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Friday, May 27, 2016

Friday finds: May edition

Even thought I'm a loyal Trader Joe's shopper, I haven't tried most of their best beauty products.

Some inspiration to create some organized habits.

new small biz you should check out. Get free shipping on your order through today ( by using code: SHIPFREE at checkout)!

I've been hearing a lot about drinking lemon water, but agree it's not a cure all.

Some good travel tips for families with small kids.

As someone who is currently on a career break Apres seems like a helpful resource.

We may have only lived here for two months, but I recognize the truth in this post about the Other Colorado.

This recently saved my sanity while shopping with two kids.

As a city girl, I'm loving this podcast lately.

You may be sick of hearing about the Chewbacca Mom, but I loved hearing more about her story.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Chocolate + Banana Popsicles

My daughter has been asking for popsicles as the weather gets warmer. After a brief search on Pinterest and not having the right combination of ingredients on hand, I decided to try putting something together with what we did have.

I got out the blender and popsicle mold then pulled a few things from the cupboard and fridge.

I ended up using the following ingredients:
1/2 cup coconut milk (I use this brand)
1/2 cup coconut water
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
2 tablespoons peanut butter
2 over-ripe bananas, sliced

Combine all ingredients in the blender and mix thoroughly.
Pour into popsicle tray and insert popsicle sticks/handles
Freeze overnight

She was so proud of her creation (in case you can't tell) from the photo above. It was hard to wait for them to freeze, but there were a few sips left in the blender, so I poured it into a cup and assured her it would be like a smoothie.

The next day, it was a welcome surprise (she'd forgotten about them) to finally eat her own popsicle!

This post is not sponsored by Thrive Market, but I do want to recommend the company. I've been using them for the past two months. They have a great selection of health foods, personal products and more. Use my referral link for 15% off your first order (new customers only).

Monday, May 23, 2016

Sunday Afternoons

Sunday afternoons are becoming my favorite time of the week. Sometimes my dad is in town for the day and we get to catch up while the kids nap. Other weeks it's just me the baby hanging out. Sometimes I take a nap or I brew myself a cup of coffee and write (or read).

Since moving to the country two months ago, things have been slower in general but Sunday afternoons are consistently the slowest time in our week and I love it. When  I was working, I dreaded Sunday afternoons because I usually ended up doing all the things I had put off or couldn't get done on Saturday.

I have been intentional about not cleaning on Sunday afternoons (another habit I got into when I was working). I don't allow myself to stress over dishes that pile up or toys that get dispersed everywhere. I need a day of being home and not worrying about getting things in order with two little ones.

But in this new season of life, I look forward to a time in my week to truly rest and I appreciate that rest looks different from week to week.

On Sunday afternoons, I breathe a sigh of relief. We've made it through another week.

Another week in church where I held my breath hoping my daughter wouldn't say or do something utterly embarrassing (for me or her). Lately, she just loves to push the limits and try to sing in church (when no one else is singing) or this past weekend she decided to sit with another family following the children's sermon. The whole sitting through the church service is fairly new to her; our last church had a toddler room where she spent the service playing with other kids her age.

On Sunday afternoons, a clean slate awaits us. I look forward to Monday, a day we usually spend together as a family.

What's your favorite time of the week?

Monday, May 16, 2016

The Oils I use Everyday

I've been learning about essential oils for over a year now, but I decided to take the plunge and really educate myself, while making a commitment to using them regularly at the beginning of the month.

Before I jump into all the ways I've been using EOs daily, I think it's really important to use them responsibly. There is a lot of stuff out there (on Pinterest, etc.) and I am not an aromatherapist so please do your research and get information from reliable sources. EOs can be harmful when used incorrectly. My recommendations come from Young Living and its reference guide.

So far, I really love using Young Living Essential Oils. In an effort to eliminate some of the nasty chemicals in our home, I have been incorporating essential oil use into some of the most simple things.

On a daily basis, I use:
  • Thieves in the bathroom sink soap. I make my own foaming soap with distilled water, castile soap and 1-2 drops of either lavender or thieves EO.
  • Diffusing stress away or thieves in our home diffuser (I only diffuse 1-2 drops at a time and am very careful about the diffuser's proximity to our infant).
  • Lavender in my mascara -I added one drop to my mascara bottle. It not only smells great, but promotes lash growth and makes mascara last longer.
  • Lemon, lavender and peppermint (combined with a carrier oil) in a roller bottle on my toddler's feet for seasonal allergies.
  • On my Madre Beads necklace (similar) as another form of diffusing. 

I use EOs in many other ways from tackling colds to cleaning and will be sharing more about that around here soon.

Curious to learn more about essential oils? I'm co-hosting a Facebook party on Thursday, May 19. Let me know and I can send you an invite (comment below, message me on FB, etc.). I'd love to share more info with you there!

Disclosure: affiliate links used

Friday, May 13, 2016

Bodie: 3 months

He's already one quarter of a year old! We love how much more animated he is becoming. His coos and raspberries are so sweet. Bodie loves to get our attention by making noises.

What you might not be able to tell from the photos: Bodie likes to coo and watch his big sister. He recently discovered his thumb (not surprising since Maggie is a thumb sucker). He continues to be a very easy-going baby.

Bodie's likes:
  • Smiling and cooing
  • His thumb
  • The crib mobile
  • Smacking his lips/tongue

Bodie's dislikes:
  • Being hungry
  • Maggie's hair on his face (which often happens when she leans in close to him)
  • The sun in his face

One thing I want to remember about the past month of Bodie's life is that he continues to be adaptable and generally very happy. His smiles melt me and I seem to be a frequent recipient of them!

A look back: 1 month // 2 months

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

A Trip to the Zoo

Earlier this week, we had the chance to go to the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo. It was such a special thing to do as a family. I have been going to this zoo since I was five years old, but it was so fun to experience it through my two and half year old daughter's eyes for the first time.

I realize she's probably too young to truly appreciate the zoo. But I do think she enjoyed what she saw. She was very anxious to "see the next animal" throughout the trip and had a hard time being present with the animal(s) we were currently looking at. That's just life with a two year old, right?

Some of my favorite highlights of the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo are:
  • The giraffes. They have well over one dozen giraffes and and built this great platform that gets you closer to them. You can feed them and look some of them in the eye. It has come a long way since I remember feeding them over the fence 20+ years ago!
  • Rocky Mountain Wild. I love that you can see so many animals in their "natural habitat" of the Rockies. The moose is my favorite, but they also have mountain lions, bears and bald eagles (and more).
  • Wallabies. This was the most surprising part of the visit to my husband and I. They had wallabies just walking hopping around in one area. They were so friendly and we even had the chance to pet one. 

We didn't get to see everything and we plan to go back soon. With a toddler and infant, I think experiencing the zoo in smaller periods of time will be most beneficial for us. 

Do you have any tips for zoo trips?

Friday, May 6, 2016

Finding the Beautiful Moments in Motherhood

Motherhood has brought me face-to-face with some the most tenderhearted moments of my life and at the same time it's brought me to tears as I realize just how worked up I can get about a situation. Disciplining a toddler is not for the faint of heart. Our relationship can be sweet and gentle one moment and then turn into an all out brawl the next. I'm not proud of it, but the daily nap time battles are wearing me down.

In these moments, when I am least proud of the mother I am, this is where I become keenly aware of my need for Jesus. It seems I have no control over my child's words and actions. I like to think I am doing my best (and also not my best) to discipline this toddler in a loving, yet firm way.

And Jesus is still there. He meets me in my mistakes. When I have to step out of the room and take a deep breath, confess my desire for control, getting caught up in doing things "my way" and recognize my inability to make it happen. In these moments when I am at a loss, I can only lean on Him and trust His Word. He is faithful.

I was thinking the other day as I read an old favorite devotional, 31 Days of Praise, and noticed some of the notes in it from previous times I'd read it. I thought about how things that seemed like such disappointments in 1998 and following years, pale in comparison to the roads I've walked since then.

The author, Ruth Meyers, uses Scripture in each day's reading, basing her words on what is written in God's Word. My circumstances are not by accident, but they are "raw material for blessing" in my life and those around me.

give thanks in all circumstances...
1 Thessalonians 5:18a 

While I wouldn't say my current circumstances are particularly hard, I have been walking through a time of transition. I am in a totally new season: we moved across the country to a small town where I am slowly forming friendships and am now a stay-at-home mom to two children. 

This reminder of having an attitude of gratefulness is so important for me to cling to in the harder moments of motherhood. When I am feeling stranded because we currently have one car and there are days my husband needs it for work; I can load up the kids in our double stroller and go for a walk. While walking, I am reminded of God's bigness with the sky stretching to meet the road ahead.

Other days, I simply need to ask Him to meet me where I am, whether it's standing at the sink doing dishes or turning on a favorite Pandora station to sing along.

I have to choose to focus on the beautiful moments of motherhood. There are so many and I made a list in my journal to remind me of the moments I love on a daily basis.
  • Singing to M when she goes to bed. She usually asks for a hymn and lately it's been Amazing Grace (My Chains are Gone)
  • Reading books to the kids
  • Smiles and giggles from B
  • Telling Brandon the funny things M said or did during the day
  • Snuggling B after he nurses
I could go on and on once I stop to think about the beautiful moments of motherhood. 

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

May goals

Looking back at April, I was able to make progress on each of my goals in some way. I can't say they're 100% complete, but I did feel motivated throughout the month to work on them and that is the reason I set monthly goals.

1- Make healthy lunches. For the most part, Maggie ate lunches with a fruit/veggie and protein and/or carbs. It wasn't perfect, but she is a pretty good eater so I will say she ate most days and didn't fight me. 

2- Introduce some pre-school activities into our weekdays. We didn't have a routine about it, and probably only did a planned activity a handful of times, but it's exciting to me that Maggie now asks for "projects," meaning we get out the craft supplies. I'm still looking to Pinterest for most of my inspiration. 

3- Unpack my clothes and finish setting up our bedroom. Brandon hung my necklace/earring organizer so I could unpack my jewelry. That's the only thing hanging on the wall, so it's not done but we made some progress. 

4- Mail out those birth announcements. DONE! They were all mailed and (so far) only one has come back.

5- Watch the sun set. I have not yet seen a full sunset, but I do have plans to go to a friend's house who lives outside of town and has a beautiful view. I am so looking forward to seeing the sun set from their place.

As for May, I'm going to continue to keep it simple.

1- Go on a date to celebrate our 6th wedding anniversary. It seems terrible, I have to set this goal, but I want to make sure we actually do something for our anniversary because we have slacked on this in the past. 

2- Walk a minimum of three times per week (at least 30 minutes). I recently got a double stroller and the weather is getting warmer, so I really have no excuse not to walk. We went for a walk last week; Maggie loved it and Bodie slept, which was great. I need to incorporate more exercise into my day-to-day routine so this is my starting point. 

3- Go to the zoo. I am excited to take Maggie (and Bodie) on their first trip to the zoo. I think M is at the perfect age to begin to appreciate the animals and be entertained by them. 

4- Keep up with my online Bible study. I am participating in a summer Bible study with some of the younger women in our church and it kicked off May 1st. We only meet in person once a month, so I want to keep up with the study and not find myself cramming or playing catch up.

5- Get my desk setup in the office. There's a smaller desk in our home office and it's currently piled with books, boxes and a bunch of mail that needs to be sorted. I'd really like to use this space, so I need to get it organized and functional. 

Do you have any goals for the month?

Monday, May 2, 2016

To the New Mama on Mother's Day

Dear New Mom,

This is your first Mother's Day since meeting your baby face-to-face and you may not have realized the weight this holiday can have on your new mama heart. Or maybe you already have a strong relationship with the Hallmark holiday because of a painful relationship you have/had with your own mother. Or maybe you dreaded the day because your mom is no longer living.

Whatever your previous relationship to Mother's Day was, you now have a clean slate. You can start afresh. Although you may not be able to "leave your baggage at the door," you can look at Mother's Day through a new lens: as a mother.

My advice is simple.

Do not place too much expectation on the day. While your child is young, the burden of planning a Mother's Day celebration will likely fall to your husband and he may not realize the emphasis so many others put on this day. If he does surprise you, enjoy it. If he doesn't, lovingly let him know you'd like to celebrate differently next year (and maybe wait a week or so to bring it up).

Stay away from Facebook. I'm serious, it can be your worst enemy on Mother's Day. You will be tempted to compare your day to all the other moms out there who got breakfast in bed, personalized jewelry and handmade gifts from their elementary aged cherubs. Don't let Facebook (or any other social media) rob you of the joy of your first Mother's Day.

Think about your new mom friends. Chances are you have some same stage of life friends who are also new moms. Consider how you may cheer them on in their motherhood journey rather than compare your experience to theirs. Do they like tea or coffee? Pickup a box of their favorite next time you're grocery shopping and give it to them with a simple handwritten note the week after Mother's Day or think of something that would speak to their new mama heart.

Just remember, Mama, you are now a mother 365 days of the year and just because all those other Americans you know are celebrating Mother's Day in big ways on this one day, you are no more or less of a mother because of what was said or done.

Motherhood is beautiful and exhausting and downright emotional.