Pinterest to Present: Cheap Toddler Entertainment

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It’s no secret that I’m a big Pinterest freak. So when I’m looking for new ideas or activities to keep Bryce entertained, I naturally turn there for a boatload of ideas.  Literally a boatload.

Today I’ve got a couple Pinterest-inspired projects that are great for keeping toddlers entertained, and best yet? They use things you’ll likely have laying around the house…win!

I’m sure many of you have probably seen the photo that went viral of the busy board that a Dad created for his son. He created a board with household items like  magnetic letters, a wall phone, a calculator, and a series of locks and carabiners for his little one to tinker with. Genius!

busy board Via

I shared this photo with T and he LOVED it. Being the DIY’er/engineer that he is, he was all over this and created it in an afternoon using several items we had on hand, and grabbing a few from our local Menards.  And here’s how our version turned out:

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Bryce loves it and it’s been fun to see his dexterity improve and his curiosity expand as he plays with it.  If you want to make your own, I’d just say that it’s important to either mount it to a wall or weight it pretty well so your kiddo can’t pull it down on themselves. (We made an kickstand on ours so it’s angled backwards and is pretty weighted.)  Such a fun way to keep him entertained!

Another fun one involves cardboard. And in full disclosure, I didn’t make this one…my cousin did as a present for Bryce’s birthday (thanks Kelly!)  But she got the idea from Pinterest and it’s oh so adorable:

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I can’t speak to how easy/hard it was based on the tutorial, but the finished product is awesome!  My cousin added some star/galaxy themed duct tape for a cute finishing touch, and I’ve seen others that go all out and paint it to look like a spaceship and even add control panels and buttons on the inside.  Regardless of how many bells & whistles you add, there’s nothing like cardboard to keep a toddler entertained.  It’s the simple things, I tell ya!

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3-2-1…blast off!

Have any Pinterest-inspired toddler projects you’ve done lately?  Share away!

And while we are on the subject of kiddos, I’d love it if you could take a second to click this link and hit “vote” for Bryce to be the face of Aldi’s new Little Journey line of baby products. The kiddo with the most votes is the big winner! You can vote once a day today through next Wednesday…just click this link and hit “vote”: http://woobox.com/hpzocp/gallery/r9smzhKpKN0 Besides the cool opportunity to be part of their advertising, he could win $30,000 to go towards his college fund!  Bryce (and I) say THANKS!

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Bryce: Aldi’s newest baby model?!

Linking up with Anne in Residence.

10 Things That Make Me Feel Confident & Beautiful as a Mom (Giveaway!)

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This post was sponsored by Vera Wang Fragrances as part of an Activation for Influence Central. I received complimentary products to facilitate my review.

As a new Mom, there are many times when I don’t feel beautiful or confident. More like a hot mess. I’m sure other Moms can relate: balancing a career with housework/chores, all while taking care of a little one (or more than one!) is tough.  How do you feel beautiful when you didn’t have time to brush your hair or change out of your pajamas and it’s already 2 in the afternoon? How do you feel confident in motherhood when you are nailing it on a project at work, but don’t feel like you’ve read or played enough to your child on a particular day?  The struggle is real!

Truthfully, motherhood is hard. For me, it’s the most challenging and yet rewarding and fulfilling thing I’ve done. But there are the days when it gets messy and hard, and you don’t always feel beautiful…or confident for that matter.

Over the past 15 months, I’ve learned to embrace the parts of motherhood that make me feel beautiful and confident, especially when you have those tough days.  So I thought I’d share my list of the top 10 things that I like to remind myself of that can help give me that boost that I need.  Sure, some things are focused on vanity, but others are not– and I think all of them are important in their own way!

  1. The feeling of being needed.
    When your little one is so tired or crying, but all they want to do is cuddle or have you close to them. This makes me feel like the most important, most beautiful woman in the world. When Bryce needs me my world stops and it reminds me why I’m important.  Love those special (snuggly) moments!snuggles
    2.  Giggles.
    Hearing Bryce laugh helps me KNOW I’m doing something right. He’s happy, healthy and having fun! He loves me and when someone loves you, you can’t help but feel beautiful, am I right?!giggles

    3. Me Time Spoils

    For every mom this is different. For me, I enjoy an iced coffee from the coffee shop, the occasional spa visit for a manicure or a fresh haircut, some quality chocolate or even watching my guilty pleasure: The Real Housewives. Oh, and then there’s sleep.  Long, uninterrupted, blissful sleep.

4. Quality Time With Loved Ones

Spending quality time with my lil’ guy where I get down on his level and read books, play in his spaceship or do an epic game of hide & seek are the best. In those moments when he looks at me full of joy and thinks I’m fun, I feel fulfilled and beautiful. This is tough at times because I get caught up in my responsibilities and chores, but in the end I’m always glad when I make myself give him that quality playtime. The bonus is it gives me a lift, and in turn I feel beautiful.  And that goes for time with my husband too.

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5. Exercise!

Getting some Vitamin D and fresh air allows me to feel part of something beautiful. Whether it’s going on a stroller run with my running sleeping buddy, or meeting up with friends for a barre class or Zumba, the exercise I get lifts my spirits and helps keep me healthy and builds my confidence on my body.

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6. Putting on real clothes and tapping into my girly side.
There’s nothing better than taking a long shower, actually blow drying & styling your hair, putting on some makeup and a cute outfit. Total confidence booster. The act of getting ready beyond the necessities like brushing my teeth and washing my face makes me feel more confident and beautiful.  It’s nice to wear an outfit beyond my normal weekday “momiform” of yoga pants and tanks, put on makeup and a spritz of a nice fragrance like Vera Wang Embrace Marigold and Gardenia. It’s a dreamy fruity and floral fragrance and is the newest one in the Vera Wang Embrace Collection. It draws inspiration from celebrating moments in time to be cherished and is available in-store and online at Kohl’s (ARV $29.99). I love the scent- not over powering but a subtle scent that is fresh and inviting and feels indulgent since it’s not something I wear every day!

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7. Contributing
It could be professionally or creatively (like my blog), but whenever I contribute to something and give it my passion and hard work I feel confident and beautiful.

8. Going Out
Whether it’s a date night with my husband to focus on our relationship or a girls night with friends, taking a night to laugh, share trials, accomplishments, advice, and act carefree makes me feel beautiful and gives me a wonderful boost.

9. Be rooted in faith.
This is a big one worth mentioning. Your faith is the foundation that keeps you rooted in who you are and your role in life as a mother.  It definitely gives me the confidence I need in so many aspects of my life!

10. Positivity
Definitely a key factor in my feeling beautiful. Whether I’m naturally in a positive mood or whether I have to encourage myself to focus on the positive (truth is some days I need big cup of coffee and lotsa encouragement!), this sets the tone of how I feel about myself. I know it’s important to set my intentions and thoughtfully decide that I  am beautiful!

And as one of those things that makes you feel confident and beautiful,  I’ve got a fun giveaway for you! Enter for the chance to win one of ten fragrance kits (ARV $75) from Vera Wang. This includes all 4 of the following fragrances:

  • Green Tea & Pear Blossom
  • Rose & Vanilla
  • Periwinkle & Iris
  • Marigold & Gardenia

Contest opens now and closes July 12, 2016. Enter by choosing a social media sharing option form the social media tool below, and good luck!

Vera Wang Embrace Fragrance Collections

 

What things make you feel beautiful and confident as a Mom?  Please share!

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Mom Style #18: When You’re Feeling a Bit Trendy [DressLily to the rescue!]

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Skirt:
c/o DressLilly [exact]
Graphic Tee: c/o DressLily [exact]
Heels: Target [similar]

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Skirt: c/o DressLily [exact]
Graphic Tee: c/o DressLily [exact]
Heels: Target [similar]

You know those days when you just feel like jumping on the trendy bandwagon?  Yep, today was one of those days.  I’ve never owned a graphic tee (do race t-shirts count?) so when I saw this one from DressLily, I had to have it. And let’s be honest…it’s pretty much my mantra these days.

I’ve seen the whole t-shirt on top/dressier skirt on bottom looks on Pinterest and in blog-land, so thought I’d give it a try. I feel like this could be cute with a blazer or jean jacket over it in a casual office environment.  And the lace skirt is OH so cute (although a little on the sheer side). I have an odd obsession with lace, and needed an upgrade to my incredibly old, worn out black pencil skirt so this one fit the bill. And for under $14?  Can’t beat it. Oh, and the t-shirt? Under $8!

I am trying to make a conscious decision to spend my yearly clothing allotment on classic, quality items, but for the times when I want to add a trendier item to my closet, I’d totally check out DressLily. They have really cute items, free shipping and the prices are incredibly affordable (oh, and here’s a coupon for $10 off $50 if you’re interested!)  A couple tips though for shopping here:

1) Start with a free account at Ebates and find Dress Lily. You get another 2.5% cash back on your order!
2) Shipping is free, but it will take a long time to get to you if you are in the US. My order took about 3 weeks (I’m still waiting on the 3rd item in my order, this black romper.)
3) Pay attention to the sizing on each item! The sizes are WAY different than what you typically are. Just go with the measurements and you are golden. No vanity sizing here, people!

Graphic tees- love ’em or hate ’em? What’s does your favorite graphic tee say?

Check out my previous looks: Volume 1 | Volume 2 | Volume 3 | Volume 4 | Volume 5 | Volume 6 | Volume 7|Volume 8 | Volume 9 | Volume 10 | Volume 11 | Volume 12 | Volume 13 | Volume 14 | Volume 15 | Volume 16 | Volume 17

Follow along: FacebookTwitter  |  Pinterest  |  Instagram  |  Bloglovin’

Linking up with  Fizz and Frosting | Color and GraceI do DeClaire | Style Elixir | Walking in Memphis in High Heels & The Fashion Canvas |Garay Treasures | Two Peas in a Blog | Eleganty Dressed and Stylish |Pumps and Pushups | The Pleated Poppy | Tucker Up |Sydney Fashion Hunter |Jersey Girl, Texan Heart | Mix & Match Fashion | Elegance & Mommyhood |Doused in Pink & Curly Crafty Mom |  Anne in Residence

Disclosure: This post was in collaboration with DressLily. I received a credit to shop in exchange for a blog post. Thanks for supporting the brands that support me!

Links & Loves (June)

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Soaking up summertime over here….

Well hello there! I feel like it’s been a bit since I’ve done a post…and it’s kinda true. After a work trip and just enjoying summer and all that comes with it, the blog has taken a bit of a back seat. But not to fear!  I’ve got a few posts in the works, like a super amazing collaboration on a girls getaway in Milwaukee, some recent toddler-focused Pinterest recreations and of course some outfits, along with June’s clothing budget recap- phew!

But first, here’s a few links & loves that caught my eye this month:

What are some of your recent loves? Any fun links to share?

Mom Style, Vol. 17: Summer Style

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Dress: Old Navy {exact}
Jean Jacket: Old Navy {exact}
Sandals: Target {exact}
Necklace: Charming Charlie, old {similar, similar}
Bag: Nordstrom {exact}
Sunglasses: Old Navy, old

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Dress: Old Navy {exact}
Jean Jacket: Old Navy {exact}
Sandals: Target {exact}
Necklace: Charming Charlie, old {similar, similar}
Bag: Nordstrom {exact}
Sunglasses: Old Navy, old

If you asked me to describe my summer style or uniform, this would be it. A lightweight cotton dress, a jean jacket or cargo jacket for layering, a pair of trusty sandals and some shades. I’ve been wearing this outfit, or some version of it, nonstop. Like the black and white version of this dress (yes I bought two, clearly, I have a thing for dresses. And stripes.) In fact, I packed it in my suitcase for a work trip too (a casual one at that). Yep, I’m traveling this week- headed out to Cape Cod for a staff retreat. I’ve always been fascinated by the NE coast, and am excited to see it in person. We’ll be in a couple rental houses right on the water, and I intend to soak up every minute of it!

Anyways, back to the clothes. You’ll notice that the majority of my outfit is from Old Navy. They are killing it for me style-wise these days. On trend, affordable, easy returns and of course– great sales and promos. I’ve got some SuperCash that is valid now and I already have a few things sitting in my cart, like this black maxi dress, swing dress, gladiator sandals, a pair of jean shorts, and possibly this romper, something I’ve been curious to try. Oh and what the heck, maybe another pair of my favorite workout capris while I’m at it.

Any good finds you’ve seen at Old Navy lately? Do you have any of the items I’m considering?  Would love to know how they fit!

Check out my previous looks: Volume 1 | Volume 2 | Volume 3 | Volume 4 | Volume 5 | Volume 6 | Volume 7|Volume 8 | Volume 9 | Volume 10 | Volume 11 | Volume 12 | Volume 13 | Volume 14 | Volume 15 | Volume 16

Follow along: FacebookTwitter  |  Pinterest  |  Instagram  |  Bloglovin’

Linking up with  Fizz and FrostingI do DeClaire | Style Elixir | Walking in Memphis in High Heels & The Fashion Canvas | Garay Treasures | Two Peas in a Blog | Eleganty Dresses and Stylish | The Pleated Poppy | Pumps and Pushups | Tucker Up | Sydney Fashion Hunter | Color and Grace | Mix & Match Fashion | The Mummy Chronicles | Elegance & Mommyhood | Doused in Pink | Curly Crafty Mom Jersey Girl, Texan Heart

For the Mamas: 3 Tips for a Fit & Healthy Summer

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Summer time can be a challenge when it comes to fitting in time for fitness.  From play dates to family trips to parties & BBQs- it’s tempting to find excuses for a hiatus from your health- especially when it comes to fitness and food.  So today I’m sharing a few of the things I do to keep my health a priority!

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1) Make exercise a priority.

My workouts are a time just for me to reconnect with who I am. It’s my stress relief, my time to recharge and it truly centers me each day, so I try to get in some sort of workout every day. I don’t view exercise as a punishment. It’s a gift that keeps giving not just to me but those around me!  With a toddler in tow, it can be hard to fit in fitness, but I get creative. For example, I don’t need a gym. Squats, lunges, push-ups, planks, and various core exercises only need your body weight. Not to mention burpees, mountain climbers and squat lunges to get your heart rate up. I’ve been enjoying the 30 day challenges (you’ll see them all over Pinterest) where you focus on things like building up on reps of push-ups, squats, planks, etc. as you go through the month. They only take a few minutes and really build your strength!

And along those lines- split it up!  Some days, it’s hard to squeeze in a whole workout, even if it’s a 30 minute DVD. So split up your workout to a few 10 minute rounds throughout the day. I also love running, but Bryce tends to get up quite early in the mornings (too early for me to even wake up and run before he’s awake).  So incorporate your child!  Bring them along in the stroller.  We love checking out the trails, scenery and animals along the way. And you can even involve them in your exercises. Bryce is definitely picking up on the idea of exercise already and loves when I lift him up for a weighted press, or do weighted crunches with him or even planks or squats to kiss him each time.

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2) Fuel your body.

For me, this is one I am always trying to improve upon. My sweet tooth has been horrible these days, and I’m really trying to incorporate more fruit and veggies into my diet. (All I can say is I’m glad my parents have a massive garden…they always have tons of great stuff to share, along with some great farmer’s markets in our community too.) Along those lines, I find it easier to eat smaller, more frequent meals throughout the day versus 3 large meals-especially in the summer. It doesn’t weigh me down as much when I eat smaller portions, which makes all the difference.  And summertime is grilling time around our house, so it’s always nice to throw on some veggies or make some kabobs, although I’m always on the lookout for healthy (relatively easy) summer recipes so please share if you have any!

Another big one?  Hydration!  I could drink my weight in coffee these days, but water is where it’s at. It keeps my hydrated, full and really does wonders on my skin. Who would have thought something as simple as that could be so helpful?  I love ice cold water…and adding fruit or herbs helps change it up a bit from time to time. I try to keep a water bottle at my desk or right within reach, when I’m driving in the car, etc. so I can always reach for it. (I’ve heard it’s best to drink half your body weight in ounces each day, so it helps to have it right at your finger tips.)

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And a really easy one? Take your vitamins! It’s a no brainer, and it helps to ensure you are getting all the vital nutrients you need. I recently discovered New Chapter Vitamins, which are made with organic ingredients and re-uniquely formulated to support the health needs of each life stage. They ferment the individual vitamins and minerals with beneficial probiotics and whole foods to transform multivitamins into whole-food fermented nutrients, and are safe to take on an empty stomach.  Game changer!  (And bonus: they are available on Amazon, my favorite place to shop online these days.)

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New Chapter Vitamins even makes specially formulated prenatal and postnatal vitamins, which definitely caught my eye. The Perfect Prenatal includes a carefully selected prenatal blend of organic herbs and fruits, which are safety reviewed for pregnancy and supports mom and baby before and during pregnancy, with 100% of the daily value of iron that women need during pregnancy.*

The Perfect Postnatal vitamins incorporate targeted nutrients that help nourish and provide energy, mood and lactation support for new moms, including iron, vitamin B6, vitamin D3 and iodine.* I had never heard of a postnatal vitamin before and wish I had, especially since your nutritional needs change after pregnancy & birth. Awesome!  I make it part of my morning routine to take my vitamins first thing with my coffee.  And speaking of habits…

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3) Create a routine!
Summer time is a tough time to fall off your routine (especially when your kiddos are school-aged and are on summer vacation.)  I try to stick to our schedule and obey that precious nap time during the early afternoons, bedtime, and meal times, all within reason of course– there are definitely those exceptions…YOLO :-)

Personally, I try to tackle go through emails and drink a cup of coffee quietly first thing in the morning before Bryce wakes up, and cut/prep Bryce’s meals for the day. At the end of the day, I always like to tidy up the house & pick up toys, and clean up the kitchen so I feel like I’m set with a blank slate for the next day.  I also do meal planning on the weekend and plan a menu for the week. It helps SO much to know what we will be eating– I find we make better food choices, spend less money eating out and enjoy cooking together and family time around the dinner table.

We also love to take advantage of the beautiful weather with as much family time as possible outdoors. After dinner, we try to head out when the sun isn’t as hot, which is perfect. We’ll go on a family walk, hit up the park in our neighborhood, play with bubbles, even an outdoor concert that our park district puts on- you name it. The fresh air is rejuvenating for everyone, especially before Bryce heads to bed. Can’t beat those summer nights. The BEST.

What tips do you have for staying healthy over the summer? Any good summer recipes to share? Fun family summer activities?  I’m all ears!

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

May 2016 Clothing Budget

May clothing


May clothing May 2016 Clothing Budget

Old Navy Striped T-Shirt Dress (black and gray stripes): $11.50 each after sale + Splender cash back
Old Navy Striped Ponte Sheath Dress: $0 after CC rewards certificate
Old Navy Striped Jersey T-Shirt Dress: $13
Nike Rival 4″ Shorts via eBay: $26 including shipping
J. Crew for New Balance sneakers (current version) via eBay: $59.75 including shipping, worn here and here
Lucky Brand Emmie Flat via Macy’s: $9.87 after sale + gift card + Ebates cash back, worn here

Not pictured: Also used my Shopbop credits to get these black Hunter boots. I have green ones but feel like black will get more wear long-term. That means I’ll be selling the green pair…no sense in having two!

Total: $131.62– $177 income earned (via eBay and Poshmark sales) = -45.38 for May, but I’m just calling it zero (because I might just treat myself and hit up some Memorial Day sales). YAY!

Annual clothing allotment: $600– $193.90 spent so far = $406.10 remaining for the year

I LOVE a summer dress more than anything. Let’s be honest…it’s like wearing an outfit with a built in air conditioner. Does it get any better in the hot, humid summers?

With an active toddler, I pretty much need all my clothes to have stretch so I can move around and play side by side with my little guy. And I’ve always been a dress gal, so I refuse to stop wearing them altogether just because I’m down on the ground more than usual (hey, half the time it’s just us anyways!)   I really like the look of dresses with sleeves…I just feel a little bit more comfortable in them versus tank top dresses, and them seem to look more complete as an outfit in my opinion.

So I found a few enticing dresses for summer from where else but Old Navy. Can’t beat their sales, combined with cash back sites and credit card reward certificates. Yes, they are all black (or gray) and white striped, but they are all a bit different in their own way, very remixable and certainly eliminates decision fatigue when it comes time to get dressed.  And when they are all under $15, I just can’t pass ’em up!  They are all incredibly comfy and casual, although the ponte one is a bit dressier, great for church or something where I need to be more dressed up for something work-related.

Beyond that, I grabbed aonther pair of my new all-time favorite shorts. I got a pair in March, and decided another pair was a necessity. These are the only short that don’t ride up when I run, which I attribute to the 4 inch inseam. I never wear shorts to run because of that, and now I can in these humid temps we are having right now– what a difference!

To round out my purchases, I got two pairs of shoes this month. The New Balance sneakers were a decent deal on eBay, but I’ll admit- I’m having a bit of buyer’s remorse on these. Not as remixable as I thought (although I’m open to ideas!)  Might be selling these, so we’ll see. And the cognac flats are SO comfortable. Definitely look like the expensive Tiek brand shoes, but at a much cheaper price point. And they have a nice cushioned sole with great support.

I must say, I’m super impressed with myself on my $600 budget for 2016. So far at least! Almost half way through the year and still have 2/3 of my budget left. I have been fine-tuning my wardrobe and selling several pieces on eBay/Poshmark to help offset my purchases, which has helped a TON.  It’s kind of a nice way to curate pieces that fit your current lifestyle without breaking the bank. We will see how the rest of the year goes!

So tell me- how did you do this month?

Follow along: FacebookTwitter  |  Pinterest  |  Instagram  |  Bloglovin’

Linking up with Franish and the other budgeting bloggers!

 

Links and Loves (May)

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Bubbles, bubbles everywhere!

Sharing some links and loves for May with ya…

First up, sharing a love that hits close to home. Quite literally.

T and I have so enjoyed our time in our first home. But it’s time for a new chapter!  We found a fantastic house not too far away and we will be moving later this summer. That said, we are putting our home on the market. Praying that it sells quickly, and we can focus on the move…things are about to get a little busy in these parts!  It’s been a roller coaster of emotions…so much going on!

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And how about some links?

Speaking of moving, will definitely take these tips on moving with littles. Do you have any to add?

And when it comes to selling a house, the ‘ol trick of having freshly baked chocolate chip cookies doesn’t hurt, right?  With 4 ingredients, I can handle these recipes.

For the littles:
Great post on building a home your kids want to come home to.

Style-wise:
Trying to practice these baby steps in ethical fashion.

Reasons why successful people are choosing to wear the same thing every day.

It’s time to bust out that white denim! Check out my latest look in the “Mom Style” series…

On the fitness front:
Would you take a spin bus to work?

I am in love with my jogging stroller. Taking runs with Bryce is so wonderful– love that he loves it too!

For a laugh:
35 blogger struggles. I can relate to several of these…along with this post on blogging + money matters.

A dad/baby dance class. Enough said.

What happens when your toddler barfs in the car? This Dad’s texts had me literally laughing out loud.

For a cry (you’ve been warned!):
Time needs to slow down with our kiddos. Seriously.

Do you have any links or loves? Share them in the comments!

Follow along: FacebookTwitter  |  Pinterest  |  Instagram  |  Bloglovin’

Mom Style, Vol. 16: Easy like a Sunday morning…

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Top: Mindy Mae’s Market {exact}
Jeans: Target {exact}
Wedges: Kohl’s- 3+ years ago {option, option}
Earrings: Target on clearance a while back

Whenever I have a song as my blog post title, the said song always gets stuck in my head. On repeat. Arrrgh!

Anyways, the song is particularly fitting because this was an easy outfit. And it was taken on Sunday morning before church. So there you have it! I’ve discovered that as much as I love wearing dresses and skirts, pants are the way to go for Sunday mornings because often times we will find ourselves in the kid’s room at church after Bryce finishes his snacks, reads his books, and gets bored sitting in Mommy or Daddy’s lap and needs to move around a bit (and I’m basically out of tricks to keep an active toddler quiet and still.)  Much easier to get on the ground with him and the other kiddos vs. a dress.

I grabbed these pants when I was at Target recently and love the light olive color. They pair well with this top, which I am in LOVE with.  It was a total impulse, and came from a boutique that popped up on my Facebook newsfeed (Sidenote: Facebook is crazy, scary smart you guys…)  I resisted the urge to buy all.of.the.things. and got the “Nantucket” top and am so glad I did. It ended up coordinating really well for Bryce’s recent 1 year photo shoot, too. (I hope to share the rest of the photos at some point…I’m completely smitten with them.)

….easy like a Sunday morning…ahhh ooooo!  Is it stuck in your head too?! :-)

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Check out my previous looks: Volume 1 | Volume 2 | Volume 3 | Volume 4 | Volume 5 | Volume 6 | Volume 7|Volume 8 | Volume 9 | Volume 10 | Volume 11 | Volume 12 | Volume 13 | Volume 14 | Volume 15

Linking up with  Fizz and FrostingI do DeClaire | Style Elixir | Walking in Memphis in High Heels & The Fashion Canvas | Garay Treasures | Two Peas in a BlogEleganty Dresses and StylishThe Pleated Poppy | Pumps and PushupsTucker Up | Sydney Fashion Hunter | Color and GraceMix & Match Fashion | The Mummy ChroniclesElegance & Mommyhood | Doused in Pink | Curly Crafty Mom |  Jersey Girl, Texan Heart

Follow along: FacebookTwitter  |  Pinterest  |  Instagram  |  Bloglovin’

Our Bedtime Routine

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

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Parents (or anyone who has ever taken care of babies/toddlers for that matter) know that sleep can be oh so challenging. While we yearn for hours of blissful, uninterrupted sleep, our littles often have other ideas! One thing I have learned with Bryce is that he really thrives on a bedtime routine.

When I was pregnant, I remember reading and speaking with fellow Mamas about sleep and bedtime routines.  And with a year of motherhood under my belt, I’ve found this to be true myself: children are creatures of habit and they LOVE knowing what comes next. So, if you can get them accustomed to a routine followed by sleep, you will (hopefully) set yourself up for some deep, restorative sleep too!

I thought it’d be fun to share the last hour-ish of Bryce’s day with you and what our bedtime routine consists of. Bryce typically goes to sleep around 7:30 these days. I prep dinner as T is getting home from work and we eat together as a family around 5:45-6.  (That includes Izzy, as you can tell.)

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After dinner, Bryce gets cleaned up (some days are messier than others) and he likes to play and run around. I don’t know how anyone sleeps well after that, but it seems like he needs to get the last bit of energy out before the day is over. Often times, we will play in the family room or even take a quick family walk in the neighborhood if the weather is nice and play on the swings.

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If it’s a bath night (he typically has baths every other day), we start it around 6:45 or 7pm. Bryce loves playing with his toys, reading his waterproof books and pulling the drain plug.  What a stinker!

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T and I like to take a team approach to bath time- I usually play with Bryce while T does the prep work: getting the tub filled, laying out PJs, setting out a towel and a fresh diaper & related supplies, pouring a sippy cup of milk, refilling the humidifier in his room, etc. Then we both usually give him a bath and play/chat with him, although sometimes we switch it up. After Bryce is done in the bathtub, we dry him off and lay him on top of our bed so we have room to dry him off, then follow up with some lavender scented baby lotion, a diaper and PJs (he wears two piece PJs and they are oh so adorable!)

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The main products we’ve been using with Bryce that are a serious staple in our nighttime routine are the Huggies OverNites Diapers and Huggies Natural Care Wipes. I had no idea there were diapers specifically for overnight…what a game changer. These have saved me from middle of the night diaper changes since they provide leakage protection for up to 12 hours! There’s nothing worse than having your little guy get woken up from a full diaper (and having your sleep interrupted too!)  These diapers have really held up to their name…no issues so far and we’ve been using them for a couple weeks. And the wipes are really gentle on Bryce’s skin and no wonder- as the wipes are 99% water.  And equally important- they get the job done too!

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After Bryce is all clean and dressed (is there any better smell in this world than a clean baby?!), we brush his teeth and bring him into his room, where the curtains & blinds are drawn since it’s still light out around that time.  We turn on a dim light, flip on the humidifier and his sound machine and Daddy will kiss him good night. Then, I’ll rock Bryce while I read him a book while he sips on some milk, say our prayers and then it just takes a few minutes after that for him to fall asleep in my arms.  I love those precious, quiet moments that him and I share…and I just love staring at his peaceful little face as he breathes deeply while he nods off to sleep.

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After a few more minutes of snuggling, I quietly place him in his crib, turn off the light and tip-toe out of his room (and you should see me- I look like I’m trying to navigate around a land mine…I try to avoid the squeaks in the floor if Bryce is sleeping lightly- it’s woken him up before so I try to avoid those areas as much as I can!)

*Most* nights, Bryce will sleep till 6:30-7am the next morning. I say most nights because there’s things like teething and such that can mess up his sleep, poor guy.

I’m not sure if our schedule and consistency has molded him into a great sleeper, or if he’s just naturally that way – but I’ll take it! I really think the sticking to a bedtime is key for the littles. I think they need it and after a full day, I’m thankful for a 7:30 cut-off time when I can relax a bit!

And part of my nighttime routine?  Once Bryce is asleep, I take a few uninterrupted moments to go through emails and such. And order anything I might be running low on, like diapers and wipes- via Amazon of course. (Love my Prime subscription.)  Takes just a second and I don’t have to leave the house!

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Here’s a more few tips to get your baby better sleep at night:

1) Establish a bedtime routine and start early, and stick to it! Take a bath, read a book, turn on relaxing music, etc.
2) Have a good nighttime diaper.
3) Set up a safe sleeping environment. Check out these tips on sleep safety.
4) Create a sleep-like environment. Make sure your baby’s room is dark, and try using a sound machine.
5) Make sure baby eats well during the day and takes bottles as needed.
6) Above all else, don’t stress about it!

What do you do every night with your littles to make sure they get a full night’s sleep? Please share!

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And check out this coupon to score some Huggies goodies for yourself! 

Mom Style, Vol. 15: White Denim

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Vest: J. Crew Factory {similar}
Button-Up: J. Crew Factory {exact}
Jeans: Old Navy {exact, comes in several rises and cuts}
Flats: Lucky via Macy’s {exact}
Bag: Nordstrom {exact}

I’ll admit it. I was hesitant to wear these white jeans, especially for a “Mom Style” blog post. Or even pre-baby for that matter. I was always worried that I would get a stain on them and ruin them. And with a toddler in tow, I thought that was even more the case. And for that reason, I never reached for them in my closet.  They just sat there, unworn.  For a loooong time.

But you know what?  I am finally putting them into my outfit rotation these days. Besides white denim, I have several pieces in my closet that I don’t wear, either because I am worried I will ruin them, or some other silly reason where I feel I have to “save” the article of clothing for something that I can’t even put my finger on.  And then you see the problem, right?  These things just never get worn! Crazy, I know. So I’m putting an end to this subconscious thought and these pieces.  It doesn’t do me any good when I have things just sitting in my closet.  They are meant to be worn!

Besides, if these jeans do happen to get stained, there’s nothing a stain remover can’t fix! And if they are beyond repair, it’s under $30 to replace. No biggie for something that I will actually wear. :-) In fact, I think white denim is a great spring and summer staple for my wardrobe, and versatile too.  Works with patterns and solids on top, like I did in this outfit. I added my new favorite (reversible!) tote and walking-on-clouds cognac flats and voila- a fun spring outfit.

Do you “save” certain articles of clothing and realize you just don’t end up wearing them?  Tell me I’m not alone!

Check out my previous looks: Volume 1 | Volume 2 | Volume 3 | Volume 4 | Volume 5 | Volume 6 | Volume 7|Volume 8 | Volume 9 | Volume 10 | Volume 11 | Volume 12 | Volume 13 | Volume 14

Linking up with  Fizz and FrostingI do DeClaire | Style Elixir | Walking in Memphis in High Heels & The Fashion Canvas | Garay Treasures | Two Peas in a BlogEleganty Dresses and StylishThe Pleated Poppy | Pumps and PushupsTucker Up | Sydney Fashion Hunter | Color and GraceMix & Match Fashion | The Mummy ChroniclesElegance & Mommyhood | Doused in Pink | Curly Crafty Mom | Work Clothes, I Suppose | Jersey Girl, Texan Heart

Follow along: FacebookTwitter  |  Pinterest  |  Instagram  |  Bloglovin’

Where Fashion Meets Function, Baby-Wise

cybex stroller

This post was sponsored by CYBEX as part of a Blog Blast Activation for Influence Central.

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Let’s face it- in many aspects of our lives, details make the design. Whether choosing the perfect shoe to accessorize your style, or decorating your home working with colors, textures and patterns to make your space feel warm and inviting, details help make every moment our own.

Once you have a baby, keeping up with the details needed to maintain our sense of ‘self’ seems increasingly difficult.  So when a product comes along that marries our pre-baby style with post-baby needs, we jump at the chance to add it to our lives, right?!

Enter Cybex. They tailor each and every product to real parents – those who understand that life doesn’t end with parenthood, but is enriched by children, designing innovative yet safe and functional products, like their Gold Line available at Buy Buy Baby.  For me, a stroller is a great example of a product that I look for that combines security and helpful features with a nice design…style plus function!

Mamas–what kinds of products do you look for that combine your personal style with baby’s needs?

Disclosure: This post was sponsored by CYBEX, a company I wanted to share with my readers. All opinions are my own. Thank you for supporting the businesses that support me!

Toddler Swim Time Essentials

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This post was sponsored by SwimWays as part of an Activation for Influence Central. I received products to facilitate my review.

I am so excited to spend some time at the pool with Bryce this summer now that he’s old enough and technically..gulp…a toddler! Last month, we started swim lessons at our local YMCA and he is loving being in the water, laying on his back and trying to blow bubbles. Once the warmer weather hits, it’ll be so nice to head to the local park districts where they have parent-tot swim times just for parents (or caregivers) and littles. Counting down the days!

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So I figured I’d do a little roundup of some toddler swim time essentials I plan to pack along in my bag. Yes, the majority of these are blue, but many of these items come in pink and other colors too!

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One | Two | Three | Four | Five | Six | Seven | Eight | Nine

And with summer right around the corner, it’s a great time to teach our littles how to swim. I remember learning when I was a kiddo…such an invaluable life skill for both fun AND safety. In fact, did you know that National Learn to Swim Day is May 21st this year?  SwimWays started this day in 2012 and is passionate about educating parents and children about water safety and the importance and benefits of learning to swim.

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So I definitely plan to celebrate as pools open in the coming months. I’m really excited for Bryce to have fun in the water this summer, but I’m admittedly a bit nervous about water safety.  Luckily, I can use products like SwimWay’s Baby Spring Float to give me some peace of mind! They say it’s the best baby float on the market today and is perfect for introducing kiddos to the water for the first time.

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I really believe that a smooth transition to the water creates a life-long love of swimming – and I want my little guy to love the water like I do! I can’t wait to bust out the new baby spring float to give Bryce a safe and fun time in the water as he develops his skills. It’s going to be an awesome summer – I can feel it!

What other essentials are on your list? Any tips for keeping swimming fun and safe?

 

Mom Style, Vol. 14- Cardigans

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For this month’s Mom Style Remix item, I was excited to see cardigans featured for May. They are a versatile layer through all the seasons, and obviously, you don’t have to be a Mama to rock them.

So today I put together a little round-up of some of my favorite outfits featuring a cardigan.  As you can see- I own several- open front, drapey, cocoon, button-up, you name it. And color-wise, I run the gammet- prints to neutrals to colors. #sorrynotsorry

I had fun going through past blog posts and picked out a few looks: two from pre-baby (coral and yellow, bottom right two looks), while pregnant (orange and red, bottom left two looks) and post-baby (top row).  Just goes to show that cardigans can be a great completer piece in various phases of life!  I linked to the full blog post for each outfit below…

mom style remix- cardigans
Top row: one | two (see below) | three
Bottom row: one | two | three | four

For this most recent look, I paired up some solid colors and wore this to dinner at a place that has an amazing fish boil over the border in Wisconsin (sidenote: it is SO delicious and such a hole-in-the-wall spot!)

And now that I see the photos of my look, I’m not so crazy about the black denim with the sneakers…thinking jeans would have looked better.  Thoughts?

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Cardigan: Target (similar version now on sale B1G1 50% off)
Tee: Costco (exact)
Necklace: Kate Spade (exact)
Jeans: Gap Outlet (exact)
Shoes: J.Crew for New Balance via eBay (current version)

Check out my previous looks: Volume 1 | Volume 2 | Volume 3 | Volume 4 | Volume 5 | Volume 6 | Volume 7|Volume 8 | Volume 9 | Volume 10 | Volume 11 | Volume 12 | Volume 13

Linking up with  Fizz and FrostingI do DeClaire | Style Elixir | Walking in Memphis in High Heels | The Pleated Poppy | Tucker Up | Mix & Match Fashion | Elegance & Mommyhood | Doused in Pink | Curly Crafty Mom |Lifestyle by Joules | Anne in Residence & What You Make It

Follow along: FacebookTwitter  |  Pinterest  |  Instagram  |  Bloglovin’

My Fitness Must-Haves + a Giveaway!

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IMG_8464 Whenever I can, I try to squeeze in a workout almost every day. I feel so much better when I do- it reduces stress, gives me energy and keeps me focused so I can be the best version of myself– as a mother, wife and employee.  Plus, it’s important for me to set a good example for my son.  When it comes to fitness, it really helps to have the right gear (and hey, a new workout DVD or outfit is always a nice to keep you motivated along the way!) Here’s my current fitness must-haves: 1// DVDs (exact) I started doing T25 workouts post-baby for several months and loved that they were intense and got me working up a good sweat in only 25 minutes. But after a while, I was ready to change it up and have been doing the 21 Day Fix DVDs. About 30 minutes each and a great workout. Beachbody knows how to put together a great program- especially if you are tight on time! 2// Water bottle (exact) Always necessary to have water on hand for workouts, and throughout the day. I love my monogrammed water bottle and I have it with me wherever I am! 3// Sticky socks (my fave, and for more athletic/running socks, these are my go-tos) I love wearing sticky socks throughout the house and for workouts like barre class, yoga and pilates- gives me some extra grip on the wood floors without having to wear slippers.  And even cuter that they make sticky socks for the littles so Bryce and I can match (and is perfect for him as he can use the extra grip when he walks around!)  When it comes to socks I wear with shoes for running, etc. I love Smartwool. 4// Headband (love these) If you have lots of whispies along your hairline like I do (that postpartum hair!), I love wearing a headband like this one that stays put. I’ve tried several other brands and these are the only ones that don’t slide off my head.  I have them in a variety of colors and wear them constantly. 5// Mat (exact) When it comes to ab work, stretching, and any other floor work, you have to have a nice mat. This mat has a ton of cushion and is super thick and holds its shape. It’s amazing. (Why yes, I am emotionally attached to my mat.) Worth the moolah if you ask me! 6// Tank top (fun, affordable options and if you like graphic tanks, these are fun, I wore a few here) Confession: I spend more on workout clothes than my work wardrobe. But technically, my work wardrobe these days is workout clothes since I work from home…so it’s justified, right? Regardless, workout clothes are comfortable and efficient, especially when I can do a quick workout over lunch- no need to change!  I prefer wearing tank tops, finding I have more freedom for movement. 7// Long sleeve/pullover (save, splurge— I own both of these and love them!) As I warm up, I love having another layer and same for after the workout. My “gym” is in my basement and it can get pretty cold, so having some long sleeves are essential! (In fact, just picked up a few in my April clothing purchases.) 8// Capris (save, splurge-waaaant!) I have a weak spot for cute capris. Stripes to prints to solids- I love collecting these bad boys. Perfect for every type of workout. I prefer wearing capris for runs too over shorts (no chafing!).  And a little secret? I prefer to go commando in these. Ever since a couple running pals of mine mentioned they do it, I tried it and never looked back. A game changer, I tell ya! 9// Sports bra (save, splurge) Proper support is essential, and it doesn’t hurt to have a stash of cute sports bras. I had to replace some of my old sports bras recently (they were worn well beyond their life) and what a world of difference it makes! 10// Watch (exact) Ever since I upped my running game a few years ago, I tried my first GPS watch. The technology is incredible! So great when you want to run for distance or time. (I used to own a Garmin and then won a Fitbit. I like the user interface and look of the Fitbit more, but find that the Garmin is a bit more accurate, especially when it comes to stroller runs.) 11// Cottonelle® Flushable Cleansing Cloths (click here for a coupon!) As I mentioned in #8, it makes all the difference going commando- underwear is the last thing you need standing in the way of setting a PR at a race or showing through your capris in barre class. That’s where these cloths come in. Cottonelle® has CleanRipple Texture in their flushable cleansing cloths and toilet paper gets you clean so you can go without. IMG_8469 Cottonelle® has CleanRipple Texture designed to clean better, so you’re clean enough to Go Commando. And for those of you in the Chicagoland area, Cottonelle® is sponsoring the upcoming Wanderlust 108 Festival on May 14. Wanderlust 108 is a triathlon a bit different than the rest. This “mindful triathlon” brings three events together in your favorite local park: a 5K run (or walk), an outdoor yoga experience, and a guided meditation – but with a twist. From DJs on the main stage to lawn activities like hooping, slacklining and acroyoga, to local food and craft vendors, there’s plenty to do when you’re not on your mat. Nationally recognized teachers, speakers and musical talent are featured at each event to make for a fun-filled day. Want to take part in Wanderlust in a warmer locale? Enter their sweepstakes for a chance to win an all-inclusive trip to Wanderlust 108 Festival in Miami on October 22! IMG_8463 And even better, I’ve got a sweet giveaway too!  It’s called The Cottonelle® “Come Clean” Reader Giveaway, and up for grabs is a Cottonelle® Stylist Kit ($50 ARV). Each kit will include a selection of fabulous fitness “must haves” — Cottonelle® Flushable Cleansing Cloths, Benefit mascara, Dose of Colors lip gloss, Klorane dry shampoo, Emi Jay hair ties, and a plain black baseball cap. Giveaway starts today at 12:01 a.m. EST and ends at 11: 59 p.m. on May 22, 2016 (the “Entry Period”)  Enter using the Rafflecopter widget below. Good luck! cottonelle giveaway a Rafflecopter giveaway

What are your fitness must-haves?

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.