Thursday, December 14, 2017

5 Tips For Staying Connected During Long Distance Holidays


5 Ways To Stay Connected During Long Distance Holidays
Thank you to The UPS Store for sponsoring this post. Make the holiday to-do list a little easier this season with The UPS Store!

I think my favorite Christmas of all time was when Essley was about to turn one (her birthday is three days after Christmas), and Robbie's parents came here to Chicago from Arizona to celebrate with us. It was the first (and so far, only) time that all of the grandparents were here for the holidays, and we were all together, and everything just felt right. Real life doesn't always allow for those storybook holidays though, and it's just not logistically possible to repeat that magical Christmas every year. But that doesn't stop us from doing everything we can to make it feel like we're together. Today I thought I'd share some of the ways we stay connected as a family when we can't be together for Christmas, in hopes it can help those of you in similar situations.

5 Ways To Stay Connected During Long Distance Holidays

1. Phone carol. It sounds cheesy, and maybe it is, but we love it. Elf said it best: "The best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear." Essley is all about the Christmas carols, and if she can't be right in front of her grandparents to perform, singing over the phone is the next best option. Sometimes we even all chime in. It makes us feel like we're together, even if just for a few minutes. We do it often and unapologetically throughout the season.

2. Videophone on Christmas Day. Videophone! It's the future! (Who else remembers being a kid and dreaming of being able to see people in real time when you called them? It was right up there with flying cars, man.) Seriously though, FaceTime and Skype make being apart infinitely easier all year round, but they really make a difference on holidays. We FaceTime with the grandparents multiple times while unwrapping gifts, eating Christmas breakfast, playing with the gifts, etc. All day. It's the next best thing to actually being together.

5 Ways To Stay Connected During Long Distance Holidays
5 Ways To Stay Connected During Long Distance Holidays

3. Make meaningful, personal gifts to send. Every single year, Essley has sat down and worked for hours on special drawings to give to her grandparents. We never go Pinterest-crazy with these gifts - she likes to do good old fashioned crayon and marker drawings on paper. She puts so much time and energy and love into them. It's really special, guys. Then we frame them and wrap them up together. It's so much better than giving them a store bought gift, and truly a way to send a piece of herself when she can't actually be with them. And this year, Emmett is old enough that he was able to get in on the action too! He loves drawing and coloring more than any other activity (for real), and I can't wait to hear what Robbie's parents think about his masterpiece.

5 Ways To Stay Connected During Long Distance Holidays
5 Ways To Stay Connected During Long Distance Holidays

4. Make plans to be together in the new year. When we can't be with the grandparents for Christmas, we always make plans during the holidays for a future visit. This year, Robbie's mom is coming here to stay with the kids while I meet Robbie in Denver for the band's New Years shows, and we're also making plans now to go visit both of his parents in the spring. It's a great way to get past the sad parts of not being able to be physically together during the holiday season, and to also have something special to look forward to as a family.

5 Ways To Stay Connected During Long Distance Holidays
5 Ways To Stay Connected During Long Distance Holidays

5. Send your gifts with expert care. We've had our fair share of gifts get damaged in the shipping process, and the disappointment can be pretty intense when in an effort to stay connected with loved ones for the holidays you send something special only to learn it didn't make it in one piece. Since we frame the kids' artwork in glass frames, this is especially important. We take our wrapped gifts, head over to The UPS Store, and let the professionals handle the logistics of packing and shipping our holiday gifts to the grandparents. It gives us peace of mind to know The UPS Store backs its services with the Pack & Ship Guarantee - if an item is somehow lost or damaged, The UPS Store reimburses the customer the cost of packaging materials and service, as well as shipping costs. The Guarantee applies to items packed by The UPS Store and shipped via UPS®, DHL® or USPS®. Knowing our gifts will arrive to the grandparents safe and sound is just one more way for us to feel a little closer when we can't actually be together, and I'm grateful for that. (Bonus: Taking our gifts to The UPS Store to be packed and shipped also saves me time and alleviate stress during an insanely hectic time of year. Just saying.) Oh, and here is one more awesome thing about visiting The UPS Store during the holiday season. Through December 31st, participating The UPS Store locations will support the Toys for Tots Literacy Program with an in-center donation card drive. Every donation helps purchase books for local children in need. Pretty great, right?

And, for the second year in a row, The UPS Store is hosting the 5 Days of Giftmas, an interactive guessing game where customers have a chance to win prizes. There will be one Facebook Live game each day December 11th-15th (so its not too late!) at 2 PM ET. 2) If you follow The UPS Store on Instagram, you'll notice a similar game where customers can "Guess the Gift" for a chance at a cool prize. The game series started back on December 4th, but is continuing until approximately three weeks after, with a new box every Monday and Wednesday. Woohoo!

5 Ways To Stay Connected During Long Distance Holidays

For those of you who are away from loved ones during the holidays, I'd love to hear ways you stay connected!


Thank you for supporting the brands that help make Bubby and Bean possible. I was selected for this opportunity as a member of CLEVER and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

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Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Winter Inspiration


Winter Inspiration
Image sources: 1   |   2   |   3   |   4   |   5   |   6   |   7   |   8   |   9   |  10  


Well guys, since we're officially 1 week + 1 day away from the first day of winter, I decided it was time for our annual-ish winter inspiration post. We all know (thanks to my exhaustively excessive complaining about it) that I'm not a fan of wintertime. I'm trying to stay positive though, as you may have read about in yesterday's post. Self pity never works, after all. And to combat a looming negative attitude, each year at the beginning of the season, I seek out beautiful images to remind me that, despite it making me feel like I'm living in a freezing, dark cave for several months, winter really can be beautiful.

Whether you're a winter lover or someone, well, more like me, I hope these images get you in a good mindset for the new season.

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Tuesday, December 12, 2017

5 Ways to Feel Warm in the Wintertime


5 Ways to Feel Warm in the Wintertime
Thank you Idahoan® Steakhouse® Soups for sponsoring this post. Stay warm with this winter with a cozy bowl of soup!

It's no secret to my regular readers that I am not a fan of winter. At all. Aside from the holiday season, there is very little I find enjoyable about the cold months here in Chicago, and I'm basically counting down the days until spring as soon as I see the first leaf drop off a tree. I don't want to cover myself in endless layers just to go get the mail. I want to be able to walk outside in bare feet and a sun dress and feel the sun shining on my face, man.

That said, I find that in the wintertime - and in life in general - self pity and a negative attitude don't get you very far. So instead of curling up in a ball and weeping for (at the very least) four months of the year, I try to find ways to make the most of freezing temps and gray skies. And the biggest way I do that is finding simple ways for my family and myself to feel warm, even when it's snowing and brutally cold outside. Today I thought I'd share some of my tips for staying toasty, just in case you're in need of some wintertime warming up yourself.

5 Ways to Feel Warm in the Wintertime
5 Ways to Feel Warm in the Wintertime

1. Pile on the blankets. I know, I know. It's a no brainer. Do it any way. I can have on seven sweaters and three pairs of socks, and I still feel cold until I get under blankets. The psychological aspect of associating blankets with coziness and warmth is what does it for me more than the actual physical increase in body temperature.

2. Run a humidifier. I recently read something that said that because humidity in the air slows down how quickly perspiration on the skin evaporates (which has a cooling effect), you'll feel like the air temperature is warmer. I swear I notice this when I have mine running, so I'm going with it.

3. Listen to summertime music, or watch a movie that takes place in a warm climate. This is another psychological one that works for me (and my family) in a big way. Even watching Moana with my daughter makes me feel like I'm running around in a tropical location for a couple of hours. Try it!

5 Ways to Feel Warm in the Wintertime
5 Ways to Feel Warm in the Wintertime

4. Move. Even if you can't do a full work out, some simple jumping jacks for a minute or two will increase your body temperature. There are also some forms of yoga that help raise body temperature just through breathing. If I'm working and start feeling cold, I get up and briskly walk around the house for ten minutes. It does the trick.

5. Eat lots of warm comfort foods. In my opinion, this is hands down the best way to feel warm in the wintertime. (Hence all of the food photos in this post.) And when it comes to winter comfort foods, our go-to is Idahoan® Steakhouse® Soups. We stock up on all four flavors: Loaded Potato, Creamy Potato, Cheddar Broccoli, and Cheddar Potato, and whenever we need an edible winter warm-up, we whip one up. It only takes five minutes to prepare, but has the same flavorful, slow-cooked taste of restaurant-quality soups served at my favorite eateries. Idahoan Steakhouse Soups are also such easy meals to prepare in a pinch during the holiday season - and anything that makes the holidays less stressful is instantly my favorite in my book. Warm winter comfort perfection, guys.

5 Ways to Feel Warm in the Wintertime

Fellow summer fans (and winter fans too!), how do you seek warmth and comfort during the cold months? I'll take any tips you've got!


Thank you for supporting the brands that help make Bubby and Bean possible. I was selected for this opportunity as a member of CLEVER and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

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Monday, December 11, 2017

Being An Older Mom: Stereotypes, Compliments, and Why I Feel Empowered


Being An Older Mom: Stereotypes, Compliments, and Why I Feel Empowered
This post is in partnership with RoC®, but all opinions are my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that help make Bubby and Bean possible. 

I had my first child at 39, and my second at 41. I am now what is considered to be an "older mom" of very young kids. My 20s and early 30s were spent traveling, moving all over the U.S. (I lived in 9 states in a 12 year period), and focusing on my career as an eco-friendly clothing designer. I knew that I probably (although not certainly) wanted kids someday, but it wasn't a priority. And then, I turned 38, and suddenly it was. I knew that having a child later in life would likely come with judgment, but being aware of the possibility didn't make it any easier when it happened.

The majority of my friends who wanted to be parents waited to have children as well, but outside of that circle, I was given all sorts of opinions when I did get pregnant - from relatives to strangers to the health care system itself, which automatically labeled me as "advanced maternal age" and presented me with an abundance of extra tests and doctor appointments. While more and more people are waiting until later to become mothers and/or fathers than in the past, the truth is that most people who choose to be parents still give birth or adopt in their 20s or early 30s. There is often a stigma attached to older parents, who are assumed to be less equipped for the job because of their ages. About a year ago in fact, I stumbled upon a stereotype-laden opinion piece online about how older parents usually don't have the energy to keep up with their kids, often have less in common with their kids and therefore trouble establishing good relationships with them, and even have a greater potential to feel challenges at social gatherings with other parents because they will have less to talk about and look physically older than the other parents. Yep. It said that.

Being An Older Mom: Stereotypes, Compliments, and Why I Feel Empowered
Being An Older Mom: Stereotypes, Compliments, and Why I Feel Empowered

I'd be lying if I said that article didn't get to me on some levels. Shortly after reading it, I was at one of my 3 year old daughter's activities, and I started talking with another mom. We had a great conversation about our children that led to discussing our pregnancies and birthing experiences. I said something about my "advanced maternal age" label while pregnant, and she asked me how old I was. When I told her, she said, "Wow, I would have guessed you were much younger. You look really good for your age." For your age. I know she was trying to compliment me, and I thanked her, but my mind immediately wandered back to that article. That night, I sat up in bed trying to read a book, but I kept thinking about my conversation with the other mother, and that awful article, and what it meant to be an older-than-most mom who didn't simply look good, she just maybe looked good for her age. I mean, would that apply to all aspects of being an early-40s parent to little ones? Would I be considered active with my kids for my age? Would I have a good understanding of my children's generation for my age? Would I be a good parent in general for my age?

I was convinced I was going to wake up the following morning riddled with anxiety, but the opposite happened. I woke up feeling empowered. I mean, seriously, why would I allow myself to feel bad about my appearance or parenting skills because of outdated stigmas attached to getting older? I'm doing great as a parent, and my age - old or young - has nothing to do with it. I am actively involved in my kids' activities and my daughter's school. I keep up with my children and have lots of hands on playtime with them, even after working all day. I maintain a healthy social life with friends, including parents of all ages. And I focus on taking care of myself and appearance - I attempt to put myself together well when I dress each day, I eat healthy foods and regularly exercise, and I use the best skin care, like my beloved RoC® RETINOL CORREXION MAX Daily Hydration Créme. (I love what actress Thandie Newton says about it: “I am proud to participate in the mission of RoC® and it’s For Your Age campaign as this Brand understands and celebrates every way a person wants to feel, and how they want to look.” Amen!) I have zero regrets about waiting to have kids until later. I personally needed to have the life experiences I had when I was younger to get to where I am now, and I am consistently using those experiences to improve my parenting skills. That whole cliche of age just being a number is truth, guys. I consider myself to be a young mother despite being in my early 40s. And I'll say it again. I'm doing great.

Being An Older Mom: Stereotypes, Compliments, and Why I Feel Empowered
Being An Older Mom: Stereotypes, Compliments, and Why I Feel Empowered

Since this occurrence, I've continued to think more and more about how compliments given to women - moms or otherwise - ending in "for your age" are so prevalent in our society, and the potentially negative impact they could have. And while the giver of these compliments most often means well, the implications are that if a woman does look her age (middle-aged or otherwise), she doesn't look good. What if you are 40 and you genuinely look 40? Does that mean there is something wrong with you? Why should beauty be defined by how old we look? And deep down, does being consistently told she look great for your age have a detrimental effect on a woman's self esteem? RoC® actually did a study on this, where they partnered with Wakefield Research on a nationwide survey of 1,000 women aged 40 and up. The results showed that 82% of women have been told that they look "great for their age” in the past year (and most on average of every 6 weeks!), most women would rather not be given a compliment at all than get one ending with "for your age," and that 87% of women feel that society expects women to act their age, but to look younger. This isn't right. We shouldn't have to feel that we look any way, because of our ages, or for our ages. Beauty should not be determined by age, period. (To learn more about the study, click here.)

We can change this way of thinking though. We can. I strongly feel that we, as moms of any age and as women in general, need to take the initiative to band together and reevaluate how beauty and age are connected - beginning with removing phrases like "for your age" from our vocabulary. And this can extend beyond beauty to success in parenting and/or careers as well. Today's woman is genuinely the healthiest, most active/successful/influential of all women throughout history, and the fact that society tells us we should still be longing for our youth represents a huge problem. We as women can be anything, and that should have nothing to do with how old we are! I truly believe this, and as an "older mom" who is loving (and doing a great job of) being a parent, I hope I am proof of this.

Being An Older Mom: Stereotypes, Compliments, and Why I Feel Empowered
Being An Older Mom: Stereotypes, Compliments, and Why I Feel Empowered
Being An Older Mom: Stereotypes, Compliments, and Why I Feel Empowered

I vow to continue to work hard to be strong, successful, confident, and beautiful on my own terms. I'll keep dressing in clothes I love and that I personally find to be chic or stylish, regardless of what department I find them in or if magazines tell me I should be dressing older to match my age. I'll take care of my body by eating healthy, nutritious foods that fuel me and exercising everyday. I'll take care of my skin by using my RoC® RETINOL CORREXION MAX Daily Hydration Créme, which offers a powerful retinol formula for well hydrated, beautiful skin, quickly moisturizes to deeply hydrate skin for 24 hours, and is clinically proven to visibly reduce fine lines and wrinkles in 1 week. I'll continue to work hard, enjoy what I do for a living, and feel good about helping to support my family. And I'll remain an active mom who enjoys keeping up with 2 littles ones, and is happily involved in their playtime, activities, and school.

Being An Older Mom: Stereotypes, Compliments, and Why I Feel Empowered

Whether you're an older mom like me, a "middle aged" career rockstar, a strong woman who is past what society seems to consider youthful, or just a righteous babe in general, (or all of these things!), I would so love to hear your stories of shattering age stereotypes and feeling strong and beautiful regardless of your number of years. Feel free to comment below, email me, or DM me on Instagram. We're in this together, and should feel empowered together. Thank you for letting me share my story with you!


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