My Mom Uniform

Good morning!

Today I’m once again joining Erika & Shay‘s monthly Let’s Look link-up (which will actually be tomorrow, I’m just posting a day early) and this month’s topic is your favorite “outfit of the day” or OOTD. 

If you’ve been around for a long time, like 5 years ago before my blog’s hiatus, you know that this space started out as a place to share lots of teacher outfits. My Instagram used to be exclusively dedicated to sharing my teacher ootd and I would share simple, everyday looks that were professional, comfortable, and affordable. The outfits are all still saved under my closet archives but here’s a little sampling of what my professional wardrobe used to be:

 

I loved mix-and-matching basic pieces in different ways – I loved little details like a fun ruffle, statement jewelry, or unique shoes and I enjoyed finding fun ways to layer. I still enjoy dressing up like this if I have the occasion to!

Now that I am no longer teaching and stay at home with LJ all day, it would be super easy to live in sweatpants, but I still try to get dressed every day. I don’t mean get dressed up, I mean just get dressed in anything other than the same old sweats.  It is literally JUST as easy to throw on a basic striped shirt as it is to throw on a sweatshirt, and it may seem silly but it affects my overall confidence and happiness. I’m way happier bumping into a friend in the grocery store if I’m wearing a “real” shirt. I’m way more confident kissing my husband when he comes home if I’m not in the same sweatpants I was wearing when he left for work in the morning. When I feel like I look even just a little bit put together, I feel better about myself and a happier, more confident Sarah is honestly a happier, more confident wife and mom.

All that being said, I don’t have the same about of time to piece together a daily outfit like I did when I was teaching and even if I did, there’s no real reason to go to that level of thought and effort. My days usually include pushing a stroller on a walk or running around my backyard or reading books on the floor so the heels have taken a leave of absence. Plus, many days I end up with yogurt on my pants or have a strawberry thrown at my shirt (thanks LJ) so I stick with basic, easy to clean clothes. I have a “mom uniform” of sorts that goes something like this: easy top in a classic pattern (stripes, plaid, etc), one piece of simple or statement jewelry, skinny jeans, and flats. It maybe takes an extra two minutes to pull these items from my closet instead of reaching for sweats, but the minimal amount of extra effort makes a huge difference.

All of those outfits were super easy to thrown on, and I felt so much happier and more confident heading out the door. And they are all still comfortable and easy to “mom” in!

Now do I also take the time to do full-on hair and make-up everyday? Heck no. I’m often in a messy bun with maybe a few swipes of bronzer and mascara. And of course there are days where LJ and I are in jammies and sweats all day long. But I really do try to put at least a little effort into getting dressed more often than not.

I also want to address that now that I’m pregnant, my wardrobe is reduced and comfort is the name of the game, but I still try to look put together. I’m rocking a comfy, simple top, skinny jeans, and my Converse most days.

Also, since it’s approaching summer, we’re outside playing a lot now so I’m often wearing some form of athleisure.

My favorite OOTD is one that is comfy, cute, and requires minimal thought and effort while still staying a step or two above my ratty college sweatshirt. By keeping a simple “mom uniform” in mind, it’s easy for me to feel put together every day.

What’s your standby, go-to outfit that makes you feel put together and confident?

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Mayday Mayday – Crazy May Ahead!

Good morning friends!

I don’t know about you, but I cannot believe it is May! The past week has been full of rainy days, but that means whenever the sun does shine, it showcases lush green grass, blooming flowers, and glorious signs of spring. Just yesterday I plucked some fresh daffodils from one of my flower beds and it made me so happy – I love this time of year where everything seems fresh and new!

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That being said, this month is going to be absolutely wild for us. We have some MAJOR things happening in our family coming up and everything kind of fell into the same 3-4 week window. I wrote out a giant “to-do” list for the month and it’s a bit uhh… hefty. (Side note: I love love love my Erin Condren Life Planner for keeping track of my days and I also love that there is a space to make lists or write notes before each month. It helps keep me super organized!)

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The biggest thing we have going on this month is: MOVING! Justin and I bought our house 3 years ago when we moved to Indiana and purposely bought a smaller house. At the time, we weren’t sure what our long term plans were and this house was right for us, our two dogs, and a future baby we were then dreaming of. We have since decided to stay in the area long-term and wanted to find a home with a little more space to grow our family. Our original plan was to house hunt this fall after baby arrives and we’re adjusted to life as a family of four, but we happened to stumble across our dream property for sale in April and our plans got expedited! It’s been an absolute whirlwind but thankfully it’s been a smooth process overall and we close on our new house on May 17. So this has meant I’ve been a flurry of activity over the past few weeks, getting our home ready to put up for sale and show to potential buyers. We have accepted an offer on our home and are in the process of finalizing all those details. Whew!

So now, it’s time to purge, clean, pack, and prepare to move! On top of that, I’m hosting my sister’s bachelorette party over Memorial Day weekend and then Justin and I leave on our babymoon (which was planned and fully booked a solid month before we even considered buying a house and moving in May).

I’m all about keeping life as simple as possible, but my head is spinning a little just typing all that. It’s all exciting stuff, but there are so many logistics and to-dos that I know I need to find ways to streamline and cut back in other areas of life in order to manage all these things well. One way to do this is to cut back on the blog. For the time being, I’m going to post just once a week on Tuesdays so I can focus my time and energy on other things and not go insane. 😉 I’ll still be posting regularly on Instagram (@simplifythechaos) so feel free to keep up with me there!

I hope you have lots of fun things coming up in May too!

April 2019 Book Reviews

It’s time for my favorite post of the month: BOOK REVIEW DAY!

This month I read three books and they were all very different from one another, but I enjoyed them all! If you’ve read any of them, I’d love to hear what your thoughts are so be sure to comment at the end. I think they are all goods ones for discussion!

April Book Reviews - Simplify The Chaos Blog

One Day in December by Josie Silver

With “December” in the title, this may seem like an odd choice to read in April, but it wasn’t! The story isn’t focused on Christmas at all and is enjoyable at any time of year. Laurie is riding the bus home from work one day in December (get it?) and at a bus stop, her eyes lock with a man waiting outside. She instantly feels an intense connection to him, but alas, he doesn’t get on the bus and they aren’t able to meet. She is certain she’s  fallen in love with this mystery man and spends the entire next year searching all over London hoping to run into him again. She does get to finally meet him the following December . . . when he is introduced to her as Jack, her best friend Sarah’s new boyfriend. The book follows both Jack and Laurie’s perspectives over the next decade as they navigate friendship, missed chances, new opportunities, and choices made along the way. Now that I’m finished, I can say I really loved this book, but there were a few points where I was worried I would end up highly dissatisfied. I don’t want to give too much away, but there were times when I really wanted the story to go one way or another and the end result I hoped for kept changing! This kept things interesting though; I wasn’t necessarily always rooting for one specific scenario and instead just hoped that however it wrapped up made sense to me. I did really enjoy this story and think it would make a great beach read this summer!

The War I Finally Won by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley

Back in December, I reviewed The War that Saved My Life and loved it so I was excited to read that the author had written a sequel. This young adult story picks up more or less where the first leaves off with Ada undergoing surgery to fix her clubfoot. After the surgery, Ada struggles to reconcile all the ways in which her life has changed since she first left London to seek refuge in the country. World War II is now in full swing and she moves to a new cottage with her brother Jamie, her guardian Susan, and surprise of surprises, Lady Thornton herself. What none of them realize is they are about to get another house guest who won’t be very welcome. This story once again was incredibly well-written and so poignant. Maybe it’s the pregnancy hormones, but it made me feel all. the. feels. and I teared up several times throughout. You get so invested in the characters and their relationships: their struggles become your struggles and their triumphs become yours too. I really enjoyed this story and highly recommend it to both 5th graders and 50-year-olds. It is a story for all ages!

The Possible World by Liesle O’Halloran Schwarz

My friend Kaitlin read this book as part of her book club and she asked me to read it too to discuss my thoughts. I wasn’t sure what to expect so I dove in without much context and was immediately sucked in. This story follows three characters and alternates between their perspectives: Clare, a woman about to turn 100 years old in a nursing home and is reflecting on her life, Ben, a six-year-old boy who has just experienced an unimaginable trauma, and Lucy, the ER nurse who tends to Ben when he is brought to the hospital. As their stories unfurl, it becomes evident that their stories are inexplicably connected to one another. I don’t want to give too much away, so I will just say that a few chapters in I knew this would be a book that once I finished, I would need to go back and re-read parts of to see what clues I missed the first time around. I was right – I did do exactly that! I will also say that I thought one of the character’s backstory/current life wasn’t really necessary to include so much of. I felt like there was a lot of extra information in those chapters that didn’t really pertain to the rest of the story and could have been left out. I also wish the ending had a little more to it; I felt like it wrapped up really quickly and felt a little abrupt. All that being said, overall I did enjoy this read! It’s a unique premise and enchanting story.

Have you read any of these books? I’d love to know what you thought or what you read this month. I’m always looking for great recommendations so be sure to share if you have any good ones!

 

 

First Haircut + Easter Weekend 2019

Good morning!

This past weekend Justin, LJ, and I packed up the car and road tripped out to Virginia to spend Easter weekend with Justin’s family. Since they live so far away, we don’t get to see them as often as we’d like so it was wonderful to have lots of quality time together. I more or less unplugged from social media, which was also a nice change of pace. Today I thought I’d just share a few pictures from our weekend.

Before we left on Friday morning, we stopped in at a local men’s salon for…LJ’s first official haircut! Insert all my mama emotions here.

I love his wispy blond hair but it was just getting sooo long – it was getting in his eyes and was starting to look a little mullet-like so we decided it was time.

The place we went was amazing! They had him sit on Justin’s lap and turned the little TV in the booth on to Paw Patrol so he was pretty mesmerized the whole time. He’s a little ticklish around the neck so there were a few flinches but the hairstylist was so patient with him and we’re really happy with the end result. Overall, LJ did way better than we expected! They gave him a little certificate for “graduating babyhood” with his first haircut. Beforehand, I’m not sure I would have said this was “the step” to no longer being a baby but afterwards I see where they’re coming from because he immediately looked SO. MUCH. OLDER. Justin and I could not get over how he looks like a full-fledged toddler now.

After the haircut excitement we headed out to Virginia. LJ did great on the trip and we made decent time. We arrived Friday night and left Tuesday morning. It was a fantastic weekend with family! A few highlights include:

A mega Easter Egg hunt! Justin’s brother’s church puts on a giant egg hunt for the community and there were SO many people there. Do you see all the people in the grass? This is just the 4 years and under hunt – it was crazy! LJ and his youngest cousin (bottom of the left picture) were more fascinated with the chaos happening around them and we really had to work to get them to focus on picking up an egg. It was pretty hilarious actually. By the time they caught on, the eggs were mostly gone. LJ got three eggs which honestly was two more than I was expecting him to get so overall it was a success.

We also spent a ton of time outside. LJ was obsessed with the basketball hoop and we spent hours out there playing. It was so sweet to see him with our 6-year old nephew (middle picture) who is so sweet to him. They are the only boy cousins so far and they already have a special little bond.

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Can’t forget about our sweet 4-year-old niece who also loved playing with LJ. In this picture they are heading off to find the cat that is hiding along the edge of the woods. 😉 Since none of my siblings have children yet, these are LJ’s only cousins and I just love watching their little relationships blossom. Plus, I feel like this picture just captures something magical about spring evenings.

My little growing family attended my husband’s home church on Sunday. It was extra special because my sister actually lives in the area and she was able to join our festivities!

Easter Sunday is one of my absolute favorite days of the year. The music is always so worshipful and inspiring and I love celebrating the fact that Jesus not only died for our sins, but also rose again and we now have eternal life in Him. It brings me to tears every year!

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And last but not least, it was pretty hilarious to watch LJ open his Easter basket – in true toddler style, he only cared about the tissue paper. 😉

 

Easter always feels like the true kick-off to spring, so I’m excited for warmer weather, blooming flowers, and more and more time outside!

Simplify the Diaper Bag {Toddler}

Before I begin, thank you to all who have been praying for G, the student I shared about in Tuesday’s post. He is still in ICU, so please continue to pray! Thank you!

One of my main goals, both in life and on this blog, is to keep things simple. So often we over-complicate things and make life more difficult, time-consuming, mentally draining, or stressful than it needs to be. Sure, some things are worth lots of extra time and effort, but most things can really be brought down a notch or two (or seven) and life can still flow smoothly.

One thing I have really tried to keep simple is my diaper bag. I have a distinct memory from before I had children of a friend coming over to my house carrying her baby in the carseat, her purse was slung over her one shoulder, and her stuffed-to-the-brim diaper bag over the other. She waddled into my house bogged down with all this stuff and I thought “whoa, that looks so exhausting!” I started to look around at moms when I was out and about and noticed that my friend was not unusual; lots of moms were carrying multiple full bags on their shoulders or in their strollers and it just seemed like they had so much stuff with them at any given time. I decided that when my time came to use a diaper bag, I wanted to do things differently.

If you’ve followed me for any length of time you know I’m very to-each-her-own around here. If you want to think through all the possibilities for what your child(ren) may or may not need while out and about and take it with you just to be safe, that’s totally your prerogative and I support you and have zero judgement! For me, I don’t want the weight of heavy bags yanking on my shoulders. I don’t want to have to dig around for several minutes just to find something at the very bottom of my bag. I don’t want to *think* I have something with me but really the bag is too full to easily locate it to be sure so I just leave my house and then when I need that item, come to find out it’s not actually in there at all. I want things to be simple, streamlined, and easy on my shoulders and back. I want to have what we need while out and about without carrying half my house everywhere I go.

Each stage of LJ’s life has required different necessities. I’ve previously shared what was in my newborn diaper bag and then my infant diaper bag. Today I wanted to share how I’ve updated what I carry now that LJ is a toddler. And I want to emphasize again: every baby and mama are different! This may not be the perfect diaper bag for anyone else but it is what works well for us!

Check out this post to learn more about the diaper bag I use. I love its simple, clean look and minimal-ish use of space and pockets!  I use the word “minimal-ish” to describe my bag and list of essentials because there are a few things included that aren’t really needs but sure do come in handy. I also link to a few items; I don’t get any compensation for this but just wanted to share products that have worked for us.

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Toddler diaper bag essentials (plus a few extras)

The front compartment is still my “mom” compartment and this pocket really hasn’t changed much over time. I still keep the same items as before: my wallet, checkbook, 1-2 pens, headphones, chapstick, hand sanitizer, a snack, hair tie, gum, and a sunscreen stick for LJ and I.

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The back compartment remains exactly the same as before and is still used exclusively for diapering needs. I keep 4-5 diapers, wipes in my wipes clutch, a changing pad, diaper cream, and a diaper bag dispenser for super stinky ones.

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The main compartment is where the big changes happened. I do still carry a burp cloth because every now and then he will throw up (usually just if he’s straining hard to poop – TMI?) and it’s handy to have. I changed up the books/toys to be ones he is more into as an active toddler. I have a bib and a silicone placemat that we can put on a table at a restaurant so he could pick up food and not be touching the surface of the table. I also now carry around a spoon in a case which is super helpful. Also, there is nothing worse than a hangry toddler so I always carry around a variety of non-perishable snacks like food pouches, a dry snack in a container (goldfish, animal crackers, Cheerios, etc) and a straw sippy cup.

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In addition to these items, I still carry a muslin blanket and a flannel blanket (although once the weather warms up for good, I’ll probably nix the flannel blanket). I  still roll my items and store them vertically so I can see almost everything at a glance and grab what I need without much rummaging. In the back pockets of this main compartment I keep the food pouches, spoon +case, bib, placemat, and a pacifier on a clip.

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You’ll notice I don’t carry around a change of clothes anymore. I honestly can’t even think of the last time he actually had a diaper blowout or ruined his clothes while we were out and about. The bib prevents most food spills and I’m not really worried about it if he gets dirty while playing outside. It just felt like a waste of space to carry around extra clothes that literally never got used. Once we start potty training and expect accidents, of course I’ll start carrying extras again. But for now, it makes sense to use the space for other things.

A few of my extra tips:

  • I try to regularly check the diaper bag at home to make sure it’s ready to go. Having extra space in the diaper bag means there is room for other things to get put in there (such as an item we bought while out and about or maybe LJ’s sweatshirt we took off or something). I try to leave the house with the diaper bag back to ‘baseline’ if possible.
  • When I check the bag, I also check the diaper compartment. I try to always have at least 4-5 diapers and plenty of wipes so we never have an “oh no!” moment when out and about and we realize we’re out of these crucial things. I love my wipes clutch because I can easily and quickly add more wipes at home.
  • When the bag is back to ‘baseline’ and ready to go, I store it in the same spot in our kitchen. That way I know I can grab it on the way out the door and not have to worry that I might not have everything I need.

For me, taking less has actually helped reduce stress because I have everything I need and can access it quickly and efficiently without sifting through a lot of extra stuff. The last picture shows that I can really see everything in one quick glance and grab what I’m looking for easily. If you have an toddler and feel like you’re carrying around half of his or her earthly belongings every time you leave the house, I hope this post gave you a few times for simplifying the diaper bag!

What are your diaper bag essentials?

Prayers for “G”

I had a different blog post planned for today, but this morning I woke up to a text from a former co-worker that flipped my day upside down before it had even begun.

For those who don’t know, I am a former special education teacher. I taught for 6 years in 3 different schools (we moved a lot!) and loved it. I started this blog partly as a way to share teacher outfits and classroom projects & activities which you can find under my “Teach” menu in the archives. Even though I love staying at home with my son now, teaching remains a passion of mine and I miss getting to work with my students.

My co-worker reached out to me because she realized I give up Facebook for Lent and hadn’t heard the news: a former student of mine has recently been diagnosed with stage 4 malignant astrocytoma, a form of brain cancer. Yesterday he suffered a pulmonary embolism and is in critical condition. I had him in 6th & 7th grade but he is now 16 years old and a sophomore.

To say my heart is broken is an understatement. I truly mean it when I say that all the students I’ve had on my caseload through the years have a special place in my heart, but some students just stick with you a little more. He is one of those. Whenever he pops up in my mind I smile and look back on our struggles and triumphs with great fondness. We came a long way in two years and when Justin and I had to pack up and move to Indiana, it was hard for me to know I wouldn’t get to see him go all the way through middle school. I am completely devastated to hear about his cancer and will be spending much of today lifting him up in prayer.

For the sake of privacy, I will not disclose his name in this space but I will tell you his first initial is G. My hope is that you would join me in prayer today for “G” and his family – prayers for miraculous healing for G and prayers for comfort and strength for his family.

Thank you ❤

20 Week Baby Update!

Yesterday we hit the 20 week milestone and I was singing Bon Jovi pretty much all day long (“oooooooooooh halfway there….”). This pregnancy seems to be going so much faster than LJ’s and I think it is because I’m now busy spending my days chasing around after a toddler. I’ll take it though – I can’t wait to meet this baby!

20 weeks seemed like a good time to have another blog post with a few updates on how the pregnancy is going. If you’re curious about how the first trimester went, you can check out my blog post about it here.

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Symptoms/How I’ve Been Feeling

I always say this part is the “sweet spot” of pregnancy. My nausea is finally gone (it lasted until about 15 weeks) and my fatigue has diminished. I feel great, I have energy, and I don’t feel like puking all the time, but I’m not swollen and uncomfortable yet. Sweet spot!

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Energy/Workouts

The second trimester brings an energy boost for me, and I’ve been taking full advantage. I’ve recovered from my knee injury from several weeks ago so I’m back to my normal level of functioning and I’m back at it with regular Expecting and Empowered at-home workouts. I also attend a weekly cycling class at the local YMCA which is a great cardio boost.

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We’ve also been experiencing nice weather lately and LJ and I have spent a lot of time playing outside or going for long walks, so I feel like I’m incorporating a lot of movement into my days. Exercise gives me more energy and it’s a great cycle to get into: I have more energy in the second trimester, so I’m moving/exercising more, which gives me even more energy, etc. It’s a big reason why I’m feeling great these days!

Food Cravings & Aversions

I haven’t had many aversions this time around and there is no one food that I’m not able to handle right now. I do crave sweet and salty things and I’ve worked to curb some of my sugary cravings. I definitely don’t deprive myself, but I’m trying to be conscious of making the “better” choice. For example, if I’m craving a little something sweet, I might drink a glass of Naked fruit juice instead of eating a piece of chocolate.

I also find myself to be hungry quite often so snacks are key for me! I honestly start to feel pretty awful if I go more than 2 hours without a little something. I keep things like string cheese, clementines, Rx nut butter packs, etc. on hand at home and make sure to always have a granola bar in the diaper bag when I leave the house. It helps tremendously!

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Sleep

I have really been trying to get lots of sleep at night, but I do have difficulty getting comfortable. My trusty Snoogle helps a lot but there are still nights where I toss and turn, and I’m getting to the point where I often wake up and need to go to the bathroom. Sigh. Overall, I feel like most nights I get a good amount of sleep and I wake up feeling refreshed.

What I’m Looking Forward To

I can feel tiny little baby kicks now and it’s just the sweetest thing, but I’m looking forward to when Justin can feel them too!

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Boy/Girl Predictions

If I *had* to make a guess, I would guess another boy, but that’s mostly just because I don’t have any marked differences between this pregnancy and when I was pregnant with LJ.  I went to my 20 week anatomy ultrasound on Tuesday and the tech did a great job of not revealing anything so I remain clueless with the gender. I am so excited for either possibility and I can’t wait to meet this little boy or girl in a few more months!

LJ’s Awareness

Oh my gosh. So Justin and I have been working with LJ on body parts (where’s your nose, where’s your feet, etc) and we started asking LJ “where’s the baby?” and he will now pat my stomach to show where the baby is. It is the cutest thing and it makes me want to ask him where the baby is all the time. Now, does he actually get what that means? No. Does it still melt my mama heart every time? Sure does!

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Misc Stories

I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned her on my blog before, but I really enjoy following @ameskiefer. She’s a fellow blogger, mama and co-founder of my workout regimen Expecting and Empowered and bonus, she is also currently pregnant. She has a very motivational and down-to-earth platform and I especially love her Instagram. So one thing she talks about frequently is how she never weighs herself during pregnancy except for at OB appointments and instead focuses on what she eats, her exercise, sleep, how she feels, etc to gauge her health. I love this and have adopted this mentality this pregnancy and it has been incredibly freeing. Weight gain is just one aspect of pregnancy and while you don’t want to just go crazy (you’re not really eating for two, you’re eating for one adult and one very tiny human), it’s not worth obsessing over the number on a scale. I gained way more than I expected with LJ, but I had a healthy pregnancy, he had a healthy birth weight, and I was back to my pre-pregnancy size in less than six months. There was no need for me to freak out just because my goal was to gain 25 pounds and I gained 45. So this time around, I’ve decided not to keep track of it and I don’t even really look at OB appointments. I feel so much better just focusing on eating, sleeping, and exercising and as long as my OB-GYN is happy, I’m happy.

I feel like once I hit 20 weeks things always start to feel a little more “real” – the bump is out, I feel baby kicks, random strangers start to notice I’m pregnant. It’s fun to feel the anticipation build and I’m looking forward to the next 20 weeks!