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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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”

crazy rich asians.jpg

 

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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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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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 People You See in the Airport and Other Entertaining Ways to Pass Time

At some time or another, we have waited at the airport, subway, for a bus or even just in the Starbucks or school pick up line. I think we can all agree that WAITING SUCKS! What is the first thing we do when we are presented with a wait (besides uttering four or five choice words)?? Pick up our phones, right?! We start scrolling though social media like a boss (you are MINE Snapchat filters!).  However, sometimes we are in areas with little to no (free) access to the internet – cue people-watching! During my last few kid-less flights (because we all know this isn’t happening when you are wrangling tiny people) I noticed a trend in the groups of people I saw in the airport. They might look a little different, but they all follow these general categories –

People You See in the Airport:
  1. Judgy old people – This is the couple or group of friends that finds something wrong with everyone around them: “those people are too loud”, “why so much luggage”, “that muffin top isn’t going to stay in those jeans for long”, “there are seats all around here [*there actually aren’t], why is this boy sitting right next to me”. Of course they are loud and everyone can hear them. Depending on your mood (and how close you are sitting to them) these people are some of the most entertaining ones.😜
  2. College/Grad students – They are always talking about how busy they are (HA! Get back to me in 10 years), what exams are studying for and what paper they have just written. They love talking about their coffee addiction and you’ll hear: “UUGGGHHH, I need a double espresso mocha latte…I haven’t had a coffee in hours”.☕
  3. Emo high schooler – This kid is wearing all black, has hair in their face and is scribbling in their journal or drawing some dark picture. 🧛‍♀️ 🧛‍♂️
  4. People with headphones – They like to pretend that headphones makes them or everyone else invisible, leaving them with no situational awareness. Someone needs you to move your giant bag so they can wheel grandma through the aisle? “Sorry, I neither see nor hear you.” (I have to admit that I am a recovering earbud wearer – they are basically an accessory in D.C.) 🎧
  5. Exhausted business travelers – These people get really irritated (somewhat like my toddler)  when anything delays their mission of getting home (*raises hand*).😴
  6. Over-packers – Its one thing to over-pack your checked luggage (it only harms your back and your wallet), but it is quite another to over-pack your carry on! There is always that girl – and I say girl because it’s 9 times out of 10 a girl – who has so much junk stuffed in her carry on and personal item, plus the 4 to 5 things she is holding, that you are praying that you don’t sit next to her on the plane, because you know that shiz is not going to fit under her seat and will most definitely be spilling into your personal space.👜 💼
  7. Food on the plane – Now I know that it is a necessity sometimes and anyone wearing a military uniform gets a pass on this one, but the people that bring STINKY FOOD on the plane…shame on you, just shame.🤢
  8. Overly friendly mid westerners – Ok, I know what you are thinking, don’t you live around the friendliest people ever? Yes, but while I appreciate courtesy and a friendly smile, I’m usually not looking to make a life long friend and bare my soul to the person sitting next to me on the plane. Sometimes people are interested in convo, sometimes they aren’t – check the body language, people.😂
  9. Over/Under dressed – Just recently I was on a flight with a guy in a full (and I mean full) Gucci get-up. It wasn’t gaudy and believe you me, I took note and appreciated e.v.e.r.y. piece. There are also always those people in their PJs. It’s a jungle out there.😎
  10. Family with kids – God have mercy on your souls. I know your pain but, have also already inserted my earplugs/headphones.🙏

Other Ways to Pass Time:
  1. Zulily – Do you all know about this site?? I think most people think babies when they think Zulily – but not so! You can get everything from Egyptian Cotton Sheets to Swimsuits (for the whole family to yoga mats and kitchen appliances.
  2. Shop It To Me – If you love bargain shopping but hate surfing the web 24/7, Shop It To Me does the work! It is a completely free, daily shopping update for the clothing, shoes and accessories you love. You pick your size and favorite brands, and Shop It To Me searches hundreds of online stores  to find your favorite items on sale in your size.
  3. Poshmark – This is an easy way to buy and sell your fashions! There are over two million sellers and millions of shoppers. I have sold and found tons of great items on this site. Use the code: LAUR_SAV to get $5 when you sign up!
  4. Virtual Library – I have recently rediscovered the awesomeness of my local library! There are tons of books that you can “check out” virtually and read them on your kindle/iPad/phone. If you live in Ohio, check www.clevenet.org. It has one of the most expansive virtual libraries.
  5. Ebates – The Ebates Cash Back Button gives you Cash Back while you shop! It even applies coupons automatically at checkout so you’ll always get the best deals. I was really skeptical of this at first. How does this work? Is there some type of bot that follows my purchases? What are they getting out of this? Well, I have to say, I have regularly been receiving checks since signing up! Sign up with my referral code and you will get $10 right off the bat: Ebates.
  6. Ted Talks – Want to learn about your sleeping disorder? Need some parenting advice? Want to know what it’s like to go undercover in North Korea? Plus tons of other interesting videos? Check out Ted Talks. They are some of the most interesting and inspiring videos of varying lengths.

What are your favorite ways to pass time??

Have a great vacation and here’s to all those entertaining co-travelers!🍹

Lauren

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Say NO to B.O. – Go Native!

B.O.  It’s just one of those things that is not socially acceptable, unless you are living in a commune or hiking the Pacific Crest Trail. I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that I don’t think any of those people are reading this blog. 😂

In my pre-teen or early teen years I started using deodorant (mostly because it was cool and a bit because I needed it).  I progressed from Teen Spirit to Secret to Dove and that’s where it ended. I have tried all varieties of Dove over the last 15 years, but recently noticed that it hasn’t been working as well.

About that same time, a friend of mine (thanks Jenna!), asked if I had ever tried Native deodorant. I had heard of Native but never really gave it a second look.  Since I am trying to eat/live more simply (I had a party in the Target aisle when I found a 4 ingredient granola bar for the baby), I thought I might as well try to do the same for the things I put on my body.

I love the fact that Native deodorant is aluminum free – which helps with the laundry situation and clogged pores.  (It is also parabens, phthalates, and talc free.) If you are like me, you might wonder if all of those eliminated ingredients would make the deodorant less effective, so I tested it out in several scenarios.  My first test was a day at the office, not much activity, but can we say stress sweat?!? 😂  The Native deodorant passed with flying colors! The second test was a high intensity workout AFTER a day at work. I didn’t reapply and jumped into the workout. This was another success! I was super sweaty but didn’t have that dreaded B.O. smell. The third test was a day at home with my two toddlers. It was an 85 degree day and we were in and out of the house. I probably sweated the most this day. While I didn’t HAVE to reapply, I started feeling a bit gross, so I swiped on a couple more times. 😂

Native gives some helpful tips when making the switch:

One drawback is that you can’t pick up Native in local stores. However, they do offer a subscription, so you aren’t stuck without deodorant! Also, it’s free shipping and free returns (music to my ears). I would definitely recommend Native and hope you like it as much as I do! If you order now, you also get a free travel sized deodorant, here: Native.

We’d love to hear your deodorant experiences. Let us know if you make the switch!

XOXO,

Lauren

 

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Making Kimbap with my Mom

Kimbap (or Gimbap) is one of my favorite Korean eats and in honor of Mother’s Day, I wanted to show you how one of the best (my MOM!!) makes it from scratch.

Throwback to one of my bridal showers. (circa 2008)

For those of you unfamiliar with kimbap, it is basically the Korean version of sushi (but fresher and less raw fish). This dish is a healthy, super easy one to pack and take as a snack or eat at home (after your kids have gone to bed, because seriously, you aren’t going to want to share.) BEWARE – after you make this once, your family will be begging for it day after day. 😂

Ingredients:

  • Korean Seaweed (aka Kim or Gim) – Make sure you get the full sheets and not the snack size (at least 5 sheets)
  • Rice – Get the short grained variety for this recipe (2 cups, uncooked)
  • Eggs (2 or 3)
  • Carrot (1 large or 2 small)
  • Spinach (1 bag of baby spinach or 2 small bundles of fresh spinach)
  • Garlic Cloves (3 whole or 3 teaspoons of the pre-minced kind)
  • Salt (1 teaspoon)
  • Soy Sauce (2 tablespoons)
  • White Sugar (1 to 1.5 tablespoons – to taste)
  • Sesame Oil (2 to 2.5 tablespoons – to taste)
  • Vegetable Oil
  • Canned Tuna (optional) (1 can)
  • Skirt steak or tenderloin (optional) (.5 pound)
  • Yellow pickled radish (optional) (1 radish or 5 small strips)
  • Cucumber (optional) (1 large or 3 small)

Ok, this seems like a lot, but if you are like me, you will double it and have enough for a couple of days.

Directions:

  • Cook the rice (do yourself a favor and get a rice cooker if you don’t have one already).  A rule of thumb I learned from my mom is that you should rinse the rice at least two times to get it clean. After that, fill the pot to about an inch of water over the rice line.
  • Transfer the cooked rice to a mixing bowl and add .5 teaspoon of salt and 2 teaspoons of sesame oil with a rice scoop or a wooden spoon.
  • You are ready to prepare your veggies!
    • Dice the carrots into matchstick sized pieces and saute them with a drop of vegetable oil and pinch of salt. (TIP: buy the precut carrots and save yourself a few minutes!)
    • Spinach (recipe here!)
  • Crack Eggs into a bowl, add a pinch of salt and beat. Spray or drizzle some vegetable oil in the pan (just enough to lightly coat the bottom) and add the eggs. Cook the egg on low and flip with a spatula before it gets too brown.
  • The rest is optional:
    • Steaks – Trim the fat from the skirt steaks and slice into ¼ inch wide, 3 to 5 inch strips. Put the strips into a bowl. Add 2 teaspoons soy sauce, 1 minced garlic clove (or 1 teaspoon of pre-minced), ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper,1 tablespoon white sugar, and 2 teaspoons sesame oil. (Let marinate while you are prepping the other ingredients.)
    • Tuna – Brace yourself…open the can and drain (whew!) – Many times I opt for this instead of the steak.
    • Yellow pickled radish or Danmuji – cut into thin strips.
    • Cucumber – cut into thin strips or dice like the carrots.

TIP: If you have all of these ingredients ready before you attempt to assemble, it will make your life so much easier!

READY to ROLL:

  • Place a sheet of kim (seaweed) on a bamboo mat (like this one) or just on a cutting board if you don’t have a bamboo mat.

  • Add a layer of rice on the kim (seaweed) on about half of the sheet.
  • Add the carrots, a few egg strips, and spinach in the center of the rice (in addition to tuna or steak)

  • Here’s the tricky part, use both hands to hold the filling and start rolling the kim. Check out the master at work:

  • Then, simply cut the roll into ¼ inch pieces.

If you really want to send this over the edge, dip the pieces in soy sauce or as I like to do, pour a few drops on each piece as you devour them! Ha.

Enjoy!

XOXO,

Lauren

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Packing Hacks and Must Haves for Family Vacations

I have noticed that there are two camps when it comes to packing for vacation. Those who pack everything and the kitchen sink and those who try to take as few bags as possible. I generally fall into the first category. 🤪 This leaves John to try to juggle at least 4 or 5 bags while I wheel the kids through the airport. In this scenario, we usually (A) break down and pay one of the porters to help us, (B) John hurts himself (and is grumpy the rest of the day) or (C) we rent one of the carts (which you can never find where to put them when you are done).

If you’ve been following the blog this year, you know that one of my resolutions is to travel more. So far, I’ve been to the mountains of WV, NYC and now sunny Florida! After each trip, I vow to pack less. Besides the packing and lugging it through the airport, there’s the UNPACKING!😭  This trip I dove in and tried minimalist packing!!

As you all are probably aware, traveling with kids really makes you want to curl in the fetal position changes the game. So, one big caveat to this minimalist packing experience is that I knew that there were (easily accessible) laundry facilities at our condo. Here’s what my minimalist packing looked like for a 4 year old:

Here is what it looked like for my 1 year old:

All-in-all, I was super happy with the experience. It really did streamline our check-in (yay Southwest – and yes, I did sit next to the window; if anyone was getting sucked out it was going to be ME!) and we generally had everything we needed. Believe it or not, we didn’t even use everything we packed! While, I’m sure my over-packing days aren’t over, I am going to try my darnedest to pair down my packing. There really is something to be said for simplicity (especially when you will be spending the majority of the time in a bathing suit).

Just to clarify, the items above are just the clothes portion of the packing. After all of our travels with a baby, baby + toddler and two toddlers, here is my MUST HAVE non-clothing packing list (click on the pink links below to get a better look at the product described):

Pack ‘n Play – If you have a baby, this is the numero uno crucial item. We were lucky because one of my mom’s friends had a smaller pack ‘n play that she gave us after our son was born. This was awesome to take to grandmother’s house and also to travel with! If you can, find a smaller one than your large one with the bassinet and changing table, you will be glad you did. This Costco one is only $50! Not only is is smaller, but lighter! Your baby won’t know the difference and you can have a little peace of mind bringing your own. Another option is to use the one at your hotel or condo. I was weirded out by that with my oldest, but the poor second child has used the hotel’s several times, after a clorox drench wipe down.

Toddler Cot – This might sound weird, but we got this idea after seeing our kids sleep so well on the cots at school. Our kids were introduced to cots at 18 months (or earlier) at their “school” and there’s something about them having their own space. It’s smaller than a pack ‘n play and if you can get away with it, it’s less to pack (it can even fit in a suitcase)! This Regalo one took the cake. It comes with a case and a sheet  – win/win.

Car Seat Cover – We like the J.L. Childress brand for the car seat travel bag. It is durable, can be worn like a backpack and fits most car seats. It’s always a struggle to figure out what will be less of a hassle – taking car seats or renting them upon arrival. What we’ve found, is that if you are renting a car, rent the seats. If someone is picking you up at the airport, take your own. There is nothing worse than being trapped in a rental line after a tiring flight with cranky kids, when everyone just wants to get to the destination.

Umbrella Stroller – We love the UPPAbaby 2015 G-Lite Stroller. Anyone who knows my husband, knows that he researches like crazy to get the best deal. This stroller has proved to be great for ages 1 – 4 (we don’t have anyone older than that, ha). The best part about this stroller is that the shade has an extra extender part, that keeps the sun off the kids. I also love the mesh back and it has a strap so you can carry it over your shoulder. It is crazy lightweight and worth every penny. It made it across the Pacific Ocean and back and still looks brand new.

Stroller Cover – This gate check stroller cover has been super durable and it prevents parts from going missing or wear and tear to the stroller.

Sippy Cups – I seriously might have all the sippy/insulated cups ever created and sold in the U.S. market. When traveling, my fav and go-to is the CamelBak. I like these because they hold a lot of liquid, can clip to a stroller hook and the spout can fold down to be less exposed to whatever gross stuff it might come into contact with. The runner up is the Thermos Funtainer. This is a little heavier and not as convenient to hook to a stroller or backpack. However, the spout is completely covered and it does keep things cold/warm longer.

Sunscreen – Toddler tested, mother approved. My son tans really easily and we haven’t had a burn (knock on wood). My daughter is super fair, like her Dada, and I was pretty frantic about finding a non-toxic sunscreen to provide crazy coverage, without tons of re-application. Here’s what I found, Babyganics. We applied this once in the morning and once in the afternoon and girlfriend didn’t get pink! Hooray!

Bumpers – These hiccapop bumpers were recommended to me by a friend (thanks Brittany!) and whoa!! total GAME CHANGER. Forget lugging those bulky plastic or metal bed rails/guards around. These take up little space when rolled up and have treads that keep them in place under the fitted sheet. Not only are these great for traveling (*read – you don’t have to drag the toddler cot around all of the time*) but, they are also great when transitioning your toddler to a big bed. Buy them, you won’t regret it.

Packing Cubes – I can’t stop talking about these.  Here’s the latest review: packing cubes.

Things to NEVER forget (and might be best in a carry-on):

Blankie

Favorite Stuffed Animal

Sound Machine

Tablets/chargers

Snacks/drinks for take-off and landing

Time Savers

  • If you are going to be somewhere for a week consider ordering essentials: diapers, wipes, formula, baby food from Walmart and have it delivered to your room (2-day shipping 🙌 ). Amazon Prime works for this too!
  • Walmart has free grocery pickup in tons of locations now. You just order online and they will load your groceries for FREE! Here is a $10 coupon to try it: Walmart Grocery Pickup
  • Many grocery stores offer free shipping to your room/condo if you order over $50 (which is super easy with 4 people).
  • If you want to stay in one night and don’t want to cook, check with GrubHub or Seamless. These services deliver from tons of participating restaurants.
  • Look really strung out and desperate in the airport…lol. TSA usually has mercy on our souls and lets us through a shorter line.

Many of you have asked me for these tips, so I hope this is helpful! Let me know if you have any favorite products you can’t live without when traveling. I love hearing new ideas!

Happy Vacationing!

XOXO,
Lauren

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We Love Our Teachers and Here’s How To Show it!

I know you all have seen the teachers strikes in the national news. No matter where you fall on the teacher’s salary issue, I think we can all agree that there are some teachers we want to go above and beyond for! We want to show them our love, support and gratitude for taking care of/teaching/nurturing/mentoring/coaching our kids! If you are anything like me, every April I have the same conversation with my mom friends about…you guessed it, what are we going to get our kids’ teachers for Teacher Appreciation Day! Sure, there are the old stand-bys of flowers and  candy, and those moms that have it pulled together enough to present a gorgeous pinterest creation, but I wanted some new ideas.

Enter my first college roommate, Deborah Penwell:

She is an elementary school teacher and mom, so she has tons of experience on both the giving and receiving ends of Teacher Appreciation Day.  Here is her take on gift ideas:

As I was thinking about how to best write this, I didn’t want it to come across as “Go buy something for your kids teacher!” but as a way to look at really appreciating the people who spend SO much time with your children for 180ish days.

I love the teachers that my son has had since he started Kindergarten. He’s now in 2nd Grade and has had some really wonderful teachers work with him. They nurture him, teach him compassion & kindness, give him band aids when he’s hurt, rub his back when he’s having a rough day, smile and laugh at his stories when they could be working on other things, make a huge deal when he does well on his work, and the biggest…have patience with him when he may be getting on their last nerves! For these reasons along with MANY others, I want them to truly know how special they are to me! I totally understand that we aren’t going to love every teacher that our children have. I mean, really…who likes everyone person that they’ve ever met??? Keep in mind though that these are the women and men who are with our children all day. Are there a few bad apples? Sure. For the most part though, the teachers I know are AMAZING. They are at school hours more a week than the 7:30-3:15 day. They take work home so that the needs of their students can be met. They would literally sacrifice their lives for their students as we’ve seen far too many times in the past few years. So for one week…or throughout the year if you want, why not show them a little love for all of the things they do for our babies!

On to the goodies! Okay, I know not everyone has the same budget. Some of us aren’t even in the same ball park so I’m going to give several different ideas. I want to preface these ideas by saying that most teachers don’t expect anything. I can honestly say that a heartfelt note of thanks or encouragement is a HUGE deal for us. Some of my most cherished gifts are notes from parents where they shared how much they thought of me. One of the quickest ways to make a teacher cry!

A great way to find out what your child’s teacher likes is a quick questionnaire. It can be as short or thorough as you want it to be. Some good questions to start with are: What is your favorite snack? What is your favorite restaurant? What are your monogram initials? What size shirt do you wear? What are your favorite colors? Are there any foods that you are allergic to or try to stay away from? With just a few questions, you have all the information you need for some pretty awesome gifts. Your child will probably be able to give you some good ideas too. For instance, my students know that I love coffee. They comment on it pretty frequently.

Oh My Stars Designs https://www.facebook.com/ohmystarsdesign/ has some great teacher gifts! She can put just about any design on a shirt or tumbler. And ALL.THE.GLITTER!!! I love my pen holder that I got from her shop. It’s perfect for Flair pens or Sharpies! Flair pens are a new favorite desk item of mine this year. https://www.amazon.com/Paper-Mate-Medium-Limited-1982970/dp/B01M306M92/ref=sr_1_10?s=office-products&ie=UTF8&qid=1523494242&sr=1-10&keywords=flair+pens Since her items are custom made, make sure you check on her time line before ordering!

A pretty easy to pick up gift is blank notecards and pens. It may sound silly, but teachers go through a lot each year. I know that I try to write thank you notes for my students when they give me something. TJ Maxx, Hobby Lobby, and Amazon all have some great ones. I’ve also ordered these before and they were super cute! https://www.peartree.com/teacher-stationery/aligned-apple-mini-note-cards-teacher-stationery/p/PTG5979NTFC2-KT/ Look for promo codes first and it’s even more affordable.

Bluestone Sign Co. https://www.facebook.com/bluestonesignco/ has adorable signs. She has some premade signs available and also takes custom orders. Again, make sure to check the time lines before ordering so you know if it will be finished on time.

Gift cards to local restaurants, coffee shops, and bakeries are also a big winner. You could also go in with a couple of other parents for a gift certificate to a nicer restaurant as well.

Another option to really spoil a teacher is to go in with several other parents and get a gift certificate for a massage or mani/pedi!

I hope this has helped you all think of some ways to show you appreciate everything that a teacher does for your child each day.

Thanks Debbie! These are awesome ideas, in plenty of time to make those teachers feel special and appreciated.

Guest contributor Deborah Penwell lives in North Carolina, but is originally from wild, wonderful, West Virginia. She taught 4th grade for one year and 3rd grade for the past 12 years.  She enjoys her family, coffee, the beach and traveling.

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