Family

We Can’t Have It All (and that’s OK)

May 24, 2016

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I spent a lot of time while pregnant with Ainsley trying to figure out how I was going to “have it all” as a working mom, wife, friend and blogger. I read articles and strategized and figured that those who didn’t have it all were just bad at time management and prioritization. After all, we’re told that we can have it all everywhere we turn, right?

But now, 15 months into this mothering gig, I’ve realized that just simply isn’t true. I don’t say that to be discouraging to those who haven’t yet had kids, or to those with little ones who are in the same stage as me, but to set the bar a little differently when you’re pulled in many directions.

Now that’s not to say that you can’t be satisfied, creatively inspired, healthy, balanced and energized once you become a mom. You absolutely can! (Okay, I lie, you’ll probably always be a tiny or a lot a bit tired.) But for quite some time, the myth of having it all was pushing me further and further away from balance and satisfaction I craved.

In the name of having it all, I’ve…

// said yes to more commitments than I had the time for because I wanted to be a good friend, to develop more relationships, or be more connected.

// worked out more than necessary because I was pursuing an unhealthy ideal.

// took on too many work projects because I was afraid to let a good freelance gig pass me by.

// spent too much on clothing because I wanted to look the part.

// been too distracted by my phone and “getting stuff done” rather than focusing on the blessings that were right in front of me.

I’ve come to terms with the fact that there are some things that need to be done, and other things that would simply be nice to have done but aren’t a necessity. Joe and I have been working on continually refining what “necessary” means for our family, and how we can let the less pressing things slide to the wayside. And by doing so? We’ve been creating more room in our lives for “having it all” and by “all” I mean balance.

Practically speaking, what does that look like? 

// Well, for starters, I’ve been letting go of my ideal of a perfectly clean house. I will never be comfortable with a messy house, but my floor boards might be a little dusty and my windows may need to be washed a bit more frequently, and that’s OK. We also purchased a Roomba vacuum, so that’s one less task that I need to do on a daily or weekly basis. I’m still working on convincing Joe that having someone come clean our house once a month is a good idea. 😉

//I’ve realized I needed a little more time to work. This means less time during the week with Ainsley, but in striving for balance my hope is that having 30 hours of childcare this summer will allow me to fully engage in the work I love to do, but also allow me to be completely disconnected during the hours that I’m with Ainsley. And while it might be an unpopular opinion in some circles, I’ve realized this year that I love to work and feel called to use my talents in the workforce. For me, having it all means a bit MORE time with Ainsley that a 40 hour/week job might allow, but it certainly still includes a fair amount of work.

// Weekly date night has become a priority. Although Joe and I are really happy to binge on Netflix together after Ainsley goes to bed, we’re looking to add some more intentionality to our time together by implementing weekly date night. We’re not talking elaborate dates every week, maybe it’s as simple as getting out to go play tennis together or grab a pizza, but we’re committed to dating one another and keeping our marriage a priority.

// Moving my body is essential, but I’m working out smart. I was really struggling with how to manage my schedule and find time to work out and shower each day. I work better when I’m put together, but most of the time I don’t really want to get ready if I know I’m going to workout later in the day. So even though I dislike it at the time, I’ve been working out first thing in the morning, showering and having breakfast before Ainsley wakes up. It opens up my whole day! And I’m more focused and productive in all areas when I start the day with a good sweat session and put myself together. That said, I’ve found I can be in the best shape of my life while working out LESS than ever before. It’s totally possible thanks to the intense but short at-home workouts my sister-in-law introduced me to! 

For me, having it all has been about re-evaluating what is important to me and what isn’t. As much as I desire to be all things to all people, I’ve been realizing how finite my time and resources are. So instead of having more, I’m focusing on being more satisfied by having less. It’s a work in progress, that’s for sure, but it’s a goal worth pursuing!

Madison

Food & Recipes

Feeding a Toddler // Morning Glory Muffins

May 18, 2016

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This is a sponsored post written in partnership with The Women Bloggers and Kendal King Group. All thoughts and opinions are my own. #CookingWithGerber

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If you follow me on Instagram, chances are you’ve seen these muffins pop up multiple times. I share Ainsley’s meals using the #EasyBabyEats hashtag on Instagram, and it’s been fun to look back through all the different meals I’ve prepared for her when she’s off at her babysitter’s house. Her meals have changed a lot over the months, but this recipe has been a staple.

Gerber has a soft spot in my heart as a mom. I’ve always had a positive association with the brand, and when Ainsley was ready to try her first bites of food around 6 months, Gerber Oatmeal Cereal was the very first thing we tried, followed closely by sweet potato puree.

Now that Ainsley is older, we’ve moved on to a wider variety of foods, but Gerber cereals still have a place in our pantry. When Ainsley had her iron levels tested at her 1-year appointment she came back a little on the low end. Since she isn’t a huge meat eater we’ve been looking for other ways to get iron into her diet, including  fortified cereals that contain iron.

These muffins, which are both a breakfast food and snack for Ainsley (and the whole family) contain both Gerber Oatmeal Cereal and grated sweet potatoes, along with a host of other good-for-you ingredients like whole wheat pastry flour, golden raisins and rolled oats. Because these are geared toward Ainsley, I kept the sugar on the very low end, but our whole family likes them! Just keep in mind they aren’t super sweet.

PS: You probably already know this, but we buy our Gerber Oatmeal Cereal at Walmart, where we do a large portion of our grocery shopping these days!

Morning Glory Toddler Muffins
Serves: 12 muffins
 
Ingredients
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 large egg
  • ¼ cup butter, melted
  • 1 cup grated raw sweet potato
  • ½ cup raisins or golden raisins
  • 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • ½ cup Gerber Oatmeal Cereal
  • ½ cup rolled oats
  • ⅓ cup turbinado sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Instructions
  1. Heat oven to 350°F. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with paper baking liners or spray with non-stick cooking spray. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl combine the milk, vanilla, egg and melted butter. Stir until well-combined. Stir in the raisins and grated sweet potato.
  3. In a second bowl, combine the flour, oat cereal, rolled oats, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and cinnamon and stir until well-combined. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and mix until just combined.
  4. Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups. Bake 20 to 23 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean and tops of muffins bounce back when pressed lightly with your finger.
  5. Cool muffins completely on wire cooling rack before serving.

 

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Family

Flying with a Toddler // What’s in My Bag

May 6, 2016

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*Edited to say: Ainsley and I were supposed to fly out to Idaho yesterday. We had a tight connection in Denver (a little under an hour) and our flight was so delayed leaving Sioux Falls that we would have missed the flight all together. We checked into our options to get to Boise if we made it to Denver but missed our connecting flight, and the choices were less than stellar. We would have been stuck in Denver until 7 pm Friday night! So we decided to scratch the trip and re-schedule asap. 

Ainsley and I are taking our first flight just the two of us later this week! We’re headed to Idaho to visit grandpa, grandma and auntie Taylor (my sister) while Joe holds down the fort at home. Ainsley has flown twice, once at four months and once at 10 months, but this is my first time flying solo with her. I’m a little nervous, but overall just really looking forward to getting my first solo flight with a toddler under my belt and enjoying the beautiful Idaho weather!

As with anything that involves little kids, being prepared is half the battle. So let’s take a look at what I’ve got in my diaper bag, shall we?

PS: I am still in love with my Lily Jade diaper bag (the Rosie in Camel) and am convinced that it’s the best diaper bag around!

1. Ziplock Bags // Because messes, poopy diapers and unexpected things happen and having air-tight bags to store and toss things is key!

2. Snacks // I’m planning on taking lots of snacks to keep Ainsley occupied, including a few less-healthy options for when things get really desperate! We always travel with these pouches from Plum Organics because they’re healthy, easy to eat and Ainsley loves them. I’ll also be taking along cereal in a snack cup, suckers and her sippy so she can drink milk and water on take-off and landing to protect her little ears.

3. Beautycounter Baby Balm // This is for Ainsley and me! It’s my do-it-all balm that works as a protective balm for baby, a lip balm for mom and even works for removing eye makeup and adding highlight to your cheekbones for a dewy glow. I love the stuff! Perfect for that dry airplane air, too.

4. Books // Ainsley loves to read books, so I’m planning on bringing a few with us for the plane! We’ve really been loving The Pout Pout Fish. What a colorful, fun and engaging book. A must-have for all you toddler moms.

5. Magic Colors + Paper // We purchased some markers that only color on the special paper, so I’ll be taking those along for entertainment and mess-free coloring!

6. Disposable Snack Cups // For $2.50 at Walmart I purchased a six pack of disposable snack cups with lids. I’m planning on packing Ainsley’s snacks in these cups, that way if I loose them on the trip, it’s no big deal.

7. Change of Clothes // Because messes happen, and having an extra set of clothes is a necessity!

Not pictured: Diapers, wipes, baby changing pad, iPhone loaded with apps to play with, and the Ergo, which I’m planning on using to carry Ainsley through the airport with so I have my hands free!

Madison

Family

What needs to be said about social media

May 3, 2016

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I posed a shorter version of this on Facebook last week, but I thought it was worth expanding on in a post. You can find the original post here. 

Lately, I’ve been seeing a lot of posts about social media. You know, posts about how people are “too perfect” or there is a pressure to feel more put together, to curate and create beautiful content. And on the surface I totally understand. I was having a conversation with someone not long ago who told me they no longer follow such and such blogger because she makes her life seem too perfect and they just don’t like that.

The blogger in question was someone I follow, and from my perspective the content she creates is professional, magazine-quality and, yes, very beautiful and styled. Her content didn’t look like real life because that wasn’t the intent; she’s a blogger making a living producing helpful and beautiful tutorials and sharing select snippets of her life.

Social media poses certain unique challenges for us as consumers. We take in so much beauty on a platform like Instagram that if we aren’t careful, that beauty and endless stream of inspiring photos can start to seem like a new normal, a standard of perfection that just can’t be achieved while juggling babies and messes and jobs and dogs who run after the neighbor’s cat. If we aren’t careful, that beautiful and inspiring content can very quickly turn into comparison, stealing away our joy and causing us to become dissatisfied with our own lives.

But friends, here’s what needs to be said: We need to take persona responsibility for how we feel when looking at social media. If seeing a photo of a beautifully styled coffee table with a hot cup of coffee makes you feel like your life is ugly and messy, then the fault doesn’t like with the producer of that content, the fault lies in our own hearts. It’s our job as responsible consumers of social media to keep tabs on our hearts, to make sure that we are approaching it with the correct mindset, and to know if, and when, we need to take a little break to get things set right again.

And there is nothing wrong with taking that break. It’s totally okay to say, “Hey, seeing photos of this design blogger’s beautiful home is exposing some heart issues I have to work out about my own life and home. I’m going to quit following her.” or “I’m going to step away from social media for a while while I figure those feelings out.” But to place the blame on the creator of the content seems both silly and wrong.

So ladies, let’s spend more time building one another up. Let’s cheer on the creators of beautiful content and styled photos and rocking bikini bods and well-dressed kiddos posing perfectly for pictures. Don’t follow people to snark about them. If you don’t like something in your Instagram feed you have the power to click that little “unfollow” button, should you so desire. Otherwise, let’s agree that we’ll work to be more supportive of one another and examine our own hearts before placing the blame on others.

Madison

Food & Recipes

My Top Tips for Stress-Free Entertaining

April 29, 2016

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This is a sponsored post written on behalf of The Women Bloggers in association with @KendalKingGroup and #SoapboxInfluence; however, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

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1 // Stick with what you know
This isn’t the time to whip out a new recipe. Stick with recipes you’re comfortable and familiar with. And if you are going to try something new, make sure to give it a test run beforehand or pick a recipe that you know won’t fall flat or be overly complicated to make. Your job as the host is to be at east, which in turn puts your guests at ease. Stressing over a new recipe that’s gone up in flames in the kitchen is not what you’re going for.

2 // Pick One Hot Item
The most common mistake I see when people host is they try and do too much. If you’re new to the entertaining game, or just looking for ease, stick with one item that’s hot/prepared on the spot, and make the rest of the dishes things that you can prep in advance. Last night’s party menu included:

-Burgers on the grill
Hummus platter with veggies and pita (using Bush’s Hummus Made Easy)
-Fresh berries
-Salad
-Beer, wine, iced tea to drink
-Someone else brought dessert!

It was easy to have everything ready to go. Burger patties ready for the grill, salad ready to be tossed with dressing, hummus platter prepared, and berries washed. The only thing left to do was fire up the grill and cook the burgers once everyone arrived.

3 // Play It Cool 
In the past I thought that I needed to have everything ready to go the instant guests arrived. But over time, I’ve realized that it’s best not to eat the second everyone gets to your house. Let people mingle, chat, grab a drink. And don’t be afraid to put someone to work in the kitchen if need be!

4 // Use Disposable Plates
For casual gatherings, don’t hesitate to reach for the disposable plates. Last night’s NFL Draft Party was the perfect reason to reach for disposable plates. No messy clean-up later, minimal dirty dishes and appropriate for the event. The same does not hold true for a more formal dinner party. 😉

5 // Say Yes to Help
If friends volunteer to bring something, take them up on the offer! It’s nice to share the responsibilities of making food and takes the pressure off you to do it all.

Madison

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