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Family, Fashion

Diaper Bag Dilemma – Solved!

November 23, 2015





I’ve always had a thing for pretty purses and handbags. For as long as I can remember, it’s been my go-to indulgence accessory. That is, until I became a mom. I dutifully committed to carrying a very traditional diaper bag when Ainsley was born, because most of the pretty, fashionable diaper bags I looked at just didn’t seem very functional. And while I might love fashion, I wasn’t willing to sacrifice function with a little one in tow.

While I was at Influence Conference I had the opportunity to meet with the amazing founders of Lily Jade, the makers of designer diaper bags that combine function and form. I had heard of Lily Jade before Influence, but was a little skeptical. Was the bag worth it’s hefty price tag? But when I saw the bags in person I was 100% convinced.

The leather is soft and supple, and the structure of the bag is beatufiully designed and constructed. But the best part? The interior pouch! Each Lily Jade bag comes with a removable baby bag organizer so you can fill it with all sorts of baby gear, bottles and the like without making a total mess of your bag. And when you move on from the baby stage the organizer can be removed, transitioning your bag from diaper bag to purse or overnight bag.

We’re getting ready to travel quite a bit this holiday season, and I’m excited to travel both fashionably and sensibly with this bag. And with all the organization, I’m thinking I might even have room for some non-baby essentials like magazines, laptop and snacks for mom and dad.

*Lily Jade provided this bag for me to review. Thoughts and opinions are 100% my own.

Shop this look: Bag, Rosie in Camel :: Coat, Similar from Banana Republic :: Target Scarf, similar options here :: Madewell Skinny Jeans in Dayton Wash :: 14th and Union Booties  :: Anthropologie Textured High Low Tunic 


I’m breaking up with Target.

November 11, 2015

photo-1445883791079-421522d11f18Photo via Unsplash

I’ve been thinking a lot about my new small town life lately. Needless to say, moving from Minneapolis to small town Iowa has been a big change. Sure, I grew up in this small town, but living in a community as a child vs. an adult is a totally different ball game.

I’ve phoned my mom a dozen times asking where to get/do certain things. Where do you drop off dry cleaning? (Answer: Joe’s TV and Appliance, and it will take a week to get back to you.) Where do you buy envelopes? (Answer: You should just go to the neighboring town’s Walmart 20 minutes away.) The paint store closes and noon on Saturday and nothing is open on Sunday, so if you don’t plan in advance, you’re just out of luck unless you want to drive an hour. The list goes on and on.

But this new life we’re living? I love it. No seriously! It’s slow and simple and free of many of the distractions that come with busy city living. It’s also free of Target. Most people shuddered, myself included, when I said that we were about 45 minutes from our nearest Target. “How will you survive?” they asked. “I could never live that far away from Target!” they exclaimed. Trust me, I thought the same thing. We lived in the mecca of Targets, smack dab in the middle of Minneapolis near the 3rd highest grossing Target in the nation. It. was. wonderful.

Since we’ve moved three months ago I’ve walked through the doors of Target only twice. Yes, twice! I can hardly believe it myself. But you guys? It’s been so good for my wallet and my heart. This sounds a little gross to admit, but in the past when I was having a bad day it wasn’t uncommon for me to pack up Ainsley and head to Target, browsing the isles and tossing things I didn’t need in my cart. I didn’t have a spending problem, but my behavior certainly wasn’t healthy and it didn’t actually fix whatever was bothering me, either.

While living in Minneapolis, I had a friend who told me she purposely chooses not to shop at Target because it’s such a spending black hole. Come in for a birthday card and a gallon of milk, leave with a picture frame, two candles, a new outfit for Ainsley and new shoes you don’t need. You know the feeling. I know the feeling. I hate thinking about how much money I’ve wasted over the years purchasing things I don’t actually need.

These days when I need big-box type items, like toothpaste and paper products, I go to Walmart. And no offense to Walmart but I have no desire to mindlessly wander the aisles of Walmart just for the fun of it. It’s an in-and-out type exchange and very few impluse purchases are made. I’m amazed at how Target, something that used to seem like such a necessity in my life, hasn’t really been missed at all!

Okay, so am I taking an absolute stance on no Target? No. After all, I didn’t say I was boycotting the store. It’s fun to pop in around Christmas time or grab a coffee and walk the aisles mindlessly without a baby on your hip, but I’m much better off when Target isn’t a part of my daily, weekly or even monthly routine.



Ainsley Update: 8 Months

November 5, 2015

I have pretty much fallen off the monthly update bandwagon completely, but since I talk a lot about motherhood and Ainsley, I thought it was time to give a little update. Although I don’t think I’ll resume monthly updates, my plan is to check in from time to time with all things Ainsley.

Ainsley has been doing so many new things lately! She is now confidently crawling around the house (she started crawling about a month ago) and pulling up on everything in sight. She isn’t quite coordinated enough for me to leave her unsupervised and has an affinity for the corners of tables and hard surfaces, which makes her momma nervous.

She is also making a lot more noise. No words to speak of, but lots of “mama” and “dada” and “baba” without any real understanding of what she is saying. I’m trying to claim that she knows what “mama” means, but Joe strongly disagrees!

Health Concerns
I’ve talked a little about how Ainsley was born with a medical issue that required her to have surgery when she was 8 weeks old. Her diagnosis (which we’ve chosen not to disclose for Ainsley’s privacy) required us to do a series of follow-up tests and exams over the first year of her life. Thankfully, everything has gone as well as we could have hoped, and it appears that aside from the surgery she had to correct her lip gap and ear tags, we don’t anticipate Ainsley having any other issues! It’s an extreme answer to prayers, as we went from doctor to doctor having her checked out. They said if she had not had the small gap in her lip, she would probably have never been diagnosed because she shows no other symptoms. What a blessing it is to have such a skilled and competent medical team at Children’s Hospital and Clinics of Minneapolis.

Ainsley is doing really well. She goes to bed around 7:30 and sleeps anywhere between 10 and 12 hours with no wakings. If she wakes up after 10 hours, I’ll feed her a bottle and she goes back to sleep for 2 more. Everyone in the house is feeling well-rested these days.

Ainsley is eating 4 bottles a day, usually 6 to 8 oz each. We’ve also started to make a more consistent effort to feed her around mealtimes, so she is eating food 3 times a day, in addition to plenty of Cheerios, which seem to be her new favorite. Bonus? They’re way cheaper than the puffs we had been buying! She has decided lately that she isn’t all that into baby food and would prefer to eat whatever is on our plates.

Pippa continues to be Ainsley’s favorite play toy. She pulls on Pippa’s tail and covers her in drool, and we’re always trying to keep Pippa from licking Ainsley’s face. It’s so cute to see them together and Pippa couldn’t be more patient! Nutmeg, on the other hand, steers clear from Ainsley. She isn’t hostile to Ainsley in any way, but since she is older you can tell she has less interest in being around a loud, grabby baby. Ainsley actually LOVES Nutmeg and gets super excited every time Nutmeg is around, which is a testament to playing “hard to get” I guess!

Mom + Dad
We are having SO much fun with this little girl. Every day seems to get better and better, and we keep talking about trying to find a way to stop time. Anyone figured that out yet? Joe and I have both had some travel on our schedules this fall. I took a girls grip to Indy two months ago, and a work trip to New York as well. Joe has traveled all over for work, so we’re both getting used to spending a little time away from Ainsley. Hoping to take our first trip as a couple without baby early next year!



Marriage Matters

October 21, 2015



We had family photos taken a week ago by a dear friend of mine who is raising money for their family’s adoption. Family photos are my favorite, at least once they are over and done with! Once I have the photos in my hands I’m so thankful we captured this moment in time, when our daughter is tiny and our family is healthy and our lives feel so full. What a sweet season this is for us, after a season that felt as dry as a desert.

As women we spend a lot of time talking and talking about motherhood, don’t we? Blogs and articles and books are dedicated to the subject, and with good reason. Being a mom is important work! But where is the love and attention for our marriages?

I used to be very smug when people told me marriage was hard. Even as a newly married person, I still couldn’t understand what all the fuss was about. Marriage? Hard? Hardly! If you’re in that camp, I don’t hold it against you. If you haven’t yet hit that point where marriage is truly, deeply hard, it will come eventually. I can guarantee it.

We had one of those years. The years that test and stretch and strengthen you as long as they don’t kill you. And trust me when I say that sometimes you think it may actually kill you before you see the other side. I look at that photo above and my amazing, wonderful and loving husband and I thank my lucky stars for him every day. I think about our first kiss at 17 and the memories we’ve collected together. He’s my person, yet sometimes I don’t give him nearly the time or attention he deserves.

There are days when I give my best to my baby, my work, my friends and a bunch of people on the fringes of my life, leaving very little time or energy for my husband. I’ve been working on it, little by little. Investing into my marriage the way I invest in my child. Can you relate?

Despite all the parenting books I have read, I don’t think I’ve read a single one on marriage. In the past I’ve naively assumed that marriage is just supposed to happen intuitively without time or investment of resources.

I want to continue to strive after my marriage, to give my husband the best I have to offer. I want to take time to get away just the two of us, for date nights and vacations sans-baby and dates at home after Ainsley is in bed. To put down my phone and quit scrolling through Instagram when we’re together and really look him in the eyes.

It’s worth it. I’m convinced there are very few things more worthy of our time and attention.



What I’m Loving: Fall Edition

October 1, 2015

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1. One Love Organics: Vitamin B Cleansing Oil + Makeup Remover 
This has been my go-to face wash for a while, but I especially love it in the winter when my skin is prone to dryness. It doesn’t

2. Dead Sea Mud Mask by Pure Body Naturals 
This mud mask is gentle on my skin but leaves it feeling smooth, refreshed and clear. I use it about once a week.

3. The Lounge Bralette by Victoria’s Secret
Seriously the most comfortable bra on the face of the planet. I find myself wearing it all the time because it has just the right amount of support but is pretty and comfortable. Win-win!

4. 21 Day Fix At-Home Workouts
I’m not following the eating plan, but lately 30 minutes at home is about all the time I have to workout. My sister-in-law turned me onto these workouts (She’s a Beachbody coach) and I’ve been so impressed. They’re easy, effective and don’t take a ton of time.

5. Booties from 14th and Union – Nordstrom Rack
I have them in the lighter color and am planning on buying them in the black as well. They’re SO super comfortable, and for tall girls like myself, the lack of heel is really nice. I forsee myself wearing them all fall and well into the winter.

6. Trader Joe’s Coconut Body Butter
Seriously the most wonderful, luxurious body butter. It smells SO good, goes on without leaving a greasy residue and makes your skin feel amazing.

7. Frye Paige Tall Riding Boots
Totally a splurge item, but they were a Christmas gift from last year and I couldn’t love them any more. I think I wear my brown boots 5 days out of the week during the colder months, so investing in a great pair just made sense.

*Affiliate links used as appropriate.

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