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Tuesday, May 24

A day in the life of a mom of one (and a half)

Wonder what other moms are struggling with on a daily basis? Click through to find out what this pregnant mom of one struggles with and where she finds joy in motherhood.

From the time I was a kid I always knew what I wanted to be when I grew up: a mom. I never second guessed it. It was the only thing I could see myself doing when I was older and I was so excited to start my motherhood journey when I found out I was expecting my first.

Although being a mom is still my favorite "job," I've found that it isn't as easy as I thought it would be. I always imagined being a stay-at-home mom, but life seems to have other plans for me and I've had to figure out how to be the best mom I can be when it's not just as I pictured it. Life is only getting more complicated as I'm now expecting my second child.

My mom struggles

As I mentioned, I never envisioned being a working mom, but that is what my life is calling for right now. One of the hardest parts of being a working mom, is giving Benson the attention he needs and deserves. I am lucky enough to be able to work from home so I still get to see him throughout the day, but for the most part, my work calls for me to be at my desk eight hours a day. I feel bad that Benson misses out on a lot of fun things that most kids his age are getting to do. 

One of the hardest things for us to participate in are play dates. I've had mom friends who weren't willing to work with my schedule and so we missed out on him getting to play with other kids. Luckily, I've met some new fun ladies who are always willing to find a time that works with my schedule. While we don't get to be involved in every play date it's nice to know that when I really need some time with adults and Benson needs to hang with some kids we can turn to those friends. 

I worry a lot, just like all moms, that Benson isn't progressing as he should because of my work. We don't have a lot of time each day to read books and teach him how to say new words. I started to really worry about Benson when we were hanging out with another friend whose daughter is just a week older than Benson and she seemed to be able to say so many more words than Benson could. For a first-time mom this really freaked me out. Was I not giving my son enough "learning" time? I had to take a step back and realize that kids progress at their own pace and little by little Benson's grunts turn into real words and this is just his pace. 

Finally, one of the biggest struggles I deal with, especially while being pregnant, is finding time to do everything that a "good" wife and mother should be doing. I constantly feel like a failure because my house is a mess, I rarely cook dinner for my husband and by the end of my work day I don't have the energy to play with my toddler (not to mention our puppy!) 

I am a hot mess when I'm pregnant and the first trimester seemed to drag on for me. One day Jason came home from work and found the disaster that had occurred while I slept on the couch. While I was sleeping, Benson found styrofoam and pulled it apart and it was all over the floor, the couch and stuck in my hair. I hadn't even bothered to clean it all up before Jason got home. I feel like it's the perfect explanation of what my days look like. 

How I survive it all

While I can never seem to stay on top of all of the things I should and I struggle with these insecurities and issues on a daily basis I've found that there are some things I can control and that I have to do in order to have any amount of order in our home. 

Number one has to be sleep training. I am the biggest believer in getting babies to sleep on a regular schedule as soon as possible. I know that if Benson hadn't been on such a good sleep schedule that I could not have returned to working. I am so dependent on him waking up at 9 a.m. and going down for a nap at 12 p.m. It's such a blessing knowing that 9.8 days out of 10 he's going to follow that schedule. We have the occasional day where things get thrown off (thanks teething) but those are few and far between. 

Since January I've been (so) blessed to be able to have some help during the day. I was able to get a babysitter to come in for the three hours Benson is up and she watches him, feeds him breakfast and lunch and gives him attention when I can't. It's been absolutely amazing, but I was so hesitant to accept help at first. I really thought I could do it all and that I needed to do it all, but I've found that I can't and I don't. It's absolutely OK to ask for help or even just accept help when you're struggling. I'm not a bad mom because I can't devote 100% of my time to Benson. I'm just a lady with a lot on her plate. 

My husband has also been a big help in helping me overcome all the struggles that I face as a mother. Jason has always been an involved dad and I'm so lucky that he wants to be involved in diaper changes and feedings, but that's not even the best thing he's done for me. I grew up in a traditional home where my mom stayed home and cooked and cleaned and that's all I ever wanted. My dad was a great provider and always pitched in with house chores, but we all knew that it was either the kids' or mom's responsibility to care for the home. When I realized I couldn't have a perfect home with home cooked meals while I was working Jason helped me break down my own expectations. He's never expected those things of me, although when he comes home to dinner on the table he never complains. Realizing that I'm not all on my own when it comes to house work and cooking takes a huge load off of my shoulders. 

My favorite things about being a mom to one (and a half)

As I'm sure all moms will tell you, this motherhood gig is hard, but it definitely has it's rewards. 

The best parts of my days are the little moments when Benson does something absolutely adorable--even when it's just trying to kiss our dog on the mouth. It's those small little moments I get to spend with him after I get off work, just the two of us, that make all those struggles worth it. I absolutely love seeing him learn new things. He is so interested in anything I'm doing and wants to try it out. Even as I was prepping this post he wanted to look at pictures with me and tried to type on the keyboard (I'm going to go ahead and blame him for any typos you might find!) His curiosity is endless and I love watching him grow up, although I hate that he has to grow up. (Bring my baby back!!) I can't wait to enjoy those same moments with his sister when she makes her way into the world. 

I also am so thankful that I get to spend one-on-one time with Jason. Benson's cat naps in the evenings are the perfect time for both of us to unwind from the work day and either watch TV or talk about what's going on in our daily lives. 

I wouldn't trade in these experiences for anything. I love being a mom to my little boy and can't wait to see what it's like to be a mom of two. 

Luckily I've had the pleasure of connecting with other moms through blogging and can get a little sneak peak into what it looks like to have more than one child. Shann, of Shann Eva's Blog, is a mom to three little boys (including twins, which is just amazing!) and Lauren Jane, of Bellows in the Berkshires, is a mom of six (aka a rockstar). I've teamed up with these ladies so that you can see what it's like for moms in different stages. Please go check out their posts and let me know where you fall on the mom spectrum!

Shann Eva's Blog A Day in the Life of a Mom of ThreeBellows in the Berkshires A day in the life of a mom of six

What do you struggle with as a mom? Are you like me, with just one baby, or are you more like Shann or Lauren Jane? 

Thursday, May 5

How to keep a big secret for 5 months

I don't know if a lot of you noticed my absence the last couple of months, but life has been kind of a whirlwind for me and it's kept me away from the blog. We got a new puppy in February and that was a big adjustment (how does he have so much energy?) I was also asked to help with the young women's program at my church and we have had a lot of family visiting lately, so I just haven't had time to sit down and write a lot. But, I'm here to give you a few tips on how I managed to keep my biggest life change a secret for so long (also, spoiler alert, I'm letting all of you in on my big secret!)

Go silent on social media for at least 3-4 months

I love social media but when I'm trying to keep things on the DL I stay away from posting anything. So, if you follow me on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter or anywhere else you probably saw that I've barely posted anything. I'm sorry and I'll try to get back in the posting game. 

Take a lot of naps

When you can't run around sharing big life news with people it's best to just stay home. While you're already home you might as well take a nap because, A. You need one and B. You can't tell people things if you're in a deep sleep on the couch while your toddler destroys your house. 

Tell yourself you'll tell people soon

I was convinced I wouldn't be keeping this secret for very long, but it turns out I needed a lot more time (and naps) before I had the energy to orchestrate a fun announcement. Trying to get excited about an announcement and planning it out helps take the edge off of not being able to shout your news from the roof tops. 

Pick a day to share your news

I love having something to look forward to and having a certain date in mind as to when I can finally tell everyone and anyone what's going on always helps me make it through the harder parts of secret keeping. 

Just share the dang news already!

Here's my final announcement for you! (If you read through the entire post before skipping the end you get a gold star and a brownie...although I won't be providing the brownie. Sorry!)

Please excuse my terrible video skills. I am not practiced at all and iMovie is harder than it looks!

Tuesday, May 3

Zak Deodorant Review

This post is sponsored by Zak Deodorant. All remarks and opinions are my own. I was provided a sample deodorant to review. 

I've given up my favorite deodorants for Zak's all natural deodorant and I'm not looking back. Click through to find out what made me take the plunge!

I am a tried and true kind of girl. If I like a product I'll stick with it forever. Just ask the Neutrogena face wash that's been restocked in my shower since high school, my mink Covergirl eyeshadow that's I've been using since...middle school? (yikes!) or the Degree deodorant I've been buying in bulk for the past couple of years.

I loving knowing which products work for me and I'm definitely loyal to them, that is until I notice that they aren't performing as well as they once were. I started to notice that about my beloved bulk deodorant a while ago. Not only was my deodorant not really giving me all-day protection but I noticed that my skin was starting to react to it. I was dreading summer when swimsuit season would force me to put my armpits on display (this post is feeling very TMI right now, sorry about that!)

I had started thinking about different products I could try that would give my underarms the nourishment that they needed but would still keep me smelling fresh throughout the day. I had debated using different products for mornings and evening so that I could get the nourishment from one and the strength from the other. But then, as if they knew my internal struggle, Zak Deodorant contacted me about their natural deodorant line that promised to fix all of my problems.

I'm not typically an all-natural product user -- I'm more worried about just getting the job done -- but I was willing to give up all the chemicals for coconut oil, earth clays and aloe vera if it could help solve my current deodorant problems.

So I agreed to try Zak Deodorant and tell you all about my experience. And guys. I might never go back to regular deodorants. Turns out these natural ingredients really can get the job done.

First, all of my skin problems are gone. My underarms are soft and smooth and my skin looks great. The one thing I was really worried about with a natural deodorant was that it wouldn't hold up to a full day of toddler and puppy chasing, but it totally has! I also love the smell! I chose the Elevate scent, which has a sage, rose geranium and vanilla and I love how soft and feminine it smells!

I've given up my favorite deodorants for Zak's all natural deodorant and I'm not looking back. Click through to find out what made me take the plunge!

One of the awesome things that I wasn't expecting when I switched deodorants was saying goodbye to the white residue that deodorant usually leaves behind. I always try to wait for the deodorant to dry before putting my clothes on, but it never helped. I ended up with residue either on my bra or my shirt and it drove me nuts! The Zak Deodorant doesn't leave a residue! I didn't even know that not having deodorant residue was an option!

The only downside to Zak Deodorant is that it's going to be a bit pricier than your average drugstore deodorant. I wish I knew if it lasted longer than my old deodorant, but I just don't keep track of that type of thing! However, I think the benefits outweigh the price difference, especially if, like me, your deodorant just isn't getting the job done anymore!

I'm really excited because Zak Deodorant wants to give one of the chance to switch up your underarm game too! Enter the Rafflecopter below for a chance to win your own Zak Deodorant!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, January 28

Are you ready to really tackle your goals?

So you set some goals this year. What are you doing to accomplish them? Click through to find out what helps me accomplish my goals and grab a FREE worksheet to help you reach your goals too.

I set out this year with some lofty goals and the first few weeks in January I really pushed myself to reach them. Then last week something changed and I was completely unmotivated to accomplish anything.

I felt overwhelmed. Like my goals were unreachable and no matter how hard I worked I could never accomplish all of them.

I am very easily discouraged, so when I felt this wave of panic and stress wash over me I let it affect every aspect of my life. Which in turn, pushed me further away from my goals, stressing me out even more. I was caught in a vicious cycle!

I realized needed to do more than just set goals. I needed to plan how I was going to accomplish my goals-especially when I didn't feel like it was possible.

The goals I set in January were year-long endeavors. I knew that they would each take some work and that I would need to come up with a plan of attack for each goal, but I never created that plan.

Now, I’m learning the importance of breaking your goals into bite-sized pieces. I’ve found that giving yourself something to do on a daily, weekly, or even, monthly basis helps you reach your goals. Planning keeps you  on track, and being able to cross something off your list regularly keeps you motivated.

My new system breaks down each of my goals into manageable steps and sets a due date so that I know when I need to have something accomplished by. I always have something I'm working towards and once I finish it I feel that sense of accomplishment, which in turn, gives me the motivation to tackle the next task.

I love this system because it works for all of my goals, not just my blogging goals. This month we had some home projects that needed to be accomplished and we were able to finish them using this system! It felt so good to get those projects off our plate so that we could move on to something new!

To help you reach your goals I’m giving you a worksheet that allows you to outline your smaller goals. As always you can set your main goals on your monthly planner and then you can break down each of those goals with the Goal Planning Worksheet.

 photo goals opt-in_zpsslxkboan.png

What goals are you working towards? What is your favorite goal setting method? 

Tuesday, January 26

A top notch top knot.

Is there one thing you do to feel put together each day? For me it's doing my hair. If my hair is down and curled it means I got ready for the day. A messy bun means I have no where to go, nothing to do and I probably won't be changing out of my yoga pants today. Which is a lot for one little bun to say.

I woke up Sunday morning with every intention of curling my hair but when it came time to actually curl it I just wasn't in the mood. I brushed my hair and wrapped it up in a top knot tried to make it as clean and pretty as possible so that it looked presentable enough to go into public with it atop my head.

When my hair is up I always opt to wear a scarf. I get kinda claustrophobic when I wear a scarf with my hair down, which is super weird, I know. I love that the scarf added some dimension to this outfit without feeling overwhelmed. Plus it helped add a little more color into the outfit, which always makes me happy.

I wore this to church, but would totally wear it for a casual day out as well. Simply adding heels could kick the whole look up a notch, but we walk to church so I usually opt for something flat and snow-proof. (Please appreciate my clear walkway. We spent all day Saturday shoveling snow and ice to make it visible and more visitor friendly.)

What is your favorite way to do your hair? My second favorite is a braid. I love braids. 

Tuesday, January 19

When being your own blog photographer is hard #2

I had so much fun with my last blooper post (you can see it here) that I though I would make it a regular thing! Every couple of months I'll share some of the photos that don't make the cut...because I just look weird in them. Enjoy!

1. Sometimes your son wants to come outside with you and you have to keep him entertained

Original Post

Not only is being in the house by himself boring, but I'm a little afraid that he'll destroy it in the 10 minutes it takes me to take photos. So he sat in the stroller and then we played in the snow. 

2. If you can swing it, you can entertain your son while he's inside and you're outside. 

Original Post
 On the flip side of number one, if you can see your son from your outfit location and keep him entertained he'll watch from the door and not destroy the house. It's really a win-win. Except when I catch this face on camera...but then again, it made a good blooper. Win-Win-Win as Michael Scott would say

3. Posing is just really hard. OK?

Original Post
Posing is always going to be in list of things that make being your own blog photographer hard. I just need someone to tell me how dumb I look! Like what am I doing with my face? Do I need to sneeze? Am I trying to hard to be vogue? On the good side, my dress looks really cool here. 

4. The "I almost had it"
Original Post
Everything about this photo is great. It totally would have made it to the original post...if my eyes were open. I'm not really sure if I was trying to be cool and look down away from the camera, but it just looks like I've been told to close my eyes and picture myself on a beach. 

Do you like blogging bloopers? What's something you struggle with being in front of the camera? 

Thursday, January 14

Five reasons why you don't have to be scared about being a mom

Becoming a mother is a big life change. It's totally normal to be scared! Click through to get advise from a mom who's been in your shoes.

I didn't do a lot of blogging when I was pregnant, mostly because I was a hot, exhausted mess and blogging just felt like another thing I had to do, when all I really wanted to do was eat Taco Bell while having my feet massaged. #PregnancyIsRough However, while I was scarfing down Cheesy Gordita Crunches I was racked by the fear of what was coming.

One of the most helpful things I did was pick the brains of my friends who were already moms. Asking about what Braxton Hicks felt like, what I should expect during delivery and what really happened post-partum helped me prepare mentally for the new role I was taking on.

Lauren, of Sobremesa Stories, recently expressed some of the same fears that I went through when I was pregnant in her post, "Five things that scare me about being a mom." I was instantly drawn to her post and wanted to help calm her fears, like my friends had done for me.