5 Ways To Make Your Privileged Child Feel Humbled & Thankful During The Holiday Season

The holiday season is quickly approaching.  With Thanksgiving upon us, I’ve been taking some extra time to reflect on my life and really notice all.the.things I’m so very thankful for.  From the really big things all the way down to the tiny, minute things.   I’ve been thinking about this post for a few weeks, brainstorming it all in my mind and somewhat dragging my feet about putting it out there.   As I was sitting in church today, listening to the sermon, I realized that it was extremely important for me to put this message out there and share with anyone else who may be feeling the same way.

My children and my family are extremely blessed to live a life where we never have to worry if there will be food on the table or clothes to wear.  We never have to worry where we’re going to sleep or how we’re going to get somewhere.   But the very harsh reality is, MANY people in this world worry about those things every single day.  Things that most of us take for granted.   Many children do not know where their next meal is coming from and they often wonder if they’ll have electricity at home to keep them warm.

Because my children are blessed with the lives they have, I have tried my hardest to make them aware of how difficult some peoples lives are.  Partly because I don’t want them to grow up and be ungrateful brats and mostly because I want them to be empathetic and have a servants heart.

When my kids start acting particularly entitled, I usually give them a big ‘ole dose of “here’s how bad some people have it.”  I’ve learned over the years that it’s best to be honest with our children and not try to hide poverty from them.  It’s important that they see it, they understand it and that they process it.   The amazing thing is – your kids will want to help the less fortunate.  I’ll never forget the first year we took our then-4-year-old daughter to the City Mission’s annual banquet.   Children, living at the shelter, put on a beautiful play.   My tiny little pre-schooler was so touched by that play and her heart was broken that those children (who looked just like her) did not have a home, or toys of their own.  My sweet girl had the idea that we should collect toys for the children at the Mission and deliver them for Christmas.   She spear-headed the entire project and I was so unbelievably proud to watch her be a helper for those in need.

Y’all, Acts of Service is where it’s at!  Involving your children, and the entire family, in Acts of Service will not only make you feel good about what you’re doing but it will also really make a difference in others’ lives.  Sometimes we’ll never truly know how much it means to a stranger to receive an act of kindness.   Below are some of my favorite ways to teach my children thankfulness and kindness, not only during the holidays but all throughout the year!

  1.  Take your children grocery shopping with you.  Make the entire trip dedicated to buying meals and supplies for the homeless shelter or your local foodbank.  As you’re shopping, talk to your children about how some people are not lucky to have warm meals at home.   Get your children involved in the decision process on what to buy and what foods make them the happiest!
  2. Adopt an ‘Angel’ from the Angel Tree.  Adopt a child that is close to your children’s age.  Take your child shopping with you and let them help pick out the items.   Talk to them about how sometimes we humans get to be Santa for less fortunate families.
  3. Start a winter coat drive at your school or office.  Many adults and children go cold every winter because their families can not afford a winter coat.  Often children are absent from school simply because they do not have clean clothes to wear to school.  Let’s work to keep every baby warm this winter!
  4. Clean out your play rooms each year before Christmas.  Get your children involved on what items to donate and let your children go with you during the donation process.  Explain that their old toys will be ‘treasure’ to a child in need.  (Or run a new toy drive!)
  5. Take your entire family and go serve a meal at the City Mission.  Honestly, this will be the harshest dose of reality that you will ever receive; talk about a humbling experience.   It is also a gentle reminder that none of us are that far away from poverty.

What do you all do with your children to ‘pay it forward?’  Leave a comment below and let us know!

Happy Thanksgiving from our home to yours!

XOXO

Jill

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Things I Bought and Liked – All Under $40!

There have been a few things I found this fall that have made me feel like have SCORED in the staying-sane-and-keeping-myself-and-small-humans-alive department (#winning). Some I have found in random shopping trips or browsing online, one was a stocking stuffer (ULTA, you hooked my husband up!) and a couple came on recommendation. Here they are in no particular order😁:

Corduroy Jumper

This cute corduroy mini-jumper has been one of my fav fall purchases from Birds of a Feather (BOAF)! I felt like I was having a mid-life crisis with this purchase because of the length, however I made all the girls at BOAF promise that I didn’t look like I was an old person trying to look young. 😂 I had an extensive convo with Jill (many many pics and texts) about how to style this and what kinds of places I could wear it. I’ve been so focused on building up my professional wardrobe, that I have sadly forgotten my fun, casual wardrobe. I was able to wear this to a concert for a parents’ night out! I paired it with a black mock turtleneck, black tights and leopard print flats. You could also add booties or a white ribbed shirt underneath.

Ice Roller

Don’t get me started about this. This $12 item has brought me so much joy in the past two weeks. I have been using it first thing when I wake up to “de-puff”. It also is great for headaches. I keep this in a plastic bag in the freezer and have it ready for use. This is so worth it – go get yourself one.

Benefit Hoola Matte Bronzer

This little bronzer packs a huge punch for its size. It is super pigmented, so you only have to use a small amount to create a bronze goddess look, use as blush or to contour. This size is great to travel with too! 

Firearm Kids’ Clothes

If you are a fan of Mini Boden, you will love Firearm. I’ve found some great dupes for half the cost! Best of all…it’s all available on AMAZON. The fabric is soft and breathable – enough for my two year old.😅

Universal Thread Booties

These adorable cut out booties are TARGET dupes for the more pricey Free People ones. They are only $32.99 (and there is a BOGO 50% off going on right now)! They are comfy and very on trend for Fall.

As a fellow (working) mom, I hope some of these ideas help you to stay chic, have $$ in your wallet and generally make life easier!

Xx,

Lauren

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Real Men Wear Pink! When Breast Cancer Hits Home

With October being Breast Cancer Awareness month, this is the perfect time for us to bring attention to a cause that is near and dear to my heart!  My mother in law is a breast cancer survivor.  Thanks to innovative medical equipment and early detection, she is alive and well with us today!  PTL!  Millions of Americans face this scary disease every year but thanks to the American Cancer Society, through their funding and research, many lives are saved!  While others aren’t as lucky, it is important that the research continues so that hopefully a cure will soon be found!

I’m sure you’ve seen the slogan circulating on social media, stating to “Mammogram Your TaTa’s, not Instagram them!”  While this slogan may give you a giggle, I hope it also hits home.   Often times our society focuses on all the wrong things (I’m equally guilty of this.)  Take a break from your very busy lives and know your risk factors; know if you’re at a higher risk and seek preventative care if you are.

My Husband, Caleb, has personally experienced the deep pain that cancer can inflict on a family.  Caleb has lost both of his grandmothers to cancer and his mother is a survivor.   This year he was asked to take part in a Nationwide Campaign to bring awareness for Breast Cancer Research.  Without hesitation, he said YES!

Now here’s where you come in! Caleb is an ambassador for the State of West Virginia.  Below is a link to his personal page on the ‘Real Men Wear Pink’ campaign website.  Businessmen from various professions, across the nation, have been asked to wear their pink and take part in this very important fundraiser.  {Let’s be real – have you seen Caleb’s closet?!  That man LOVES pink and he LOVESSS his momma!  So this was a no brainer for him!}  We ask that you consider making a donation to Caleb’s Real Men Wear Pink campaign.  Let’s make West Virginia Survivors proud!  Nearly everyone I talk to has been personally affected by Breast Cancer whether it be their mother, grandmother, sister, daughter or them personally.  How has breast cancer affected you?

We would love to hear your stories and know that we will be praying for your loved ones who are actively battling cancer or in successful remission!

To access Caleb’s Campaign, click here!  We appreciate your donation more than you’ll ever know!

XOXO

Jill & Caleb

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Netflix and Shhh…I actually want to watch this!😉😂

Even though I don’t have an abundance of spare time, (you know, with the whole full time working mom, two toddlers and a husband thing🤣) these latest favs are totally worth carving out some time to enjoy! While some of my favs aren’t on Netflix, I CANNOT stop thinking about these latest movies, shows and podcasts:

 

“Crazy Rich Asians”

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Based on the trailers alone, I thought this was going to be a comedy. It turned out to be a LOT more than that. The cast was awesome and the scenery of Singapore was breathtaking. (NOTE: Trip to Singapore on the bucket list!)

This re-mix Cinderella story made me laugh, cry and everything in-between. Awkwafina played Peik Lin Goh and was seriously hilarious. I majorly teared up during the wedding scene with all the DRAMA, romance and gorgeousness of it all. Pony up for a babysitter and take your Bae to see this ASAP.

 

“To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before” – Netflix

to all the boys

 

Dead. I have been hooked on this since I watched it the first time. Yes, this is a teen rom -com; however my inner 16 year old girl is dying over this film. It’s “Clueless” with a little “10 Things I Hate About You” and some “She’s All That”. Remember the hot guy with the jeep in every rom-com, the first look of the girl coming down the steps, and the cute head on the shoulder that made you just tingle?! It really took me back! While it’s not realistic, it’s totally relateable. We so knew these people in high school and felt all the feelings!  SPOILER: It is a cheesy love story, but come on, sometimes we just need that little escape from reality.

Lana Condor (from X-Men: Apocalypse) plays Lara Jean Covey (half-korean…boom) opposite Peter Kavinsky (Noah Centineo). There are love letters, fake dating and all kinds of perfect chemistry. It’s a super cute coming of age story, which I think this may have inspired my latest corduroy overall mini dress.😂

Peter Kavinsky + Lara Jean forever! “You gotta tell people how you feel when you feel it…you can’t just sit up in your room writing love letters that you’re never going to send out.”

PS – This is based on a trilogy of books by Jenny Han. If you want more, check them out!

 

“Great British Baking Show”- Netflix

Great british

 

I have gotten my whole family addicted to this show. It was originally aired on PBS, but has made it to Netflix. Something about Mary Berry, Paul Hollywood and hosts Sue Perkins and Mel Giedrovc make this show SO very British and SO very good.

This is NOT your American baking show with ingredients flying, contestants out of control, but brings a certain refinement and dry sense of humor to the show. I guarantee you will not have heard of many of these “bakes”, but nonetheless will be majorly entertained by the mix of contestants and challenges.  “On your marks, get set, BAKE!”

 

“The Lazy Genius”

kendra

 

This is one of my very favorite podcasts. Anyone else relish the 10-20 minutes in your car alone after you’ve dropped off the kids for school?? I don’t know about you, but for me, that is sacred time. Many times I spend it listening to The Lazy Genius. Kendra gives us ways to be a genius about the things that matter and lazy about the things that don’t. She covers everything from cleaning your house, to cooking to planning your life (without becoming a robot). She is hilarious and so very REAL! You will love her and her story about how she met her husband.

 

“The Moth”

TheMoth-JimKrenn_Story-Podcast

 

I stumbled across this podcast during a drive back from a work trip. The Moth tells some of the best REAL stories from some of the most interesting people – some you will recognize and some you won’t. They are inspiring, funny and very eye opening. Check it out.

 

“Unruffled”

Respectful-Parenting-Podcasts-Janet-Lansbury-Unruffled

 

Not only does Janet Lansbury have the most soothing voice, but she offers some real thought-provoking ideas in her respectful parenting podcast, Unruffled. She gives different scenarios posed to her from listeners, each week and addresses the behaviors described and gives practical ways to handle it. Have a child that seems to prefer biting to talking? or seems shy in certain situations? or likes to flip out in public?? Yeaaaaah, me neither. 😳 HOWEVER, if you have a friend that could use some advice, I’d send him/her to Unruffled. While I may not agree with all of Janet’s advice, it’s really nice to hear from a professional that I’m not permanently scarring my child with my parenting techniques.😂

I hope you are able to check out some or all of these and let me know what you think! I’d love to hear your favorite movies, shows and podcasts too!

Xx,

Lauren

(Affiliate links included)

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‘Swing’ Into Fall With This Must Have Dress; Perfect For Every Occasion!

Last week Lauren clued you all in on her super cute bibs (they really are adorbs!)  This week, it’s my turn to fill y’all in on one of my favorite fall pieces.  I’ve mentioned to you before how much I absolutely adore a good swing dress, BUT these are my favorite swing dresses of all time. This is the perfect combination.  I love the oxford dress shirt look, but the flattering fit of a swing dress!  This design is more fitted through the chest and then very forgiving in the waist and hips.  It also provides the perfect amount of twirl factor!  

These swing dresses are the perfect weight for nearly every season – you can wear them bare-legged or with tights.  There are so many ways to style them: just throw on a cute pair of slides or tennis shoes to dress them down or pair them with booties to dress them up.  As the weather gets colder, just add in a pair of opaque tights and you are good to go!

While the pattern above in unavailable right now, there are still several colors/patterns to choose from!  (Spoiler alert: I ordered them all this past weekend – I’m not even kidding.)  Check them out and let us know what your favorite one is!   And keep checking back as we continue into fall; last year they came out with a Holiday collection and it was the perfect amount of plaid.

XoXo

Jill

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Amazon Fashion Find of the Week!

If you haven’t noticed by now, I’ll just say it – I have a serious shopping habit.😂 However, it has definitely taken a left turn in the last year. While I still love hitting the mall and outlets, my current situation (aka – mom life) has made me a habitual online shopper! While I am still loyal to my fav stores, I am a new convert to Amazon Fashion!

In my search for some on-trend, comfy, age-appropriate, casual outfits for the fall I was striking out in all my usual places. After hearing about Amazon Fashion and already being a “Prime” enthusiast, I had to try it. I spent several days combing through the Amazon Fashion pages, I was not having any luck. I came across pieces that look like this:

Yeaaaah, um no. That checks NONE of the boxes. However, in looking at the reviews it actually had some potential in the real life pics. I took the plunge and ordered it.

These cotton overalls were actually really cute and comfy (and not nearly as baggy as the pic)! I paired them with a white burnout t-shirt and my go-to Gigi Sandals. They are lightweight enough to start wearing now and you can easily throw on a long sleeved shirt or sweater as we move into Fall. This was such an easy piece and definitely “mom approved” – I could easily chase my toddlers and still feel somewhat pulled together.

This brand has some other really cute pieces, but I will say CHECK THE SIZING CHART! They are 1 to 2 sizes smaller than your normal size. Also, while they are Prime eligible, sometime when they are sold out, they will take 7 to 10 days to get to your house. I got mine in about 4 days.

I have definitely learned my lesson and am now scouring the “reviews” on Amazon Fashion to find cute pieces that look good IRL.

Happy Shopping!

Xx,

Lauren

(Affiliate links included)

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An Open Letter To My Daughters: Letting Go Is So Hard!

Hey Y’all!  It’s been a while.  We’ve been soaking up every.last.second of summer.  Family time is everything in our household.  Sometimes it’s good to take a step back from our social media lives to focus on our real lives and the people that mean the most to us.   My girls are growing at the speed of light.  This summer I feel like if I looked closely enough, I could’ve actually seen them grow.   We’re heading into major transition times in our household.  This week begins a whole new world for both girls.   Tonight I put my big girl to bed for the last time as a “little kid.”  Tomorrow she wakes up and heads off to Middle School…..MID-DLE SCHOOL.  I can’t even believe I’m saying those words.  While every parent out there knows just how fast time goes, there are often moments that slap us in the face and make us realize that our babies aren’t quite babies any more.

My sweet toddler is officially a Pre-Schooler now.  Not just that pretend “pre-school” where you say the word Pre-School just to sound cool.  But she’s actually in a class that counts attendance, gives out tardies (I can only imagine how this is going to go…..I’m sure my just-turned-4 year old really understands the idea of tardies when there is no actual bell that rings) does class work and gets a progress report.  Like, she’s in legit pre-school.  And honestly, I’m not here for it.    When I look at her, I still see a baby.  She’s still my cuddle bug that can’t go to sleep each night unless momma lays with her.  How is she capable of writing her name, saying her ABC’s and being graded on her social, emotional and educational skills.  I’m not ready for someone else to “judge her,” even though I know she’s progressing just fine.  I want her to just be my baby a little longer.  To live in that stress free world of constant fun and entertainment.  Babies don’t keep and that hurts a momma heart.

The truth is, I will love my children at every age and every stage.  It’s not that I only want “babies,” it’s just that I know with each new year comes new challenges and they learn more about this cold, cruel world.  With each new stage in life, it’s necessary to have uncomfortable, scary discussions with our children.  While preparing for Middle School today we had to talk about drugs, alcohol and boys who may act inappropriate.  While it’s important for her to know this stuff and even MORE important for her to hear it from me, I wish we could just go back to the days when I could shelter her from literally everything.  It’s no secret, guys.  We live a Mr. Rogers lifestyle – I’m not even kidding.  My kids have no idea how scary this world can be.  For YEARS my daughter thought “the F word” meant “fart.”  And she thought that was so seriously bad.  (Lord, can we please go back to those glorious years. The years when I could shield her from all the bad and heal all her wounds.)  The hardest part is, there is no going back.  I just have to build her up, show her the way, give her all the mental and emotional tools that she will need in life, encourage her and pray that she always knows how much she is loved.  We have to trust that we’ve done everything that we possibly could to prepare them to leave the nest.   Then we have to let them go and watch them soar.

This is the stage I’m in right now.  My oldest daughter has been soaring so high and I’m so proud of her.  We moved to a small town where we know no one.  She’s starting a new school, she’s meeting new people, she’s playing school sports and she’s putting herself out there every day.  She’s walking into a gym full of 70 girls and she knows not a single one.  She’s brave and strong and she’s facing life head on.  She was scared the first day, but fear didn’t win.  She held her head high and made her way through the crowd.  Now she’s packed her bookbag, picked out her first day outfit and she’s put herself to bed excited to start a new chapter in life.  You all, she is actually excited….like really excited.  Now that is BRAVE.  She is going to slay at this thing called life.  And if my 11 year old can be brave like that, so can I.  Sometimes we can all take a queue from our kids.

There are good things about the kids getting older, too.  This year, for the first time ever, I actually enjoyed back to school shopping.  We took an entire weekend and just shopped ’til we dropped.  I didn’t allow myself to be in a hurry.  I didn’t allow myself to constantly say “no.”  I was present with no outside distractions.  There were so many belly laughs and so many good memories made.   It made me realize how, I may not have babies any more, but I’m gaining bestfriends.  This stage is new and different and I’m not totally sure how to navigate it sometimes, but we will survive and we will thrive.  Although I’d rather talk about bottles and blankies than boobs and pubes, I know that this too is part of my job and we’ll make our way through it.

All my love and hugs to you mommas who are sending your ‘babies’ back to school.

XOXO

Jill

 

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MISSION: Lasik Eye Surgery – the Good, the Bad and the Ugly!

Who: ME!

What: Lasik Eye Surgery

When: July 2018

Where: LasikPlus, Columbus, OH

Why: Unassisted perfect vision, yo!

I have thought about getting Lasik eye surgery for the last 10 years. I’ve seen each of my family members get Lasik and ask me “WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR??”. My first evaluation was about 10 years ago. I got the “go” from the doc, despite my astigmatism and young (*ahem*) age. Besides the fact that I’d have to pony up 3 months worth of rent (in DC!) for the procedure, it just didn’t feel right. From what understood, my eyes should be stable for 1-5 years and many times prescriptions will change after pregnancy. At that time I wasn’t married and there were no kids in sight, so I backed out.

Fast forward 10 years and after suffering with increasingly itchy eyes around the spring and fall allergy seasons, it was time to take the plunge. I didn’t really plan to get Lasik this year, (if I had it to do over, I would have maxed out my FSA!) but after my brother’s pseudo-spiritual experience (😂) with Lasik, I had to get on the ball.

After copious amounts of research, I settled on LasikPlus in Columbus, OH. I made an appointment and because of scheduling, took my 4 year old.  He was playing a game on his Kindle and would yell, “YEAAHHH” or “WOOOO”, which freaked out the opthamologist checking my eyes. 😅 She double checked both eyes to make sure the side comments didn’t cause any mistakes. The appointment lasted about an hour and I got my results the same day. I was told I had a beautiful optical nerve and lots of cornal tissue which made me a candidate!! (Do they say this to everyone?) This news was so exciting that I made my surgery appointment on the spot. I had one month to mentally prepare myself.

 

DAY OF SURGERY:

So, if you read our aerial yoga blog post you know that I have a serious fear of the unknown. I have been known to dive head first into “fun ideas” only to FREAK OUT the night before the event. There were lots of thoughts running through my head before I went in for surgery (check out the Glitter Jungle InstaStories).

I had another full eye exam to confirm the results of the exam a month ago. During one of the exams, the tech put numbing drops in my eyes and asked if I wanted a Valium. Before I could answer, my husband said “yes, she would like a Valium.”😒 (I, of course, agreed with him). Once in the final waiting area, I watched a couple of people go in before me and literally walk in and out in 5 minutes, like nothing happened. My name was called and I didn’t even have time to stress.

MOMENT OF TRUTH:

Once I was in the surgical room, (aka giant fishbowl that everyone could see into) I was ushered into the first chair where a plastic dome was taped to my left eye. My right eye was fitted with another device that held it open. The surgeon explained that I would feel some pressure, my eye would go black and then it would be over.  I started my deep breathing and he began the 30 second countdown. My right eye was suctioned to the machine and felt some pressure. My vision went black, but it didn’t freak me out because I just imagined that I had closed my eye because of the pressure. The surgeon got to 3, 2, 1…and I let out a sigh of relief. NO pain at all. They switched the plastic dome to the right side and my left eye was propped open and suctioned. Same 30 second countdown, deep breathing and boom, off to the second chair. Did anyone else initially freak about not being able “to hold my eye open that long” or “thought I might look away”? Yeah, no chance of that with the kind of suction that was going on here.

Once in the second chair, I was informed that I would see a series of Green and Red lights and was instructed do my best to keep my eye on it until the 30 second countdown was over. At this point, I had the plastic dome taped to my left eye and my right eye was held open with a metal device. It wasn’t hard to keep looking at the lights. Towards the end, I did notice that the surgeon had folded the flap back into place and looked like he was painting my eye with a small paintbrush. Kind of disturbing, but I didn’t feel a thing. Same story for the left side.

Here’s how it all went down:

After the procedure, the surgeon asked me if I felt ok and advised me to get home and take a 4-6 hour nap. Just like the three people before me, I donned my sunglasses they provided and walked right out of the office. Luckily our hotel was in the same complex and it took us 10 minutes to get to our room. Let me stop here – I am a championship napper. I have joked that I should write a book about how to nap. Of course this day, I could not nap. The nurse told me that there would be 3 uncomfortable stages if I couldn’t nap. The first would be a feeling of onion juice being poured into my eyes, the second would be non-stop watering and third, dry eyes. Each stage lasted from 30 – 60 mins. I kept my eyes closed the majority of the 4 hours. I would not suggest peeking (oops) because that’s when I felt the pain. My suggestion would be NyQuil, if you aren’t a good napper.  I should also mention that I was given a series of 3 different eye drops and vitamins to take over the next few months. These are super important! After my “nap” John and I went to dinner (I wore sunglasses) and walked around Easton. I don’t know what was more impressive, that I didn’t have contacts in or glasses on, or that we were out past 10pm with no kids. 😂

The next morning I woke up and felt great. I put my eye drops in every couple of hours to keep my eyes from getting dry. Waking up and being able to see without glasses was awesome; even better was being able to watch a show before bed without glasses! No more falling asleep with glasses on. Hooray!

It has now been about a month and my eyes feel great! I would definitely recommend Dr. Thomas at LasikPlus in Columbus. He was great and I felt like I was in good hands. It sounds completely cliche, but this was one of the biggest quality of life changes I’ve made in a long time.

Have you had Lasik? What was your experience?

XOXO,

Lauren

 

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How to Survive 10 Years of Marriage – 10 Things I’ve Learned!

Twelve years ago, when this Cancer (water sign) met an Aries (fire sign), this ESTJ (executive – think Judge Judy or Robb Stark) matched with a INFJ (advocate – think Mother Teresa or MLK Jr.) and this politico met an apathetic voter (who has since never missed a vote), there was some serious steam! Let’s also throw in the fact that we are both independent, strong willed, first-borns! While we found our perfect match, I’ll just say that it took us a minute to hit our stride once we moved under the same roof.

We just celebrated our 10th wedding anniversary which made me want to look through pictures of our wedding but also made me think about how far we’ve come! What?! I didn’t know everything there was to know about marriage at the ripe old age of 25?! HA, no!

Here are 10 of the lessons I’ve learned (yes, just 10 out of the millions of lessons) about making marriage work after you find the love of your life finds you (moves to DC, convinces you that he’s the only one for you and takes you back to your hometown to have two kids):😘

  1. Make smart deals – Before we got married, we made a list of our non-negotiables – a list of our biggest requests from each other. We really got into the weeds and picked our top 3 or 4 things that we thought we’d be able to keep up. For example: After being a bachelor for several years, John really, really, really, really wanted home cooked meals. While I don’t mind cooking, putting together a full dinner every night was definitely not a top priority for me. However, he offered to always do the dishes when I cooked. BINGO! We had a deal. Now, I have a full dinner 4 or 5 nights a week (SAMS is your friend, people!! Flounder + steamed broccoli + rice = dinner) and leave the dishes for John. If either us starts slacking, the other has some leverage. Ha.
  2. Be your spouse’s biggest fan – I guess I’ve always thought John was good at his job, so that part was easy. It was all the other stuff that we learned together about keeping up a house, taking care of our kids, or making big decisions that had us questioning each other’s ability (ok, mostly me questioning…) to do things the right way. Learning that my way isn’t the only way (although usually the best way….he he) was a serious milestone for this independent girl.
  3. Keep letters/gifts/mementos of your favorite memories around – John is really good about keeping notes/cards. I am not so good. I’m more of a picture kind of person. A way around that is a Pinterest board! We have pinned our special vacations, restaurants and gifts. When times are harder, it’s a great reminder of all of the fun things we’ve done, moments we’ve shared and bucket list of adventures that we have to look forward to.
  4. Lay down the sword (or get two tubes of toothpaste) – Seriously, there are just some things that aren’t worth it. I don’t know why I thought we had to share everything and agree on everything. O.M.G. It was so life giving to learn to “agree to disagree” about the things that aren’t pillars of the relationship (e.g. politics).
  5. Do what works for you – Ever heard that you shouldn’t go to bed mad? That’s actually one of the best things John and I can do! I used to be quite the night owl, but these days (ahem…two toddlers) I pretty much shut down around 10:30pm.  Anyone else get irrational and overly emotional when you are tired?! Yeah, me too. If a disagreement crops up when one of us is tired, it goes downhill fast. We do well to hold our tongues and discuss the next day. Many times it wasn’t even a big deal and we forget it and move on.
  6. Spend time together! I never understood the concept of “date night” before we had kids, but now totally get it. Planning one night a week (or month) to just be “us” has been so beneficial for our sanity relationship. Don’t forget to do the things you did together before you got married. After all, these are fun things that got this relationship to the alter. As our relationship grows and morphs, things we do together have changed too. We can’t take two toddlers to the tennis courts and risk them getting pelted with 50 mph balls.  While we still make time for it occasionally (the babysitting money is totally worth it); a lot of times we would rather spend time having an adult conversation over a relaxing meal.😅
  7. Take interest in what your spouse likes (and remember what you like) – I’m still not awesome at this (primarily because I’m worried it entails hours playing Mario Kart…he he, just kidding). John is good at this. He *pretends* to be excited about good deals I’ve found for clothes/groceries/anything at Target, lives at the pool in the summer, indulges my excitement about Disney World, and listens to my rants about the latest issue in the news. It is also good to have separate interests! Putting pressure on our spouse to be our “everything” is a lot for anyone to bear.
  8. Communicate and be flexible – I have to admit, John and I both are the opposite of flexible, so this has taken some work. (*Note: we are still working on this*) No one likes stepping out of their comfort zone and doing things that they don’t want to or don’t think is the best way, but I’ve noticed that when one of us does this, it makes the other want to do the same (occasionally). Communication is hard for anyone. John is crazy tech savvy, so even the thought of adding information to a paper calendar has him cringing. We have set up a family calendar on our phones and are able to add in doctor’s appointments, who is picking up the kids on what day, and any other piece of information that the other should know. This has saved us a TON of irritation about forgetting to tell the other about the-family-trip-we-have-had-planned-for-two-months thing.
  9. Divide and Conquer – This is especially important for parents. John and I have tried to do it all and then tried the divide and conquer technique. I’ll tell ya, DON’T TRY TO DO IT ALL! That will just burn you out and make you tired and grumpy (see #5). Team work makes the dream work. 😂
  10. Show Love – This one seems like it should be the easiest right? I think sometimes its the thing that goes by the wayside. For us, it can be as easy as stocking the Coke Zero stash or stalking the ADIDAS website until I can score a pair of the latest NMD shoes (you can probably tell the love language here right?!😄). Speaking of Love Language, check this out to see what yours and your spouses’ are: Love Language Quiz.

What things have you learned in your years of marriage? Tips? Secrets? New Ideas? We’d LOVE to hear from you.

✌❤💑,

Lauren

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The Hidden Danger Of Splash Parks! The Incident That Landed Us In The E.R.

Ok, I’ll be the first one to admit it; I am the safety queen!  I’m always analyzing risk and calculating hazards in my head.  There is constantly data running through my brain – sometimes I drive myself crazy.  I’d say this is mostly a side effect from my day job and, honestly, it makes my husband want to jump off a cliff at times; but here I am still living the worried mom life.  I used to be wild & care free and now I’ve somehow turned into that “be careful mom” that frets over everything (you know who you are!)  The mom who’s always yelling “BE CAREFUL” any time your kid does something even remotely dangerous and you stand there with your eyes closed just praying they’ll land safely.

Well, last week I told my sweet momma that she should take the kids to the splash park one afternoon….”it’ll be fun,” I said.   Famous.last.words.  While they were there, she had sent me a few sweet pictures of the kids playing in the water, splashing around.  My first thought was “WOW!  That water is spraying REALLY high.”  But, I’ve vowed to try to be more relaxed about things so i just let it go, looked at the pictures and smiled.   (I assumed I was just overthinking things again.)  Fast forward about an hour and I get a panicked FaceTime call.  Baby girl was crying so hard i couldn’t understand her and her eye was swollen shut.  (Ok, now I’m allowed to internally panic, right?!)

{Seriously though, look at the height and pressure of this water!  My oldest daughter is around 4’10” and it’s nearly twice as tall as her!}

So, as luck would have it, my youngest daughter (who just turned 4 and is much more vertically challenged) decided to lean over and look down at the ground right as one of the timed, pressurized water sprinklers went off.  The blast of high pressure water took her right in the eye and since she’s much closer to the ground, it hit her with a lot of force!  It immediately gave her a black eye and her eye began to swell shut.  Long story short, we rushed her to the urgent care because our main concern was eye damage or vision problems.  After they painted her eye balls with this orange serum and flashed all these different lights into her eyes, it was finally determined that they think she will be just fine (PRAISE THE LORD!)  They think the main impact of the water hit her check bone, just centimeters below her eye ball (truly a miracle!)  But talk about a scary wait and lots of praying.   Poor girl was just having fun.

Now, I’m in NO way saying to not ever take your kids to the splash park again – I’m really not!  BUT, I did feel like it was important to share this so hopefully other parents won’t go through the stress that we felt!  Be sure to educate your small children about not looking down or make them wear goggles (I’m ok with my kids looking like nerds at the splash park).  Anything to protect those precious little eyes!!  I mean, honestly, there is just no way that we are the only family this has happened to.

Prayers for a safe summer my friends.

XOXO

Jill

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