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Tubes + When Enough is Enough

June 27, 2018

This morning, little Miss Collins Elizabeth got tubes! In all honesty, we have been waiting for this day for months now and I wanted to take a minute to write a bit about our experience in hopes that it may ease some of the burden of guilt that you may be feeling as you deal with recurrent ear infections and persistent middle ear fluid.

Just like with Ainsley, Collins started having ear issues around six months. It coincided with cold and flu season, and once she got her first ear infection around six months, despite treatment with antibiotics, she had fluid that wouldn’t go away. That meant that there was still fluid sitting on her ear drums, impairing her hearing and, over time, potentially causing other issues such as delayed speech, poor balance and more. If you want to read more about it, or are curious if your child might have something similar, you can do so here.

Since we had been through this once before with Ainsley, it wasn’t a surprise to me, but I remember the first time around feeling so much guilt. When I shared about Ainsley’s ear infections and chronic fluid, I got a lot of unsolicited feedback from friends, family, strangers on the internet and more. People telling me that if I had nursed longer, or if I gave my child more probiotics, or cut out dairy or gluten or used essential oils or cut up garlic and onions and placed them under her crib at night (seriously, I tried it once, the room stank and it didn’t work) or used a humidifier more often or went to more chiropractic. I know that nearly everyone who sent suggestions and ideas was probably well-intentioned in their feedback, but as a first time momma it was discouraging and overwhelming.

For the record, we do take probiotics and visit the chiropractor regularly and try to feed our girls healthy food. I cut out dairy from Ainsley’s diet for a couple months when she was younger – which was miserable because the child LOVES milk. We had allergy testing done to make sure she didn’t have any hidden sensitivities to food. The list could go on and on. And you know what? At the end of the day the issue, for us, was more than likely a bad combination of genetics that led to an ear canal positioning that lent itself to trapping fluid. Despite the best efforts and intentions, tubes were the only (and best) option for our girls.

The second time around? Well I had ZERO guilt and did a lot less stressing about the whole thing and just knew in the back of my mind that we were going to get the tubes as soon as we could and would go on living our life. Perspective is a beautiful thing, friends.

So if you’re out there momma, trying ALL THE THINGS and worrying about if you are doing enough. Chances are if you’re worrying about that, you’re probably doing more than enough. Trust that momma gut, trust your doctors, and let the opinions of others go by the wayside.



Boosting My Immunity + ACV Slushy

June 17, 2018

It’s not shock to most of you that since having kids I’ve been sick a LOT. Recurrent sinus issues, cold after cold, I even had the stomach flu three times one winter when Ainsley was little – probably because my gut health was compromised thanks to all the antibiotics I had to take to help my sinus infections. I had sinus surgery back in the fall of last year, and while it did help to some degree, just a few weeks ago I got my first sinus infection after having the surgery, followed quickly by another cold and yet another sinus infection.

The whole experience left me feeling really discouraged. I was hoping that I would be healthy following my sinus surgery and getting sick + a couple rounds of antibiotics left me feeling a little down about my overall health and immunity.

Now don’t get me wrong, I expected to get colds after my surgery. Colds happen, I know, but my body’s constant inability to fight off those colds and the resulting complications was starting to make me question what I was doing wrong that was leaving my immune system in such a weak place.

I decided that things had to change, so after doing some research and a little talking with my husband about my lifestyle these days, I landed on a few major changes that might be of help to you, too!

Get More Sleep // I put this first because I think it’s the biggest contributing factor to my recurrent illnesses. I have not been sleeping enough. By the time the girls go down to bed, I’m craving some down time with Joe. We have been pushing bed time back later and later while working on this patio project and other projects around our home. The mornings are MY time, and time that I’m not willing to sacrifice. I love being up early, before everyone else wakes up. Between the later evenings and early mornings I was getting around 6 hours of sleep per night. I didn’t feel tired, per se, but I was definitely weakening my immunity. So setting a goal to get at least 7 if not 8 hours per night is the new norm.

Improve My Supplement Game // I have really fallen off my consistent supplement game, so I’m re-committing to the supplements I already take and adding in a few additional supplements to help specifically boost immunity. Those being:

*Seeking Health Optimal Prenatal / Packed with methylated B vitamins and a host of other important nutrients for optimal health

*Garden of Life D Supplement / There is a strong link between sufficient vitamin D and a high functioning immune system. Even in the summer months, chances are I’m not getting enough vitamin D from the sun alone.

*Plexus ProBio 5 and Bio Cleanse / For gut health! Especially after taking antibiotics, I know it’s important to rebuild gut health. I’m sure there are other probiotics that may get recommended or be superior, but this has worked well for me, it’s easy to access and easy to take when I actually remember to do so. (I’ve linked to our babysitter Karli’s site in the link above.)

*Iron / Since I’m vegetarian, I know that in addition to a healthy diet taking an iron supplement is also important. I’ve read a few articles that link lower iron levels to weakened immunity, so I’m hoping to ward that off.

Exercise Smarter // I’ll admit that I’ve probably been pushing my body a little too hard lately in terms of exercise. Half marathon training + 80 Day Obsession + being active with the girls + getting too little sleep + working a little too hard + trying to do ALL THE THINGS hasn’t really benefitted my immune system. I’m taking part in the free Mind, Body, Pilates Challenge starting this week with my friend, Robin, and I’m excited to embrace a slower and smarter way of working out.

After the challenge, I’m excited to try the new program from Beachbody – Lift 4 – which is a new program I’m so excited about. It’s only four days of the week and the workouts are around 30 minutes in length. Perfect for my schedule and much easier to do than the longer workouts I had done previously as part of 80 Day Obsession.

Use a Humidifier at Night // People swear by using a humidifier in their bedroom to aid with sinus issues and combat colds. I’ve never embraced the idea previously because I didn’t think it could possibly really make a difference, but hearing so many people tell me that it helped gave me the nudge to finally bite the bullet and give it a try. I just bought this one and will report back!

Continue On With… // Things that I’m already doing, like drinking water, drinking apple cider vinegar, eating lots of vegetables and healthy food, etc.

PS: If you want a stellar summer slushy using Apple Cider Vinegar, the girls and I have been loving this during the hot summer days! See the “recipe” below.

ACV Slushy
Serves: 2 to 3 servings
  • 8 to 12 ounces sparkling water
  • 1 cup ice cubes
  • 1 cup frozen pineapple chunks
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • Splash of lemon juice
  • Stevia to taste
  1. Combine the water, ice cubes, pineapple chunks, apple cider vinegar and lemon juice in a high powered blender. Blend on high for 30 seconds to 1 minute, until very smooth and ice is blended well. Add stevia to taste. Serve immediately.


Family, Fashion

A Month of June Giveaways!

May 30, 2018

Good morning, friends! With June right around the corner, I wanted to let you know of a few fun things happening around these parts. As many of you already know, I have a huge passion for safer skincare and clean personal care and cosmetics. It’s what led me to starting using Beautycounter products, and eventually partner with them as a consultant. Over the last 2 1/2 years it’s been one of the greatest joys to introduce many many of you to Beautycounter, too!

While you might not see a lot about Beautycounter over here on the blog, if you follow me on Instagram or my Espresso & Cream Beauty page on Facebook, I talk a lot about my favorite products and ways they make my skin and my life better.

As a little thank you for all your continued support in this journey, I’m going to be hosting A MONTH OF GIVEAWAYS over on Espresso & Cream Beauty! I’ll be giving away product all month long, including a bottle or two of a yet-to-be-released new product pictured above that has been giving my skin a major glow!

Not currently part of the community? Not a problem. Just head on over to Espresso & Cream Beauty on Facebook and request to join! You’ll have a front-row seat for all the giveaways and fun beauty and wellness talk!



Traveling With Kids // Updated Edition

May 29, 2018

After our recent trip to Idaho with a baby and preschooler in tow, I think it’s time for a little updated edition of traveling with a baby and toddler. Not because I know all the things, but we have done air travel with two kids a couple times now, with another trip coming up soon. I considered our most recent trip a success because I didn’t say “I’m never doing this again!” event once on this trip. That, friends, is the low bar that I set for traveling with little kids, because it’s hard, sometimes crazy, and a little bit nuts but it’s worth it. And with the right mindset, it doesn’t have to be miserable, either.

So, here are a few thoughts and take-aways about traveling with little kids.

Age Matters // 
The girls are at totally different stages in terms of how easy they are to travel with. Collins is currently just over a year old and in, what I think, is the hardest age to do air travel with. She isn’t able to walk well yet, so she crawls all over dirty surfaces like the airport floor, and she isn’t easily entertained with toys, stickers, media, etc. Yet she isn’t a sleepy newborn anymore, either. She mainly just protests being held and squirms around a lot. Just remember that things get easier and better over time.

Pick Smart Flights // 
I know this isn’t always an option because price is a factor, too, but I suggest trying to travel in the morning vs. later in the day when everyone is exhausted and weary. My girls aren’t super great at napping on the plane or in the stroller, so while “nap time flights” seem like a great idea in theory, it really backfires. We took a very early morning flight on our way home (think 5:30 am) and it was surprisingly great. We were all pretty exhausted after a 12 hour travel day and 3:45 am wake-up, but Ainsley was super sleepy on the plane, they dimmed the cabin lights and Collins even napped for a little bit as well. We had breakfast when we got to our destination and then hopped in the car for the drive home and everyone slept + early early bed times so mom and dad could recover, too! Early morning flights not be for everyone, but finding flight times that work for your family really does help make the experience easier. Also, if you can fly direct, by all means do so! You reduce the risk of getting stuck

Check Your Bags //
We’re pretty light packers, so we typically only have a couple carry-on suitcases with us, but we learned a long time ago that having our hands free in the airport to wrangle kids is key. We check our bags (and our car seats) when we get to the airport so we only have our stroller and a couple backpacks to deal with through security and the airport. If you fly Southwest, the first bag is always free and on all airlines the car seats are free to check. If you typically fly another airline, look into getting that airline’s credit card, which typically gets you a free checked bag as well. We borrowed this awesome car seat bag from a friend and I bought two of them today because they are SO good. Car seats are so awkward to carry and this backpack carry option helps tremendously!

We travel with our double stroller because we *need* a way to contain both girls through the airport and love having our stroller with us when we reach our destination. We gate-check the stroller when we get on the plane and it works great!

Get on the Plane Last //
If you check your bags, then you don’t have to worry about getting on the plane early to ensure room for luggage overhead. And if you’re not worried about that, then you can get on the plane LAST. We say “no!” to getting on board early because we’ve had too many times stuck on the plane super early while boarding takes forever and the kids have already been on the plane an extra 45 minutes by the time the plane takes off. So wait until the last minute to board and keep everyone running around and fresh until absolutely necessary.

Buy What You Can There //
Things like diapers, wipes, and formula can really take up a ton of space. Don’t waste that space packing enough of those things for your entire trip. Pack enough for your trip there, and buy what you need once you get to your destination. With so many Targets and Walmarts and more available to you, chances are you’ll be just fine getting what you need when you arrive. And if you are staying with family, you can always ship your items ahead of time!



Playhouse Project // The Exterior + Construction

May 21, 2018

It’s here! The LONG overdue and awaited playhouse post! We have the cutest little playhouse in our backyard, and I can say that without bragging because this whole thing was my mom’s brain child and baby, so I can take very little credit for the whole thing aside for helping with a little painting.

I’m going to do the best to recap the entire experience and process. It’s been nearly two summers since the playhouse was built and we are already getting so much use out of it, both last summer and this spring as the girls are at such fun ages to enjoy the play space in the backyard.

Since I wasn’t the one planning or constructing the playhouse, I’ll do my best to share about the experience but if you have questions, please don’t hesitate to post them below and I’ll get an answer for you. We were also really heavily inspired by the blog Lay Baby Lay and their backyard playhouse, so if you’re looking for more specific details you can check out their website as well!

It was important to us to make sure the playhouse was on a foundation that could be moved, because while we do see ourselves living in this house for a long time, we may eventually move and this special playhouse is certainly coming with us. I joke about making the playhouse my office someday, but in all seriousness after our kids are grown, the possibilities for this little playhouse are endless. While it doesn’t have air conditioning or heat, it does have electricity so anything is possible. 😉

We positioned the playhouse in the back corner of our yard and I LOVE looking out our kitchen window and seeing this beautiful little playhouse out there. When our patio project is done (more on that soon!) I imagine we will use the playhouse even more.

The deck is made of ipe wood, which is a hard, very long lasting wood. We painted the playhouse Benjamin Moore Ballet White on the outside and the trim is Benjamin Moore White Dove. We used the same on the interior of the playhouse. I’ll do a more complete post on the interior of the playhouse soon, but in terms of construction we put a loft inside the house that is used for reading and maybe even sleepovers down the road with a removable ladder. When Ainsley was smaller we removed the ladder so she wouldn’t climb unsupervised.

So that’s it! If you have questions, post them below and I’ll do my best to answer them or find the person who can!