Category Archives: Advice

Daddy’s Not Home

 

From the very beginning of becoming parents, both my husband and I decided that we need to invest the appropriate amount of time on our children. This would be the pinnacle of their childhood memories. We decided that money and things were not important and they were not essential for our family. But spending time together and showing our kids the value of that was going to be the foundation of our family. With time, we have seen this really transform as we have more responsibilities, and time seems to be fleeting.

My husband beginning his own company 2 years ago was a great blessing for our family. The downside to having your own business is investing much of your personal time to creating the business you want. It’s not your 9-5 that you check in and out of whenever you like. It has really been a 24/7 effort. As Mark’s business grows, we have seen our free time diminish. Although, we are thrilled to have the business, it seems like we allow the time to slip away and our kids grow like sprouts each day.
This morning my husband expressed some guilt about not spending enough time with the kids, especially Jonah. It’s such a double edged sword, on one hand, I have been blessed with the ability to stay home with the kids and from the other we have lost a little piece of our dad. I am sure that many families face this same issues, as they send off their daddy’s every morning to provide and care for our families.
First, as Wives and Mamas, we must be grateful for men that truly strive to provide for our families. Men who are not lazy. They do what they need to, sacrificially and are not self seeking. When I see my husband leaving at 5:30am and come home at 8pm, my heart is filled with so much gratefulness to God for giving Mark strength, wisdom and courage each day.

Second, throughout our day at home, I am reminding our children of dad, who they may not see very much, but is a quintessential part of our living. Whether it is the food that we eat, the gas and car we drive in, or the water filling our bath, I remind them that none of this would be possible without our dad. Each minute dad is away from us, he is providing all the necessities of life by Gods Abounding Grace. Dad has not abandoned us in anyway, that his love shows through his actions.

Third, we try to be intentional with our time. When  Mark does get home earlier, we have a no phone zone until the kids go to sleep.  It’s really easy for him to go directly to his computer and answer pressing work issues, it’s important to keep in mind that an hour will not do him any harm. Saturday and Sunday mornings,Mark takes Jonah on a bike ride or to the park or just for breakfast together. This is definitely the highlight of the weekend. As a wife, we must be reminding our husbands to  be intentional with their time.

Life is crazy, and never the way you expect it to be.  God has given us children for a limited amount of time to lead them and guide them. It is about the moments that we use to fulfill that purpose.  As parents, prioritizing family while balancing life. As a wife-mother, supporting your husband through all the hard decisions that we face. There is no Demanding, nagging or guilt, but giving thanks for the day which is provided for you. Doing everything that is possible to make your husbands life easier, so that he can come home and focus on these little blessings from God. Our husbands go out every day, showing an awesome example of sacrifice and selflessness, so we too should never be prideful and self seeking.

I’ll close this post with a scripture from my favorite Proverb.

Proverbs 31: 27-30

27 She watches over the affairs of her household
and does not eat the bread of idleness.
28 Her children arise and call her blessed;
her husband also, and he praises her:
29 “Many women do noble things,
but you surpass them all.”
30 Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;
but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.

Stay at Home Mom

If someone had told me five years ago that I would be a stay at home mom, I would have told them that they were crazy. I always loved to work, I loved what I did, and I couldn’t imagine life any other way.

In October 2013, when we got pregnant with Jonah I made the most money working for myself that I had ever made.  This was my moment to shine, show my true potential and have it all. I would be able to juggle it all: work, wife life and a new baby. With some effort, I had successfully attained this goal. Working came along with some new distractions but that did not deter me from being more focused and intentional with my time.  I learned how to manage my time and utlilize those nap times. Let’s be real, when you have a new baby they sleep for majority of the time . When they are up, you throw them in a bouncer or playmat and they are content.

My issues began to arise when Jonah learned how to walk. With increased mobility came an increased need of attention. I found myself constantly torn between the two things that I held dear- my work and my son.  The solution was to round in the troops, so I called for some help from my mother and mother-in-law.  That was great! I was so grateful for their help but I found myself complaining about all the things they were doing (wrong). It’s just not what I would do and the way I would do it. We were constantly at war. Finally, my husband told me, I had to either swallow all expectations and accept their help graciously or do it myself. He was right. That is just what I did. I spent the next few weeks wrapping up my work and decided this would be my full time job. I didn’t think twice, I didn’t look back. I put my full trust in God because logically and financially, this was a dumb move.

How could we survive on one income? We figured it out. Maybe we stopped traveling as much and going out to amazing places to eat and we gave back our amazing fancy car, but I was home with Jonah. He was more important for us. The thing about children is that you really only get a finite period of time with them. Someone once told me, you only get 18 summers with your kids. (Which is crazy bc we only have about 15 more summers with Jonah). Children don’t need money, they need our love and attention. I often remind myself of that.

Parenthood comes with many challenges and most of all sacrificies. You have to do some things you really don’t want to do as well as many amazing things that fill my heart with so much joy. So here I am, a mommy of two. I spend my days running after two crazy boys, who sometimes make me want to scream, but most of the time I just want to smile and laugh. It’s not forever, only 18 summers that fly like the wind. That’s what life is about. Being glamorous is amazing. Wearing makeup and high heels is amazing. Being a stay at home mom and watching my boys grow up is the most amazing.

I wouldn’t trade it for the world. Nothing is fulfilling like the life of a mom.

 

 

Mama of Two or More

 

If you’re a mom, then you know what hard work it is. You are on call 24/7. At any given moment any number of things could go wrong and your juggling act will come crashing down.

Prior to having Levi, I had some anxieties about my new role as a mom of multiples and really wanted to get it all right. Now I realize that there is no “right” way exactly.  You do the best you can and give your kids all that you have.  Depending on what’s going on in your life, that may vary from day to day. I am a social mama so I hear it all, from post-pardum depression, deaths, illnesses, and work responsibilities, the load is not easy. So give yourself a pat on the back if you’ve made it to bedtime, the tots are in their beds and everyone has eaten at least once today.

As I write this, I can’t believe my Baby is not such a baby anymore. We just celebrated Levi’s FIRST birthday! The time flies, serving as a reminder that I must be more intentional with the time I have. one day, I’m going to look back, saying I wish I enjoyed my kids more.

When you have multiple children, especially if they are all under the age of 5, you are dealing with many levels of mobility and needs. So the juggling is real.  Here are some of the lessons I learned from my experience:

Opinions:

Once you have kids, Everyone wants to share their personal opinions and advice, even if you haven’t asked for it. I have learned in the last 4 years to just listen, say “thank you so much”, and after you walk away from that conversation you can take what you want and forget the rest.

Crying is ok!

When you have Your first baby, crying is like an emergency situation, trying to figure out what could possibly be wrong. You try everything all at once: feeding, changing, rocking sleeping, jumping up and down, and the list goes on. When there are 2 you just say, ok, you can cry and sometimes I’ll get to you right away. Other times that’s not possible. It’s totally fine if the baby cries. Number 1 needs a lot more from you emotionally and physically.

Remember who your boss is!

If your a stay at home mom, your husband is your boss. What a privilege! And if your family is like ours, you have made many sacrifices to Stay at home with your kids. When I lack motivation and drive, I just think of my amazing, caring, loving boss. He’s the best support I have and that is what keeps me motivated, knowing that he leaves every morning to hustle and provide for our family. So, my response is that I hustle for my family at home! This segways into my next point…

Forget about nap time, Mama:

Ladies, my kids wake up every morning at 6:30am! Whether we are home, on vacation, it’s the weekend, they are UP! Many times I am exhausted and when I put my kids to nap in the middle of the day, all I would like to do is crawl into bed and lay down for 30mins.  That is a great fantasy, but I need to utilize my time wisely by preparing for the rest of my day (and night). I use this time to clean house, make dinner, make calls.

Train Your Older Children

Before Levi (my second) was born I spent some time training Jonah (my first). From the start I was expecting to have a repeat C-section, so Jonah needed to be as independent as possible. I really believe in talking through circumstances with my children. Every day we spoke about his new role as a big brother and the responsibilities that title came with. I taught Jonah to get in and out of the bath, car seat, take his clothes off, follow simple commands, take his plate to the kitchen, and many other things. On their own, each of these tasks are pretty insignificant but taking 1 small thing off your list makes all the difference when your cup overfloweth.

It’s not always going to be like this

And the best piece of advice that I have ever gotten since becoming a mama, was from my dear husband.  One day he came home to me in tears, listened to my rant, looks at me with so much love and says “babe, it’s not always going to be like this.” Whenever I’m having a rough day, that’s what I think to myself. It’s not always going to be me and 2  little monsters running around town. I’m not always going to be dealing with crying and whining. I won’t always be tired. And one day, I will want so much for someone to need me like my kids need me now. For now, no matter how rough the road is or how hard it is to get by, just be happy with where God has placed you and this glorious blessing of having  children.

There is so much more to being a mama of two or more. Every day our prayer is that God grants us more love, patience, kindness, and mercy. The rest will stream from that!

 

 

 

 

The Cool Moms’ ToteSavvy

Once you get pregnant the search is on for all of the cool baby accessories that will not only make your life more comfortable but retain a bit of your own style. Nowadays, baby swag is unlimited and each thing is cooler then the next!  Unfortunately, when it comes to diaper bags, the options are limited if you are looking to stay within a reasonable budget. Even within the known designer names, the options are skim, with cheap finishes like vinyl replacing leather and the actual design of the bag being subpar. No thank you, at a price tag of over $400!

Why are you going to carry around a bag that just doesn’t feel like you? In the same instance, your old totes are just not going to cut it. You need to be fully armed while doing adventure diaper changes and dealing with public outburst. 

I recently ran into a concept that I LOVED! ToteSavvy will save you from settling with a diaper bag you feel partial to, at best! Why not just turn your favorite tote into your ideal diaper bag? ToteSavvy sells an insert in a variety of colors and sizes you can put into any one of your bags. The insert features tons of pockets that can be used to store all of your baby essentials. The concept is genius, and I think we will be getting a few for the next baby!


Must Haves for Babymoon

There are many pregnant ladies out there, and I know this is when you start thinking about your last mini getaway or vacation before your huge bundle of joy arrives. Unfortunately, with the risk of Zika Virus in majority of the Carribean, South and Central America, and even some parts of the US, our options for our babymoon were limited. Even if the risk seemed to be so low, we weren’t willing to take any chances.  We decided on Palm Springs since its relatively close to home and we wanted to maximize our time together to reconnect as a couple while having fun with Jonah, who was lucky enough to join us for the trip.

Many people were really surprised to see us in the pool with a toddler and a pregnant belly, enjoying time together, while seemingly having very little stress. A few people mentioned that they really admired our efforts to still do the things we wanted to do regardless of the potential hurdles that children may bring.  There’s nothing more fulfilling then to watch your kids absorbing a world outside of their world, to see new places and people. 

After having Jonah, the spontaneity of our vacationing life has dwindled, but with good planning we have still been able to see a few cool places even with a baby in tow. If your a mama like me, you can pack everyone’s bags blindfolded and your hands tied behind your back. Unfortunately, This baby growing inside of my belly is making things increasingly more difficult. Here are a few essentials I think will be helpful for every mama to throw in her bag or prepare before taking off: 
1. The Panama hat is great for a mama on the go. If your taking a few days off, you don’t want to be stressing about doing hair and makeup. The wide brim gives great sun coverage and helps solidify a look without taking hours of getting ready.

2. Chances are, with all the blood, water and hormones flowing through your body, your Bikini tops will no longer fit you. Avoid the discomfort by heading to the store for something new. When pregnant, I stay away from anything Victoria Secret, which I feel doesn’t give me appropriate coverage with the excessive push-up in all their swim tops. I really liked anything that was triangle and had great support, like the Kupala top from Pantagonia.

3. If you are going to be in the sun for any amount of time Rosehip Oil is essential! Rosehip Oil helps to repair the skin cells that have been damaged by sun exposure. Also, it has naturally occurring Vitamin A! Trilogy has an amazing Rosehip Oil that is organic.

4. Get a fabulous Salon look while your on your getaway with The Luster Lock treatment from Joico. After a few days in chlorine and sun your hair may resemble a frizzy lioness. Tame the beast with this easy 5 minute treatment you can do anywhere you go.

5. The Travalo is one of those things you never knew your life was missing, but after discovering it’s the perfect use, you don’t only throw it in your travel bag but have one for every day use. I always forget to spritz a little scent on myself before running out of the house. I used to have a bottle of perfume in my car for this reason but felt like the constant LA heat was ruining my best scents. Travalo allows you to fill up your favorite scents in a fun handheld case that is TSA approved so you can also take it on the plane with you. Let’s get real here, we have enough things in our bag!

 More Water, Please!

 Water is great for so many reasons, but it just gets boring. And This little voice in the back of my head is repeating all the daunting facts about dehydration, from toxins to wrinkles. I get the picture, and believe me I don’t want to go there! So to spice things up, some amazing doctors and anti aging experts from NYC, gave me some natural elements that can be thrown into a glass of H2O for some flavor explosion along with some added benefits.

1. Mango Ginger


This combo might seem weird, but adding the health benefits of ginger and the antioxidant power of mangoes is a surprisingly tasty mix! “Mangoes contain so many vitamins that help boost your immune system. It has antioxidants that maintain youthful glowing skin and aid in the production of blood cells,” says Dr. Christopher Calapai D.O. a NYC anti-aging expert. “Ginger is also helpful in fighting infection, has been linked to lower cholesterol levels, may reduce muscle aches, and helps digestion,” adds Dr. Calapai. 
 
2. Grapefruit Rosemary


Recently rosemary was found to be the main ingredient eaten by residents of an Italian village with one of the highest populations of people who live past 100! “Rosemary improves circulation and sends more blood to the brain which is linked to greater concentration and potentially reduces risk of Alzheimer’s,” says Dr. Calapai. Grapefruit is not only delicious but it’s a natural fat burner, boosts metabolism and cleanses your liver. 
 
3. Melon Mix


Cut up watermelon, honeydew and cantaloupe chunks and throw into your water over night. “This melon variety tastes great and is amazing for your skin,” says Dr. Kally Papantoniou board certified dermatologist and clinical instructor at Mt. Sinai Hospital in New York. “Melons are immensely hydrating, meaning more hydration per cup of water. They are also chock-full of antioxidants that keep skin clear plus they contain vitamins that promote collagen production which helps skin cell turnover.”

 4. Citrus Mint 

Pick your favorite citrus fruits, cut up into slices and add some crushed mint. “Adding mint to your water is not only extra refreshing but also improves digestive health and can speed up your metabolism,” says Dr. Calapai. “Mint actually contains salicylic acid, a potent acne fighter,” says Dr. Papantoniou. “It’s also well known for it’s anti-inflammatory properties which work to calm irritation both on your skin or internally,” she adds. 
   
5. Cucumber Lavender


“The reason so many spas use cucumber based treatments is because it contains many skin friendly minerals like magnesium, potassium and silicon,” says Dr. Papantoniou. “This mix is especially healthy,” says Dr. Calapai “Cucumbers are powerful detoxifiers, flushing out any waste in your system. Adding crushed lavender to the mix not only adds a beautiful aroma but can also help digestion as lavender contains polyphenols that reduce bad bacteria in your gut, making your system run smoother,” he explains.    
 
6. Pineapple Coconut Water

This one is almost cheating… almost. Get your favorite store bought raw coconut water and refrigerate over night with large chunks of pineapple. The coconut-pineapple flavor combo is delicious and reminiscent of a piña colada without all the sugar and calories. Although this is not pure H2O, coconut water contains electrolytes which plain water does not, which rehydrate you in record time. “Pineapple is yet another fruit that aids in collagen production,” says Papantoniou “This is not just great for beautiful skin, collagen also has a major role in bone health and tissue repair.”

Dress to Kill

To love and be loved…. There’s nothing like celebrating the most romantic day of the year while your in the blissful haze of love. Valentines Day demands us to pull out the big guns, look our best, hypnotizing any man who should lay eyes on us. Whether you are waiting for bae to pop the ultimate question or sampling the potential of such love, you need to be dressed in the 9s for this occasion. Inevitably, it’s Friday and you still haven’t even begun to look for that perfect dress.

Don’t fret, we scoured the net and found the prefect outfit for all the possibilities Valentine’s Day holds for you. 

Scenario 1:

Mr Amazing is sweeping you off your feet to warmer time zones for the holiday weekend. Score! Keep it casual with the ability to dress up or down depending on the vibe. You also want something that you can keep on wearing, if Mr. Amazing turns out to be not so amazing. Cover your bases, spend under $30 with the chic striped jump suit that you can wear well into the summer. You have a perfect look on the big V-day paired with your favorite pump and a statement necklace you already own.

Forever 21, Contemporary Striped Jumpsuit $29.90

Scenario #2:

Met Mr. Amazing, and you want him to keep running back for more. You already hooked him with your charm and wit, now you need to reel him in and show him what your made of. Keep it classy, feminine and sensual with this off the shoulder frock that’s well under $100 from Nasty Gal. Believe me, he’s seen every bondage dress he could possibly see. Keep him interested by being bold and different.

Nasty Gal Off The Shoulder Cap Dress, $58
  
Scenario #3:

Tonight is the night. Mr. Amazing is going to pop the big question and you need to be effortlessly flawless. Your grandchildren will one day be looking at these photos of this magical evening thinking one thing “grandmas got it going on!” For Love And Lemons Vivian dress is the perfect frock for you to say “YES!” in. And Mr Right won’t be regretting anything when he greets you at the door.

For Love and Lemons Vivian Dress, $268

6 Foods That Will Save Your Skin

Just as an unhealthy diet can have a negative effect on your skin and health, a healthy diet high in antioxidant-rich foods can help protect your body, even from the sun. Since antioxidants help reduce inflammation and free radicals, loading your diet with them will go a long way against sunburn and skin damage as a result of UV rays. Dr. Nicholas Sieveking is a Nashville, TN board certified plastic surgeons and the director of Ageless Solutions, a comprehensive anti-aging and wellness center.
To be clear, Dr. Sieveking is not saying you should completely replace your daily sunscreen with food, but what you eat can offer additional protection for your skin. So if you’re looking for some ingestible sun protection, add these six sun-friendly foods to your next shopping list.
  
1. Berries & stone fruits
Strawberries, blueberries and cherries contain high levels of vitamin C, which can reduce free radical damage caused by exposure to UV radiation. Vitamin C also stimulates collagen production, important for skin’s youthful appearance. As a bonus, cherries contain melatonin, which protects skin from UV radiation and repairs sunburn damage.
2. Leafy greens
If it’s green and it’s got leaves, chances are it’s good for sun protection. According to one study, spinach, kale and swiss chard can reduce the risk of squamous cell skin cancer by 50%. Broccoli is also a good choice: it’s full of sulphoraphane, an antioxidant that helps your cells protect themselves against UV radiation.
Fresh herbs like parsley, basil, sage and rosemary are also packed with free radical-fighting, skin-protecting antioxidants. Not sure where to start? Check out our guide to cruciferous vegetables.

   3. Red & orange produce
The antioxidant lycopene has been shown to protect the skin against sunburn and is at least twice as effective an antioxidant as betacarotene when it comes to blocking UV light. It also helps rid the body of free radicals. Chow down on tomatoes, papaya, guava, red bell peppers and pink grapefruit. Watermelon is an especially good choice: it contains 40% more lycopene than tomatoes.
Betacarotene is another antioxidant that has natural sunscreen properties: it’s been linked to reduced reactions to sunburns. You can find it in carrots, sweet potatoes, squash, pumpkins, mango and apricots.

   4. Micro-algae
Spirulna has been dubbed “the next great superfood,” and for good reason. This micro-algea — along with chlorella — contains the antioxidant astaxanthin, which has been shown to protect the skin and eyes against UV radiation. It also fights free radicals and inflammation to prevent sun damage by preventing UV-induced cell damage.
If micro-algea isn’t exactly your cup of tea, you can find this powerful antioxidant in shrimp and salmon.

   5. Chocolate
As long as it’s dark chocolate you’re eating, you’ll be ingesting plenty of flavanoids, which can improve your skin’s ability protect against sun burns and other UV-induced issues.
Research found that people who ate about one ounce of high-percentage dark chocolate every day for three months could withstand twice the amount of UVB rays before their skin started to turn red, compared to those who didn’t.

  
6. Green & black tea
The myriad health benefits of tea are well-known, but it’s nice to know that the cups you’re drinking can also help protect against sun damage. Green and black teas are packed with polyphenols that can help stop cancer development by limiting the blood supply to the cancerous area.

Green tea can even help prevent non-melanoma skin cancer by enhancing DNA repair.
Bon appétit!

Christmas Card Photo Session

Tis the season.. to be sending out your Christmas Cards. While there are a plethora of Pintrest Ideas and other Instagram inspirations, you may be left wondering what is the direction you want, the color scheme, location. There are so many details to go over with only days left to send them out in time for your family and friends intercontinentally. This was our first year doing Christmas cards.  It was a little bit stressful looking for the right layout and making sure that these photos were going to be a good representation of our family.  Here are a few tips that we found helpful to avoid the last minute rush:

  1. Location- We picked our home to be the backdrop of our photos.  It was most important for our friends and family to see us in our natural environment. Your decor will also assist in setting a personal theme.  It is also much easier to control a toddler in a familiar environment.
  2. Theme- We wanted to be caught in action doing the things that we love to do best. Whether you love Playing, baking, building, show the people you care about what matters most to you.  For us, we love being together and creating things as a family. This last year has been a year of building and rebuilding for us.  We were happy that the photos captured our love.
  3. Color Scheme-You don’t have to make this into a Vogue shoot and fork out tons of cash to make this look good. I am confident that everyone has something in their closet that is flattering both on them and together with the rest of your family.  We went with something easy, Red with Jonah being our main contrast.

We were so happy to get these cards done and out.  We hope that everyone finds this little project as fun as we did.  Don’t be afraid to think outside of the box and get creative!

IMG_5670 IMG_5667 IMG_5669 IMG_5671 IMG_5660 IMG_5661 IMG_5662 IMG_5664IMG_7534 IMG_7523 IMG_7450 IMG_7506 IMG_7509 IMG_7523 IMG_7534 IMG_7509

Training For That Little Sparkly Dress

Although the joy of this seasons indulgences were overwhelmingly satisfying, New Years Eve is right around the corner.  Our waist line will be screaming in that Little Sparkly dress come time for the ball to drop. Good thing  a month is plenty time to get back to our old self of Christmas’ Past.  Naturally, we went to an expert, Franci Cohen a NYC certified fitness trainer, nutritionist and exercise physiologist. Here are her top tips for getting back to tip top shape in less then a month:

Strength with Cardio

For most, weight-training and cardio exercise are two separate events. However, mixing strength exercises with a cardio interval, like a 30 second sprint, will boost the metabolism and growth hormones.

 Go Compound

Try multi-joint or compound exercises that engage multiple muscle groups at the same time. Replace isolated exercises, which only focus on one muscle group at a time, with movements like the squat or deadlift to burn more calories and increase your metabolic rate.

 Train Like an Athlete

Huge biceps look great, but are unlikely to contribute to overall health. Instead of training like a bodybuilder try exercising like an athlete. Include plyometrics, kettlebell swings and sprints in your training plan to add intensity and variety to workouts while improving overall fitness.

 Go Heavy

Lifting heavier weights for less repetitions helps to build strength and shed fat. Start with a weight that is manageable for 15 reps. Then add weight over time to find a weight that is doable for eight to ten repetitions. Remember, always practice perfect form, and try to work for an extra rep before calling it quits.
 Bring a Friend

Working out with a partner improves results and makes the going-to-the-gym experience a more enjoyable one. Having a partner to provide encouragement during workouts can help you get the most out of a workout. And when you have someone relying on you to do the same, it makes you accountable and more likely to show up for workouts.

 Don’t Train, Compete

Turn workouts into a competition with yourself of a workout partner. Join a sports league, play pick-up basketball or sign-up for a 5K. Or create your own challenges in the gym by completing a circuit workout as fast as possible, pushing the pace and intensity.

Write it Down

Record the exercises, sets and repetitions performed during workouts. Keeping track of goals and progress will reveal what you have accomplished and where you can improve. With that knowledge on hand, it’s then possible to structure workouts that play to your strengths and improve weaknesses.

 Hydrate

Be sure to drink plenty of water during workouts and throughout the day. Heading into a workout dehydrated takes its toll on muscles, motivation and energy levels. Drink up and train hard, then don’t forget to refuel with food and water after workouts to promote recovery.