Back to School Supplies

August 6, 2020

We are headed back to school later this month. Collins will be in 3-year-old preschool and Ainsley is starting her first year of Elementary school as a kindergartener! Where does the time go?!

In Iowa, we are going to be starting the school year with in-person instruction. I know that “back to school” may look different for different families based on where you live, but regardless if you are homeschooling, virtual schooling or attending in-person classes with modifications, I hope that you’re able to feel a little bit of excitement about what the year has in store.

We have been shopping + stocking up for the year ahead. And while I’m certainly NOT an expert, I’ve been consulting friends who are more seasoned about their favorite gear for back to school as well as relying on my tried and true favorites from the last couple years of preschool.

Backpack // Pottery Barn Kids Backpack
The girls both got Pottery Barn Backpacks this year. Collins is in the smaller size and Ainsley has the larger size to accommodate her snow gear and lunch box. They come in the cutest colors and patterns around! Even Collins’s choice of a Paw Patrol backpack was done in a classy way.

Water Bottle //
Ainsley’s school requirement is to have a clear water bottle, but many clear water bottles are made with questionable ingredients and cheap plastic that can leak toxins into your kiddos water. We got a couple to try out – this glass option with a sleeve from Amazon as well as this plastic one from Camelback which is made of plastic that is BPA, BPF and BPS free plastic.

If you don’t have a requirement for a clear bottle, our favorite brands are Takeya and Hydroflask.

Lunch Box // Lands End
While Ainsley’s backpack came with a lunch box from Pottery Barn, her lunch box isn’t able to go into the washing machine. So! A friend recommended Lands End lunch bags for easy care + cleaning.

Labels // Name Bubbles
A full disclaimer that I haven’t used these yet, but I’m assured they are the easiest and cutest way to label things that your kids take to school to ensure that you get them back. I bought the variety pack for Ainsley and Collins to label school supplies, backpacks, snow gear, etc.

Our favorite shoes for back to school have been Plae brand shoes for the last couple years. They are easy for kids to put on, wash and wear super well, and look cute and stylish! Our favorites are this style and this style.

We also got the girls each a pair of New Balance tennis shoes and a pair from Pediped! Pediped is a new-to-me brand but came highly recommended for baby shoes and after loving Truett’s shoes so much, I also snagged a pair for the girls for this school year!

What other items are you grabbing for making back-to-school a little easier this year? Anything else this first-time Kindergarten momma needs to know about?



Kids in Glasses

July 27, 2020

Hi Friends! Today I’m talking all about kids in glasses. Six months ago, I had ZERO experience with kids in glasses and now six months later I have two of my three kids rocking glasses.

I hope this post can be helpful if you find yourself navigating the world of glasses on little kiddos, both practically speaking and as you process the emotions associated with your child getting glasses.

I’m not going to go into a lot of detail in this post about Truett’s eyes and eye issues. If you want to read a bit more about that, you can do so HERE (saved in my IG story highlights under “Truett’s Eyes”. Basically, my biggest advise to parents with kids of all ages is that if you suspect an eye issue of any sort and at any age, don’t delay in getting in to a specialist. Pediatric ophthalmologists are VERY hard to get into and often have a long waiting list. It took us 3 months to get into see one for Truett, so be your kiddo’s best advocate in that regard.

With all things eyes, early intervention is key for helping treat eye issues. Getting a pair of glasses early on can prevent a host of issues down the road as your kiddo may start to accommodate if one eye is stronger than the other – which is what was happening for Ainsley. We took her in for her pre-kindergarten vision screening at our local eye doctor, thinking she had great vision, only to find out that one of her eyes was a lot stronger than the other. If left untreated for too long, one of her eyes would have likely started to become amblyopic (aka lazy). We’re thankful for early intervention and the gift of glasses!

Because Truett’s eyes were so obviously not working well together, I had less sadness about him getting glasses. I was just excited to help him see better because his eyes were obviously crossing most of the time. But with Ainsley, it took me by such surprise that she needed glasses, and I’ll admit that I dealt with quite a bit of sadness. Sad that she needed glasses, worried going into Kindergarten that kids would see her as just “the kid with glasses” instead of Ainsley. I think any time one of your kiddos has something “different” from the norm it elicits feelings as a parent.

I have a few friends who have younger kids in glasses, so I was already aware that glasses have come a LONG way for kids over the last few decades. There are SO many options! Actually, a friend of mine was an original fan + advocate of Jonas Paul and their affordable and trendy frames for kids.

I bought quite a few pairs of glasses for Ainsley – a pair from our local eye doctor, three pairs from Jonas Paul, and another pair from another eye glasses retailer online that sells multiple brands. Ainsley has a wider nasal bridge and a petite face, so finding a good fit for her was a challenge! After two months of wearing different types and styles of glasses, I found that for us, we absolutely have to go with glasses that have nose pads. Ainsley MUCH prefers the comfort of nose-pad glasses and I like that they stay put much better than frames without nose pads.

Our Favorite Glasses for Truett: Miraflex baby frames
*Tip: These things are amazing! They have been stretched and tossed around and chewed on and still look great + fit well. Make sure to bind them up each night with the band that comes enclosed to help them keep their shape over time.

Our Favorite Glasses for Ainsley: Jonas Paul “The Sophie”
*Bonus: We added the “Blue Light Blocking” option to her lenses since she does spend some time on the iPad and I know some parents are considering this going into fall with virtual learning!

*FULL DISCLOSURE: I bought two pairs of Jonas Paul glasses for Ainsley with my own money, but after posting about their glasses on social media they offered to send me one more pair. I took them up on the offer and was very thankful to do so since the pair they sent me was the pair with nose pads. I was not compensated for this post, but always love to share transparently with you all! 🙂

3 Kid-Friendly Smoothies

July 20, 2020

Happy Monday, friends! I’m checking in today to talk SMOOTHIES! Aka my lifeline on busy days, the way I pack a lot of nutrition into a single meal, and something my kids are almost always happy to eat.

On nights when dad is busy, it’s not uncommon for us to have smoothies for dinner, and while I pack my own smoothies full of different ingredients and powders, I do keep things on the simpler side for the kids. We love to mix things up and try different flavors and combos each week.

Note About Milk:
I prefer to use almond milk for the smoothies because my girls drink plenty of milk throughout the day. But you can use whatever milk you prefer!

Note About Honey:
When feeding these smoothies to littles under the age of 1, leave out that honey! If you don’t want to use honey at all, even for older kiddos, you could up the banana to increase sweetness.

Note About Protein:
Sometimes I’ll add a scoop of collagen or pea protein into their smoothies for an added boost and extra staying power.

Peanut Butter + Banana
1/2 cup milk of choice
1 tablespoon peanut butter
1/4 frozen banana, cut into slices
Drizzle of honey to taste
3-4 ice cubes

Raspberry + Orange
1/4 cup milk of choice
1/4 cup orange juice
1/4 cup frozen raspberries
Drizzle of honey to taste
3 to 4 ice cubes

Chocolate + Greens
1/2 cup milk of choice
1/4 cup frozen spinach
1/4 frozen banana, cut into slices
1 tablespoon cacao nibs
Drizzle of honey to taste
3 to 4 ice cubes


Summer Skincare 101

July 8, 2020

With every season change, I tend to mix up my skin care just a big to account for the change in temps, humidity, and the needs of my skin. Just like you might take inventory of your body – what it’s craving, how it’s feeling, energy levels, etc. – and tweak what you’re eating, the same holds true for your skin, too!

Over the years, as I’ve gotten a better handle on what works best for my skin and what it needs in different seasons and stages of life, I have more and more confidence in how to give my skin what it needs to feel good + glowing + healthy.

Common Summer Skincare Needs //

1. Sun Protection
Summer skin needs more robust protection against the sun’s damaging rays. Since most of us are spending more time outside than in the winter, it’s important to use either a facial SPF or a tinted moisturizer with SPF. I recommend either the Sheer Defense SPF 25 for face or Dew Skin Tinted Moisturizer with SPF 20.

Clean Beauty Tip: Make sure that your sun protection comes in the form of zinc oxide, rather than chemical based sunscreens.

2. Antioxidant Protection
Since your skin is likely to be exposed to more environmental stressors in the summer than in the winter, it’s wise to work a Vitamin C serum into your skincare routine. Why? Vitamin C is highly regarded for its antioxidant benefits and protective nature against free radicals that damage the skin. It also helps to improve skin’s brightness and overall appearance and firmness.

Clean Beauty Tip: My favorite C serum is Beautycounter’s Counter+ All-Bright C Serum made with a 10% concentration of Vitamin C from two ultra-stable forms.

3. Lightened Up
Some of the products that you’ve used in the cooler months may not be suiting your skin during the warmer and more humid days. Take inventory of your skin throughout the day. How does it feel? Look closely at your skin – if your notice any unusual white heads or clogged pores it may be a sign that your products (or the number of layers of product) you’re using are a bit too much for summertime.

During the summertime, I swap out my heavier night cream for a more lightweight night cream – which still gives my skin the benefits of a night cream that helps my skin repair itself without weighing my skin down.

Additionally, you may find you need to swap out your cleanser. If your cream or oil-based cleansers feel like they’re too heavy for summertime, try a lightweight foaming cleanser instead.

Clean Beauty Tip: It’s never a bad idea to do a double cleanse. You can use the same cleanser two times in a row or two different cleansers. Either way, it’s a great way to get your skin squeaky clean from the day’s dirt + sweat + makeup + etc.

4. Exfoliation For All
If you’re layering on the sunscreen, sweating more often, etc. then chances are your skin needs an added boost of exfoliation. I’m always surprised at the number of people who tell me they don’t exfoliate at all! You can use a physical exfoliator like a scrub, a chemical exfoliator, or a combination of the two.

During the summer months I’ll use a physical exfoliator like this a couple times per week in place of my regular cleanser, as well as a chemical exfoliator.

Clean Beauty Tip: My all-time favorite exfoliator is Beautycounter’s ultimate hero product, the Overnight Resurfacing Peel. It works to gently yet effectively exfoliate the skin with a combination of 15 different botanically derived acids. I use it twice a week and always see great results!


Favorite Baby Shoes for Beginning Walkers

July 6, 2020

A couple months ago I put out a call on Instagram asking for your favorite baby shoes for beginning walkers. While Truett isn’t *quite* walking yet, he is cruising along on all of the things and just starting to stand on his own, too.

I don’t know why, but with Ainsley and Collins I never found any baby shoes I truly LOVED for those early and pre-walking stages. So! I set out on a quest this summer to find shoes that were truly awesome for baby feet.

Since we are spending a lot of time outdoors and at the park this summer, I needed baby shoes that would stay on, be good for developing feet, and be friendly for those first steps and beyond. Here’s what I found + have been loving…

FAVORITE ALL PURPOSE :: Pediped Originals
Hands down these are my favorite shoes of all that we bought! I had never heard of OR tried Pediped but I’m officially sold. They are made with leather soles that are diamond treated for a little added grip with lots of flexibility for little feet. And their shoes are all certified by the American Podiatric Medical Association for being beneficial for developing feet.

I bought a lot of other baby shoes, but these are the ones that I specifically seek out each day when we head to the park. An added bonus? They are easy to put on and they stay put all day!

Really, these are just THE cutest kids shoes around. I never splurged on a pair of Freshly Picked Moccasins for the girls – I got cheap knock-offs – but now that I have a pair of Freshly Picked I can see what all the fuss is about. They are extremely well made, comfortable and ultimately flexible for beginning walkers, and come in a ton of adorable colors, colors and patterns.

FAVORITE BUDGET CHOICE :: Surprize by Stride Rite
The soles of these shoes aren’t as flexible as other shoes that I mentioned above, so I don’t love them quite as much, but they are well made and easy to put on and a quality shoe for the price.

These shoes are also certified by the American Podiatric Medical Association and are a hybrid of moccasin style meets shoe. Like Freshly Picked, they are also super cute and come in a bunch of fun patterns and styles.

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