Monday Moments of Gratitude - May 23, 2016

Monday, May 23, 2016

I'm so happy you're here!! 

I'm making a point to post on Mondays about moments I am grateful for in the past week. We can all use a little more intentional thinking about things we're grateful for. With that said, I hope you'll continue to join me in gratitude on Mondays :)

Here are a few moments from this past week that I am grateful for:

Writing this post - Okay so you're thinking "huh? That's weird" but I'm writing this post on my back deck, sitting in the sunshine with an ice cold beer. Oliver is napping and Annabelle and daddy are gone for a drive (he may or may not be trying to get her to nap too - praying to the long-weekend gods that we'll get a the double-rainbow of parent-hood, two kids napping at the SAME time!). The ONLY thing missing is the Blue Jays game on the radio... which starts soon but the battery just died (Brent, hurry UP!) 

blog writing on deck with a beer

Beautiful weather - it has FINALLY gotten nice here!! You have to understand that I literally cannot recall a May long-weekend with warm weather. It seems it's ALWAYS cold. Not this weekend friends, warm, sunny and simply GORGEOUS!! 

GIGGLES - you may have seen this on my Facebook page but if you haven't it came with a challenge: watch this video and try not to laugh or smile. You can't do it, it's impossible. Just me? My kids weren't happy at all to have time with daddy at the park. Clearly. 

Haircuts - you might have read that little man got his first haircut and once I was done being all sad about my little growing up I realized, he's even cuter than I ever imagined (and no, I'm not biased, not even a tiny bit). Seriously though, how cute is this kid? 

baby boys first haircut

Return of the wagon - that's misleading, technically our stolen wagon wasn't returned rather, I bought a new one (but got a great deal on it - like less than used ones are selling for, so go ME). Mr. B and I had fun assembling it Saturday night (alright, I was more supervising wine drinking) and surprised Annabelle Saturday morning. She was sooooo happy!!! She kept saying "it matches our older wagon" and also that we need to tell Swiper the Fox "NOOOOOOO swiping" lol. 

wagon and wine

Playing with my new fitbit - I recently bought my first fitbit and decided to go with the FitBit Charge HR (because I wanted a heart rate monitor) and I'm LOVING it! I tend to be super competitive and didn't realize how much this would motivate me to get moving. I've found myself walking in place just to get to a certain number of steps or doing random exercises to get to a certain number of active minutes. The ONLY downside, apparently I'm getting WAY less sleep than I ever imagined and that's WITH Oliver sleeping from 7:30-5:30. Yikes.

A bonus day  - My B typically works one day each weekend but long weekends mean that he gets two days home with us and that makes EVERYone happier! As many park trips as we had this week, having daddy there on Sunday just made the kids happier (plus, way easier for momma with some help). Monday will be spent out and about but still, together as a family. Our anniversary is coming up (June 1) and believe me when I say I am so very grateful for this man!

daddy and Oliver on swing

daddy and Annabelle at park

What moments are you grateful for this past week? Linkup your gratitude posts below!!

Linky Rules:

  1. Link to your specific blog post (not your blog's main page). 
  2. Please link posts related to gratitude.
  3. Check out as many links as you can.
  4. Not required BUT I would love it if you link back here.

An InLinkz Link-up

**this post contains affiliate links, if you buy stuff through links I may be compensated - so thanks for that**

it's just a haircut

Friday, May 20, 2016

baby boy's first haircut

it's JUST a haircut

"it's just a haircut" I told myself as we walked into the mall

my baby's 'do had grown out of control, this was necessary

"snip, snip"

it happened instantaneously

my baby transformed before my eyes

into something familiar but not recognizable

my baby morphed into my little boy

there it was:

that lingering feeling all mother's dread

the "when did you get so big?"

that fear that you'll blink and they'll be all grown up

I always call him "my little man" but he's never felt like it until now

I sit, sad and proud at the same time

Eager for the future but wanting time to stop

Did I cherish it all enough?

Did I delight in all the giggles as much as I could have?

A quick search of my phone confirms I have most definitely captured all the moments

But will I remember them with the clarity, albeit sleep-deprived, that I have now?

Or will they fade a little, start to get hazy as each milestone, each year is surpassed?

Today I find myself staring a little longer

At this boy, MY little boy, changing before my eyes

I start to tear up but the little brute has knocked something over before they spill down onto my cheeks

He looks at me wondering if he's in trouble

No my sweet boy

I don't resist the urge to pick him up

I smell his newly short hair, kiss his chubby cheeks and am reminded

No matter how old he is, baby, boy or man

He will always be my baby

It's just a haircut after all

my handsome blue eye'd baby boy

it's just a haircut

styling a boho-inspired kimono with Chic Style Boutique

Thursday, May 19, 2016

What's going on here? Two style-posts in one week? Yes, you really are that lucky. haha

Okay, for real though, I'm lucky because Chic Style Boutique wanted to send me a piece of clothing to review, um, yes please!!! 

Shipping was insanely fast. Now, I know that's the shipping company to credit for that, but normally when I get stuff sent from the US it takes FOREVER!

They picked one of their new arrivals, this beautiful kimono for me to try. I immediately loved the piece because boho-inspired anything is all the rage; however, honestly, I panicked a little and thought "um okay, this is gorgeous, but how the heck am I going to wear it?" True story. 

Whenever I am confused how to style something I just get back to basics because overthinking it usually leads to overdoing it. I'm a hot mess on most days, no need to amp that up.

I decided it doesn't get more basic than jeans and a tank so I went with that. 

Here's how it turned out:

boho kimono look

boho kimono look
should have thrown on a pendant necklace in hindsight... next time...

boho kimono look
festival ready... well, minus the sitter and an actual festival to go to

boho kimono look

On their website they have this kimono styled with shorts and boots. Not entirely sure I could pull this off at all, let alone as cute as below BUT I may attempt it at some point (even if I don't leave my bedroom).

boho kimono look

I really do love this kimono. It's not something I would have picked for myself, but I think that's what I like so much about it. I love getting something that is every bit as nice in person as it looks in the pic and I'm so happy this has found a forever home in my closet.

Naturally, I have checked out the website a few times (okay, more times than I'm comfortable admitting) and it is full of pieces that really mesh with my style (hence I was eager for the review). Casual but comfy and on trend. That and prices are super reasonable always key for this somewhat savvy momma.

Here are a few other things I'm seriously considering adding to my closet:

chambray dress

pink crochet back tank

mama bear tank

cold shoulder top

pink maxi dress

In case you can't tell, I had a hard time keeping to a few items to share lol but had to stop myself before this post got embarrassingly long.

Check out Chic Style Boutique for more adorable pieces!!
You can also find them on Facebook and Instagram 

Style Perspectives - a graduation look

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

14 bloggers each picked a look that defined their personal style.  The featured blogger on the Blended Blog showcases her signature style (the prompt for that day) and then the other bloggers (on their personal blogs) show how they interpret it AND you get to join in on the fun by linking up!!! (prompts at bottom of post)

Here's a recap of last week's jeans, blazer, tee and sneakers looks:

I have to say, this was one of my FAVS!!! I love the mix of dressy and super casual. 

A Graduation Look

I've been through my graduations and it'll be a little while yet before I'm attending a graduation for either of my littles (although, given the rate at which time seems to be speeding by, it won't be nearly as far off as I think) so today I'm pretending. Here's what I'd wear if I were attending a graduation:

patterned dress for graduation
yes, that's a remote in my hand. My picture-taking secret REVEALED! My plumber husband is brilliant at many a things... picture-taking is NOT one of them. Sadly, I'll never be one of those bloggers who seems to have a photographer with mad skills following them around everywhere. Darn. That also explains the poor editing - I have no idea what I'm doing.

patterned dress for graduation

patterned dress for graduation

patterned dress for graduation

patterned dress for graduation

I bought this Calvin Klein dress right after having Oliver and got a great deal on it! It's kind of big now but I just tightened the belt a little so hopefully it's not too noticeable.

Red lips are a practically a requirement when you're wearing neutral colors. That's a rule right? No?

Comfy peep-toe heels and a clutch and I'm good to go.... now, if only I had somewhere to go lol.

What's your go-to graduation style?

Make sure you stop by the Blended Blog to see the featured lady.  

Daily Style Finds: The Personal Stylist
Foxy's Domestic Side: The Crafty Engineer
Simply Shaunacey: Reformed Frumpy Mommy
Two Teens and Their Mama: Stylish Midlife Mama
RSquared: The Not So Nerdy Accountant
Shoes to Shiraz: The Shoe Hoarding French Teacher
Puppies and Pretties: Cube Dwelling Fashionista
Mishaps and Mayhem of Solitary Life:  Single Girl, Simple Style
A Lovely Little Wardrobe: A Casual Petite
Making the Most of Everyday Classic Yet Current Over Forty 
NickandNik: Mama with Curves
Living on Cloud Nine: Blissful Fashionista
Whitney a la mode: A Book-loving French Teacher 

Want to know who the top two links were on last week's linkup were??? You're going to have to head on over to the Blended Blog after linking up :)

**this post may contain affiliate links - I may get $ if you click/buy so thanks, you're awesome!**

Monday Moments of Gratitude - May 16, 2016

Monday, May 16, 2016

I'm so happy you're here!! 

I'm making a point to post on Mondays about moments I am grateful for in the past week. We can all use a little more intentional thinking about things we're grateful for. With that said, I hope you'll continue to join me in gratitude on Mondays :)

Here are a few moments from this past week that I am grateful for:

Cheeky guy being cheeky - if you follow me on Facebook, you may have already seen this and the aftermath lol This little monkey does this ALL the time now and is soaked after EVERY meal! 
At first I was frustrated with having to change him after every meal but honestly, it's kind of hilarious and clearly super cute. 

Perfect evenings - husband home early, dinner cooked on the BBQ, relaxing outside with the ones I love the most and a glass of wine. Yup. Perfect. Some days are hard but some nights make it so worth it.

Hair accomplishments - this one is kind of silly but I have to tell you as a mom of a little girl I have embarrassingly little hair-skills. I have attempted a total of 3 french braids in my life. My friend Sarah always has the BEST hairstyles (seriously, I'm in awe of her skills) so when she shared a tutorial video of how to do a french braid on yourself I knew I had to try. For a first attempt I think I did alright, no?

Tacos and wine - ya, I skipped my workout and had tacos, I felt guilty about the decision for about 5 seconds because, well, tacos and wine are delicious. Don't worry, I worked out the next day, I swear. Sometimes, you just have to cut yourself a little slack or give in to taco and wine cravings... just sayin'.

Picnics in the park - Wednesday literally had the perfect weather forecast so I asked my mom if she wanted to come and have a picnic with the kids and I. I'll have you know, prepping for and cleaning after a picnic is A LOT of work but my gosh, seeing the smiles on my kids faces was more than worth it. They had a blast and I enjoyed basking in the sun while they played happily at the park. 

Motherhood and life are certainly NOT perfect but I hope you are finding some solace, some comfort, in the beautiful moments that are handed to you every single day. 

Have a beautiful week friends.

What moments are you grateful for this past week? Linkup your gratitude posts below!!

Linky Rules:

  1. Link to your specific blog post (not your blog's main page). 
  2. Please link posts related to gratitude.
  3. Check out as many links as you can.
  4. Not required BUT I would love it if you link back here.

on behalf of my sucky mom-blog - a response to "Dear Mommy Blogger"

Sunday, May 15, 2016

A friend of mine (also a blogger) sent me an article yesterday entitled "Dear Mommy Blogger"... naturally, as I consider myself a 'mommy blogger' of sorts, I took a read.

The just of the article is a message to all mommy bloggers "your blog SUCKS" with a number of expletives (which I'm cool with but will spare you) thrown in the mix as well as detailed sections on how and why the majority of all of our 'mom blogs' are garbage and why we should promptly throw in the towel.

Um thanks, I'm sure most of us don't have enough self-doubt and mom-guilt that we really needed this piled on top of it.

Truthfully, I think Josi (the author) had some good points that many of us need to hear and take into consideration; however, more flies with honey and all that. I highly suspect she alienated a lot of readers by the condescending tone and the irony of the multiple "sign up for my email" pop-ups was an additional level of entertainment I hadn't expected. Thanks for that. Also, the link at the bottom asking for support? Guessing all the hoards of 'sucky mom bloggers' reading this now viral post will not be clicking that link. Just a guess. Could be wrong but as my husband knows, I'm usually not.

As I formulate my thoughts about this article, I realize that to some extent this post is purely an effort in self-validation and I feel the need to refute some of the points simply to rationalize why I continue to blog. Having said that and acknowledged it, I'm still going to write and I'll try not to make it all "I'm not that bad" and 'me, me, me' because this is about all of us mommy bloggers.

I'll address this by section mostly because I like to feign organization where ever possible and also because I couldn't decide where to start.

NOTE: the section titles, besides intro, are the exact titles from Josi's original post. I didn't do this to copy, but paraphrasing just didn't seem to capture it properly.

She starts with "I am was a mommy blogger"... still a mom? check. Still writing a blog? double check. Still a mommy blogger. Check, check, check. Good start. I get that this is supposed to show us that she's coming from a good place but as she proceeds to charm us with a barrage of "you suck crap, quit NOW" it kinda takes away from any credibility, real or not, that's been shared. Moving on...

"Nobody is reading your shit"
Number-wise some people look at my blog, truth but that certainly doesn't mean all those people are actually reading what I write or care what I say. I can't help but agree with Josi on parts of this one. I absolutely get comments that were clearly someone scanning for something quick to say in an effort to have it reciprocated. If you're a dutiful blogger, you've read all the "grow your followers" posts and know that to get comments you need to leave them. So people make the rounds, they try and comment as much as possible and there isn't always time to read all the things. I have been guilty of this too. She's right. This part she nailed.
That's not all there is. There's other stuff too and not acknowledging it takes the value out of the good stuff, makes it feel cheap. To those of you who leave beautiful and thoughtful comments THANK YOU. Also, seriously, if I write a boring post (and that'll happen folks, I'm not super interesting or thoughtful ALL of the time, sorry) DON'T leave a comment if you have nothing to say, totally cool with that (bye bye comments - small tear lol). I suppose this relates to the next part about authenticity...
The lack of authenticity in blogging has been a challenge for me on the regular; however, assuming ALL mom bloggers are writing inauthentic garbage 100% of the time is beyond erroneous and kind of unfair. I have read posts/blogs that went from authentic to not-so-much and vice versa. I also, for a time, was challenged when reading my own stuff and feeling like I got lost in writing just to put stuff out. I have been guilty of being unintentionally inauthentic in those times. I've done it but reflecting on that has caused me to pause and re-evaluate my voice. I'm trying to be more conscious about what I put out there and friends, sometimes being aware of what we are doing and why we are doing it is all we can do. That's okay. If all you do is read back a post and think "does that sound like me?" than you're trying to be authentic. Let's be serious, we all know when we are not being true to ourselves and we certainly don't need a reformed mommy blogger telling us we aren't.
I can't convey how much I appreciate reading blogs, the ones where I feel like I'm having a conversation, like someone is speaking right to me in their true voice. Keep doing that and if you feel like you're not, it's NEVER too late to start.

"There's no way in hell you are actually that happy"
Alright, I can envision some of the blogs she's talking about here and WORD. Unlike those picture perfect mom-blogs, I do not have a personal photographer or Instagram husband following me around capturing and editing only the 'perfect moments' and then sharing them like it's all sunshine and rainbows 24/7. Actually, those blogs make me feel like a craptastic mom because, dude, this gig is hard. I try and be real about that and the other 'sucky mommy blogs' I read do too. So ya. In general we're fairly happy people, but some of us are also honest and real which means you're going to hear about crying (us and kids), yelling, timeouts and whatever else is going on.
On the exclamation mark use, guilty... nothing more to say about that!!!!!!!!!!!!

"Your goals are just confused as you"
Truth. I started blogging to share my journey out of yoga pants (because yoga pants at the office are discouraged apparently). Now I rant about motherhood and whatever else strikes my fancy. Sure, I want to grow my blog but mostly because that's what it seems we're supposed to do.  But for what? I have no end-game here and I doubt many of my fellow mom-blog-friends do either. I like to write so I'm doing that. That's a good enough goal for me for now. I've accepted the fact that my blog is all over the place because guess what? I am KIND of all over the place. It doesn't get much more authentic than that. I like stuff, lots of stuff including the mommy cliches of coffee and wine. Some people call that 'easy to relate to' and think it's a good thing. Just sayin'.

"You are wasting your money"
YUP! As soon as you start a blog you read ALL the ways to make it better ALL the time. Guess what? I've tried a lot of them too. No dice. Some services and apps might be worth investing in; however, this momma would rather buy shoes, kid clothes or wine than go broke on your course or tips I'll never actually get around to putting in place.  Josi, you got this part mostly right but please don't assume we're brainless mombies over here chomping the bit at each fad offering to "grow our blogs overnight". Momma didn't raise no fool.
BUT (cause who doesn't like big BUTS?)
I went to a blog conference and it was NOT cheap. The flight, conference ticket, the hotel, the food, the wine (cause, ya, wine).... cha CHING!!! But guess what? WORTH EVERY PENNY!!!!! Did it change my blog and make me a millionaire? Sadly, no. But I met some AWESOME women who I am beyond pleased to call friends. Women who enrich my life regularly. So ya, go to a blog conference or take a vacay with some girlfriends, either way, money well spent. Better yet, take a vacation WITH some blog-friends, double-win!

"PR Friendly = I have no soul"
I love blanket statements... oh wait... I do not. Dislike them a bit. I sort of have a soul... I think. A soul that sometimes like free stuff. Sue me.

"Building your own prison with copycat guards"
The notion that brands see mom-bloggers as just another means to an end and that 'end' being 'sales' is not lost on me. I highly suspect it's not lost on the vast majority of other 'mom-bloggers' either. We're not idiots. When I get an email from a company wanting to work with me that says "we just LOVE your blog", I know darn well they likely haven't read a page. That doesn't mean the idea of collaboration is off the table. Maybe it's selfish but I kinda like getting free stuff that I would have bought anyways. Sure, it's in exchange for my opinion, but I'm usually all too ready to give that anyways... more on that below.

"Sunshine and F-ing daisy reviews" 
I have both seen and done this. You get a free product or service in exchange for a review OR, you even get PAID to get free stuff and review it. Cool. Then you write a post and feel some pressure to say all the good things... and all the good things ONLY. This happens A LOT. Writing these posts is hard because it's work to say things that don't come naturally. For this reason, I have changed the way I do reviews. Less formal, more me and if I have something critical, you're going to read it. Sorry, not sorry. That and I don't accept all offers, only things that appeal to me so if I'm writing about it, it's because I wanted to. Okay?

"Giveaway entries are not real fans"
NEWSFLASH. Oh wait... anyone who does Giveaways KNOWS that there are literally tens of thousands of people scouring the internet at light-speeds entering every Giveaway they can find. Whatever. I don't do a lot of giveaways but I find them fun. Who doesn't like the possibility of winning something? Sometimes people find me and stay, sometimes they run in the other direction, never looking back. Sometimes it's just a way to reward readers who choose to stay in for the long-haul and you just cross your fingers one of them wins. Clearly, I don't feel nearly as passionate about this topic as Josi. Meh.

"You are wasting your time"
"Quit before you feel like a failure instead of finding the intersection of happy and fulfilled.
Quit because your mommy blog fucking sucks. And it’s not going to get better. There are probably a dozen things you are actually good at." source
At first read, this seemed harsh. I was taken back and offended. Why? Because this hits the heart of every mom-blogger's biggest battle: am I doing all of this for nothing???
GUYS I tackle this on the regular. ALL bloggers do. I know, because I actually talk to a lot of bloggers. You know, make connections and stuff.
If you read Josi's post and took offence, I'm right there with ya, but stop for a second and ask yourself if part, even a small part, the reason for that is because you've wrestled (like me) with a lot of the things she talks about. You might find that what is most frustrating about the whole piece is her ability to hit you where you're vulnerable, in the place you take solace, where you share you soul (or, lack there of, for those 'PR friendly' folk like myself).

Before you go and take Miss quit your blog NOW literally, I want you to ask yourselves the same questions I routinely ask myself (and the ones that keep me here):

WHY did I start this blog? I didn't start a blog to become rich or famous (good thing because: FAIL) I started because I had a desire to write and to document my transition back to work and to find some sense of style. I needed style inspiration and wanted to show moms you don't have to be frumpy to be comfortable. I still do some style stuff but that's not all there is because that's not all I am. I won't apologize for the mixed bag here because honestly, I wouldn't have it any other way.

What keeps me blogging? First is ALWAYS the relationships. Sure, there are people that stop by dutifully and probably don't give two shits about what I have to say BUT there are others, others who keep coming back, who care and who I am blessed to call friends so that alone is good enough for me. The support I have experienced, provided and witnessed because of blogging is amazing. AH-MAZING! Josi's post and a few others aside, I have never experienced a group of women so readily willing to build each other up, offer encouragement and have such genuine empathy for each other. Second, the idea of quitting makes me feel like I'd be missing something that I find so much pleasure in. I like to write but I like writing most when I'm being true to myself. It is those posts that I hope my kids read one day and feel like they have a sense of this women, this lady they call momma. It's those posts that someone reads, even if it's my one reader, and says "YES, you nailed that, I couldn't have said it better"... that's why I'm here, that's why I stay. If I have written something that has made someone feel better, feel supported, feel inspired, smile or cry tears of relief then it's not all for not.

What would I do if I didn't blog? Sleep? Learn to knit? Nah. I've learned I can function on very little sleep and knitting isn't really my bag so blogging it is. Who needs clean floors anyways?? I STRONGLY disliked the implication that mommy bloggers are somehow neglecting out children or family's while blogging. This was a low-blow to all moms and given that the writer is a mom... well, the assumption that she's somehow an exception to her very own point... ya, enough said. Blogging is one of the things that preserves my sense of self which was very much altered when I became a mother. Yes, I still talk about parenting but not as though I'm talking to a toddler. I need this place and trust me when I say I'm a better mother because I have this outlet.

Is this blog impeding my happiness or contributing to it? THIS is the big question. This is where you NEED to weigh the pros and cons. Any blogger will tell you that this is A LOT of work. A LOT. Even if you're writing authentically, it's still a lot of work. It's exhausting, it's emotionally taxing at times and it often causes a lot of self-doubt and creates insecurities where none previously existed. You know what else does those things? Parenting. I haven't decided to give up that gig either. Ya know why? Because, like my super cute children, this blog also brings me happiness and joy. It offers some fulfillment in parts of my soul where holes had been. So, like my sometimes sucky kids, I'll also be keeping my sometimes sucky mom blog.

My bottom-line: if you're getting something out of blogging, something that makes YOU happy, then you are NOT wasting your time.

On behalf of my sucky mom-blog, thanks Josi, I honestly appreciated some of your sentiments, albeit harsh, and you made me ask myself some hard questions but ultimately, me and my sucky mom blog are gonna be sticking around a while. Best of luck with yours and all those emails from pissed off blogger!!!!!!!!!! (yes, that exclamation mark use is deliberate, or I'm just excited to be done writing this MONSTER of a post). Your error was shaming and criticizing people you could have been giving some helpful advice to and, I don't know, offering some words of encouragement from someone who has also struggled.

To my mom-blogger friends: if you love blogging, don't for a second think of quitting. Instead, use this post as a challenge to be truer to yourself, to be a starting point for where you want to go and the beginning of your plan to get there. Also, in case anyone hasn't told you, you're AWESOME. Anyone who doesn't think so can just move along.

The end.... (but not the literal end, I'm not actually quitting, I'm just tired of typing now).

PS (because I can NEVER stop talking) if you liked this and want more read:
Your Mommy Blog DOESN'T suck and here's why
Someone tried to throw us under the bus (and blew it)

what I'm really up to...

Friday, May 13, 2016

I had a post planned for today but life got in the way of preparation for said post so this is what you're getting instead. Rather than share a not-quite complete version of what I planned, I'm going to share what I have been doing instead of prepping blog posts.

Having fun.

Enjoying my kids.

Stressing less.

Cleaning less.

Basking in sunshine and warmth.

Being happy.

picnic in the park

My baby turns 1 in less than two months and I also return to work. I LOVE blogging and I LOVE you guys but right now my priority is enjoying the time I have with my kiddos. I'm still blogging, still reading and commenting but maybe not at the same level I was. I need to embrace these last few months with all my momma-self. I'm not taking a break or saying 'goodbye' but I am saying 'cut me some slack' if I don't comment or post or whatever. I'm still here, picnic-ing with my babies!