The Other Side of Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day without my mom is such a difficult subject to write about. It’s been lingering in my mind for weeks and just trying to come up with words feels like a stab to the heart. I wanted to put my sadness aside and write something though, because I know that having someone else share their experiences can ease the pain a bit.

My mom died two weeks after I became a mother. It’s shocking to even write that because when it happened it was all such a blur. I was a new mom, deep in “baby blues” and just straight up healing from the trauma my body went through. Then suddenly I lost my best friend. She had been sick since I was in middle school and mentally not ok for the two years since she had an emergency leg amputation. That didn’t lessen the shock it was that she was gone from this earth. Mentally I knew that my mom was finally at peace and that wishing her to live wasn’t fair. But deep deep inside I lost a huge part of me.

Honestly, I am very good compartmentalizer and suppressor. I don’t think of what makes me sad and in a way it’s not healthy. This week leading up to Mother’s Day is always hard for me. My feelings are always more dull and I just wish I could sleep til another day. I am happy I am a mom but I just don’t fully enjoy a day where I’m supposed to be celebrating my own mother without her here by my side. I know I’m not the only one in this situation and it hurts. We try to focus on making me happy today and that is a bit straining on me too. I still don’t know what the right answer to this feeling is, but I think it’s important for us to remember we’re not alone in these emotions.

Mother’s Day is a really special day to celebrate the people that raise us. It is also a really sad day for a lot of us. Some people have been trying to be mothers for a long time and it’s just something that unfortunately isn’t in the cards for them. Some of us don’t have our own mothers because they’ve left the world too soon and we wish we had more time to learn, love, and cherish them. Some people never had a mother to cherish, and this holiday just reminds them of that. Some people have chosen not to be a mother. Others may have a strained relationship with their mother or their own child. Some are bereaved mothers, and today is a day where they miss dearly the one who made them mom. I love this holiday but I also hate it. I know how bittersweet I feel and I want to remind us all to think before we speak. It’s a special day, and I don’t mean to say you must act less thankful to the ones you love that are mothers. I think that it’s just smart to be conscious of your words and actions, because for many today isn’t as happy as you may think it is.

Today, whatever category you fit in on this Mother’s Day, I encourage you to surround yourself by the ones you love. Eat food, drink drinks, and relish in the fact that you are here in this world. As for me, I’m thankful to those who showered me with flowers (which are apparently my love language) and sweet messages. Most of all I am thankful that I have a sweet husband and a great friend that helped me enjoy today without lingering too much on what I’m missing out on.

Hope you guys have each found a way to make today special for you and the ones you love.

Monkeying Around at Zoo Miami

I have been to a couple of zoos in my day, Tampa, Dallas, and Ft. Worth, to mention a few, so I consider myself well traveled in that aspect. I actually had been to Zoo Miami, but back when it was called Metro Zoo and I was too little to recall it. We are currently back in Miami visiting my family. Every time we are here, my dad tries to take us to the zoo, but for some reason or another we never make it. We finally decided today was the day and boy am I glad!

This zoo was so much more enjoyable than I ever imagined. Here are my top reasons I loved Zoo Miami:

  • Truly, I felt like I was on vacation in some tropical place (which I guess I kinda am)
  • I loved the vegetation, which sounds silly, but it was lush and green everywhere. There were even some decent canopies throughout the walkways that provided much needed shade.
  • The animals were all extremely visible. There is obviously adequate separation, but it is done in a way that you can actually see the animals almost face to face.
  • The food was fantastic. Seems like a weird thing to note, but I hate spending money on crummy food. There is The Oasis, which offers outdoor seating and walk up order service. There is also an indoor seating restaurant, Nourish 305, which we didn’t try but had good reviews.
  • There are various children play areas, dry and wet. There’s a soft playground and also a splash pad that is way more than a pad. Not to mention the carousel, rides, and petting zoo!
  • I love that there are so many different ways to experience these 324 acres of developed space with kids. You can rent a bike (more on that later), ride the monorail, and walk and rent a stroller.
  • Some of our favorite animal exhibits included walking through the Wings of Asia Aviary (that includes around 400 birds), seeing the Lions of Africa, and feeding the Reticulated Giraffes.

There are a couple of key things we did, that I think made this trip worth doing:

  • Go on a day that the weather is under 90 degrees. I know in Miami that becomes a bit difficult, but I do think it makes all the difference.
  • Get there early. They open at 10 am on most days (they are open on every day of the year, including holidays but the times vary). We arrived right at 10 AM and it definitely helped.
  • Go on a weekday. Not during a local off day for school, because it best part of our visit was how easy it was to navigate the grounds with fewer guests.
  • RENT THE BIKE. If you go through the whole zoo it is 3 miles, but I can assure you it feels like a lot more. The bike experience, on a day like today, was incredible. We were able to see the whole zoo easily and happily in 4 hours (with plenty of stops).
  • Stop and enjoy snacks and meals. We brought some snacks and drinks in but we also enjoyed Icees at Miami Ice and a delicious lunch at The Oasis. Taking a break makes keeping on moving, much more enjoyable.
  • Take it easy. We loved the bike for this reason. The girls sat on the front and we peddled slowly from exhibit to exhibit. We’d park and most of the times stayed inside the bike and just watched the animals from our seats.
  • Do one of the animal encounters. We like to feed the giraffes at every zoo we visit. These giraffes were beautiful. They also felt really close, in the sense that they had to bend down a little to eat out of our hands. We thoroughly enjoyed seeing the two new baby giraffes and even feeding a 6 month old one.

All in all, it was really a wonderful experience. I honestly didn’t think that I would be as impressed as I was. The weather was great, the bikes were so much fun, the animals were all out and about, the food was delicious, and I will definitely be back again!

The Load that Never Ends

It’s finally the weekend! Time to sleep in (ha! yeah right we have kids) and enjoy time spent with family. Unfortunately, on the weekends you can usually find me under a massive pile of mismatched socks, Minnie Mouse underwear, and tons of clothes from the past week. Everyone has their crutch, the one housework chore that just wears away at your soul. Mine is laundry, I hate to admit I have actually cried over it before. I. JUST. HATE. TO. PUT. AWAY. CLOTHES. Therefore, when my friend posted about “a load a day keeps the mountain away”, I kind of balked at it. Who can actually do laundry EVERY SINGLE DAY?! But, then I tried it and it changed my outlook forever.

Click this picture to shop via Like to Know It

How to Tackle Laundry

Catch Up

This is my least favorite part, but you have to catch up with your laundry first. Goal is to have everything washed and put away except the clothes you and your family are wearing for the day. This allows you to start with a clean slate

One Stop Shop

For me, it’s easiest for to keep the day’s dirty laundry in one spot. It is helpful not have to walk around throughout the house looking for dirty clothes. I’m all about work smarter not harder, so this is just a little tip that goes a long way.

One A Days

One laundry a day (except the weekend, duh!) is key. It seems totally daunting I know, but coming from a person who hates laundry more than just about anything, TRUST ME. It is not bad at all. I like to place the laundry in at night, and my washer has a delay end so I set it to end in the morning. Then when I wake I put it in the dryer. When I get back from school drop off or whatever task we have, I quickly separate adult clothes from children clothes into different baskets. I fold and hang my stuff, fold and leave my husband’s things, and then if I can, I do the kids. Usually I alternate days between adult and children clothes. I like to fold the kids the next day and leave our clothes sorted to do the next. Now obviously we are all different and some of you can’t fathom leaving clothes to fold a whole day, so you do you. This way really works for me. I end up with two days of adult clothes or two days of kids clothes to fold. Since it is only a day’s (or two if you sort) worth of clothes, it takes NO TIME to fold and put away. I sometimes do it while the girls are getting ready for bed. Or when my husband and I are getting ready for bed, it is that quick and easy!

Upkeep

Consistency is key. I do a load of laundry a day, Monday through Friday, and then on the weekend I let two days pile up for Monday. If we have a quiet weekend I do keep it going, but usually I do towels or sheets on the weekend so I like the keep the queue empty.

Travel

Travel will screw you up. Heads up there. However, it’s not terrible to get back into the swing of things. You just have to start at step one and “catch up”. My biggest advice, come home with a suitcase of clean laundry. If you are at a place with a washer and dryer, USE IT! I swear to you, this makes SUCH a difference. I like to come home with all the clothes clean, except what we are wearing and slept in the night before. Then when we get home I immediately put everything away. It is stressful to do, but sort of satisfying and definitely SO WORTH IT in the long run. Otherwise, I am the kinda gal who can live out of a suitcase for a month, in my own home. Then, your first full day home from travel, you only have a small load to put away.

The biggest thing here is… life happens. I have been so behind on my laundry for weeks. My girls had strep throat, I got sick, I have been a bit down, we had company two weeks in a row etc etc etc. Don’t let that discourage you. It’s 7 am on a Saturday and I am back at the “catch up” step and that is OK. I’ll watch some TV and do this thing. Then, tomorrow I will have a restful Sunday and next week with travel coming up, I won’t have to worry about this massive pile of clothes accumulating in my laundry room.

Coming from a girl who has cried over a pile of laundry, you too can do this! God speed, and message me for moral support.

Prepping for Airline Travel with Toddlers

As I am a couple weeks out from my Miami trip with the girls, I have begun prepping for all things air travel.

I have traveled a ton with my girls by myself. From national flights to international. In a couple of weeks we go to Miami and it’s time to start prepping all over again. We used to have these Cosco seats that I wouldn’t really recommend. They were inexpensive but my girls outgrew them way too fast. However, they were extremely light weight, and I even traveled to California (by myself) with the girls in car seats and they slept THE WHOLE WAY! If you’re in a pickle these are great, but I am thinking what’s the point in buying cheap seats if you have to buy bigger ones so soon after. That’s what led me to all the info below…

While doing lots of research I kept finding the EvenFlo Tribute . It’s inexpensive, at $59, and lightweight, at 9 lbs. These are key for me, in buying a carseat that is just meant for airplanes and vacation travel. I still use a carseat on the plane with my 2 year old (will be 3 in July) because she just cannot handle being told to sit in an airplane seat for more than an hour. The seatbelt makes her mad, the seat makes her mad, and basically anything that she is told me has to do makes her mad. For some reason a carseat gives her a sense of familiarity and comfort and we have zero issues with her sitting hours straight. Since my littlest is 2 and my oldest is 4, this will be my first time traveling without a double stroller. I am a little nervous, because I love having somewhere for them to sit and be pushed so we can move quickly, somewhere for my purse and ten thousand other things to hang etc. However, I still think that at this point a stroller would be more of an inconvenience.This is where the carseat dolly comes in handy, I figure that I can pull my youngest around the airport and have my eldest walk. I am sure someone will complain at some point but it’s better than two young kids not wanting to walk and not having a solution. I found the Go Go Baby Z Travelmate on facebook marketplace used for a lot less than market price and am totally snagging it. They don’t really make this model anymore ( they now sell this 4 wheel and more expensive version: Go Go BabyZ Travelmate Deluxe) but the Brica Roll N Go is comparable and much cheaper than what is available brand new.

For my four year old we played with the idea of a regular small booster, which we could legally go with as she is already 40 lbs and 40 inches tall. However, my husband and I just don’t fully feel comfortable not putting her in a 5 point harness. Since her carseat goes as luggage (that you don’t have to pay for) under the plane, it really won’t affect me while alone in the airport. We will be ubering there anyhow, so the carseat will be used on the way to the airport and then placed in our Zohzo travel bag that sits like a backpack. I found the Evenflo Harness Booster and like the price at $58 and the fact that she can use it until she is 112 lbs.

I haven’t yet used either carseat or the carseat dolly so I will be glad to share how it all went after we hit the skies. Hope this info has been helpful to you, if you are looking to go on air travel with toddlers!

Wayfair WAYDAY 2019 Round Up!

If you haven’t noticed, I LOVE to window shop almost as much as I love to actually shop. The only problem I have is that I am not a millionaire, so I really can’t buy everything that catches my eye. Until maybe, TODAY! For the next day you can head to Wayfair and up 80% off and free shipping! I took some time today to link some items that we have in the house, or really NEED TO HAVE (right babe?!?!) in our house! Snag them while the price is right, because we all know that non-buyers remorse is just the worst!

Industrial/Farmhouse Living Space Decor


Bathroom 3 Light Barn // Cabana Stripe Rug // Magnetic Chalkboard //
Steel Planter Box // Barn Light // Rustic TV Stand //Industrial Hall Tree // Entry Table // Farmstyle Desk

Kids Room/Playroom


Wall Book Shelf // Metal Frame Bed (like the girls have) // Metal Bunk Beds (pink, navy, grey) // 4pc Table with Bench // 3Pc Kids Table // Storage or Play Closet Armoire

Outdoor Spaces

Folding Picnic Table // Wood Picnic Table // Solid Wood with Metal Legs Table // Wood with Metal Legs Coffee Table // Clay Planter Set // 4 Stacking Metal Chairs

There is tons more out there, but these are a few things that go along with the way I like to decorate my home. Hope you find your deals out there!! All links are in order below each set if pictures.

How to Deal with your MLM Friends

Within the past 5 years of my life I have noticed a surge of my friends “taking their life into their own hands” and “becoming their own bosses.” Most of them have done this through some sort of multi level marketing (MLM) company like Monat, Rodan Fields, or whatever else is flooding your feeds and inboxes these days. Its basically Mary Kay for millenials. Though you may think I’m bashing this concept altogether, you are completely off. I am actually a huge fan of a lot of these MLM companies and my friends who sell them. I don’t personally sell for any of these, not because I can’t or don’t like the products, but because I chose not to and that is cool. I think it is also cool that some people are doing this now for whatever reason they felt was right for them and their family.

See, as a 31 year old stay at home mom I can really relate to my stay at home mom friends turned sales gals. I know what it is like to all of the sudden feel that you are not contributing– to society, monetarily for your family, and as an adult in general, because we talk to infants and toddlers all day. We spend our entire lives studying to do something, then we finally get to do it, and then we have children and some of us brave souls decide to put aside our careers and dreams to throw caution to the wind and stay home with said children. The problem being, is that we sort of become not important. Not to the kids, God knows they loves us no matter what for some reason. But, we feel we are not really as important in the real world anymore. When someone asks me the simple question of what I do, my answer is always “Oh, I just stay home with the girls.” That’s it y’all, I JUST stay home. A whole other post can be dedicated what I JUST do, while I stay home but this would become too long. My point here, we as humans go through these phases when we need to feel more important because our lives change. All sorts of people have a reason behind why they take on a new business venture. We all need money! I think most people that choose to do MLM are doing it mainly to bring in more money. The kind that you know, makes the dang world go round. I am not saying only moms that stay home do these type of businesses, though I can relate to them the most. In general I am saying that we need to support the ones we love and like (whomever they are) while they are on a journey for more income. There is always a reason behind a choice. Whether its supplemental, for fun, because they don’t feel like they are contributing enough, because they want to fund a vacation, or whatever the reasons are behind them, the point is we can always choose to support.

How to Deal with your MLM friends in 5 easy steps:

  1. Support them! This DOES NOT only mean monetarily, though that wouldn’t hurt. This means like their posts, comment if you can take a second, share if you’re feeling giving, and overall just be a friend. This isn’t someone coming to your door selling a vacuum, this is YOUR FRIEND trying to work. A little goes a long way here. Just a simple like can mean the world!
  2. Don’t ignore them. I know for me it’s a little trying at times. However, if your friend got the guts to draft you a lengthy out of nowhere message it probably costed them too. If you have used the products already, tell them. If you’re not interested, tell them thank you for sharing but you really are not interested. Be up front and be nice. This is just a treat others the way you want to be treated kind of thing. If they choose to not be nice or understand then, well they just aren’t great humans so then you can tell them that and proceed to ignore.
  3. Give their products a chance. A lot of these products sold through MLM companies are similar to things in store. If you are going to spend the same amount of money on something else, why not give these products a try? Don’t go buy from the regular website and forget to use your friend’s code, be kind. Even if they didn’t reach out, you can reach out to them and help them out! You’re going to buy it anyway, why not be a good friend. You never know what you may end up liking!
  4. Be honest. Most of these companies are expensive, or want you to do the monthly subscription. If its too expensive for you, tell them that. If you’re on the fence and don’t want to buy right away, tell them. Maybe they can send you samples and you may actually like them. If this month you can’t swing it but know you’ll forget to reach out next month, tell your buddy to remind you next month because you’re not trying to ignore them you just have life to deal with. GIVE THEM FEEDBACK, that makes them better too!
  5. Be nice. I think it is sooooo disgusting when I see someone be rude to the people who sell MLM products. Your job (whatever it is) is not more important than theirs. Their product is not less worthy because it’s not sold in a brick and mortar shop. The world is just changing. Just like newspaper ads have been replaced with influencer campaigns. The world of sales is being run by subscription boxes, MLM brands, and free two day shipping. Just because you don’t sell it, doesn’t mean they aren’t worthy of respect. Think pretty woman and “big mistake, big mistake!”

This post is just a friendly reminder to be friendly. Now, you always reserve the right to remove and defriend anyone who is intense, pushy, and just plain weird. But, if I’m being honest that has nothing to do with what your friend sells, that is just them as humans. If someone acts like that, they don’t need to be in your life. However, don’t write off a whole brand because of one of their sales people!

If you made it through that, you are really a nice person! Here’s a little round up of the MLM brands and products that I use or have used and liked. I’ll even add my friend’s links if you’re interested, then we can both help a friend out today:

  • Thirty One Gifts
    • Deluxe Utility Tote or Large Utility tote that is totally worth it because it lasts all the years for all your needs. I have had one in my trunk to keep things organized since 2010. I also have two more, for like all the things.
  • Rodan Fields
    • Reverse Lightening Regimen- been using for a while, and when I stopped, at anytime I got acne my new scars would be so pronounced. While using it I have the softest, brightest, most even skin and it hardly wear make up!
    • Lashboost. Theeee besttttt stuffff! My lashes got so big when I used this consistently, I am actually back on the bandwagon again because it’s way cheaper than extensions.
  • Monat– naturally based products and say no to toxic ingredients
    • Revive Shampoo- promotes hair growth
    • Revitalize conditioner- promotes hair growth
  • Beauty Counter– clean make up and skin products. This company has been working hard to create products that don’t include harmful ingredients and also strive to get our country to regulate the industry more closely.
    • Volumizing Mascara
    • Concealer
  • Zyia– fitness wear brand that has technology like Lululemon
    • Light n Tight Hi-Rise 7/8. Very controlling but super comfortable. I like the moisture wicking material the best.
  • Shrimp and Grits– use seller code Rep #91046 (they should probably make that process easier)
  • Young Living
    • The Starter Kit (when its on a deal). I love having a good combo of oils and a diffuser I trust
    • Specialty oils wintergreen or cinnamon. For me they not only smell good, theyre good for you, and they definitely don’t harm you

Last but not least this is a total plug in for myself. I am helping my friend Tiffany from high school host a Zyia (work out clothes like Lulu quality but no Lulu price) party here. I am all about collaboration over competition. Let’s build each other up people! Use this link to head to my Facebook party. Think Tupperware for the modern gal but a lot more fun because I love good leggings WAY more than Tupperware. Shop my direct link or on the actual Facebook party. I think she will be doing a giveaway on the facebook site. I’m for sure excited to snag some more leggings that are Lululemon quality but at a literal fraction of the cost!

I hope that next time you are approached by a friend about an MLM company they are a part of, you choose to act with kindness and maybe give their products a shot!

Easter Baskets that are Out of the Box

I’m not one to eat too much candy or to encourage my kids to eat candy that often, but think that instead there is a cute way to add joy to Easter baskets without overflowing them with sugar. Since this holiday is already filled with Jesus and chocolate, I figured I’d come up with some guides to help my like-minded friends spoil everyone in the family. In our house we like to gift the adults too so below you will find ideas for him, her, boys, & girls.

Heads up, I don’t mean for you to forgo candy altogether (though you can if you want) and I don’t mean you should fill your basket with all ten items (though I sure would love mine to be loaded). This is simply a guide for you to add a little something something to your family’s baskets!


For the ladies in our life, I wanted to go with cute, fun, practical, and ((obviously)) trendy little basket stuffers that can stand alone or compliment even the sweetest sweets.

  1. XStraw is committed to keeping our earth clean one less plastic straw at a time. This precious travel collapsible straw is perfect for on the go!
  2. This Magnolia Hearth & Hand wire basket that can hold all your goodies but also is practical decor
  3. Hearth & Hand candles at Target are sweet gifts that look and smell great!
  4. Magnolia Journal is fun to read and looks great on your coffee table. A subscription or even issue would be a great little gift
  5. Loopy Cases come in a beautiful range of colors and phone types. A small but very useful gift to keep those phones in your hand and off the floor.
  6. A Rightly Royce satellite choker necklace, or any of their custom necklaces would be a great standalone or basket stuffer. They are beautiful, quality pieces that do not break the bank. Use code CATALINA15 for 15% off on top of their great prices.
  7. Steve Madden Greece sandals are still hot into spring 2019. Snag these Hermès dupes. Or this Target dupe of the dupe!
  8. Amazon Prime this 25 piece scrunchie set for your trendy gal
  9. Isle of Paradise is a little pricey but it’s one of the best at home tanning waters. Kick start bikini season with this goodie!
  10. Add some glam to your baskets by adding Lash Paradise mascara or Daisy by Mark Jacobs travel spray

For the little women in your life I came up with some things that we already have or want around here. Some things are small, some things are smart, and some are practical! Don’t forget to add SOME sweets too 🙂

  1. Melissa & Doug have tons of amazing kid’s toys, but this paper roll and dispenser is great for coloring and educational games. It’s a must have that your kids will love.
  2. Magnet Dress up is always fun, and Melissa & Doug hit it right with these. Our favorites are the Disney princess ones, and Ariel is back out of the vault so we are definitely adding this goodie to our basket.
  3. Want to be a “good” gifter ? Then add in an educational toy like these off brand Magnet Tiles. They’ll have fun and you’ll be encouraging that STEM life. Win-win!
  4. Plush stuffed animals are fun, this prime find is cute, small, smells good and doubles as a soft ball! 
  5. Books are one of our favorite gifts to give. We have and love Llama Llama Easter Egg and The Story of Easter  board books. ((There are two more book options under the toddler boy list!))
  6. A SwimZip suit or rashgaurd is a great centerpiece to your child’s basket. They’re UPF 50+ and super cute. The 2019 capsule has mix and match choices for both boys and girls. Also, the rashguards zip all the way open and can be cute as little sun cardigans. 
  7. Surprise toys are all the rage. Whether its thanks to the original surprise eggs from Nestle or because of all the kid YouTube stars, all the kids love these surprise/blind bag toys. Grab Surprizamals, Hatchimals, or L.O.L Surprise Dolls as a cute basket stuffer.
  8. Sorting Bears are another fun and educational tool that your kiddos love to play with! Teach them to sort by color or size, practice pattern work, and just play with little bears!
  9. Crayola colors are always the best of the best. We love the twistable crayons and twistable colored pencils because they’re not easy to break. Also, these scented twistable crayons are noteworthy!
  10. Spring PJS are a must, this super soft short set comes in other designs including this lemon print that can be bought for the whole family!

For the man in your life, I came up with a lot of practical things that either they have wanted for a while or would never buy for themselves!

  1. Tile Trackers are a great basket stuffer that will help your man keep track of all of his things ((so you don’t have to)).
  2. Quip Toothbrush, your guy probably needs new things, so why not gift him a pretty toothbrush that is also practical. Let’s be serious, he won’t buy it for himself!
  3. This Bocce Ball set is a great stand alone Easter surprise that can be used right away since the weather is finally perfect. Enjoy all summer in the yard, at the park, or beach too!
  4. Your grilling guy needs these , if your griller doesn’t have heat silicone gloves, click on over and snag them.
  5. Going along with the grilling theme grab these Bear Claw Meat Shredders too. If you don’t have these in your house, you’ll be happy you got them for your guy.
  6. For just about any wireless charging phone, this inexpensive tech is another practical stuffer that won’t break the bank.
  7. Go old school with a stand alone gift of a Nintendo NES.
  8. One more grilling find is this Instant Read Meat Thermometer. It’s a must have for delicious food!
  9. Is you man preppy? This classic Vinyard Vines shirt can be worn every year for a casual Easter egg hunt with the family.
  10. Swim trunks are necessary for the warmer months ahead. These are BOGO too!

I am a proud girl mom, but I didn’t want to leave the little guys out! I reached out to my friend Shanley, a proud boy mom and former elementary and preschool teacher. She gave me lots of insight for this great list that will please your little guy’s socks off!

  1. Spring is for gardening, and what better than a four piece gardening set so the boys can do the yard work they love to do!
  2. Melissa & Doug have tons of amazing kid’s toys, but this paper roll and dispenser is great for coloring and educational games. It’s a must have that your kids will love.
  3. SwimZip suits and rashguards are the perfect centerpiece for your child’s Easter basket. If you have girls too, the 2019 Capsule has a lot of mix and match colors and styles.
  4. Bubbles! They’re great for everyone, these cute bunny Wave Bubble Gloves are funny, fun, and festive.
  5. Want to be a “good” gifter ? Then add in an educational toy like these off brand Magnet Tiles. They’ll have fun and you’ll be encouraging that STEM life. Win-win!
  6. Most little boys like cars, and what better than to fill those baskets with new rides! This set includes 9 cars. You can spoil one, or split up between a few.
  7. Books are one of our favorite gifts to give. Shanley recommends
    God Gave us Easter and How to Catch the Easter Bunny ((There are two more book options under the toddler girl list!))
  8. Surprise toys are all the rage. There is a kind for every age and type. These are our top faves: Construction Eggs, Marvel Action Figure Blind Bags, and Paw Patrol Mini Pups.
  9. Twistable crayons are our favorite coloring tool. They’re washable, not easy to break (with those strong hands), and these smell good too!
  10. What better way to kick off the warm season ahead than to get your little one this Beach Ball Sprinkler!

Day Tripping to Spring at the Silos

Most of our homes are decorated by the “Fixer Upper” movement that Chip and Joanna Gaines created. Their show, paints, furniture, magazine, and decor have inspired us all, but my favorite business venture of theirs is Magnolia Market in the heart of Waco, Texas.

Waco is about an hour and 45 minutes south of Dallas and a little over 2 hours north of Austin. It was mainly known for Baylor University and infamously for the Waco Siege of 1993. Chip and Jo put it on the map in 2014 with Fixer Upper and really the rest is history. People from all over the country and even internationally come to Texas and drive to see this little town. The main attraction is The Silos District where Magnolia Market, The Silos, and The Silos Baking Co. reside. The aesthetic is everything you’d imagine and more. There is always a theme for the season and a message that encourages, this spring “THE WORLD NEEDS YOU TO BE WHO YOU WERE MADE TO BE” graces a couple spaces. Two times a year they hold free artisan vendor fairs. In Fall it’s the Silobration and in the Spring, it’s Spring at the Silos.

From Magnolia The Blog

This is my second year trekking to Waco for Spring at the Silos. Last year I went in as a Florida girl who had no clue what to expect. This year I was a little more prepared and ready to enjoy that Texas hospitality I’ve grown accustomed to. First thing first, expect it to be crowded. Like, really crowded.

These events run Thursday to Saturday from 8 to 5 and people come out EVERY SINGLE DAY! This year we went on Thursday and it was very crowded but maybe less so than when we went on a Saturday. I also noticed that around 11:30 it was extremely congested but around 3:30 it wasn’t. So maybe getting there early isn’t key. However, make sure you look at the website to see if Jojo is having any events because they shutdown the Market grounds for ticket holders only.

Let’s start with what is at the actual Magnolia Market at The Silos. All through Waco you can pinpoint where Magnolia is by looking for those beautifully aged silos. As soon as you’re there you walk into a gated area right past Silos Baking Co. If you came from that side, you may have noticed the constant line that is there for their delicious cupcakes. For events like Spring at the Silos they are doing a crowd control entry. But fear not because the line moves faster than you’d think and it’s a lot more enjoyable with less people and organized movement patterns. The first thing you’ll notice (other than the huge silos) is the Magnolia Market store. It’s got that big font we are all used to seeing and it’s a picture op in itself. Next is the #MILESTOMAGNOLIA photo op right next to one of the silos. I really enjoyed that Jojo thought to put an employee there to help take people’s pictures. She’s a smart one! Know that the magnolia shop usually has a line to get in, but again it moves quickly. I didn’t go in this year but it’s totally worth it. Last year they had a FedEx set up inside, not sure if it’s still there. However, I’ve read that you should check shipping prices as their online shop does carry most of the same items and the shipping is most likely cheaper. It is fun to actually see something before you buy it online though! My favorite area to hang out during these events is actually the grass lawn. There are plenty of pretty things to see and snap pictures of or with. There’s live music and there are food trucks! It’s the perfect spot to let the kids play, and just enjoy. We grabbed a couple of beautiful black and white bean bags (which they sell) and I really felt that I was in my happy place.

Next up, the actual vendor market! Now this is super fun because it’s not there every time you go. I also think it’s pretty amazing because it’s not your run of the mill artisan vendors. It’s two streets lined with big name, Instagram famous brands. I came in excited to see some shops I had seen before like Olivia & Ocean, Freshly Picked, and Madera Modern. I saw Bannor Toys, who is a brand I’ve loved for years and discovered Hadley Girl among so many other Jojo vetted companies.

Retail vendors aren’t the only ones who travel near and far to showcase their craft. There is a nice little strip of food trucks from places as close as Austin and as far as Jacksonville, Florida. I had to take time to see one of my favorite IG families @ourfauxfarmhouse and their Gourmet Soda truck, Urban Sips. I got to say hello to Brad and Holly and grab some delicious drinks. We ate Waffle Love chicken and waffles and topped off our tummies with Hyppo popsicles. The options are truly endless.

Venturing to Waco is a really cute day trip or overnight. There is so many fun little things to do while there, but I’ll save that for another post. For now, know that if you’re in the area or planning a trip near by, try to come to one of their vendor events. The city has cute shops with hardworking creatives like Theresa and Bret from @linenandcake and cute spots to eat like Magnolia Table and Milo. It’s a fun experience, good shopping, and you might even get a chance to spot some of the Gaines clan!

Bathroom Refresh & Recycle

Styling up your bathroom doesn’t have to be extensive or expensive. I am always trying to find different ways to simplify and streamline spaces
(alliteration much?!) so that they look more aesthetically pleasing. Recently I’ve noticed that people have been transferring their bathroom products into matching containers and a light bulb went off. I am sooooo tired of all the colorful mismatched bathroom products lining my shower, bath tub, and kids’ bathtub. It’s kind of an eyesore!

Before. Not bad, but not the best

Enter this inexpensive 16oz amber bottle set (they also come in blue and clear)They came in two days and were $20 for 6. I already wanted more and found this 32 oz amber bottle set for $24. I am excited to be able to put more product in because we sometimes get shampoo in bulk. Let me give you some tips on how to label these and also what I found helpful about this little DIY.

There are three ways you can go about labeling these. I went with the paint marker route, which I find gives it a cutesy farmhouse look to it. Don’t try to use chalk markers as they will come right off with water. Fear not, if you make a mistake you can erase with rubbing alcohol. Another option could be waterproof vinyl chalkboard stickers. Again, you would want to write on these with paint markers. My last option is for those with handwriting issues. If you have a cricut or silhouette, go ahead and cut out your words using permanent vinyl like Oracal 651. If you don’t know anyone that can do this, I will gladly help you out through my Etsy shop. Whichever route you choose for labeling, just make sure you are consistent so that it doesn’t look tacky.

My last takeaway from this mini project, was how much this helped me recycle. See, less than 50% of people recycle bathroom products like toilet paper rolls and shampoo bottles. If I am being totally honest, I am part of the group that doesn’t do it. I am great in the kitchen and the rest of my house, but for some reason there is a disconnect when it comes to the bathroom products. As soon as I took on this task, I realized that I needed to grab the empty bottles and recycle them. It was pretty simple, because I was already loading the amber bottles with shampoo, conditioner, and body wash over the sink. All I had to do was turn on the faucet, rinse them out, and bring them downstairs to my recycling bin. So, if you needed any more convincing, this project not only refreshes your space, it also helps you recycle more! I love a good win win!

I am linking everything throughout this post, but also in this one picture below. Message me here or @lifewithcandg on instagram if you have any comments or questions.

xox

Cata

The Long Road to Speech

Most of you may not know this, but our little Georgie is speech delayed. I could’ve told you this when she was 10 months old, but you may not have believed me like no one else did. First takeway– listen to your mama intuition.

Early Signs G was not an easy baby, she was the COMPLETE OPPOSITE of her sister in every single way. She didn’t sleep through the night, had trouble with bottles and silent reflux, had a genetic scare, and not surprisingly didn’t develop language like most of her peers.

My first indicator that she was “behind” was her lack of babble. Where most kids would make goo goo ga ga noises, she only said “ma ma” and screamed for what seemed like forever. There were no other words or sounds, for a really long time, like past the age of 14 months. She didn’t do animal noises, or parrot anything we said, she straight screamed or screamed mamamamamamama. I know that between 10 months and 14 months seems young to notice anything, but I did. She was not communicating at all. I tried baby sign, and even then she refused to do common signs like milk or more. We all became quickly frustrated because we couldn’t give her what she wanted.

First Time Asking for Help At our 1 year visit, I finally asked my pediatrician seriously. I had mentioned it leading up, because I was noticing a lack of words developing, but at 1 year I felt like she should be saying more than mama for EVERYTHING. Our kind doctor told us not to worry and to just keep working with her, because she was perfectly within the range of what was normal, because really developmentally everywhere else she was perfectly fine. She understood everything we said, she just didn’t say anything back.

Little Things I continued to worry for Georgie’s speech. She finally added no to the mix, and we quickly realized that everytime she was sweetly screaming mama, she really meant NO NO NO. Dada took a couple more months to come out. Animal sounds were still a no go, though she loved to look at them and interact. There was zero parroting, we would try to say everything overstated so that she would try to work on the words, but it was not happening. We really struggled with “milk” and “more”, and really pushed sign language to encourage her to communicate with us. Thank goodness for that because it relieved a bit of the frustration for all of us. Every visit we went, I mentioned her speech, and every time I was told she was too young to tell. That until she was 2 years old they really weren’t behind. The teacher in me struggled with this the most. I knew she was behind, I could feel it in my gut! She began to have tantrums, and pretty bad ones at that, and most kids a lot younger than her were speaking so much more than her! My family started asking questions, and still I tried to listen to the doctors and wait wait wait.

Telling them I needed Help When Georgie was 18 months old we moved to Texas. We got a new pediatrician and the first thing I mentioned to her at our new patient visit was that I thought Georgie was speech delayed. I explained that she was FINALLY babbling at home during play and that her tantrums were getting pretty bad usually when I was trying to decipher what she wanted. Again, she told me that it was hard to tell at this age based on the information I gave her. She gave me a couple of ideas on how to handle her tantrums and that was that.

A couple of months later I hit my breaking point. Georgie had a massive tantrum because I was putting a diaper on her, dressing her and trying to get her sister to school. I did every single thing that the doctor told me to do, I comforted her, let her be for a while, walked away, told her no, I dressed her while she ripped off her diaper and clothes multiple times, and basically forced her kicking, squirming and screaming down the stairs. She head butted me so hard I thought I was going to kill someone. I then had to force her into the car and strap her in, while holding her down with my elbows. It was two hours after I had started dressing her and I literally was sweating from the stress. Charlie kindly got dressed and into the car while I dealt with her sister. As G continued to shriek and finally fell asleep, I called the pediatrician. I begged them to let me come in because I could not take it a second longer. I took G in and my pediatrician checked her ears and observed her. After a lot of talking she finally told me that I should go get her tested. She told me I could go through the state services or go to a local private speech pathology center. I was given all the tools to get my girl help.

Where to Start We struggled with the decision of getting G tested through state services or through a private therapist. Having been a teacher in public schools, I knew how complicated state services can be. There are hoops to jump through and honestly at the time, I was so damn tired of jumping. Before I go into what we did, I am going to tell you what I wish I had done. I should’ve jumped through the hoops, because state services are free or less expensive. Worst case, if they don’t give you services, then you go to the private place as a plan B.

Private therapy is expensive but, we were able to get her evaluated right away, and set up with sessions that next week. I finally felt like I was helping my girl through her frustrations. Our speech therapist was to meet with Georgie 2 times a week for 30 minutes. At first there was a lot of play and observation. Georgie tends to be quiet around new people, I think in part because of her lack of confidence in her ability to communicate. For the first three weeks she barely made a peep, like literally not a little noise. Finally, she warmed up to her therapist and gained confidence. She began to make noises and sounds at home during activities that she does in speech. For example, they would read Brown Bear, Brown Bear every week, and she would focus on her saying “see” at the “what do you see” part. At first it was just “ee.” But, again, for her that was a lot, she never parroted us, she hardly spoke real sounds other than screams. Soon, it was easy to note that G’s problem wasn’t language, as she understood everything, and could “respond” and react to spoken sentences correctly. They began to focus on articulation and doing one to one games so that she is rewarded an act of a game for doing something she is asked to do. For example say “bay” correctly, she gets to open a door to the veterinary hospital and pull out another animal. She improved every single week and the tantrums really did subside almost completely.

Where we are now We are no where near done, over six months in and G still goes to speech twice a week. As we near closer to the age of three I am getting more concerned again. Our therapist reminds me often that she is over six months behind, and to think back how much she has improved in that time alone. We talk every single session, and she gives me tips and homework to do with her. We practice words and sounds that they are working on in speech at home. I also bring in words and phrases that I find we are struggling with on a daily basis. One of our first struggles was milk, still is, but when we began she couldn’t say it at all. No matter what I tried, I never knew she wanted milk and she refused to sign back at me because she was so frustrated. Our therapist worked with me and her to come up with the sound “mmm”. I would say “Georgie do you want milk? mmmm?” and I would sign. Finally we were able to get Georgie to nod and say “mmm” Now we are working on saying the full word milk, because though Charlie and I know what she is saying, no one else does. She is finally making some words at school, and her teachers are happy to hear her little voice sometimes. At home shes a full on wild woman and talks non stop, it’s just not easy to understand her most of the time.

We actually went to get her evaluated by the state intervention services the other day. She did not qualify for services because her language is too good! It’s insane because she struggles immensely still. It really upset me, speech is costly, but I also just want her to have all the help necessary so that when it’s time for her to be in Kindergarten she is playing on an even field. Her therapist was surprised, but not surprised because she is aware how state funded evaluations go. They focus on a lot of language based tests here in Texas, and that really isn’t Georgie’s issue. Her therapist mentioned G potentially having a mild case of apraxia, though it is something we are looking into more.

Thank God for Sisters The most incredible part of this entire trying process, has been seeing how Charlie can understand Georgie 99% of the time. When she had a lot of tantrums and screamed a lot, I would always tell C “be nice, she’s little and she’s learning to talk.” Charlie would always repeat this to anyone and everyone, “my sister is little, she’s learning to talk.” Nowadays Georgie will babble on in sentences, but isn’t articulating well. I used to think Charlie was being a smartass, but really she understands most everything she says and its quite shocking (& incredibly helpful.) I love this bond they share, I appreciate the help it gives me, and I know Georgie feels encouraged by being able to hold a conversation with her sister.

It’s been quite the winding road, and we are nowhere near the end, but I just felt like I should share this tidbit of our lives in case someone else needs to read this and see they’re not alone. If you follow us on Instagram, you probably have heard Charlie chattering away just like her mama and you probably have heard Georgie too, but maybe not noticed that she is struggling. It’s such a private struggle for all of us. At first because maybe you think they’re going to develop, later because no one wants to proceed until they hit a certain age or milestone, and continually because no one wants their child to be the one behind. I have made it my mission to push back as often as possible, to get my kid where I want her to be. I pestered my doctors, I fought with my husband, and I was frustrated beyond belief. I didn’t let it stop me. I am her advocate, and I will always go above and beyond to help my children succeed.

If you feel like your child might be behind or are struggling with the tornado that is having a speech delayed child, I’m here if you need a friend to chat with. I’ll help you find services in your area and I will gladly be your cheerleader through the process!

xox

Cata