of the wood burning fireplace. Then my sister and I would take turns opening presents. We'd play with whatever we got right there on the oriental rug while my mom would sit back with a glass of wine. My sister and I drank sparkling apple cider and I thought it was so grown up to actually drink out of a champagne glass! I actually still have those champagne glasses; I've moved them to every apartment I've ever had, across the country three times and they're currently on display with my other stemware in the buffet in our kitchen.

After all the presents were played with, my sister and I would drag our pillows and down duvets out into the living room and sleep under the tree (a real tree!) with all the lights on. I don't know how my mom managed to sneak "Santa" presents with us there! But we'd wake up to our stockings full of little things like nail polish and lip gloss. Then we'd go over to my dad's house and do it all again. In fact, I remember distinctly thinking that the holidays were the only time it was cool to have divorced parents - double the holidays!

Henry's first Christmas, 2014

I'm not sure what part of those holiday traditions I'll implement with my kids. Maybe they'll love fake champagne as much as I did, maybe not. We don't have real Christmas trees in Texas, but perhaps they'll enjoy playing in front of our wood burning fireplace as much as I did. Knowing them, they'll try to get in the fireplace with a fire burning in it, but hey, I loved flames too as a kid! Who knows, maybe we'll discover something totally different that works well for our little family of four.

Christmas 2015, with a very little Otto

And a much bigger Henry

I'm not sure what we'll do, but I do know that it's important for us to create our own traditions. Even though it will just be our small family for Thanksgiving, it's a time for us to be together and enjoy ourselves. Henry is to the age now where he's likely starting to create his own memories that he'll cherish as he gets older. I want to make sure we create our own holiday traditions so that my boys have as many pleasant memories over the holidays as I do about my childhood.

Monday, November 14, 2016

What We Luv

One of the best parts of being home with my kids is the play dates, laughs, bounce houses and snacks!

This post is sponsored by Luvs diapers. All opinions and photos are my own.

It was really hard transitioning to staying home with my kids. I was eight months pregnant when I stopped working and was placed on bed rest. At nine months, I started this blog and then had a preterm baby just a few weeks later. It was a whirlwind that took a long time to get used to! I had finally worked my way up to a director level and was a member of the senior leadership team, with a dotted line reporting structure right to the CEO. I managed a A$22MM budget. And then, all of a sudden, my day revolved around diapers and feedings. I didn't need to be dressed up. I didn't even need to be showered! I went from feeling so important in my career to feeling like a slob SAHM. It took a few months, but I realized that in fact, I was doing the most important job of my life: Raising my boys (well, just one at that point, but now there's two). It's a hard job with some very long days but there are some things I absolutely "Luv" about it!

Like getting to go to yoga at 9:30 in the morning almost everyday. That's my "me" time. The kids get to play in the care center with new toys. I get to chat with my yoga friends. I get to sweat and gain some mental clarity that helps me be a better mom for the rest of the day!

Play dates are the other thing I absolutely "Luv". I'm a social creature and love getting together with other moms while our kids burn off steam! My inlaws got us a blow up bounce house after we went to a friend's house who had one and Henry LUVED it. Turns out, they're not expensive and really easy to put up and take down, so we now have a fun bounce house for our play dates, too.

Luvs was kind enough to send me a full party package, so I knew we'd have to get the bounce house set up and get some friends over. I've got a few good girlfriends here who all have a two and a half to three year old so it's fun to get together and let them all play! We're all also struggling with potty training, so it's awesome that Luvs sent me some diapers to pass out to these momma's. Their diapers are super soft, have a contoured shape that hugs a baby's (or toddler, in our case!) bum and they have a money back guarantee - if you aren't happy with their leak protection from Luvs Ultra Leakguards with NightLock Plus™, they'll refund your money! All us moms were super excited to try these on our tots, especially since overnight diapers can be... Problematic. Moms, I know you get me on this. C'mon Henry, let's get moving on this potty training! Also problematic? Getting toddlers to pose for pics, as seen above. 

Not only do my mom friends all have a "first child" the same age, but two of us have babies who are close in age and two are currently pregnant! Thanks to LUV's, I was able to gift the preggo mommies some infant sized diapers, along with some cute sippy cups for their older siblings.

Staying home with my kids has been the toughest job I've ever done. I lost a part of my identity when I stopped working in the "official workforce." But I also gained a new identity as a mom. And now I have a blog that provides income, it's like I have the best of both worlds! Time with my kids and a new profession. Time to host play dates and talk with other moms about diapers and snotty noses and potty training fails and time to write and take pictures and share stories. All of this is what I Luv, and as a family, it's what we Luv. 

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Family Christmas Card Fail

Attempting to get a family photo for a Christmas card is basically the hardest thing ever

This past week we attempted to get a family photo for a Christmas card. Last year we didn't send one because I was about to pop Otto out of my womb and mailing Christmas cards was about the last thing on my mind. So this year, we thought, we'd make up for it with a super cute card! Have everyone dressed in plaid! Show our cute smiling boys who are growing like weeds! Yeeeeeeeah... We honestly took no fewer than 300 photos over a span of an hour and a half (complete with snack breaks for the boys). And we got ONE good one. Right at the very end. But all was not lost! That means we had tons of amazing outtakes. Here, friends, is the story of our Christmas card fail.

When you try to get a cute Christmas card photo, but fail

Our plan was to have hubs' parents use my DSLR and get a nice shot. We even pulled out just enough of our Christmas stuff to set the scene (don't worry, my house isn't decorated just yet). But dangit if Dallas didn't decide to monsoon for my in laws' entire trip. Which meant no natural light. So we turned on every single light we had, and I set my camera to auto-focus and wouldn't you know? The light was so low it wouldn't take a shot! So I went back to manual, increased the ISO and lowered the shutter speed (which you never want to do with kids - you'll never get a crisp shot!) and we ended up with these grainy pics. Enjoy.

Ok everyone, get situated and ready to smile
As you can tell, the kids were thrilled about this. Otto looks outright terrified.
Right as we were getting comfortable with the camera the damn dog photobombs us
A good one! But the lighting... Yikes
Then the baby attempts to bolt. He's had enough of this nonsense.
We thought standing might be better. The kids thought otherwise.
Then I realized Henry's face is covered in my bright red lipstick. And it won't come off.
After realizing that the light situation was just not going to work, we attempted some iPhone pics. They were no better. So when the rain stopped for a few minutes, we ran outside in attempts at some natural light! Hubs and I put on brighter shirts to try to "lighten it up" too. As if a shirt can make a picture brighter... But who needs logic, right? We only needed a decent picture, logic be damned.

Henry was really getting into saying "CHEESE!" Otto was entirely unamused.

Then Henry started grabbing my cheeks and saying, "Mommy, CHEESE!" while Otto is losing faith in his family
And this, friends, was the best we could do. Otto and Henry are in on the midriff-baring trend, obvi.
I knew it was going to be hard to get a decent photo of all of us, but I didn't think it would be THAT hard. I mean, we're all decent looking, you'd think we'd be more photogenic. But dang, that Christmas card pic struggle was real. We family Christmas card failed so hard this year.

Monday, November 7, 2016

If My Life Were A Soundtrack

What would be included in your track list if your life were a soundtrack?

I was crusin' the interwebs, getting caught up with some of my favorite bloggers, when I came across Kristen's post on if her life were a soundtrack, which songs would be included. I thought it was pure genius! I love reading creative ways to get to know the personality behind the blog, if you will, and this was one creative way to do that. So, I'm basically hijacking her idea (Thanks Kristen!) Here are the songs that would be on my playlist, if my life were a soundtrack:

Baby Love by The Supremes
Every Memorial Day growing up, my mom would take my sister and I to a cabin on the shores of Lake Superior. She'd wake us up at 5am to start the five hour drive north. We'd sleep while she chugged coffee and then we'd stop at Tobey's, a dive-y rest stop, and get the BIGGEST caramel rolls known to man. After our blood sugar levels had sufficiently spiked, we'd put in a tape (yes, a tape, who else remembers when cars only had a tape deck?!) of Motown songs and sing them all the way up the coast of Lake Superior. Then we'd freeze our a$$es off all weekend because we went to Northern MN. In May. It's still winter in MN in May, y'all. But I have some fond memories of those frozen rumps!

Fantasy by Mariah Carry
In 2008 I packed all my crap up and moved to Savannah, GA for graduate school. I met my roommate on Craigslist (do people still do that or have too many people been killed by creepers?) and literally knew nobody; all I knew was that I was moving to a beautiful city in an apartment on the water, I was escaping the most miserable job on the face of the planet and I wouldn't feel the cold of Minnesota winters. On the first day at orientation I met one of my favorite friends of all time. She had a bag with her sorority letters on it, and while we weren't in the same sorority, I knew she'd be a "normal" and fun gal to hang with. We were inseparable from the first night we went out on the town! She was my partner in crime for all the shenanigans we got into in grad school. On our days off, we would road trip up to Hilton Head or Charleston to shop and escape all the tourists in Savannah. We would BLAST Mariah Carry with the windows down, singing at the top of our lungs.

To this day, that remains the most fun period of my life. I was able to be completely selfish. I did exactly what I wanted to do. I slept in until 9am, went running, then got myself together for my internship, worked for a whole three hours, then went to class for another two hours before getting home after dark. I went out every single weekend. I met men who bought me drinks and took me out on their boats. It was a glorious "fantasy" in comparison to the hellish corporate marketing department I had been working in for several years prior. Sadly, I didn't stay 24 forever and that fantasy had to end... I had to get a "real" job again and start paying back those loans. But man, it was one hell of a fantasy and some great years of my life!


My Way by Usher
This song came out when I was in the 7th grade and it was my JAM. If you're an old millennial like me, don't even act like you didn't just think, "Oh man, THAT song! Yeeeeeeeah!" and then you started to sing and dance a little. All that tomfoolery aside, my life is really going my way right now. I have two beautiful, hilarious boys. I have a wonderful husband. A beautiful home. I work part time from home which, for me, is the perfect balance between being with my children and getting some "mental space" to be an adult. I live in a warm climate and don't have to face winters. I mean, really, I'm almost scared to write all of this because I'm sure it's only a matter of time before the rug gets pulled out on something and I eat my own words about everything going my way... But for now, I'm all Usher'd up over here.

Total side note, this music vid is a PRODUCTION. Like choreogrophy, "acting", break dancing in satin shirts and rhinestone shoes on dudes level production. You're welcome. Music starts a full 30 seconds in, so pour yourself a drink and get ready for a flashback!

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Spritz Christmas Cookies

This classic German recipe is so simple,  you can make Christmas cookies from scratch even if you're a terrible baker!

I don't bake. I should say, I don't bake well. And waiting for each batch of cookies to come out of the oven is the worst! Most take about 10 minutes in there, right, so it's just enough time to stand around and be bored - if you go off to do anything, you'll forget the cookies and they'll burn. This is my stance on cookies, especially Christmas cookies, and I don't plan on changing it! However, there are some recipes, this one included, that are SO simple, so easy, and relatively fast (a sheet of these only take 7 mins to bake!) that sometimes, making cookies from scratch is worth it. My mom made these Spritz Christmas cookies every year growing up. They're simple and delicious.

In fact, when I put the first one in my mouth (guys, DISCLAIMER! I actually gave the very first cookie to Henry because I figured if he'd eat it, there's no way it could be bad because the kid eats like six different foods total. Sound judgement in motherhood, right there.) I was instantly transported back to our 1950's ranch home in St. Louis Park, MN. I could taste the cold weather and the snow and the smell of the bright red down jacket I wore in elementary school. I remembered spending winter breaks playing American Girl Doll with my sister and sledding at Aquila Park, which was just two blocks from our home. It's funny how tastes and smells can bring you back to memories you cherish like a mystery time machine, isn't it? These Spritz Christmas cookies are as good as a effing mystery time machine y'all!

Back to 2016. I'm now 32, married with two children and responsible for baking my own Christmas cookies. Not as much fun as when my mom or stepmom would do it, but such is life. I wanted to share with you an EASY recipe, since there's so much fuss around holiday entertaining. These cookies have 6 ingredients (from SCRATCH - none of that boxed nonsense. Ever pull up a pin on Pinterest for "3 ingredient cupcakes!" and it's all boxed and pre-made garbage? Dumb, there's more ingredients in that than you can list on all your toes and fingers). As long as you have a cookie press, you whip up the batter, fill the press, press them out, bake them for 7 short mins, and presto. You've rocked a Christmas cookie!

Spritz Christmas Cookies
- 1C salted butter, room temp
- 2 and 1/4 cup all purpose flour
- 1 egg
- 1/2 C sugar
- 1t vanilla extract
- 1/4t salt

Cream the butter and the sugar together. Slowly add the other ingredients. Fill your cookie press 1/2 full with the dough (should be nearly as stiff as pie crust, but not quite). Select what designs you'd like the cookies in and attach that shape to your cookie press. Press out a sheet of cookies and sprinkle with colored sugar crystals. Bake at 400 degrees for about 7 mins - until the dough is set but not yet brown. Let the cookie sheet cool before you press out another sheet.

Enjoy this simple, buttery Spritz Christmas cookie! It's not overwhelmingly sweet, and since they're small, you don't need to feel guilty about enjoying one or two as a midnight snack. Merry Christmas!

Spritz Christmas cookie recipe is simple, buttery and very easy to make #Christmascookie #Christmascookierecipe #cookierecipe #holidaybaking

 Pin this Spritz Christmas Cookie recipe to your Christmas or recipe boards!