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The Espresso and Cream Weekly Favorites

February 20, 2018

Lately, I’ve been craving a space and reason to share some of the products, podcasts, recipes, and more that I’ve been loving lately. I was initially going to use this idea as content for an e-newsletter, but after thinking about how cluttered inboxes are these days, it seemed a better fit to make this into a weekly blog post. Each week, I’ll be sharing my favorite thing I’ve bought, listened to, used on my skin, recipe and book and/or article to read. Hopefully this is a fun, inspiring little weekly round-up!

TO BUY // J. Crew Dorito Cotton and Silk Blend Blouse (pictured above)
It’s a little lightweight for cold weather, but I can already tell that I’m going to be wearing this all spring and summer long.

TO LISTEN // Balanced Bites Podcast with Diane Sanfilippo & Liz Wolfe 
Although this podcast is geared toward those who live a paleo lifestyle (which is certainly NOT me) I really love this podcast and their approach to health and wellness. It’s been around forever, and they have a wealth of experience, great advice and interesting experts on a variety of topics relating to health and wellness.

TO USE //Volume & Shape Shampoo and Conditioner 
Postpartum hair loss and re-growth is, undoubtedly, difficult to deal with and can really take a toll on your hair. One thing that’s helped tremendously in this process is Beautycounter’s Volume & Shape Shampoo and Conditioner. You truly couldn’t pay me to use anything else. Switching to a safer shampoo and conditioner has made my hair look healthier, but even more importantly it’s actually made my hair healthier. If you’re struggling with postpartum hair issues, I can’t recommend this line enough.

TO EAT // Pinch of Yum’s Chicken Wild Rice Soup 
I’ve made this a handful of times and it’s delicious, easy and worth making at least a few more times before winter is over!

TO READ // I Know How She Does It by Laura Vanderkam
I’m only a portion of the way through this book and already I can’t resist recommending it to you guys. If you’re a mom, business owner, wanna be business owner, working corporate employee or just busy woman (hello, this is probably all of you!) then you need to pick this book up. It’s empowering and really leaves you with the feeling of “I can!” in the best possible way.

 

Family

Tips for Building a Business From Home

February 19, 2018

Most days of the week I’m running around with my hair on fire, jumping from mothering to working to keeping our house running the way it should, to attempting to find enough quality time with my husband and more. It’s a crazy season, this one where we are raising little kids while I’m also building a business and trying to care for myself and those around me, investing in the community and church that I’m a part of, and finding time to just enjoy this season, too. I love being busy, having a lot on my plate, but if I don’t keep an eye on that delicate balance of work and rest and hustle and slowing down every so often, I find myself edgy, exhausted and wondering which way is up.

A few weeks ago, on a particularly difficult and tiring day, I thought to myself, “Why am I even bothering?” I mean, there are plenty of days when I think it might just be easier to be all in with this mothering gig full-time or all in with this work gig, rather than living in this sometimes frazzled in-between of working from home mom life. Of course, it was a momentary loss of perspective, because most of the time I feel so very blessed to be able to do both of these jobs in the amount and mix that I currently do, but it’s not always easy. In fact, I reason to believe that there really isn’t any perfect set-up during this season (or any season) of raising kids, but rather our perspective that matters most.

I think a particularly difficult part about working from home, sans co-workers, is that it’s incredibly flexible but can be equal parts isolating and easy to get off track when life gets busy. One of my favorite phrases to describe my work is “flexible but not optional” because, let’s face it, when you say you work from home there is a tendency by some to assume that means you can work as much or as little as you would like on any given week.

But the truth is the work still needs to get done, the freelance schedule still holds tight, the emails still come rolling in and require a timely response. So, in this season with little kids and frequent disruptions to the schedule, that means lots of early morning work sessions, nap time hustle, and the occasional evening call or catching up on email while Joe and I watch Netflix. And friends? It’s so very worth it to me. Perhaps not to everyone, but I am so thankful to be able to continue to pursue my dreams even when that doesn’t happen when or how I want it to happen.

It’s easy, in any circumstance, to see the negative, the road blocks the reasons to complain – in work, or motherhood, or other life circumstances – and I’m as prone to it as the next person. But lately I’ve been thinking a lot about how my attitude shapes my experience and perspective when those twists and turns in the road come.

Okay, okay, that’s great and all but what does that mean tangibly? Well, if you’re currently working a flexible but not optional job, or perhaps you’re dreaming about doing something like what I do, here are my best tips for staying the course when you have every reason not to:

1. Identify Your Power Hours
Power hours are the times of the day when you’re most focused and mentally sharp. For me, that’s 4:30 am or sometime around there. I can pound out about three times the amount of work between 4:30 and 5:30 am as I could in four hours in the afternoon. I lose most of my focus past mid-afternoon, and working in the evenings is rarely a good strategy for maximizing productivity in my world. Find your power hours and try to match your hours up with your work when possible to maximize output with the smallest time input.

2. Multi Task When Possible
Things like listening to a business development podcast or audio-book can be done while I fold laundry or make dinner or play with the girls. It doesn’t require my full attention, yet I’m able to invest in myself and my development while also investing in other areas of my home and family life.

3. Use Every Pocket of Time
Find the times in your day that tend to be wasted time and figure out a strategy for maximizing it, such as the school pick-up line, that 30 minutes your toddler likes to watch Paw Patrol in the afternoon, nap time, etc. Sometimes I throw everything out the window and just enjoy that hour of nap time, but most of the time I’m busting my booty to get as many things done as possible.

4. Communicate With Your Spouse
This one is HUGE. I could not do what I do without a supportive spouse who was all-in with my desire to grow a business from home. There are seasons, like November and December, when things tend to get crazier on all fronts. It’s my personal work “busy season” but having an open conversation with Joe during that time and talking through the logistics, including the fact that this was a temporarily hectic time for work, was helpful in us navigating that season together. We talk each week about our work schedules and what nights we have something outside of our normal commitments, like a work dinner, team call, etc. It helps to be on the same page from the start of the week so we aren’t rushing around and scrambling at the last minute.

Madison

Family

Self Care for Moms of Littles

February 15, 2018

This season of parenting little kids can be extremely exhausting, both physically and emotionally, can’t it? I found that with one kiddo, it was still relatively easy to make time for myself as Ainsley got older, but when two kids were in the mix finding pockets of time for some rest, rejuvenation and self care was even harder to come by. Now that they are both getting a little older, it’s a little easier to find some time for myself but some days can just be downright exhausting. I had one of those days just yesterday, when my cold was wearing me down, and two crabby, cold-ridden kiddos were also needing some extra love, and I really just wanted to curl up in a ball and sleep all afternoon.

Now, that’s not a typical scenario, and we are all bound to have days and weeks where self care gets thrown out the window in favor of caring for littles and work responsibilities and family duties, but making a regular habit of self care has been so important for my physical and emotional health, energy and well-being as I’ve transitioned to this role as mom over the last few years.

Care for Your Physical Body

  1. Exercise
    Find a form a physical exercise and routine that works for you. This is a non-negotiable for me. I don’t honestly know how I would have gotten through the early days of two kids without exercise. It gave me the boost of energy I needed when I was so tired I couldn’t keep my eyes open and helped me feel like myself again during a time when I felt so very unlike myself. If you’re feeling like it’s hard to find the motivation, spend some time figuring out WHY you want to exercise and get back into shape.Having a really strong why will keep you going when you don’t want to workout or eat healthy. For me, my why is that I want to be the best, most energetic mom I can be. I want to feel good in my clothes, because when I do, I’m more likely to be active with my kids and think less about myself. I want to be healthy so I can live a long life as an active mommy. I want to set an example to my girls that they can give of themselves AND care for themselves.
  2. Personal Care
    Investing in quality skincare and and makeup is obviously a recommendation of mine. I am always amazed at how life-giving it is to shower, wash your hair, pamper your skin with quality skincare and put on a little makeup. I also love that the skincare I use has given me confidence to go out of the house without a stitch of of makeup if I don’t have the time or energy to put anything on. Make time for yourself, friends. It’s so easy to put yourself on the back-burner during this season. My favorite products for pampering include this skincare collection and this mask.
  3. Occasional Pampering
    I put hair coloring, pedicures, doing your nails at home, and massages in this category. I get my hair colored every 12 weeks or so, pedicures probably every 3 or 4 months and massages maybe once or twice a year, so not very often. But it always feels so special when I get out of the house to do one of these things.
  4. Doctor’s Appointments and Preventative Care
    We spend so much time as moms booking appointments for our littles and going to doctor’s appointments for our kids and making sure that we stay up on those things for our family but neglect ourselves. Book those dentist appointments, get to the chiropractor as needed, don’t delay your yearly skin cancer check or wellness check-up at the doctor, etc.
  5. Eating and Drinking Well
    And by “drinking well” I don’t mean drinking wine and coffee all the time. I mean really hydrating your body every day. Fill up that plate with the foods that make your body feel healthy an nourished. Don’t constantly yoyo diet and binge or live on takeout food. Give you body the love and nourishment it deserves to keep up with those kiddos.

Care for Your Emotional and Spiritual Self 

  1. Time in God’s Word and Prayer
    While I would like to spend more time doing intensive Bible study methods (like inductive study method), I’ve realized that in this season, ease and accessibility is more important if I’m going to make a routine and stick to it. I have found that getting up early, having some quiet time to myself to drink a cup of coffee while reading through a Bible plan on the She Reads Truth app, along with some time to pray for myself and my family members, is the best option for me right now. It’s consistent, quiet, and usually uninterrupted and sets the tone for the day.
  2. Time to Myself
    This is tied to what is mentioned above, but I need to collect myself if I’m going to set the tone for my day. This may just be my personal preference, but I really dislike the days I wake up at the same time as my girls. There is something so jarring about being woken up at the same time as my girls and being needed from the second I wake up. I’ll go as far as to say I *need* to wake up early enough to put in my contacts, wash my face, and make a cup of coffee at a bare minimum before I start my day as a mom.
  3. Time to Connect with Friends
    This is something that I am, admittedly, not super great about sometimes. We have a few standing commitments, such as being HS youth group sponsors, so when we already have a few things on our weekly calendar I don’t love being away from home another night of the week on a standing/weekly basis. But I hope to improve in this area, or remove some of our standing commitments so I can invest in friendships more intentionally.
Family, Pregnancy

Mind and Body After Baby // 9 Month Update (the second time around)

February 6, 2018

swimsuit top / similar style/same brand swimsuit bottoms / collins’s suit

Well, we are here! Nearly to the point where Collins has been out in the world as long as she was in my tummy. I can’t believe that she is already so big and so far into her first year of life. The second baby’s life goes even faster than the first and I am, as always, equal parts delighted and dismayed seeing this little kiddo of mine grow and change. It’s so sweet, it’s so sad, it’s bittersweet. But truly, it’s a JOY to see this little girl grow and the best part is seeing her develop a relationship with her sister and start to play together.

So, nine months feels like a big milestone in the postpartum journey. Or at least it has for me. It tends to be the point where I feel like it’s reasonable to want to look and feel like yourself again, to have given your body time to heal and adjust and to begin to really regain your former strength, fitness and sense of self to some degree. That’s not to say that things are totally back to “normal” (hello, saggy tummy skin!) but what is normal anyway?

Mind After Baby / 9 Months
Mentally I’m in a really great place right now. I still have my moments of insecurity and issues with body confidence, but I’ve been working hard to safeguard and protect my mind from those assaults and, as Ainsley has gotten older, I’ve been VERY careful about what I say around her as it relates to my body during this postpartum journey since she is getting old enough to understand what I’m saying and how I relate to my body. She is frequently by my side during workouts and we talk a lot about exercising to make our bodies STRONG and capable and healthy, not skinny, thin, look good, etc.

I’ve said this from the beginning, but working out for me in this postpartum phase has been critical to helping me have enough physical energy to be a good mom day in and day out. I’m so thankful for the ability and gift of being able to move my body and of what my body has done in the last three years (two babies, two postpartum journeys, etc.) and that has given me a newfound respect and admiration for my physical body that I didn’t have before kids.

Body After Baby / 9 Months
When I look back at the last 9 months, what I see is a lot of really hard work. Hard mental work – learning to pray for patience, grace, forgiveness. Hard physical work – sleep deprivation, carrying toddlers and babies (sometimes simultaneously), challenging physical workouts day in and day out to get back to my pre-baby fitness level. But like all things that are difficult, it’s incredibly gratifying, too. Did I want to fit back into my jeans? Absolutely. But really, I just wanted to be able to feel like myself again, to set a good example for my girls about what self-care and dedication looks like, and to be able to be in a place where I could give my best self to my family. And I know that when I feel mentally and physically fit, I’m a better wife and mom, and everyone in our family benefits from that.

Now, 9 months into this journey, I think I would say that I’m moving out of recovery mode and into fitness maintenance and growth mode. Though I definitely am still paying careful attention to rebuilding proper core and pelvic floor strength, both of which I think are very overlooked as part of the recovery process.

Because I’ve gotten a lot of questions about what workouts I’m doing or have done these last 9 months, I have to give a huge shout-out to Beachbody on Demand, which has been a saving grace during this time. I don’t so any of the eating plans associated with the workouts, because like I’ve said before, I’ve gotten to a good place knowing what works for my body intuitively, but the workouts have my heart forever and ever. Early in the postpartum journey I did 21 Day Fix, later moving into T25 and 21 Day Fix Extreme and now I’m 22 days into the 80 Day Obsession, which I’m LOVING. The workouts are longer than I typically do, but they have really pushed me and have been incredibly fun. Joe and I also try to do Crossfit together a couple Saturdays per month – he goes to Crossfit four days during the weekday but I just go with him as a drop-in occasionally.

My best advice if you’re feeling out of the loop of exercise postpartum is to start somewhere small. Go on long walks with the baby in a stroller, do a short high intensity workout (there are lots of good free options online) or even 15 minutes of strength training with some weights at home. Give you body time to heal appropriately and ease back into things. It’s easy to think that 15 minutes doesn’t make a difference but a little exercise is better than nothing and your body will thank you.

Supplements and More 
A few other helpful links to share with you as it relates to supplements postpartum, in case you want to know!

Smoothies // I rotate between Vegan Vanilla Shakeology and Vega Protein & Greens for at least one smoothie per day. When life is busy, making a smoothie is really just the best way to pack in a bunch of nutrition quickly.

Supplements // I have continued to take my Garden of Life Once Daily Prenatal and also take the Garden of Life Women’s Probiotic. I LOVE Garden of Life products and can’t speak highly enough about the company and the quality of their supplements. We also take the Kids Probiotic for Ainsley and she gets so excited to take it each day! I also take the Plexus BioCleanse product, which I think was tremendously helpful in the postpartum period to promote regularity and reduce some of the gas and bloating that can happen while your hormones adjust and recalibrate.

Madison

Family

Safer Skincare in the New Year

January 5, 2018

Happy Friday, friends! As we embark on a new year, I know a lot of you are in the business of making resolutions. Resolutions about health, wellness, family, faith and more. It can be both inspiring and overwhelming, can’t it? I’ve been doing a lot of goal-setting and planning over here, including the following:

-Push myself outside my comfort zone
-Set big, scary goals
-Be consistent and diligent in prayer for others
-Work hard at work; rest and fully disconnect when it’s time to rest
-Make commitments and stick to them
-Invest in people
-Love my body
-Invest in quality in all things

About four years ago, one of my resolutions was to make cleaner, healthier choices in my skincare, cosmetics and household cleaning products. It was around the same time that I discovered Beautycounter, when we were deep in our infertility journey and I was desperate to find anything that could help. I also desperately wanted a “big girl” skincare routine rather than a random assortment of products from the drugstore, because I wasn’t getting any younger.

I’m so thankful that Beautycounter came into my life when it did, and if you’re sitting in a similar position and have a desire to learn more about safer skincare and personal care products, I’m hoping that sharing more in the month of January may be helpful to you on your own journey to healthier living.

I posted this video to my Espresso & Cream page on Facebook, but through it was a worthy kick-off video to share here as well!

Here’s to making healthier, safer choices in 2018. And as always, thank YOU for being the absolute best of the best.