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Breastfeeding Round 3

May 29, 2019

I’m writing this post while 30 weeks pregnant and before baby’s arrival because I’ve gotten a few questions about my plans once baby boy arrives and if I plan to breastfeed. Maybe it’s a personal question for some, but since I’ve blogged about our journey with both Ainsley and Collins, it is something I’m happy to talk about.

Breastfeeding has been a topic that has been really tough for me. I can see/understand the value that it has for baby and have made an effort to give both our girls a great start with breastmilk both times. As Joe has reminded me, even a couple weeks is better than nothing, and so I’ve made very modest goals both with Ainsley and Collins and given myself the grace to switch to formula after that point if it was what was best for me + our family as a whole.

And that’s what I want to make sure is clear first and foremost: While on paper breastmilk is certainly and undoubtedly the best nutritional choice for baby, as I’ve gone down this path I’ve realized that rarely is the decision of what is “best for baby” as clear as what is nutritionally superior on paper. It’s my main issue with the catchy “breast is best” slogan, because it doesn’t capture the complexity of what goes into being best for baby. Those other factors being:

1. Mom’s mental health and well-being. I personally have found breastfeeding to cause a lot of mental anguish and don’t feel emotionally “normal” until I wean.

2. The family as a whole. Closely tied to what is mentioned above, but each new baby is part of our family unit and it’s important that whatever decision I made in regards to breastfeeding or not takes into account what will allow me to be the best and most emotionally stable and available mom to everyone in our family, not just baby.

I’ve spent a lot of time thinking/praying about what decision or posture would be best and healthiest to have toward this baby’s arrival. I’ve gone between wanting not to breastfeed at all, to wanting to fully commit to giving it an earnest try for the long haul. Instead of falling into one extreme or other other, I’ve settled on the following:

My hope is to set a small and modest goal of six weeks to start. Enough to get baby on a good start nutritionally and for me to get my feet under me a bit in terms of finding a groove that (hopefully) works for us. In my heart, I would love to experience what I haven’t experienced prior – which is a more successful long-term breastfeeding experience than I did with both girls. Not knowing if this will be our last baby or not, I find myself not wanting to have any regrets that I didn’t give breastfeeding a real, earnest try before deciding it wasn’t for me.

So, my hope is that I can make it to six months as a best-case scenario, but I’m taking the entire thing with a VERY open hand and very open mind that there is so much more to being a great momma and giving this baby my best than simply breastfeeding any self-imposed amount of time. And if I’m six weeks in and it doesn’t work for us, giving myself a lot of grace to move forward with formula and without a second thought!



Traveling // La Playa Beach and Golf Resort – Naples, FL

May 24, 2019

We just returned from the most wonderful four days in Naples, Florida, where we stayed at La Playa Beach & Golf Resort and took in some much-needed SUN as well as rest and relaxation. In light of our need to cancel our trip to Iceland for Ainsley’s ear surgery we decided to squeeze in a really quick four day vacation while we could. Our days as a family of four are seeming more and more numbered, and with the girls at such relatively easy ages for travel, we wanted to take advantage while we could!

We picked Naples, Florida, because we knew we wanted to park ourselves at a beach and enjoy some sunshine. And once we settled on the beach + sunshine we decided to head to Naples to see Joe’s sister, Amber, and her family while we were there!

One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned over the years traveling and going to the beach is that staying right ON the beach is worth every penny you pay. Especially when you’re traveling with young kiddos (who frequently need snacks + potty breaks + etc.) and not being within driving distance (aka we didn’t travel with things like beach chairs, towels, a cooler, etc.) being on the beach made our trip so fun and relaxing.

La Playa Beach & Golf Resort came recommended by a friend who is from the area and I’m SO glad we decided to stay there. While this isn’t sponsored in any way and we paid a hefty price tag for our stay there, I had to rave about the resort and share a few details about our experience since I got a lot of questions on Instagram about where we stayed!

As I mentioned, the price tag was hefty (even more so because we stayed on a ground-floor Lanai suite that walked straight out onto a patio that was just feet from the beach) but the amenities and convenience made it worth it. We stayed for three nights and four days, the perfect amount of time to feel recharged and refreshed yet ready to head back home.

Some of our favorite perks of the hotel:
1. Each day they have complimentary chair/umbrella/beach towel service and someone from the resort will set up as many chairs, tables and umbrellas as you need. This was awesome since, as I mentioned, we didn’t travel with any of our beach gear.

2. Beachside drink/food service was available each day as well. We didn’t eat our meals out at the beach (the girls were ready for a lunch break and nap time each day) but having the option was really nice.

3. FIVE swimming pools! Although pre-kids I wouldn’t have said this was necessary when you go to the beach, having the pools available was great. We spent most mornings at the beach, then came inside and cleaned up for lunch/nap time. Joe and I read on the patio while the girls napped, then we headed to the pool for the afternoon. It was amazing how quickly our days flew by with this schedule.

4. Great on-site restaurants. We enjoyed a lovely outdoor breakfast each morning, and since there weren’t a ton of families with kiddos there, we enjoyed having the restaurant nearly to ourselves at 7:30 am when our kids were already awake and ready to eat!

5. Friendly and Helpful Staff. While I can’t say the resort was “kid focused” by any means, it was definitely still kid-friendly. The staff welcomed the girls with their own little backpacks filled with a coloring book and a stuffed animal turtle, and they were all so friendly to the girls. The Pack and Play was already set up in our room when we arrived (why is this such a perk to me?! But it is! Mainly because I’ve had so many times where I have a kiddo ready for a nap and it takes a dozen calls to get a crib to the room) and there were small fridges in the room and really effective blackout shades (great for mid-day naps and keeping milk cold in the fridge).

Aside from the resort itself, we didn’t do a whole lot aside from going between the beach and the pool and back to the beach. It was so so recharging to travel with the girls at these ages and really take it slow/easy without much of an agenda for our time in Naples. We also managed to travel SUPER light this time around by doing the following:

1. We packed entirely in carry-on suitcases this time. Joe and I each took a carry-on and we each put the stuff needed for one of the girls in our respective suitcases. Since Collins is now potty trained and only needs diapers at night, it was nice to not take up half a suitcase with diapers. The hotel provided a pack and play, we bought beach toys at Target when we arrived, we rented car seats from our car rental service (Hertz) and only took a small umbrella stroller.

2. Ainsley was allowed to pack a backpack of things she wanted to take, including some toys and games for the plane, snacks, stuffed animals, etc. Joe and I also each took one backpack and that was it! It was SO nice not to be loaded down with stuff, and when we ended up delayed in the St. Louis airport for nearly even hours it was really nice to have all of our stuff with us both for travel plan changes AND to keep everyone clothed/happy/occupied while we waited.

One Last Note:

Joe and I talked multiple times over our trip about how GOOD it was to be reminded of the value of taking our girls outside of their comfort zone and making it a priority to travel with them at young ages. Even at the ages of 2 and 4 they are both experienced fliers and generally good travelers. BUT! That doesn’t mean that we don’t have our fair share of times when we wonder if it’s all worth it. Because the meltdowns happen, and the effort it takes to travel with little people is REAL. It’s work for us as parents, but it’s something we are committed to because we see the value in exposing the girls to new places, things and testing their flexibility muscles.

Even over the course of our short trip, I saw how much growth had happened in terms of them getting better about sitting still through restaurant meals. And on the flight home when faced with a seven hour delay in the St. Louis airport, a tornado warning that forced us to seek shelter in the bathroom for an hour, and getting home at 2 am, they were so flexible and adaptable. Much more than I had given them credit for previously.

So take the trips, make the memories, and know that your little ones will be better off because of it! 🙂



Transitioning to a Shared Room

May 14, 2019

As we prepare for baby brother to arrive in less than three months, I’ve been on a mission to get all the “big hurdles” taken care of. There have been a few looming items that have been on my pre-baby mental to-do list. Now knowing what it’s like to transition to having a new baby in the house while also having other kiddos to care for, I think my desire to tackle these items sooner rather than later is stronger than it was when we were waiting on Collins to arrive.

The two biggest items:
1. Potty train Collins (done!)
2. Transition the girls into the same room

Now that we have potty training under our belt for the most part, I’ve set my sights on the big room transition. I’ve been under NO illusion that it’s going to be easy to get these two sleeping together in the same room, but I figure it’s better to tackle it sooner rather than later when I’m the momma of a sleep-deprived newborn.

The long-term plan for the girls is to have them share bunk beds we already have installed in Ainsley’s room (we have THESE bunks for those that are curious and hands-down recommend them!) But! We had a heck of a time transitioning Ainsley into a big-girl bed and want to keep Collins in her crib as long as possible. So our current set-up includes bunk beds + a crib in the room they will share. Eventually with the plan to move Collins into the bottom bunk when she is closer to three.

We’ve now had two nights of transitioning the girls into their shared room situation and I’ll be honest in saying that I’m writing this while currently VERY exhausted from a night of interrupted sleep. It’s not proven to be the smoothest process thus far!

One of our biggest issues is that the girls both fall asleep very differently. Ainsley likes to play quietly and usually has to come out at least once or twice for things she “needs” and eventually falls asleep with a small lamp or closet light on. Collins is used to falling asleep in a pitch black room, she usually cries and fusses a bit before she finds her groove and falls asleep on her own without any distractions, things in her crib, etc.

So, we are currently working through figuring out our groove. Both girls are usually pretty good sleepers once they fall asleep. But! The last two nights there have been unusual wake-ups and interruptions during the night as well.

A few steps we are taking next:
1. Black-out shades for the room. Collins is used to sleeping in such a dark room that I think this new lighting situation is causing some issues with her sleep at night.

2. A consistent bed time routine together. Now that they are sleeping together in the same room, we are in need of establishing a new normal for their bedtime routine.

3. Clear boundaries about bed time and wake time. They have a green OK To Wake Clock that they both use to know when it’s OK to get up/out of their room, but I’ve admittedly been a little lax the last few days about letting them get out of the room as soon as soon as they wake up.

4. Time and consistency. With more time and consistency I’m hoping they work things out on their own and get used to sleeping in the same space. I’ve heard it can take a little while for them to get used to one another.

Mommas who have been through this transition with your own kiddos, does it get better? What tips do you have for making the transition as smooth as possible?



My First Experience Using a Travel Agent // Heather Christopher Travel

May 9, 2019

Hi Friends! Today I’m SO excited to share all about our family’s experience using a travel agent for the first time as we planned our trip to Iceland! But first, let me back-up and give you a bit of background on our travel history and how this all came about. Because a year ago I would have told you that a travel agent was absolutely NOT for me, and now I’ve totally changed my tune. Here’s why:

First things first, I am someone who loves to plan trips. I’ve always been the trip planner in our family – I planned our pre-baby trip to Italy all on my own, I planned a trip to Spain with my mom and cousin while in college, and have always been the coordinator of all our family vacations in the states. I love finding a great hotel and all the details that go into planning a great trip.

That said, as we looked up against our family’s trip to Iceland and how busy work and life had become I didn’t feel excited to plan our trip, I felt daunted by coordinating a trip with two littles to a country I had never been while also trying to juggle all my work and life responsibilities. I started crowd-sourcing suggestions on Instagram and Facebook, and that’s when Heather of Heather Christopher Travel reached out to me about outsourcing my trip planning to her and her amazing team!

I nearly said “no!” but then the busy, overwhelmed side of me thought it would be really nice to give Heather our travel dates, budget, and hopes for the trip and let her do the rest. And you know what? I’m SO glad that I did! I have never felt more relieved to hand something over to someone who is an expert in her field and had real-life experience in the country we were going to travel to. Going forward, I can say without a doubt that I would hands-down use Heather again for any larger trip we plan to take as a family.

I asked Heather if she would share a little bit more about how she got to where she is today and why you, too, might want to consider using her services for your own trip!

BONUS: There is a great deal on Heather’s trip-planning services at the bottom of this post just for Espresso and Cream readers!

Q: Hi Heather! Can you tell me a little bit about your background, company and how you got started with you company, Heather Christopher Travel?

A: The short version is that my family used a travel agent growing up and I was always a driving force behind our family vacation plans alongside my dad!  

I lost my dad to cancer my senior year of high school and had a dream before he passed that I became a travel agent (crazy, right?!) so I woke up that following morning, immediately researched schools and within a week had changed my college plans.  My future was sped up even faster by my then boyfriend-now husband being in the Marine Corps so when I decided the traditional college route was not for me, I got a travel agent diploma online (I even learned to handwrite airline tickets #thisdoesntexistanymore), got married and found a job at a brick & mortar travel agency in Woodbridge, VA all in six months!  I spent ten years working there; I earned awards, traveled and managed the agency before having our second daughter. We then decided to move closer to our families near Gettysburg, PA in ‘15. I opened my own agency on May 15, 2016 and here we are three years later!

Our goal is to help time-starved couples and families plan seamless vacations!

Q: What is the value to a couple/family in hiring a travel agent like yourself vs. doing it themselves?

This could be a ten-page paper so I’ll point out the highlights:

  1. Stress-Free Travel: Imagine not having to google 5000 things and get 10,000 results. Along with knowing that someone, an actual human you know, has your back in case things go wrong.
  2. Trusted Advisor: We all love to crowdsource via the ‘gram or Facebook but then you’re getting an answer that reflects that person’s experience, not necessarily the one you want to have or fits your needs/budget/time of year. Travel advisors literally travel and plan trips for a living – we are in the “trenches” day in and day out versus your well-meaning family & friends who plan one or two trips on average a year or every other. We’re getting industry related e-mails on a daily basis to keep us up to date on what’s open, what’s closed, and what’s changing in the world of travel!
  3. Time-Saving: This goes hand in hand with the first one, but most of our clients are busy professionals and/or parents that don’t have the time or energy to dedicate to planning their vacations.
  4. Value-Added: The travel industry is the business of people – it’s all in who you know. We spend a lot of time with hotels from around the world and their sales teams, meeting guides, trying out transportation companies, learning about new companies as we’re trying to match up you to the right on the ground partner! With that we get other value-added amenities at a lot of hotels – that means comped breakfast, room upgrades, early check-in and late check-out (all subject to availability + property policy, of course).

Q: How much do your services cost? Do you find people get more bang for their buck when working with you even though you have a planning fee for your services?

A: Our services range from $350 – $500 on average. We charge $350 for trips a week or less and $500 for trips longer than a week or anything within 30 days of departure. Our loyal clients pay even lower fees or nothing depending on their needs.

And yes! Our partnerships mean our clients are treated like gold and everything is taken care of so a lot less money spent on the ground because you were prepared and/or had everything pre-paid. Also, we rarely remember how much we spent on a trip unless something goes wrong, right? Most Americans take one vacation a year, so we focus a lot on how our clients feel because it’s got to hold them for an entire year, if not longer and we want you to remember how great it was!

I do want to mention that if you are a bargain hunter then working with an advisor is likely not the best fit. We want the best value for your budget, but use resources that we trust and have worked with versus just finding the least expensive price somewhere on the world wide web.

Q: Have you personally traveled to all the locations that you plan trips for?

A: 95.6% of the trips I plan, I have been there, but if not, I work with destination management companies (DMC as we call them) to plan vacations for places I haven’t been…it’s rare for me to be truly stumped on a location because of my colleagues. That being said, it is why I avoid planning trips to China, Japan, and Southeast Asia. I haven’t been and don’t have a driving desire to see those locations so I hand it off to a colleague who knows and loves it <3

Q: What is one of the biggest mistakes you see families with little kids making when deciding to take a larger trip?

Love this question! Trying to fit it all in! It’s really common, in general, for Americans to think I want to see Paris, Rome, Prague + Athens all in 10 days! We try to remind you that, you wouldn’t try to see Boston, New York, Philly + DC in 10 days – same deal in other locations. Take your list and cut 50% of it in most situations.

Going back to the above mentioned idea of memories + how you’ll feel, you don’t want to need a vacation from your vacation, especially when traveling with the littles! Room for grace is essential!

Q: What is your best piece of advice for traveling internationally with very little kids?

Snacks + low expectations! Expect the worst and I’m sure you’ll end up pleasantly surprised 😉

Q: Favorite place you’ve ever traveled to?

This is like picking a favorite child 😉

But the answer is always Hawaii.  I adore, ADORE Australia and New Zealand and can always go back to Greece and Italy, and I’ve loved every experience for a different reason, but Hawaii is my place of peace.

With over a decade of travel planning experience I have probably seen or heard what you’re asking for, I love nothing more than a couple or family saying “You made this so easy. It was amazing!”

Your vacation time and dollars are so precious and we’re appreciative of your trust with them!

Heather has graciously agreed to offer all Espresso and Cream readers $100 off her trip planning fees for any trips booked between now and June 30th, 2019. Just reach out to her via email ( and mention that you read about her on Espresso and Cream!


Making an Income as a Blogger

May 8, 2019

Back when I first started blogging nearly a decade ago (what?!) I had no idea that blogging was something you could make a living doing. I saw a few other bloggers at the time who blogging as a career, but the entire concept was a mystery to me. It wasn’t until a few years later that I started to dream about possibly making blogging something I could do as a career, or at least part of a career, if I worked hard and stayed consistent.

While I still wouldn’t say I “blog for a living” these days, blogging and this platform has been the foundation for which much of my revenue comes from as a freelancer, content creator and Beautycounter consultant. It’s allowed me to share + connect with all of YOU over the last decade and continue to share content to this day. It’s hands-down the best job I’ve ever had and although the content has changed over the years, creating content for Espresso and Cream continues to bring so much life to me.

You’re probably thinking, “That’s great and all, but how do you actually make money blogging?” Well, the answer for myself and for most others I know in the blogging world is complex. Because it’s difficult to make enough money with any single revenue stream as a blogger, most bloggers I know make money through various different revenue streams.

(If you want a really detailed break-down of revenue streams, my friend Jess Keys (who also happens to be on my larger Beautycounter team) did a great post recently on how she makes money blogging.)

What is looks like for me has changed and evolved over the years. About two years ago, right before Collins was born, my freelance income was pacing nearly the same as my growing Beautycounter business. You can see above the breakdown of my income through the end of 2016 and where my revenue was coming from. Full disclaimer: At this point I was losing my mind trying to do ALL THE THINGS in equal measure. Freelance deadlines always looming, constantly saying YES to all the opportunities that came my way because I was afraid to say NO and lose the income potential. Figuring out how to do each thing well with a limited amount of time and childcare. I knew that something had to change for my own health and the health of my family.

What I did love about this season: The diversity of income. If you looked at my pie chart in 2018, it would include very little amounts of freelance, select blogging partnerships, increased advertising revenue and a large portion Beautycounter. Sometimes I wish I could still be as diverse in my revenue streams as I was in 2016, but in this season of life, I have such limited time and capacity to give to work (a choice I’ve intentionally made while our girls are little) that I’ve had to focus and hone in on where I’m spending that time.

So, let’s do a bit of a deep dive into each of the revenue streams listed above:

Advertising Revenue //
Although advertising revenue used to be the core of the way that some bloggers made money blogging, these days the piece of the pie that traditional advertising revenue makes up is very small for most bloggers. I work with Mediavine to run advertising on Espresso and Cream which you probably have seen and noticed at the top of my site, toward the bottom and on the side bar of the site. It’s not a huge amount of money, but it does add up over the course of the year.

Blogging Partnerships //
Blogging partnerships are the type of content you may see when a post is sponsored on the blog or on my Instagram. I work with The Women Bloggers for most of my blogging partnerships and work with brands individually as well. The way it works is the agency sends an email when they have a campaign they are hiring for. Bloggers review the campaign requirements and what the campaign entails and decide if they want to apply to be selected for the campaign. You’ll usually have to fill out a form about the size of your readership and social following; additionally there may be restrictions as far as the store that you regularly shop at or the ages of your kiddos or the stage of life you’re in. Basically the goal of these campaigns is to create natural and authentic partnerships between brands and their core customers/demographic.

Sometimes when I love a brand, I will approach them about working together, which is another super authentic way for partnerships to come about and works well for both the brand and the blogger/bloggers readers because it’s so natural and authentic.

Freelance //
This category was so big for the first years of my “blogging full time” career because of the jobs I had held prior to going out on my own. I had done a lot of work in content marketing and recipe development and was able to leverage those connections to get work right out of the gate.

Let me be the first to say that I LOVE freelance writing + recipe development work and sometimes I wish I could still keep up the pace of freelance work with my other obligations. It’s so energizing to me to use my professional skills and background in this way and I hope that once the girls and their baby brother are older I can take on more freelance work again.

Note that the content that I was creating in this category never saw their way to the blog. This was content that was entirely separate and usually never carried my name along with it, and if it did, it was usually a small byline.

Affiliate Marketing //
This is just a fancy way of saying that when I link to a product through something like Amazon or ShopStyle, I get a very small percentage commission on the sale should you decide you want to buy that product. It’s not a large percentage and makes up a very small part of what I do, but I figure if I’m already going to recommend a product, I might as well link it. Most of the time these products I’m linking are things that I’ve paid for with my own money.

Beautycounter //
I save this one for last because it’s not my primary revenue stream and because all of the things listed above led me to seek out something like Beautycounter in the first place. I joined Beautycounter right after making the leap to full-time freelance/blogging because I was looking to add in another revenue stream to support my somewhat unpredictable freelancing career and modest advertising revenue. I was already using the products (and had been for over a year) and figured I might as well share with you all + my in-person friends and family more about the products and company I had grown to love. Additionally, I had become increasingly convicted about the quality of the products I was using and the ingredients I was putting on my body. Beautycounter offered a solution to everything mentioned above.

So, I joined on a whim, entirely unsure of what it would hold for me and entirely blown away four years later and what it’s done for my family + my business.

In addition to the heart and mission behind the products and the transparency of what Beautycounter was doing to produce safe and high performing products, I was also drawn to the way it could fit into what I was already doing online. Beautycounter was similar to the affiliate marketing opportunities I had leveraged before (where I get a small percentage commission if something is linked and someone decides to purchase with that link) but they paid a higher percentage commission, gave me the opportunity to grow and mentor a team of like-minded women, and it was a brand I could see myself partnering with and getting behind for the long haul, not just as a one-time-only thing.

Additionally, I could see how partnering with a company like Beautycounter – that I was already purchasing with my own money – would/could allow me to become even more selective with the sponsored content I took on and give me more freedom to create content here on Espresso and Cream. And, four years later, it’s proven to do just that. I feel like this space has been able to become very free for me to create content that suits you all and my interests and I get to talk about ONE brand I love so very much.

PS: Regardless of if you have a blog or social following, Beautycounter is hands-down my best recommendation for making a real, substantial living from home with flexible hours and schedules. If you’ve been thinking of joining the Beautycounter team, I would love to talk any time! Just email me ( and I’m happy to chat.

I asked on Instagram for questions and the most common question I got was how to start a blog and make money. I think that’s a really loaded question. You can, of course, utilize all the tools mentioned above. But if you asked me “Should I start a blog in hopes of leaving my full time job?” My honest answer would be no.

Not that it can’t be done – it can! – but for most people it takes a LOT of work for years without making much of any income before you ever start to see any tiny bit of profit. I’ve been doing this for a decade, and I think for the first half of that decade I worked part time hours (like many many hours outside of my full time job) and made zero money. So if you’re hoping to start a blog and quickly turn a sizeable profit, I think there are much better was to do that.

In my mind, blogging has to be something you do because you love it and have an undying passion for the topic(s) you’re writing about and the content you’re creating, rather than hoping to make an income and using blogging as that solution, if that makes any sense.

I hope this was helpful! It’s been a very long and winding road to figure out how to get to where I’m at today, and I’m so thankful that you all have continued to stay here for the ride! This work is something that I love to do and it’s incredibly rewarding to get to do work that I love and make a living doing it!