Embracing the Mess

Today (and probably tomorrow) I’m letting my house be a mess.  As a stay at home mom I really try to stay on top of things but its not always possibly.  This isn’t the first day my house looks like it got turned upside down and it won’t be the last.  With Justin having more work demands and less time at home I’ve been “on my own” a little more.  Of course I am never without some sort of emergency back up, but ultimately sun up to sun down its me.

So today I decided I’m not cleaning a single thing.  I’m not even going to change my kids diapers… Joking!  I’m joking.  They might be the cleanest things in the house right now.  Laundry is still being done as are the dishes, because those are 2 things that I can’t neglect EVER, as much as I would like to.  The laundry I’m folding though might not get put away immediately and the last load I put into the dryer may sit in there until tomorrow.  Thats fine.

My floors can be swept tomorrow and vacuumed another day and what isn’t essential can wait for the rest of today.  I am 100% human and I can’t do everything.  No one can.  My whole point in this entire post is that you need to cut yourself some slack.  Regardless of how many hats you wear and what they specifically represent life is just busy.  I’m normally a little OCD about cleanliness and organization in our house and all too often I get way bent out of shape because something isn’t getting picked up fast enough.  You can often find me running (almost literally) around our house trying to keep up with the mess the kids are making and doing all the other things needing to be done.  Today I’m embracing the mess.  I’m letting my house be a home thats lived in.

So, cut yourself some slack friends.  Just a fast and hard reminder you can’t do it all even though you really want to.  Don’t wear yourself down trying to knock out that mile long to do list.  Take a rest and enjoy your kids a few hours longer, read a good book, or watch that show you’ve been dying to start or catch-up on.

RELAX and LIVE.

 

 

Balance

Life is a total balancing act. Whether you are married or not with or without children its all about finding that semi close to perfect balance in all of your relationships and commitments. Entering into adulthood you quickly discover how difficult that balance can be to maintain. Add significant others and tiny humans who depend on you into the mix and you are really walking a tightrope a majority of the time trying to keep everything in line and still be sound of mind.

Just think about all the different areas of life we touch on just in our day to day… work life which comes with social relationships often, home life which is an absolute whirlwind of many different areas, immediate family such as parents and grandparents, your social life and keeping in touch with friends. So, how do we do it? How do we give an adequate amount of time to each of these important areas in our lives? I wish I knew! For some time Justin and I have been trying to find that perfect balance for everything but I’m not really sure it exists when we as individuals are always being pulled in so many directions. While it is frustrating its good to remind ourselves that its not always necessarily a bad thing because it just means our lives are full, and full of good things that keep us preoccupied. We would both love to have more personal time, more time together for just the two of us, more time to do things like exercise and do some extracurricular activities, more time for each of our families, just more time. I think thats something a lot of people find themselves saying “If the days were just a few hours longer I could get everything done…” So, again, how do we do it? How do we live to enjoy the little (and big) things when we are so busy with absolutely everything.

I think the only answer I can come up with to the questions I asked is that you just have to learn to let go of the little things. Don’t worry about the things that don’t have to be done right now or even tomorrow. Often times I let a pile of laundry or a sink full of dishes distract me from time with my family or cause me stress I don’t need to subject myself to. I have a tendency to get distracted by household tasks when I should be enjoying my kids while they are small and spending those moments with my husband when both kids are in bed and we can have an adult conversation.

Maybe you even need to find some literal balance in your life by taking a yoga class or going paddle boarding during the summer months. These are things you can do for yourself or together as a family. I think for the most part we all need a lot of figurative balance in our lives and when someone discovers that absolute perfect balance to all aspects of life I hope they share it with everyone.

How do you keep your life balanced?

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(Originally posted on June 13th, 2017)

Talking about things that are hard.

This is another one of those topics I have thought about sharing/discussing many times but was never really sure what I wanted to say, how I wanted to say it, or the point (if any) that I wanted to make.  It’s a post I have spent more time on and read over and over again because I want it portrayed correctly.  As the title says its a hard thing to talk about and share.
  Depression.  It’s something I have fought against before and was again dealing with it as of recently.  Mental health, in my opinion, is one of the harder things to first acknowledge you have a problem and then seek the appropriate help.  For me personally, I refused to believe depression was the issue after our second daughter was born.  I still don’t accept (consider me absolutely stubborn and a willingness to not want to be wrong) that it was a form of post partum depression but it was depression.  I blamed it on circumstances for so long and thought that if things would just go my way everything would be fine and I would feel ok again.  Things did start going in the direction I wanted to but oddly enough my feelings of doubt and longing to have the “perfect” life only got worse and I found myself in a deeper and darker hole than before.  I had become numb to everything around me and had built up so much resentment for some of the cards we had been dealt that I couldn’t even process what it was like to just be satisfied any longer.  I would have settled for satisfied at that point.  I felt like I needed everything but could attain nothing.  I lashed out, I cried a lot, and I wondered what had gone so wrong that the beautiful little girls that filled my every day with a lot of joy and the husband that was doing everything in his earthly power that was possible of doing wasn’t enough.  Why wasn’t it enough?  What did I need?  Justin asked me many times “What do you need?  What will fix things right now?”  I couldn’t even answer because I just plain and simple didn’t have an answer.  Things continued on for awhile and something in me one day said “Enough.”  I was waging war on an opponent who knew no limits and was undefeatable without help.  ac34c426bf9295e8f7f0404f0ad83c8a
  Things have significantly turned around for me.  I really hope others have noticed it as well because the person I was for that time wasn’t who I needed to be as a wife, a mother, a daughter, or a friend.  I wanted more for myself and most importantly even more for the people I love.  My challenge to accept reality was difficult but I wanted to appreciate the life I have and thoroughly enjoy it.  I needed to reach out and put myself in an even more uncomfortable position in order to propel myself into something better, so I did it.  However, doing it wasn’t as easy as it reads right now.  Before actually going forward with anything I went back and forth for awhile telling myself this is silly you can fix this on your own, but I couldn’t.  I cancelled an appointment and rescheduled it only to question that  day if I really should be going in. I went in and it was absolutely the right decision.  Not once did I feel judged or belittled.  I attribute a small part of realizing I needed to make a change to my writing and starting this blog.  I have always been more clear and been able to express my feelings better if I write things down.  I think that I was able to realize some of this issues I was having were centered around my own feelings rather than solely on circumstances of my life.  I came to the conclusion I needed to stop blaming others for my uncertainties and unhappiness and get a grip.  This wasn’t anyone else’s fault and really it wasn’t mine either it was just what was going on in my life and I had to figure out how to adapt to the issue and get help.
  If you are dealing with something in life you need help with but can’t find the words to talk to someone I heavily encourage you to write it down, even if just for yourself, but mostly with the intent to share it with someone.  Mental health battles are not something you should have to fight alone and it is most certainly not something to be ashamed of.  I wish I was into research, but I’m not, because I would love to share the amount of individuals in our world (even just in the United States) who are affected by issues regarding their mental well being.  I know the numbers are vast and the problems people face are not easy to ignore or “just get over.”
  Another thing to consider, maybe you aren’t the one fighting the fight against mental health but someone close to you is.  It is so important to pay attention to the behaviors of those around you especially new moms (and dads), someone who has recently gone through a major life change, an individual who has fallen on hard times, and many other life events and circumstances.  What may not seem like a big deal to you may be affecting someone else greatly.  We all fight our own battles and have our own struggles and each individual is impacted by a variety of situations and handles them completely different.  Check in with people often even if you aren’t aware they are having a difficult time.  You just never know that simple text, phone call, email, or Facebook message might completely turn their day around and give them a new perspective, even if only for a short time, but enough to make a difference.  It could be a game changer.
Be kind and be supportive!
(Originally posted on May 11th, 2017)

Running Errands with Kids

IMG_6049Let’s be real.  The title of this post about says it all and leaves little to the imagination.  Running errands with kids is sheer chaos.  You can absolutely forget a leisurely stroll through the mall and what the hell is “window shopping” anymore?  Get your shit and get out!  My capabilities for decent grocery store trips and every other kind of errand you can run is on a downward spiral.  Running errands with one had its challenges but was doable.  Running errands with a mobile toddler while pregnant presented even more obstacles and absolutely wore me down.  Now I have a 30 pound two and a half year old, an almost 20 pound eight month old (along with a 10ish pounds of infant seat said baby still rides around in).  That is 60 pounds of awesome but 60 pounds of crazy as well.  Today my toddler insisted on being carried, the day with no stroller of course, and reverted to throwing herself on the pavement in a fit of rage if I asked her to walk while holding my hand.  So baby in baby seat in one arm and toddler in the other.  (Curse all the places that do not have handicap accessible door openers that I can access with my foot.)
  Today I was without a stroller which I knew leaving the house.  Currently our pickup is full of yard trimmings so stroller and the vehicle I had today weren’t compatible.  I said whatever and went about my way.  Even with the stroller it is still one more thing to unload.  It does make it easier BUT it is another step and another thing to maneuver.  Anyways, back to doing the things with the tiny people….
First stop: doctors office.  Always an enjoyable time.  The doctors office I usually (heavy emphasis on the usually….because kids) don’t have problems with especially once you leave the waiting room since there is no where for the mobile ones to go but there is plenty of things for them to get into.  We made it out unscathed.
Second stop: Jewelry store.  Trips like these always have me wondering is it worth it.  Its been months (like 8 maybe?) since I had my wedding ring cleaned and yesterday I was planting flowers so you get it.   Anyhow, is a less than 5 minute trip into the store to get the dirt out of my ring worth it. Today it was apparently.  It went fine but you can never lessen the amount of work loading and unloading kids.
Next stop: Lunch.  We swung by my mother in laws office for a quick lunch in the cafeteria.  Another set of hands made this much easier.  I’ve done lunch on the go by myself before and it went this well: an entire jug of kids size milk covering an entire booth.  A little goes a long way in the case of milk apparently.
Last stop: Eye clinic.  Many details surround my need to spend an hour at the eye clinic today but you don’t need them, I promise.  Thank you lovely lady who offered my daughter a piece of cheese from the break room.  Seriously, thank you.  I’m sure you’re reading that thinking “Honestly?  You let some random person feed your daughter food??” Um, ya.  I did.  Why?  My toddler was currently in meltdown mode because I stopped her from ripping every pair of glasses they have on display off of the shelves.  I told her if she stopped I would get her a treat.  Funny story, I had no treats.  Dumb.  Cheese was the answer though.  We left there and I had about 30 seconds of thinking I could get 20 more minutes of out them and could handle loading and unloading them one more time to go through the car wash.  I quickly forgot those insane thoughts and hit the road home. Both kids fell asleep on the 40 minute drive home which was purely enjoyable for me.
  Really todays trip I can’t complain about all that much because overall nothing really went wrong and there have most certainly been shopping trips I swear to never take again with children.  Normally I try to limit our stops to two because thats just whats doable for me.  I often feel like ‘that’ mom with ‘those’ kids in the store but the reality is I’m probably not.  I see so many other moms doing the same thing as me and don’t think anything about it.  Usually when I see a freak out happening I feel much worse for the parent than the child.
My only advice is this:  Drink the coffee then do the things.  The order is important.  🙂
High Five Moms and Dads!  You’re doing great.

Taking Time for YOU

You know those days that bring you to your knees and you just say “I quit. I’m done.” Well, being a parent you are probably going to have them often, sometimes even multiple days in a row. Its a hard pill to swallow yet you still love those tiny people at the end of the day regardless of how many hairs they have made you want to rip out of your head. I’m sorry if actual hair was lost in your case and it no longer is a metaphor.

Just yesterday I sent a text to my husband telling him I wasn’t sure if I could do it anymore. “It” being a stay at home mom. This is a tough gig you guys. I know there are SO many mom’s that would love to stay home with their kids and may be reading this thinking “are you serious right now? You are complaining about getting the opportunity to stay at home and be with your kids all day long?” Actually, yes I am, because its hard! As a matter of fact I may envy you for getting to go to work all day and have adult conversations, unless you work with kids, then I don’t know how I feel about your job. Bless your heart though.

As a parent, regardless of if you work in the home or outside the home, you must (YOU ABSOLUTELY MUST) remember to take time for yourself. Advice I need to adhere to. It’s tricky… do I stay up past the kids bedtime and read a book, watch a movie, take a relaxing bath, or do I head to bed and get the sleep I so desperately need. Sleep typically wins but that doesn’t get me the time I need away from my children and doing something I enjoy. I am a much better mom when I have alone time or time with just my husband. I am also a better wife, a better daughter, and a better friend. When I am stuck at home all day, multiple days in a row for various reasons, the truth is I become a cranky resentful person. I give up. I just want something for myself and then nothing can calm the impatience I feel for wanting just 10 uninterrupted minutes to myself.

So moms, and dads, do what you have to do to be 100% because your kids deserve that and so does your spouse, and most importantly YOU deserve that. I could go on and on about all the reasons why its important for you to have alone time but I know there are a lot of posts floating around out there on this topic and I have a feeling you know what you personally enjoy and all the things you want to do during said time away from kids. I could also go on to share with you all the things I want to do but I won’t. Pick up that book you bought 3 years ago (seriously I just did that) and start reading! Go treat yourself to something warming like a new plant or a coffee treat from your favorite coffee shop. Just do something for you so you can love the heck out of your kids and everyone who loves you. It doesn’t have to be a week long trip, though maybe it should be, but just a few hours to yourself once or twice a week to bring you back to earth.

(Originally posted April 25th, 2017)

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(Photo by Dalayna McKnight Photography – Our Home)

My List of Must Have Baby Products

 

This post is inspired by the numerous amount of people I know about to bring a tiny human into this world! I wanted to share my top items that have seen me through the good and bad days thus far. Everyone is going to have their own list of saving grace for baby products but here are mine!

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(Photo by JaneCane Photography – Duluth, MN)

1. Muslin Blankets Hands down my favorite baby item is Muslin Blankets. Give me 5 (or more) of these and we can do great things. I love swaddling my babies in these at night because while cotton is breathable these are VERY breathable, hence my love for them. If its a colder night, as it commonly is in Minnesota, I will add another blanket to swaddle baby in which is usually in the form of a cotton blanket. These are also amazing for a nursing cover. I have tried actual nursing covers but they just didn’t work for me. Muslin blankets get the job done much better in my opinion. Remember, breathable, so you and baby are not going to be sweating while nursing. Most of the ones we own are from Swaddle Designs but there are some other really great brands and some of my softest ones are not from Swaddle Designs.

2. Zip Up Sleepers I kind of wonder why they even make the button up sleepers anymore. Seriously at 3 a.m. the last thing I want to be doing is spending actual minutes buttoning baby back into their pjs, fumbling around in the dark, while baby is usually crying to be fed or just in general protest. Save your sanity and buy as many zip up sleepers as possible.

3. BOB Stroller Our first stroller (yes, we have multiple, as in 3) when our first daughter (we have multiples of those too) was born is a BOB. I think the price drives a lot of people away from these or the fact that they are a jogging stroller. I don’t run by the way. These things are SO smooth, easily fold up, and honestly I just love ours. We also own a Britax Affinity Complete Stroller which I really enjoy using as well. Its a little more friendly for things like doctor appointments as its not as long and just kind of more compact. It does convert into a double stroller with the purchase of the second seat a few extra pieces. A lot more cost effective than going out and buying a whole new double stroller, which we did anyways because we like to make sense. Lastly, we have a double BOB which I am honestly slightly disappointed with. It still is super smooth and very well built but before buying one I read many reviews assuring me it wasn’t bulky or heavy and would still fit through doorways. While it does still fit through doorways this thing is massive! We attract a lot of attention with it. I still recommend BOB though as I said they have good quality strollers and they ride like a dream, or push like a dream, since I’m not the one sitting in them.

4. Boppy Pillow This was one of those things I put on my baby registry because everyone seems to have them, I had no idea if I would actually use it or not. I use it every day. They serve a variety of purposes that I don’t really need to get into. Just wanted to say this is a must have item in my opinion!

5. Noise Machine I don’t know why it took so long for us to start using one of these or why I haven’t been using one my entire life. I don’t even remember why we decided to try it out because we never really had sleep issues with our first daughter but we must have needed it for some reason. They are great especially when traveling to drown out excess noise. Get one if you don’t already have one just to add that extra touch of relaxation at bedtime or maybe you are at the end of your rope getting baby to go to sleep or stay asleep. Whatever it is, I just recommend getting one.

6. Skip Hop Duo Signature Diaper Bag I have tried several diaper bags but this by far has been my favorite. At first I wasn’t sure it was going to fit much but it fits everything I need for my toddler and baby. We do take our bigger bag for day or overnight trips however but for running errands this is perfect and not a lot to lug around. I’ve been using it for about 8-9 months now and it has held up wonderfully. The material retracts spills and dirt really well. Skip Hop is a really great company for making durable yet affordable products. Their bags come in lots of super cute designs and different style options, definitely recommend this brand for anyone in the market for a first or replacement diaper bag!

7. Zutano Booties These are great and WILL actually stay on your babies feet. I get so tired of socks falling off but these puppies stay. Added bonus: they are adorable on baby, come in a variety of colors for either gender, and if you live in the midwest they will keep those little piggies warm.

8. Baby Carrier I really wanted to make baby wearing work for me, especially when our second daughter was born. Unfortunately, I just haven’t found a love for it or a carrier that really works for me. I have tried the Moby and Boba wraps, a chicco carrier (worst one), a Tula structured carried, and also a Boba sling. The Boba sling is by far my favorite, my most used, and least expensive one. I cannot do the wraps. They just don’t jive with me and I end up still holding and supporting baby, however, a lot of people absolutely rave about them which only makes me only more frustrated why I can’t figure the stupid things out. I really like our structured Tula carrier for longer periods of time but it is bulky and not the easiest thing to put on in a parking lot before going into a store. Baby carriers are something that is totally a personal preference and you kind of just have to test the waters with them. Someone really needs to start a baby carrier rental company to allow moms and dads to try before they buy. Anyways, there is my two cents on baby carriers for you. Good luck in that department!

9. Car Seat Cover When you have your babies in the Fall months you need to have a good car seat cover to get you through the winter. The brand of car seat cover we used for both of our girls was Tivoli Couture. It was seriously like a winter coat for the car seat. Very easy to put on and take off, but really never needs to be taken off until the weather warms up of course. You definitely want something that is going to stay in place for when you are taking baby in and out of the car, especially if baby is asleep. Now that the weather has warmed up I am using some flimsy one that just hooks onto the car seat handle and sort of drapes down. It essentially serves no purpose if there is any sort of wind. So I don’t recommend something of that nature.

10. Yeti Cup You’re probably thinking, “ok what? She’s actually lost it now…that isn’t a baby item.” No, it isn’t but what it is is awesome. Who spends that much on a coffee cup??? Ummm…. a mom (or dad) who doesn’t get to sit down and drink their coffee in the morning. These things keep my coffee hot for HOURS. Coffee is life.

Shopping Tip!
This is may be common knowledge for many of my fellow mommies especially those who are avid Target shoppers, if so you can probably just skip over this section. Make a Target baby registry even if you aren’t having a shower (maybe its not your first baby). I believe its 60 days before your due date they will send you, at least one, but I think its multiple 15% off coupons for the remaining items on your registry. This coupled with any physical coupons, you have, Target cartwheel app for more savings, and last a Target Red Card will have you saving lots of moolah for your new or current little ones! The Target Red Card can be in the form of a debit card, which I highly recommend and DUH I have one.

Also, check Amazon Warehouse deals for specific products you are looking for. We got our Double BOB Stroller this way and many other things. Most of the time its just a box that was opened or slightly damaged and the product is still completely fine.

Mommy Advice 🙂
I hear of a lot of people stockpiling diapers and wipes which is a financially smart move. My only hesitation with doing this is you have zero idea what things baby might have issues with. Secondly, if you have 15 boxes of size 1 diapers you might only get through 3 of them and then you’re going to find yourself in the headache of returning. Personally what I would do is buy a gift card in the place of a box of diapers and wipes when you are out shopping with the intent OR start a jar for funds of mentioned products. Same advice for bottles. Don’t go buy a lot of one brand as baby may not like them, this is something baby gets to choose. Totally just some take it or leave it advice as you prepare for baby! I still have no idea what I’m doing most days.

Again, these are just a few personal preferences I have for some products and by no means are any of these a necessity. I wanted to share with you the products I appreciate and help me get through the blur of my day to day with two tiny people. Stay sane friends and may your coffee be stronger than your toddler. 🙂

Direct Sales

So, I have done my fair share of direct sales. Most have been done in the form of social media marketing which I acknowledge can get a little annoying when you have received your 500th notification that week from someone trying to sell everyone something “they love or believe in.” I get it. Even with some background in the world of it all I still find myself saying “Seriously? This is like the 10th Lularoe party I have been invited to in the last 3 days…” Really thought it doesn’t bother me all that much, it’s just someone sharing something that are excited about and are trying to make it work.

I am into my 4th direct sales “position” as I just teamed up with a friend to sell Lipsense. You probably are wondering why or telling yourself “Great. Here she is to hound me again and guilt me into buying something I’m not really interested in or don’t want anything to do with.” First of all, NEVER feel as though you have to buy. Secondly, my goal (and I believe everyone else’s) is not to bother people or fill your newsfeed on Facebook with so much marketing that you roll your eyes so hard you see your brain. It’s just kind of the world we live in today. The internet has taken over which is evident as we watch big box stores close their doors. I personally find this sad and believe it or not prefer to shop in person. Anyways, I digress.  077fa775de4f3233da21e27ee995617a

What draws me into these position is usually my own interest or love of the product, so yes I do usually love the product I am promoting, which would only make sense. In the beginning I have always had aspirations to Go Big or Go Home but I have yet to see serious success from one of these companies. Direct sales is something you really have to commit to and is something you get out of what you put into it. You also sort of have an “I don’t give a shit attitude” but still be positive. Does that even makes sense? Your heart has to be in the right place and you have to want it for yourself but also for the people you are selling it to. I have heard many stories of people who paid themselves completely out of debt doing gigs like this and I have also heard the other side. I sort of fall in the middle. I have yet for one to put a bad taste in my mouth but I also haven’t made crazy money on it either. What I have walked away with is a sense of support, pretty awesome products, and a little bit better understanding of people.

After my 3rd one I sort of scolded myself and told myself “You will not do another one of these. People are getting annoyed and your family and friends can only support so many of your mini business ventures.” I guess time sort of erases those thoughts because here I am again. Thats ok though. I really do enjoy this product (as I have all the others) and can I be honest? We sort of signed up to get the consultants discount! If we are able to sell some though that would be really awesome too.

So…. Lipsense it is this time. You can currently find us on Facebook at Lush Lips by Hailee and Jessica. Feel free to send messages with questions!

(Originally posted on April 9th, 2017)