Friday, February 23, 2018

Summer Memories, Feeling Overwhelmed, and Allowing For Breaks

Kids Water Safety Tips
Summertime Family Story Night
Happy Father's Day!
Coloring Outside the Lines // Family Boho Shoes

I was emptying the camera roll on my phone the other day (please tell me I'm not the only one who gets that "storage full" pop-up delay and is constantly having to delete photos because they take and save an excessive amount of them), and got lost in photos from last summer. I know, I know, I just posted about spring flowers last week and here I am again, unable to embrace the present. My kids have taught me how to appreciate a good snow day, they really have, and I will say that my distain for winter has lessened over the years, but I'm not going to pretend I'm not looking forward to warmer weather and longer days somethin' fierce. Plus looking at these photos makes me happy. So I thought I'd share them here, because maybe they'll make you happy too.

We were supposed to leave this morning for a last minute trip to northern California to visit a dear friend of mine who has been having a challenging time. I felt so lucky that we were able to make this happen during a small break in Robbie's intense tour schedule with the band so we could all four go. But I let myself get so stressed about finding a way to get out there, and then got even more overwhelmed once we got the flights, trying to squeeze in work for Bubby and Bean in the few days last week that Robbie was home and able to care for the kids, followed by close to break down status when Emmett got another severe ear infection after Robbie left again that involved things like projectile vomiting antibiotics. And then, after taking Emmett for a follow up just to make sure he was better, the doctor informed us that his ear infection has gotten worse and he absolutely could not fly. So we had to cancel the trip (second trip canceled due to a sick child in three months) yesterday. I genuinely felt like I was going to explode with stress and sadness. So much had built up and I was already so overwhelmed, and that just pushed me over the edge.

Then, I suddenly had this moment where I remembered the hell my friend is going through battling a terminal illness, and the hell the parents of the kids in Parkland, Florida are going through after last week's shooting - and how ridiculous it was that I was putting so much pressure on myself over stuff that doesn't even matter. I rebooked the trip for early April. I went to bed early. And I gave myself permission to take a little time off work, to focus my family and myself. This isn't easy for me to do mentally (I am not wired to take breaks) or logistically (we have a new mortgage and rely on both incomes, and I can't justify taking time off work when I'm not out of town), but I need to do it.

The reason I'm sharing this here is that I know most of you probably go through these periods too, when life's small struggles build up until you feel overpowered. And maybe you're not in a situation like I am where you'd already planned to leave for a trip and took time off work and therefore have the luxury of taking a few days for your family or self care. But if you are, do it. And if you're not, find a way to allow yourself a break in a different way. A therapist friend of mine recently said something to me along the lines of, "I understand you feel guilty when you're not working or taking care of others. And if it's too difficult for you to justify the fact that you deserve it just for you, that's okay. But know that the only way to be your best as a parent and a partner and a business owner is to give yourself a break. You can't take care of everyone else if you're not well." This may seem like common sense, but I needed the reminder.

So Bubby and Bean will be silent for a few days. And I hope that inspires you to do something for yourself as well. I'll be back on the 28th (the 28th of February! That means March is almost here! Woohoo!), hopefully feeling a little less buried. I would also love to hear what you do to take breaks and take care of yourself - self care is something I crush sometimes and absolutely suck at other times. Right now I fee like I could definitely use a refresher course.

Thank you for listening, and for allowing these occasional personal ramblings in between the design and lifestyle posts. You guys are the best.


Tuesday, February 20, 2018

9 Adorable Little Girl Spring Dresses Under $25

9 Little Girl Spring Dresses Under $25
1. Floral Sweatshirt Dress ($17.99)  |  2. Organic Cotton Navy Floral Print Dress ($7.99)  |  3. Patterned Cotton Dress ($12.99)  |  4. Powder Pink Bell Sleeve Dress ($17.99)   |  5. Olive Floral Cami Dress ($22.99)  |  6. Floral-Print 3/4-Sleeve Swing Dress ($24.00)  |  7. Ivory and Navy Striped Dress ($22.50)  |  8. Grey and Black Animal Dress ($12.99)   |  9. Blue Butterfly Dress ($17.99)

I was always fairly confident that no one could possibly get more excited than I do to see spring dresses hit the racks each February - until Essley turned 4, became obsessed with clothing, and decided that spring dresses are a magical gift from the universe. Between the two of us, the enthusiasm is over the top (and borderline annoying to those around us, I'm sure). The other day we had a fun window shopping session for some new dresses for her for the upcoming season, and I decided to share our favorites with you. I think number eight is my favorite, and Essley says she especially loves number four. They're all pretty great though, and the fact that they're all incredibly affordable is a major bonus. I wish some of them were available in my size too.

As Essley yelled, loudly, in a store the other day: "Bring it on, spring. We're ready for cute dresses!" Truth.


Monday, February 19, 2018

5 Simple Steps I'm Taking Toward a Healthy Body This Year

5 Simple Steps Toward a Healthy Body
Thank you Nokia for sponsoring this post. Visit the Nokia Body+ site for more info and start the new year off right!

I entered 2018 knowing full well that I'd stopped taking care of my body in recent months. I'm not very good at exercising indoors, and since the weather turned cold here in November, I'd really let fitness go. Sugar and coffee had also admittedly been my main food groups since the holidays began. I'd indulged in lots of beer and champagne, was overworked, and wasn't getting enough sleep. I was feeling pretty crappy, and just didn't like what I saw in the mirror. I decided that I was going to make some changes, and got started right away. Recently, I shared with you guys some of the overall lifestyle changes I've been making this year in terms of myself as a whole - body, mind, and spirit. But today I thought I'd get a little more specific and talk about the ways I'm focusing on my body alone and working to make it as healthy as possible.

As with the lifestyle changes I've been making, I've found that when it comes to my body, focusing on small daily actions tend to result in sustainable lifestyle changes. Although I've been at a healthy weight for a while, I knew, as I mentioned above, that going into 2018 that there were several improvements I could make in terms of creating a healthy body for myself, beyond just a simple number of pounds. I've been implementing these things, and so far, they seem to be working. I've felt more energetic, my skin and eyes seem to look brighter than they did a month ago, my clothes seem to fit better, and my mood is elevated (I tend to get the winter blahs).

So without further adieu, here are the simple steps I've been taking to reach my goal for overall optimal health for my body this year!

1. Practicing daily yoga. I have always had a love affair with yoga, but I'm one of those people who takes a week off and then never starts again. I decided that even if it meant just doing 5 minutes of poses while my kids eat breakfast in the morning, I would do yoga in some form everyday. I also took the pressure off myself and accepted the fact that having two little ones running around (one of whom loves doing yoga with mama) could sometimes mean focusing less on proper form and a clear mind and more on, well, laughing my way through sloppy downward dogs with my daughter underneath me. (See image above for visual proof of this.) The act of practicing is what matters to me now, no matter how it has to be done. And now that I'm regularly practicing again, it's easier for me to feel motivated to take the time to practice longer when I'm able.

2. Eating an apple a day. You may remember this one from my post on my overall lifestyle changes for 2018, but I'm including it here too because it directly involves my body. And it's important. Like I said before, it's mainly metaphorical and building on the "an apple a day keeps the doctor away" aphorism, but by committing to eating one healthy fruit or vegetable every single day, I'm planting the seed to eat proper amounts of whole, nutritious foods everyday instead of reaching for a latte or chocolate bar like I'd been doing.

3. Analyzing my body. No, I'm not standing naked in the mirror, staring at my body and analyzing it that way. I'm using the Nokia Body+ scale to focus on my full body composition. It's not just a scale that determines my weight - it measures weight trends, BMI, fat mass, muscle mass, water, and bone density. So it's not just about pounds - it's what goes into them. And to me, that is a pretty fantastic way to focus on keeping my body healthy. The Nokia Body+ also recognizes and tracks up to 8 users, so the entire family can use it (and they do!). It also syncs automatically with the Health Mate app, which provides encouragement and tips, just like a health coach, tracks progress and trends, and allows you to see your complete health data history, including activity, sleep (see #5 below), weight, and more. Did I mention that it's beautifully designed? Major bonus. This one's a keeper.

(Get 10% off at the Nokia Health store through December 1, 2018 here with this code: NEWYOU-731-9XP)

4. Getting quality sleep. In the past, I have repeatedly made the goal to get enough sleep. And every time I've failed. My kids are very young, and I have a pretty intense schedule when my husband is on the road (especially this time of year when the band is heavily touring), and those things just don't make for enough sleep, period. I have accepted the fact that I'm simply not going to get 8 hours of sleep a night. Or 7. Or even 6. So now I'm focusing on getting quality sleep, and it really does make a difference. I make sure to wind down before bed, not to use electronics an hour before, not to eat foods (sorry, chocolate) that will interfere with my sleep, and to keep the room dark and cool. Obviously, it doesn't always work out, but the fact that I'm even making the effort to get quality sleep makes me feel less stressed about the lack of hours.

5. Playing with my kids everyday. Okay, so this one seems a little silly, but trust me - when you live with 2 children who just turned 2 and 4, getting into action with them can result in some serious exercise. Obviously I "play" with my kids everyday regardless, but I found myself so busy over the last few months that I would mostly just join in for a few minutes here and there of reading time or puzzle making instead of more active forms of play. Now I've been climbing with them in our basement, running around with them in the snow, playing catch in our living room, and making sure to join every spontaneous dance party.

If any of you are on a similar path to body wellness this year, I'd love to hear what simple steps you're taking. And who else has a Nokia Body+ Scale? Isn't it the best?

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.


Thursday, February 15, 2018

Springtime Florals on My Mind

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I know, I know. We have over a month before the first day of spring. (And let's face it, here in Chicago it doesn't feel like spring until the end of April, and then boom, it's summer.) But my eye is on the prize friends. I don't do very many of these "inspiration" posts these days, but I'm so over winter and so ready for flowers and green trees and birds singing and every springtime stereotype that that I felt almost a duty to post some freaking flowers today. Plus all the flowers that have been everywhere because of Valentine's Day have me seriously jonesing to frolic in some springtime gardens and stuff, man. I have a feeling some of you are probably on the same page in terms of longing for spring, so hopefully this will tide you over for a few more weeks.

(I should also confess that I'm going to northern California next week, where it's apparently already very much spring, so I feel like I don't even really have a right to complain. But for now, today, where I stand, I need a little spring inspiration regardless.)