Lifestyle

Our Big Move!

I’ve been so busy with life lately that I haven’t updated the blog in awhile and we’ve had lots of exciting things going on. My husband found out at the end of January that he got a new job in Alabama! After dealing with our third Ohio winter, I am so happy we get to head back south! A few weeks after we found out we would be moving, we loaded up the kids and made the 10 hour trip to our new town. We spent ONE day driving around looking at homes, found our dream home, and were under contract the following morning.

The last few weeks I’ve just been trying to wrap my head around everything. New job, new state, new home. It’s so exciting, but quite overwhelming. We are set to close on the house at the end of March, but won’t move down until the middle of April. I can’t wait to getting settled into our home. Our first home. That sounds so nice. This will be the 5th place my husband and I have lived together in 7 years together – and it will finally be ours. I still don’t know what the future holds or where we will end up as time goes on, but we can finally set some roots and not worry about our next move. Plus, I’m so excited to be able to do some major decorating – so keep an eye out!

Oh, and the best part? We will be so much closer to our families and less than 2 hours from the beach! Our move to Ohio made us grow in so many ways. We lost the comfort of our family and friends being close by, we added a beautiful baby girl to our crew, and we realized we are way stronger and make an even better team than we thought. It was one of the hardest things we ever did, but by far one of the best. I can’t wait to see what our next adventure brings.

Motherhood

This Phase of Motherhood

This phase of motherhood I find myself in has been much more of a challenge than I expected it to be. I was pleasantly surprised, after the birth of my third baby, at how easily we all transitioned. After having postpartum depression with my first I’m thankful I haven’t had it again. This place I’m in isn’t depression though. It isn’t baby blues. It is simply that LIFE IS HARD.

I’ve always had the idea of homeschooling in the back of my head so this year we opted to keep my 5 year old home as a trial run. (For the record, we will 100% be sending him to public school next year because this year has been so hard!) This means I spend all day, every day, with 3 young kids. My days typically begin around 5 or 5:30 when one, or all, of them decide to wake up. The day ends past their normal bedtime due to their newest phase of “I need to pee” or “my finger hurts” every night. Only, it doesn’t actually end because the baby wakes up multiple times during the night. The last 14 months of my life with three haven’t always been this sleep deprived, but why does everyone’s sleep schedule have to be disrupted at the same time?! The past month has taught me the importance of rest.

This phase of motherhood means never truly stopping. I’m not a neat freak by any means, but little people makes BIG messes. It’s endless laundry and dishes. LET’S BE REAL – the saying that “the chores can wait” is crap. My family needs clean clothes and silverware. Yes, the laundry piles up and I go to bed with dirty dishes some days – but all of that just means there will be more to do at a later date. This phase is sweeping the floors all day long because for some reason my older two always end up with half of their food on the floor and my curious 14 month old thinks she must eat all the crumbs. It’s changing diapers and wiping butts. It’s cooking meals, and making snacks, and nursing a baby, and trying to get nap time to happen with two wild boys running around.

This phase of motherhood is fort building, story telling, and kissing boo-boos. It’s watching their imaginations run wild. It’s blocks, and cars, and crayons. It’s having three people need and want you constantly – and them not always having the capacity to understand that they have to wait. It’s precious moments of watching their relationships with each other grow followed by playing referee because they’re driving each other crazy.

And the hardest part? At the end of the day it never feels like enough. The house is still a mess. My older kids are told “no” or “wait” too often – or worse, they just stop asking because the baby is screaming and they know the answer. I know this phase won’t last forever. I know that things will get easier. They will continue to grow up and become more independent. I’ll get more sleep. They won’t make as big of messes. Life will calm down. There is a part of me that desperately needs that day to come, and yet, I’m not ready. I worry that when I finally have the time and energy to truly appreciate how beautiful this phase of motherhood is it will be gone. They won’t need or want me the way they do today.

This phase of motherhood is surely what inspired, “the days are long, but the years are short”. These days, that feel like weeks, come to an end. One day I’m going to wish I was back in this crazy, hectic phase where I’m the most important person in their lives. So for now, I will keep trying to pause, to live in the moment, to breathe, and to truly appreciate this phase of motherhood.

Minimalism

Taking a Step Back + Moving Forward

I started this blog on a whim, but quickly had big dreams for what it could become. I’ve always struggled with things having to be “all or nothing” and it often leaves me disappointed and unmotivated. This blog was no different. I began comparing myself to others and instead of being inspired by them I began to feel like I wasn’t being authentic. I’m new to blogging. I have no idea what I’m doing – if I’m being quite honest.

And social media is a whole other demon. I’m passionate about living simply, yet found myself obsessing over how to grow my “brand” on social media. It was not simple. It was not minimal. It quick became the “all” in my all or nothing mindset. Then, it wasn’t.

So, I am taking a step back. I hope to move this blog forward in an natural way that works with my life. My family, my home, my friends come first. I would love this blog to compliment that and be able to share stories of my journey, but I want to do so in a way that brings me joy instead of feeling like another task on a to-do list.

That’s all for now. Until next time. ♡

Minimalism

A Beginner’s Guide to Minimalism

I’m no expert on being a minimalist. My journey is a work in progress. I’m also not striving to live with nothing. I like to have things that bring me joy. It’s about finding a balance between the things we need + love and the things that just take up physical + mental space. That being said, I feel like I’ve made progress in the last year. I’ve felt a weight lifted off my shoulders. Despite adding a baby and moving away from my support system of friends + family, I’m less stressed these days. If you are overwhelmed, over-stressed, and feeling like you’re spending your entire life cleaning or organizing stuff – I’d like to help!

First, find your reason. What are you interested in gaining? Is it time? More time with your family? More time to pursue the things you love? Is it to gain a sense of calmness + reduce stress? When you find your reason and associate minimalism with the gaining of something instead of the loss of possessions, you will be able to create a fire + passion for simplifying your life. That passion equals motivation – and in the beginning you need motivation!

I’ve read different philosophies for minimizing your possessions. You can go through each “category” of things you own, put them together, and then downsize. Or you can go through each area of your space and do the same. Personally, I do a combination. Things that are of similar categories, but that are spread out among the house (think sheets, towels, ect.) I do by category and then return them to their respective home. Otherwise, I go room by room – for this to work items that belong in that room need to make their way there. I think either philosophy works, so decide which would work best for you.

Be honest with yourself. This is usually the hardest part. We can physically go through our things, but can we emotionally let go and get rid of them? Go back to the reason you want this. Write it down. Find quotes or blogs that inspire you. Get yourself mentally + emotionally prepared so that you can be honest over what possessions don’t work for you. Some items are bought with the best of intentions, yet we never use them. Some items are given as gifts (that we appreciate the thought of), but serve no purpose in our homes. Sometimes you’ll run across a shirt that you just wish fit better, but it doesn’t and you haven’t worn it in years. Some things may feel hard to part with, but if you know deep down you don’t get value out of them I promise you’ll feel a weight lifted when they no longer take up space.

Start big! I’ve found success in tackling my biggest projects first. It takes a bit more time + effort, but the end results are the greatest. When I first began simplifying my things I tackled my clothing, my children’s play space, and the kitchen (which contained our “dump zone” and constantly collected clutter). Once I was able to accomplish those tasks and see my results I knew that this journey would continue to prove to be a positive one.

Think outside of “stuff”. To me, minimalism isn’t just about my possessions. It’s a mindset. It’s happiness, joy, calmness, and order. It’s simplifying life in all areas. It’s slowing down. Unplugging from this fast paced world + going for a nature walk with my kids. It’s baking with them + not being so stressed because the kitchen is already a disaster. It’s saying yes to them when they ask for paint or play-doh or some other craft that would have made me cringe years ago.

Before minimalism, my things controlled me. I was constantly cleaning and organizing, yet I was left with a disaster. Those of you who have young children like me – you’re told “the mess can wait” – and yes, sometimes it can, but the dishes still have to be cleaned and laundry still needs to be done. At some point we have to take the time to do those things that provide basic needs like food + clothing for our family. Wouldn’t it be nice if you could have a clean house + be more present in your life? Yes, and you can. You’ll notice this guide doesn’t tell you what to throw away, what to keep, or what should add value in your life. Minimalism is a personal journey. It won’t look the same for you as it does for me, but I hope these tips give you a boost to start the process!

Motherhood

5 ways to practice self-care in 5 minutes or less.

Motherhood is busy, yet it’s us moms who need to slow down + take care of ourselves more than anyone. I use to feel like I had no time to devote to my own well being. I have three kids – someone always needs me. Then I realized that I can’t take care of them to the best of my ability if I’m not taking care of myself. You’ve heard “put on your oxygen mask before helping those around you” right? That means you need to take care of you, Mom. 

But, I get it. It’s hard to pee alone some days. How can you possibly practice self-care? 

Here are 5 easy ways to start taking care of you when you only have a few moments to spare!

1. Insight Timer app. I must give credit to my husband on this one. It’s a meditation app. The best part – you can find several options for 5 minutes OR LESS!

2. Find a creative outlet. I’ve recently started doing brush lettering + calligraphy. I personally find it relaxing. I may not be able to make the most beautiful work in 5 minutes, but I can doodle for a few minutes + it usually leaves me feeling better.

3. Put on real clothes. This is for you, my fellow stay at home moms to little ones. I see you – in the same clothes or pajamas you wore yesterday. I’ve been you. I am you! There is no shame in having lazy days, but if you’re feeling – blah – go put on an outfit that makes you feel good. If you’re feeling really crazy throw on some make up while you are at it. 

4. Exercise. Okay, this one may take more than 5 minutes, but you don’t have to kill yourself at the gym to get moving + start feeling better. Go for a walk. Find a quick video online. If you really only have 5 minutes, put on some music + have a dance party (the kids will love that one too!).

5. Use the internet in a positive way. I almost hesitate to put this on here because it’s so easy to get sucked into social media + mindlessly using our phones, but I do think it can be done effectively. Set a timer so you don’t get dragged in too deep. Connect with a friend, read a favorite blog, or even spend 5 minutes reading positive and uplifting quotes.

I hope these tips help or spark your desire to find your own ways to take care of your physical + emotional wellbeing. You deserve it. 

Kids + Baby · Minimalism · Parenting

Tips for Minimalist During the Holidays

You know what stresses me out more than anything? STUFF. JUNK. CLUTTER. Whatever you want to call it. Why do I love minimalism? Simple, it helps me from not having a mental breakdown. From July to December our family celebrates all three kids birthdays + Christmas – can you say hello, stuff!

Let me take a step back, I don’t hate all stuff. I hate too much stuff. I hate stuff that gets played with for a week + then becomes nothing more than a random toy laying on the floor. We live in a small space + I enjoy keeping my space tidy. It makes me a better mom + therefore makes my kids happier.

So, how do we survive the holidays + gift giving? The following 6 tips help us:

1. Non-toy gifts. I’m not a scrooge. I want my kids to have great birthdays + Christmas’, but I also don’t want them thinking all that holidays are are the next excuse for more toys. This year we took my 3 year old to the zoo + spent money on a photo shoot for our daughter’s first birthday. We love finding ways to give joy outside of toys! Memberships or experience gifts are a favorite for a minimalist! This year my husband and I are looking into opening college funds for our kids – a gift we hope will provide great value to them later in life.

2. Pre-holiday purge! When we know we will have an influx of toys, we use that as an opportunity to take stock of what we have. What toys are played with all the time? Keep! What toys are broken or missing pieces? Trash. What toys did the kids just not fall in love with? Donate to someone who will get more value out of it!

3. Be honest about expectations. I probably drive my parents crazy, but I think it’s important to be honest about what we would like to have in our home or given to our kids. I try to provide lots of quality ideas that I know will be well-loved – or what I THINK will be well loved because with kids you just never know. It’s also a good time to ask for things the kids need – new clothes, art supplies, ect.

4. Be grateful. Just because I may not love getting tons of new toys to sort through + organize into our toy rotation, I’m very grateful we have so many people who love our children + want to spoil them with gifts. It’s the thought behind the gift that matters more than the gift itself. The holidays are a wonderful time to teach our children the gift of gratitude!

5. Just because someone gave it to you doesn’t mean you have to keep it forever. Again, sorry family – but it’s true. People get joy out of giving gifts, but once the gift is given it becomes a part of our everyday life. If it’s not providing us joy I think it’s perfectly find to pass it along to someone who will truly get joy from it. If a gift provides joy for years – great. If it provides joy for a few weeks – that’s fine too!

6. Create fun traditions! When I think back on my childhood I don’t often think of what things I accumulated over the years. I think of visiting my grandparents + doing crossword puzzles with my grandfather. I think of decorating the Christmas tree. I mentioned in my last blog post (here) how much fun the holidays are as a parent + how much I love the traditions we are creating with our children. I hope that my children look back with the same fondness of the holidays that I do. I hope that those feelings aren’t rooted in gifts, but in family, laughter, + love.

I hope these tips help you this holiday season. Feel free to leave your own tips, minimalist gift (or non-gift) ideas, or favorite holiday traditions in the comment section!

Family · Kids + Baby · Motherhood · Parenting

My Favorite Time of the Year + Family Traditions

When you are a kid you think the holiday season is the best. You get to dress up and eat candy, see extended family, eat amazing food, get lots of new presents – it’s the best. Until you have kids…then it really does become the best time of the year.

Experiencing the holidays as an adult, but through the eyes of your children, has been one of my favorite parts of being a mom. You get to experience their joy with a true appreciate for it + start to create your own traditions.

This year my oldest is really into the holidays + we have been doing crafts for each one. Then we get to decorate our apartment with handmade items – which have way more value than anything we could buy at the store. They may not look perfect, but the kids love making them + you can tell how proud they are seeing their work up around the house. I hope this continues to be a new tradition for us moving forward!

What are some of your favorite holiday traditions with little ones?

Family · Minimalism

Apartment update – 6 months later

In May of this year my family and I moved from a 1700 sq ft, 2-story home with a basement into a 1000 sq ft apartment. Over the last few years we have moved toward a more minimalist lifestyle + financially we felt it was wise to cut back our rental costs to save up for when we decide to purchase a home.

So, how do we feel six months later? Living in a small space with three young children has it’s pros + cons. 

Pros:

  • We save hundreds of dollars a month. This is a huge stress relief when you are a single income family. It’s allowed us to budget better + have more money for things we enjoy.
  • Easier to clean! It really takes no time to clean up our apartment. Also, in our last home our washer and dryer were in the basement + the bedrooms were on the second floor. This meant I had to haul laundry up 2 flights of stairs WHILE PREGNANT! Having the laundry room close to our rooms may be my favorite part of downsizing. 
  • I can leave the kids alone in their rooms/living room. They are still so close. I can be in my own space, but easily hear them + be there in a few seconds if they need me.
  • It forces us to be even more intentionally with our things. In order to live minimal (+ have less clutter), we really are forced to decide which things hold value to us. 

Cons:

  • No yard. I have two WILD boys. I really miss having a yard for them. We do have a playground + small porch area, but they still need to have adult supervision so when the baby is sleeping we’re stuck inside.
  • Speaking of the baby + wild boys – we live in very close quarters. This leads to them waking up their sister at times. 
  • It gets messy quicker. Yes, it’s easier to clean, but we don’t have anywhere to hide our mess. With 3 kids we have mess no matter how hard we try to keep things clean.

Overall, it’s been a good experience. I’m happy where we are + I know that I will miss certain aspects of our small space. I also know when the time comes to move back into a house I’ll be happy for that too. This move has taught us we won’t need as much space as we would have originally thought – so I guess another “pro” is that we will probably end up spending less on a home than we would have before we moved here. 


Kids + Baby · Motherhood · Parenting

The Birth of Avery Rose

One of my biggest passions is birth. The way most women feel about their wedding day is how I feel about my birth experiences. They matter and have profoundly shaped me. When my children grow older and need me less I would really love to make a career supporting other women through their births. It’s taken me almost a year to sit down and process the birth of my third baby, but I am so glad I did – spoiler, it’s a long story.

I found out I was pregnant in March of 2016. Baby #3 was given an estimated due date of Dec 5, 2016 and in my mind I had already added a week to that as my first two were born at 41 weeks. We opted out of finding out the sex to add a little extra excitement to things. As a mom of two boys already I was honestly going to be happy either way. Boys were all I knew, but a little girl would be fun as well.

My pregnancy was very easy and uncomplicated until 35 weeks when it was mentioned I was measuring around 30-31 weeks. No one, including myself, gave it much thought and I was told to come back in 2 weeks. During those two weeks I got pre-registered at the birth center which I was very excited about. I had a water birth with my second and couldn’t wait to experience that again. 

November 14, 2016, at exactly 37 weeks, I  headed to my appointment. Everything seemed perfect until they measured my fundal height. I was still measuring 30 weeks. I figured the baby was just balled up and hiding, but it was starting to seem more concerning. The midwife wanted me to get an ultrasound to be safe. I had to have it done at a different office and couldn’t be seen until the next day so I headed home. The next thing I knew I’d missed a call from my doctor and my husband was calling me. She called him to let us know she was able to get an ultrasound tech to stay late to see me. That was the first time I thought something may be wrong.

I left my boys with my mom (thank goodness she was in town!) and met my husband at the office. The baby was measuring right on track, but my amniotic fluid was low – a condition called oligohydramnios – and they wanted us to go to straight to the hospital. We didn’t know what this meant or if we would be having a baby, but we packed a few things just in case. I gave my boys big hugs and kisses and left not knowing if they’d be sharing me with a new sibling the next time I saw them.

Are you still reading this? I told you it was long! 

When we arrived at the hospital, we were sent to triage and I was checked to see if my water had broken (which would explain the low fluid). The test came back negative for amniotic fluid so they hooked me up to an IV to try to pump fluids in me and told me they would do another ultrasound in the morning. Unfortunately the next morning (Nov 15th) my levels were half of what they were the day before. Anything below 5 is considered to be very low and my levels were a 2 – plus the baby’s heart rate was occasionally dropping. We decided to induce. 

My birth team was amazing and knew how badly I wanted a natural birth. Although I had risked out of the birth center the plan was still to do a water birth at the hospital. That afternoon they started a foley bulb induction as it is less invasive (although it was so incredibly painful). The foley bulb fell out when I reached 4 cms and I hoped that would be enough to allow my body to kick into labor itself. I was able to rest that night which was so helpful.

The next morning I hadn’t progressed so we discussed our options and decided to start a very low dose of pitocin. I got up and walked the halls. I was determined to do everything in my power to help get labor rolling. As I was walking I wore a portable contraction monitor and it was discovered that the baby’s heart rate was dropping quite a bit with each contraction. I was told I’d have to lay down and have continuous fetal monitoring. Selfishly, I was crushed. This meant I would be unable to labor or birth in the water – and I had to be confined to the bed. Everything about my birth plan had gone out the window.

I was able to move around enough in the bed to help keep the baby’s heart rate from being dangerously low, but I wasn’t progressing at all. I wasn’t experiencing much pain in terms of contractions, but I was so emotionally exhausted. The doctor suggested we break my water because the baby was already under so much distress. He gave us some time to decide what we wanted and, although I didn’t want anymore interventions, my gut told me it was what needed to be done.

After my water was broken, the baby’s heart rate began plummeting. The only way it would come back up was if I was on my hands and knees. At this point, my feelings about the experience went out the window. I just wanted my baby to get here safely. Around this time I told my doula to head to the hospital – I was either going to push out a baby soon or end up with an emergency c-section. I honestly though it would be the latter. 

My doctor thought we could help keep the baby’s heart rate up by doing an amnioinfusion – a procedure that pumps fluid back into the uterus which can take pressure off the umbilical cord. It was so incredibly painful and took 3 or 4 tries before it was successfully done. 

Things immediately intensified. My contractions were so intense and not being able to move or get comfortable made it very difficult to get through them. My doula arrived and my husband did his best to keep me calm, but all I could think was I was done. I couldn’t do it anymore. As soon as I got to my “breaking point”, I had to push. The doctor wasn’t there, but I told the nurse I didn’t have a choice. Apparently the doctor got there in time, but it only took two pushes and the baby was out. The umbilical cord was wrapped around the neck twice, but the doctor was able to fix it before I even noticed. They quickly handed the baby to me and I looked down – a baby GIRL. She was finally here. I did it. She did it. Avery Rose was finally here. ❤

Her birth was almost the complete opposite of what I envisioned. Problem after problem…intervention after intervention, but I always felt listened to and respected by my birth team and I am able to look back at the experience in a positive way.

Kids + Baby · Motherhood · Parenting

Joyful Motherhood

I’m not an expert on parenting. I don’t deserve any “mom of the year” awards. I’m just a woman raising three little humans and learning to find true joy in doing so. That hasn’t always been the case. Motherhood hasn’t always come easy to me, but five years into the journey I love being a mom more than I ever have.

So, what have I learned?

 Let go of “mom guilt”. Right now. Whatever is telling you that you aren’t good enough is a liar. Social media, your friends, depression/anxiety, yourself. So many things leave us feeling less than and that feeling is one of our biggest stealers of joy.

Find balance. You are a mom, but you are also a human being. Self-care is crucial. A happier self is a happier mom. So ask for a break. Accept help when it is offered. Lock yourself in your room when you need five minutes alone. Do so without guilt.

Let go of expectations. Children are unpredictable. You will have wonderful days and terrible days. You will have days where the house looks perfect and days that no matter how hard you work you feel like nothing was accomplished. You will have days that you half-ass because it’s so incredibly hard being “on” all the time. You will have days that look like they came straight off Pinterest and days where your kids watch TV for 8 hours.

Choose joy. You want to be a joyful mom? Choose to be. At the end of the day you can focus on all the things that went wrong, but holding onto negative energy will just bring you down – and your kids feed off your energy. Focus on the good and know your strengths.

I know all of this is easier said than done. How many times did I read up on how to be a happier mom? Too many to count. Overtime, your perspective changes. Today may not be the day it suddenly gets easier for you, but my hope is that it does. The seasons of motherhood are always changing. There will constantly be good seasons and trying season, but finding the beauty and joy in the chaos will help get you through.

❤ A