Vacation Re-Cap: Florida 2019

Good morning!

Last week I was pretty quiet on the blog and social media because I was busy soaking up sunshine and warm weather with my little family in Florida. Justin had a conference to attend for work in Sarasota so LJ and I happily packed our bags and joined him for the week. Today I’m just going to give a recap of our trip – spoiler alert: we didn’t want to leave!

Saturday

We flew out early Saturday morning and the plane ride went smoothly. I’ve blogged about my tips for plane rides with a baby before and even though LJ is now a toddler, we still do things pretty similarly. I still swear by bringing a boppy pillow so your lap child has something to sit or lay on and it doesn’t feel like you have to actively “hold” them the whole time. I also always keep him in a sleeper so I don’t have to worry about socks/shoes getting pulled off and he’s mostly covered from airplane germs. After reviewing the flight safety packet (ha!), LJ was able to sleep most of the plane ride.

Side note: a few weeks ago I posted on Instagram that I found my old GameBoy Color and a Pokemon cartridge and my excitement got Justin sucked in too and now he’s playing too! That little light kills me! #beforebacklitscreens #relivingchildhood

Flight 3

We landed in St. Petersburg and got a rental car to make the hour-long drive to our hotel in Sarasota. Before checking in at our hotel we stopped at Trader Joes to stock up on some groceries and diapers (I don’t waste precious luggage space on diapers if we’re gone this long – it’s easier to just buy a pack when you get to your destination!). We stayed at the Westin in downtown Sarasota and it was gorgeous! Since we had been traveling most of the day, we spent the afternoon and evening relaxing in the hotel room, leaving only to grab some dinner. It was nice to just let LJ run around and explore the hotel room. It’s always fun to see what he thinks of a place…and where our items might end up. 😉

Hotel Room Surprise

A general rule for hotels with toddlers: if something goes missing, check a trash can.

Sunday

Sunday morning was pretty lazy with a makeshift breakfast in bed and playing in the hotel room.

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We got LJ down for his nap (a difficult process when you’re all sharing a room!) and he thankfully took a pretty good nap. I’ve blogged previously about hotel rooms with a baby and two of my standard tips are bring a sound machine and your own crib sheet – we try to make it seem as much like home as possible and I do think it helps!

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Once he woke up, we let him run around and burn off some energy while we packed up to head to the beach! The view from our room showed a gorgeous day and we were excited to take advantage. We ate a very quick hotel room lunch and headed out!

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We headed for Siesta Key beach and after circling for a while, managed to snag a parking spot at the main beach pavillion. I had never been to Siesta Key before but this beach is AMAZING!

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The sand is a gorgeous white and feels cool to the touch. It was so pleasant to walk on even though the day was hot. We set up camp and LJ immediately got to playing in it. We enjoyed a couple hours of soaking up sun, sand, and surf.

Well, not surf so much. The water was pretty cold and LJ was not a fan! But he had so much fun playing in the sand, finding seashells, and watching all the other beach-goers. We ended up staying out there much longer than we anticipated because he was doing so well and enjoying it!

After we’d had enough of the beach, we headed into the little village area where there are lots of cute little shops and restaurants. We enjoyed walking around and stopped for some food, ice cream, and a souvenir magnet (a tradition on every vacation!)

We headed back to the hotel in time for LJ to go to bed. Since we had to be so quiet and couldn’t watch TV, I opted for reading the book I had brought along before bed.

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Monday

Justin’s conference started early Monday morning so LJ and I hung out in the hotel room all morning. I finally got him down for a nap after 40 minutes of trying (usually it takes 5 at home) and since I couldn’t make any noise and I was so tired after the effort that I decided to take a nap too. I posted about this on Instagram, but this is one of those situations where I tried to see the silver lining. It’s not always easy to travel with a child, but it leads to some special moments that don’t happen otherwise. I haven’t slept next to LJ since he was a six week old baby in a bassinet in my bedroom so it was pretty sweet to hear his sweet little baby snores while I drifted off.

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Justin’s conference was only half-day so once he got back, I quickly headed down to our hotel gym to get a quick workout in.

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We ate lunch in the hotel room and then headed up to the rooftop pool for the afternoon.

The pool was heated and had a fantastic view! It was 82 degrees outside and just the perfect day to lounge poolside and swim. Glorious!

We hung out at the pool until we had to head back inside for naps, dinner, and bedtime.

Tuesday

After Justin’s conference Tuesday, we checked out of the hotel because we were going to spend the rest of the week staying with two of my college friends, Eric and Kaitlin, who live in Sarasota. We dropped off our stuff at their house after lunch and headed to the Jungle Gardens for the afternoon. This place was awesome! It was basically a little zoo with a lot of interactive opportunities for kids. LJ got to go in the petting zoo where he was in goat heaven. He also loved looking at all the different animals!

The paths are all shaded and it really did feel like we were in a jungle. It was very pleasant to walk around!

My favorite part was when we got to a free-roaming flock of flamingos! I’ve never seen one up close before and they are so cool! We got to feed them and they would just walk up to us at eye level – it was awesome!

After the gardens, we headed back to the house to get ready for dinner. Eric and Kaitlin love to play games and so once we had dinner and put LJ down we spent the evening playing card games and catching up on life. We’re all pretty competitive so it was a fun evening!

Wednesday – Friday

The rest of the week we settled into a good routine. Justin would head into the conference in the morning. LJ and I would hang out at the house and play a little. He would go down for a nap and I would get a little work done (perk of my work-from-home job: I can do it anywhere!) Justin would come home around lunch and we would hang out in the afternoon. Our friends both work from home so if they finished up working they would join us in games or just lounging. We’d all do dinner together and once LJ was down, we’d play games until bedtime. Rather than recap each day individually, I’ll just share a few highlights from the second half of the week:

-Their backyard pool was the perfect place to lounge and read during naptime when everyone else was busy! It was seriously like being at a resort!

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-Owen’s Fish Camp was a fantastic restaurant for dinner! I wish I had taken more pictures but the back patio (where you can hang out where you wait for your table) had delicious appetizers, live music, and such a fun vibe!

-Games, games, and more games. They taught us a new one called “Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes” which we all got SO into. The final night we beat a really hard level that we had been working on and we all were super pumped!

-Everyone had a light day Friday so we headed to the beach after lunch and it was a great way to end the week! We are so thankful for the great hospitality of our friends!

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Saturday

We left early Saturday morning to catch our flight back to Indiana. It was hard to leave the 80 degree sunshine for 32 degrees with some snow on the ground! But we had a fantastic week and I’m so glad we had the chance to get some mid-February sunshine! Until next time, Florida!

 

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My Ultimate Book Recommendation List

Once again I’m linking up with Shay and Erika for Let’s Look and today’s topic is favorite reads so I thought it was the perfect time to share my master list of book recommendations!

Top Book Recommendations

Let's Look

I frequently get asked for recommendations for books and I have been wanting to make a giant list for some time now (and even put it on my 19for19 list this year!) I do want to first to share this disclaimer though: I realize everyone’s preferences are different. These books are my personal favorites and the ones I find myself going back to again and again when others ask for recommendations. I think most are well-written, enjoyable reads. Some are on here even if they covered difficult topics that weren’t necessarily “enjoyable” but were thought-provoking or challenged my mind in some way. Some are included because they gave me a book hangover and I just could not stop thinking about what I read! I love them all for different reasons. You may not! I think what is most helpful is to read through my previous book reviews and see if you agree with my take on books that you have also read. If you find yourself nodding along to my reviews because you felt similarly when reading, we likely have similar taste. If you find yourself frequently saying “what was so great about that book? I thought it was boring” or “she’s crazy – how did she not enjoy that book? I thought it was brilliant” then maybe we just have different styles and you might not like my recommendations.

I didn’t have time to include a review of every book but did sometimes add a little note with a quick thought or two. I also tried to somewhat categorize these into basic genres just for ease of searching. I hope you find something here to enjoy! Without further ado, here are my top recommendations!

MY VERY FAVORITES

Cancel the Wedding by Carolyn T. Dingman (easy to read yet captivating and meaningful. As my fellow book lover friend Kaitlin described – “a beach read with depth”)

-ANYTHING written by Kate Morton. The Lake House, The Forgotten Garden, The House at Riverton, The Secret Keeper, The Distant Hours  – she is brilliant and I LOVE her books (I still need to read her most recent one – The Clockmaker’s Daughter). They are just phenomenal historical fiction – if I had to choose one to start I’d say The Secret Keeper but you honestly can’t go wrong with any.

General Fiction

It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover (This one is haunting. It stayed with me a looooong time)

A Hundred Summers by Beatriz Williams (read first)

The Secret Life of Violet Grant by Beatriz Williams (read second; they aren’t technically sequels but I would still read them in that order)

Defending Jacob by William Landry

One True Loves by Taylor Jenkins Reid (very thought provoking in a what-the-heck-would-I-do-if this-happened-to-me way)

Secret Daughter by Shilpi Somaya Gowda

Winter Garden by Kristin Hannah

The Dry by Jane Harper

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

-My Grandmother Asked me to Tell you She’s Sorry by Fredrik Backman

The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah

Castle of Water by Dane Huckelbridge

The Violets of March by Sarah Jio (read first)

Morning Glory by Sarah Jio (read second)

“Beach” Reads

The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion

If You Only Knew by Kristin Higgins

Crazy Rich Asians Trilogy by Kevin Kwan (the last one is my favorite!)

My Oxford Year by Julia Whelan

The Royal We by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan (cute little fictionalized William + Kate story)

Psychological Thriller

Girl on a Train by Paula Hawkins (I feel like everyone has read it by now, but when it came out it blew my mind!)

The Marriage Pact by Michelle Richmond (creepy and cult-like)

The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware

Final Girls by Riley Sager (part psychological thriller, part homage to campy-slasher movies)

Behind Closed Doors by B.A. Paris

The Girl Before by J. P. Delaney

The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn (if you’ve read Gone Girl or Girl on a Train, it’s similar and may feel overdone but it comes with a HOT DANG twist)

Historical Fiction

The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd

Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate

The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom

Stella Bain by Anita Shreve

World War Two Historical Fiction

The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah

Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly (this book does get very heavy and difficult to read at times)

Sarah’s Key by Tatiana de Rosay

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

The Alice Network by Kate Quinn

Young Adult

Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth E. Wein

The Fault in our Stars by John Green

The War that Saved my Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

Al Capone Does My Shirts by Gennifer Choldenko (this is a series!)

Things Not Seen by Andrew Clements

-And I’d be remiss if I didn’t include that Harry Potter is among my very favorite series 😉

Nonfiction

The Four Tendencies by Gretchen Rubin

-Dear Ijeawele, or a Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Bossypants by Tina Fey

Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance

The Girl with Seven Names by Hyeonseo Lee

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot

Educated by Tara Westover

 

And that’s my list (for now!) What are some of your go-to book recommendations?

Simplifying Preparation for Trips

Good morning!

Once Justin gets home from work tomorrow we are heading to Florida for the next 8 days. He has a conference for work and LJ and I are going to tag along and enjoy some sunshine! After last week’s Polar Vortex we are more than ready for warm, sunny days!

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Throwback to our last beach vacation. So excited for more sun and sand next week!

Today is going to be spent cleaning, packing, and preparing for our trip. Since traveling with a little one always seems to add a layer of chaos, I’ve learned that early preparation is key for trips. Today I thought I’d share a few things I do before we leave on a trip to try to simplify the chaos of packing/remembering everything. Some of these things may seem overly simple, some may not work for you. These are just the things that work for us and have helped me pack and prepare for vacations with as little stress as possible!

Get whatever you can permanently “ready”

I used to write out a detailed list for our dog sitters with everything they needed to know/do for our dogs, and since there were always little variations, I would re-write the list each time. Now, I have a generic instruction list that is always ready to set out and if there’s anything “extra” (like asking them to pick up our mail if we’re gone more than a few days), I just write that on a sticky note next to the regular list. This is a small thing, but it saves me time and mental space because it’s one less thing I have to prepare before leaving (and we inevitably always forgot to write out the list until we were heading out the door so it was stressful to have to remember everything to include).

The Week Before

In the week leading up to a trip, I start setting aside clothes for LJ. I did a big load of laundry on Monday, so I set aside all the clean clothes that I knew I wanted to take on the trip. This prevents last-minute panic; I’m not stressing out because we have no clean sleepers when it comes time to pack. This does mean I have limited options for what he can wear for the rest of the week after I’ve set aside the clothes to pack, but it’s really not a big deal and we manage just fine.

As I get things out and ready to pack, I lay them out on our guest bed. This includes setting out all the extra things (for example, this trip I need his swimsuit, hat, swim diapers, etc). So on packing day, I’ve already set out what I need and I don’t forget anything. I also can see if there’s anything I need to get for him in advance (this time, I needed a swimsuit since he’s grown out of his old ones). Once LJ’s clothes are all out, I’ll set mine out as well. Justin is on his own to pack what he needs. 😉

The Day Before

In the day before leaving, I get out all the extra things we’ll need to take (pack n’ play if we’re driving, carseat bag if we’re flying, umbrella stroller, etc). I prepare LJ’s diaper bag, set aside his boppy pillow, and will typically get everything packed in suitcases except toiletries or other items we still need to use. I’ll also do a load of laundry, which serves the dual purpose of making sure everything I want to pack is clean and also keeping there from being a laundry mountain waiting for me when we get back.

I also clean up the house for our dogsitter. Because of my super-simple cleaning routine, this doesn’t usually involve much cleaning, but I’ll do things like run and empty the dishwasher, freshen up the guest room if needed, etc.

If we’re flying, I also double-check flights and make sure we’re set with the airline rules for traveling with children (some allow free checked carseat and/or stroller, some allow free diaper bag in addition to personal item, etc). Each airline is slightly different so it’s always good to double check to make sure we know what to expect with our flight. I’ll also set out any documents we might need (passports if applicable, some airlines require a copy of a birth certificate, etc).

The Day Of

Usually I will have packed the clothes in our suitcases the day before, but if we’re not leaving until late in the day I may wait until the day of. I pack up our toiletries and any other final items, we (eh-hem, Justin) pack up the car, do a last minute sweep of the house, and head out! Because I’ve done so much prep work earlier in the week, the day of travel typically goes pretty smoothly.

If you’re interested in some of my other travel-with-baby related posts, check them out below!

Tips for Road Trips with Baby

Tips for Flights with Baby

Tips for Hotel Stays with Baby

Simplified Packing for Travel with Baby

What tips do you have for preparing for a trip?

Making Time for Reading

Good morning!

I’ve been preparing for a big book recommendation post outside of my normal monthly reviews (stay tuned for that next week!) but I thought today I would take a little time to just talk about how I actually fit reading in my days. To be honest, some days are easier than other to squeeze it in, but these are the biggest strategies I use to make time for reading.

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My happy place – so many possibilities!

Choose reading. I truly believe that you have time for whatever you choose to have time for, whether that be working out, reading, crafting, cooking, etc. I sometimes hear people say that they don’t have time to read and I just don’t buy that. You have time to do whatever you prioritize doing. If you have ten minutes to scroll through your Instagram feed, you have ten minutes to read. If you have an hour to binge something on Netflix, you have an hour to read. Reading might not be what you choose to do with the time you have, but you can make time for it if you want. For me, I just love reading so it is what I prioritize and often choose to do instead of other things (like watching TV in the evenings).

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Settle for a C+ with chores. Some days, when nap time rolls around I put housework or other tasks on pause and take a little mental escape into a book.  I feel so relaxed and refreshed and ready to jump back in to work after 30 minutes cozied up on the couch with a snuggly blanket and a good book! This doesn’t mean that I completely ignore my housework, it just means that I am okay with occasionally putting off things like folding laundry until later in the day.

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Happily reading with laundry waiting to be folded … later.

Stop reading crummy books. I used to be someone who finished every book I started, even if I didn’t like it. Then, I read The Goldfinch. Oh. My. Gosh. I truly hated this book and about 237 pages in, I realized I was dreading reading. I wasn’t enjoying the book, I was avoiding reading, and I still had over 500 pages to go. Umm, no thank you. I decided I value reading way to much to waste time on a book I don’t like and I returned it to the library. And instead of feeling like a failure, I was so excited to read again! I knew I could give myself permission to stop reading if I didn’t like the book. It’s easy to put off reading if I’m not enjoying the book but it’s so much easier to make time to read when I’m excited about the book and enjoying what I’m reading. This doesn’t mean I only read books I 100% adore because I think it’s important to stretch yourself a little, but if I’m totally dreading reading, then I stop the book.

Utilize down time. I do often read during LJ’s nap time, but I’m also not afraid to read when he’s awake and just having some quiet playtime. He is very good at independent play so sometimes I’ll sit on the playroom floor with him or in my cozy spot and read my book while he stacks blocks or plays with other toys. He likes to play with me nearby but this doesn’t mean he needs my constant undivided attention. I like that he has developed the skills to play by himself but I also like that I’m right there and can easily put down my book to engage with him if he brings over a toy to play with together. This doesn’t happen super often but it’s always nice when it does.

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Take books on errands.  If I’m in the middle of a book and leave on errands, I often take whatever book I’m reading with me. Maybe everything will run efficiently and I won’t have a chance to read a single word, but maybe there will be unexpected down time. I stopped in the pharmacy for my flu shot and had an unexpected 20 minute wait. Perfect time to read instead of just mindlessly scroll on my phone! I will especially make sure to take my book along to any type of appointment where I might have a wait before being seen – doctor, dentist, hair salon, etc. By having my book handy, I have the option to read a few pages instead of flip through a magazine there or my instagram feed.

 

What strategies do you use to fit in reading?

January 2019 Book Reviews

My first book review of 2019 is finally here!

I have been so excited for this post because this month, I picked four absolute winners. We’ve got historical fiction, some lighter, fun reads, and one captivating survival story.  I really enjoyed each book this go round and I’m so eager to share them with you, so let’s do this!january 2019 book reviews

My Oxford Year by Julia Whelan

I’ve mentioned before that I enjoy following Shay’s blog Mix and Match Mama and I particularly like following her book reviews. I feel like we have pretty similar taste in what we enjoy reading so I often add a few of her suggestions to my To Be Read list. When she named this book as her very favorite book of 2018, I immediately put it on my list and it did not disappoint! It follows Ella, an American Rhodes scholar traveling to England to study literature at Oxford despite having a promising political career opportunity back home. While there, she takes missteps, develops friendships, and meets a handsome man. I don’t want to spoil to much, but this was such an enjoyable read! I loved the characters and got emotionally invested in the plot. It was the perfect blend of lighthearted fun and serious depth and made me want to ride around on a bike exploring all the charming, quaint little nooks around Oxford.

Castle of Water by Dane Huckelbridge

This was also a top read of 2018 for Shay so I put it on my list as well and OH. MY. GOSH. This book amazed me. Two strangers survive a plane crash on a remote, virtually unknown island in the South Pacific and have to work together to survive. I wasn’t really sure what all to expect here, but I absolutely loved how the author wove this story together. The story mostly centered on their life on the island but there were also chapters that included what I can only call “extra” information from other time periods that helped tie everything together. I thought this story was beautiful, heartbreaking, uplifting, complex, and captivating – I could not put it down and it gave me a week-long book hangover (you know, when you can’t even think about starting another book because the last one you read still weighs so heavily on your mind). I loved it!

Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate

It’s been a hot minute since I’ve read a book from cover to cover in one day, but I did it with this one. This book follows Rill Foss, a 12-year-old “river rat” living on a houseboat in the 1930s, and Avery Stafford, a well-connected lawyer with possible political ambitions in present day. These two women have seemingly nothing in common but as their individual stories unfold, connections are made and their stories begin to weave together in ways neither would have imagined. I had this book sitting on my couch one day when my mom was visiting and after reading the insert summary she promptly declared “I could never read this book!” While I personally loved it, it can be a very heavy read, as the fiction story is based off of a disturbing real-life scandal in Memphis from the 1920s to the 1950s (one I had previously known nothing about). There were times where it made my mama heart just break into pieces; however, despite the tragic and distressing events of the past, the author spun an emotional and moving tale of  family, identity, and belonging. I couldn’t put it down and flew through it.

Rich People Problems by Kevin Kwan

In October, I read Crazy Rich Asians and really enjoyed it, then in December I read China Rich Girlfriend and thought it was just okay. This month, I finished the trilogy with Rich People Problems and oh my gosh I LOVED it! I think it helped that there was one really big central story line and just a few side plots that tied together. In this story, Nick Young’s incredibly wealthy grandmother is dying and all his wacky relatives are gathering together in her mansion in Singapore to pay their last respects (and make sure they’re in her will). I loved the characters, I loved the downright zany situations they find themselves in, I loved the way everything from the previous two books came together in just a perfect way. I was really satisfied with how this wrapped up the trilogy and didn’t leave any loose ends. This was definitely my favorite book in the series, but you really do need to read the whole series in order because the plot lines build off one another.

Have you read any of these books? What did you think of them?

#DeclutterLikeAMother Week Four

Good morning friends!

For the month of January, I’ve been participating in the #DeclutterLikeAMother challenge. The goal is to spend 30 minutes each day targeting an area of your home and the focus is on progress, not perfection. Previous weeks focused on bathrooms and closets, kitchen, and toys. This week’s focus was clothing.

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About four years ago, long before the Netflix documentary brought about her KonMari frenzy, I read Marie Kondo’s The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up and implemented a lot of her strategies. I literally emptied my entire closet and all my drawers and went through every single item, only keeping what brought me joy. After that experience, I really have shifted my focus to trying to keep only the items I really love or that serve a purpose and get worn. I also apply this to what I buy and only purchase items I really truly love. While I periodically go through my closet and purge, and I do the same with LJ’s things, my closet has remained very manageable since my first KonMari experience. I don’t have a lot of clothing, but I also don’t have a “capsule wardrobe.” I don’t subscribe to any rules about what to keep or what not to keep other than: I keep what I love and I wear what I keep. That being said, I still did get rid of some items this week!

Of the things I got rid of, I noticed two distinct categories: things I once loved and things for future use. I had a skirt and a cardigan that I absolutely loved once upon a time and would have once listed as my favorite, most-frequently-worn items. But they both have holes now and to be honest, they were both “teacher” items. My stay-at-home mama clothing needs are different than my teacher needs. I don’t wear the teacher-y items and looking at them now, I don’t love them anymore. I just did once. Into the recycling bag they went. I also got rid of a few other items that I once wore a ton but just don’t anymore.

The other category was things for future use. The bulk of these were maternity clothes. I had someone offer me maternity clothes for cheap after she was done having babies. This was so generous! The problem was, she and I aren’t the same size normally. And I wasn’t very far along in my pregnancy with LJ when she offered. So I bought clothes I thought I might use in the future. Unfortunately, even in the last weeks of my pregnancy, these clothes still didn’t fit well because they weren’t the right size. So there clothes didn’t fit and honestly weren’t much my style, yet I kept them because I thought they served a specific purpose for a specific window of time. Honestly though, I have enough clothes that I bought that I like and are the correct size, so there is no need to keep what didn’t really work.

I didn’t declutter much this week because clothing is something I do try to regularly stay on top of. I thought I would share a few of the strategies I use for maintaining the clothing we take in and the clothing we keep (“we” meaning LJ and I. Justin is in charge of his own clothing and I don’t worry about what he keeps or doesn’t keep). Most of these are pretty simple concepts, but they have all served me well!

Accept the size you are right now.

When I got married, I was my smallest size ever. I was working out a ton, eating super well, and had that wedding dress goal that motivates like none other. A few years into marriage, I had gained a little weight back. I still felt healthy and strong, but my body naturally is happier at a slightly bigger size than my wedding size. I held on to my smallest jeans for so long thinking “I paid good money for these and what if I drop a size and fit into them again?” so I kept them for far too long. The problem with this thinking is that I wasn’t accepting that my body was happy and healthy at it’s current size; I was holding on to the mentality that smaller was better. Plus, let’s think about this. I got married almost 6 years ago. Jeans that were in style in 2013 are not jeans that are in style in 2019. I didn’t own skinny jeans then. I don’t really wear flared jeans now. Even if I had kept those jeans to this day and fit into them again, I probably wouldn’t want to wear them. I’ve learned it’s better to accept your current size and keep what works for you now and let go of what doesn’t (unless you’re going through some huge transition like pregnancy or postpartum).

Keep a bag for worn-out or damaged textiles.

I keep a bag behind my closet door where I’ll toss in old clothing with holes, stains that don’t come out, or other damage. I’ll also toss in old items that are not worth donating (clean but used underwear, socks, etc) and whenever the bag gets full, I’ll take it in to H&M for their textile recycling program. I love this program – I clear out old clothing that I don’t want but isn’t in good shape to donate and the clothing stays out of a landfill. Plus, for every bag of textiles you donate, you get a coupon to use at H&M! Win-win!

Be discerning as things come in.

This is a particularly big one for LJ’s clothes. We had a huge influx of clothing when he was born! Some people bought new outfits as gifts, others were happy to donate outgrown clothing from their babies. I was truly so thankful for the generosity of everyone who gave us clothes! But the truth of the matter is, we had way more than we needed. We got so many 0-3 month outfits that we couldn’t get through them all before he was the next size up. We also got things that were in good condition, but just not at all my style or something I would have picked for LJ. And I got a lot of donated clothing that was way too big for him and would take years (literally) to grow into. So I had to learn to be discerning with what I kept from the beginning. I looked at what all we had, thought about what we needed, and kept only what I knew would work for us. Whatever we didn’t need, I turned around and donated to various places. There are so many organizations out there to help young single mothers or struggling families and I was so happy to donate items we didn’t need to these places.

Kids clothing: be discerning about what you keep for siblings.

LJ spit up a ton when he was little, and baby spit up can stain over time. Once he outgrew them, the stained items went in the H&M recycling bag. No matter how cute the item was originally, I did not save a stained item for a future baby. I also didn’t save items that I didn’t enjoy using. For example, I had a few really cute baby sleepers that I liked the look of, but they had snaps. Why oh why do companies do this?? I absolutely hated snap-up sleepers. When you have a sleepy, squirmy baby with a poopy diaper in the middle of the night, a snap sleeper is super annoying to work with. I prefer zip-up sleepers and that’s what I buy if I have the choice. So once LJ outgrew the snap ones, these went into the donate pile and I only kept the zip-up ones.

What tips do you have for purging clothing?

Surviving Sick Days at Home

For the past week, our household has been dealing with the dreaded “s” word that seems to be lurking everywhere in the winter: sickness.

LJ has been sick for almost a week now but I feel like we’re finally seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. His runny nose is clearing up, his cough is disappearing, and his appetite is coming back. It’s crazy to me how much our world is rocked when the littlest member of our family isn’t his normal self.

I think it’s easy to look at social media and think that everyone has is together, but the truth is, we see an incomplete picture. We see a highlight reel. We see the best days. It’s pretty rare to see the struggles, the difficulties, and the low points. Today I’m changing that and sharing a little bit of what life has looked like us for the past week. We’ve been off our game, we’ve had to roll with the punches, and we’ve gone through a lot of Kleenex.

My brain is kind of all over the place right now, so I’m just going to share a few thoughts on sicks days. Let’s roll with it, shall we?

Sick Day Thoughts

Food = food.  In an ideal world, LJ will eat a healthy balanced meal 3x/day. In the real world, toddlers are picky so I do what I can to get a fruit or veggie in as often as I can. In the sick day world, we go with a “food is food” approach and whatever he is willing to eat is great. When I’m sick, my appetite changes so of course LJ’s does too when he’s feeling sick. If this means he eats a yogurt and goldfish, great. He ate something! If this means he eats applesauce and two blueberries, great. If all he wants is pasta noodles and a roll, fine. We focus on getting him to drink liquids and eat as much as he can and I don’t stress about what the food actually is.

The snuggle is real. Sick days mean we stay in our pajamas or other comfy, soft clothing. We get out blankets, we use the pacifier, we just get cozy. I’ll be honest, this is the part of sick days that I actually love.

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TV “rules” relax. Honestly, Justin and I don’t have any established rules with LJ. In an ideal world, LJ would be engaged with his surroundings and we would never need the TV.  Ha! In the real world, we do use the TV as a tool to occupy LJ for brief periods of time when we need to get something accomplished or distract him so we can trim his fingernails or something. In the sick world, we snuggle up on the couch and enjoy The Octonauts or Daniel Tiger without worrying about imposing a limit. Sometimes this even lulls him to sleep and he’ll just sleep on me.

Grandmas are amazing. My mom was able to come over one day and help out and this was such a huge blessing. She watched LJ so I could clean the long-overdue bathroom, tackle my laundry mountain, and make it to my cycling class. I was so thankful to be able to get some things done and know LJ was still getting lots of loving attention.

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We do what we can and don’t stress the rest.  I’ve previously posted how I keep up with my cleaning routine, workout regimen, work-from-home job, etc. On sick days, these routines are still helpful because I have an ingrained system for what to do (like immediately start my work-from-home job when LJ goes down for a nap). That being said, I do what I can and I don’t allow myself to stress out or feel bad about what doesn’t get done. I didn’t do my daily cleaning task for several days in a row. I wasn’t able to make it to the gym for bootcamp at all because I couldn’t take LJ to the childcare. It is what it is and it was fine. We all survived even though the kitchen wasn’t clean. 😉

Now that it seems like we’re on the other side and things are improving, we’ll be able to slowly get back into our routine. I think I’ll appreciate it a lot more now that we’ve had a week of being “off” and I’ll especially be glad to see LJ return to his usual happy, energetic toddler self.

What are your tricks for managing sick days?