friday favorites #11

Happy Friday, y'all! We made it! It was our first week back to school after spring break, and besides the kiddos being a little extra tired and crabby, the transition back wasn't too bad. In some ways it's always nice to get back to routine and add some structure to each day.

The kids and I have been taking our mornings very slowly this week, since mama's not moving too quickly at 34 weeks pregnant (though I feel and look further along than that). I'm soaking up my time with just the two of them, so we have been doing lots of snuggling, reading, puzzles, and going for walks together. I'm hoping to take Pippa out on a mother-daughter date before baby comes so I can shower her with attention and give her a really fun memory. I would take Teddy out by himself, but that would probably involve me going into labor from chasing him around while he runs away laughing. He's still only 20 months, and really has no idea what's going on anyway! Maybe he'll get his special day after baby comes...

So that's our week in a nutshell. Let's get to the good stuff, shall we? 

Friday Favorites

1. Gazelle

As part of our decluttering spree, we found some old electronics stashed in my desk drawer. Up until that point, I had held onto them simply because I didn't know what else to do with them. When I texted my sisters about it, one of them suggested the company Gazelle. It's super simple to sell your old phones (or other devices). You simply fill out some information about the device you want to sell, and they give you an amount they will pay you for it. Within days we received a box in the mail where we could put our iPhones, and then we simply dropped them in the mail. It was a weight off my mind to finally make a decision about something I was no longer using, and a way to make some easy money! 

2. Sally Hansen Quick Dry Topcoat

I never used to paint my nails, but lately I've been craving ways to feel more put together. It's probably because I'm feeling huge and tired in the last few weeks of my pregnancy, wearing the same boring clothes over and over. Anyway, painting my nails on a Saturday night has become sort of a routine for me. I never have the patience for the polish to dry before touching things, and end up ruining my already average manicure. I picked up this topcoat at Target for about $4, and it was the best decision of my life. It seriously dries your nails in seconds, no matter what nail polish you're using. Highly recommend it for busy mamas!

3. Wireless Headphones and Podcasts

So with this cleaning and decluttering binge has come the daily maintenance of doing chores. I've been borrowing my husband's wireless headphones and putting on a podcast while cleaning the kitchen at night, and it has been straight up delightful. Don't tell, but I think I found myself finding more to clean and taking longer than necessary to complete the task just so I could listen for a few more minutes. Bonus: he was giving the kids a bath while I was doing the kitchen, so it felt even more luxurious to be in my own head while the kids were still awake. (Although I did request to be removed from bath duty until after this baby is born, since I can no longer bend over the tub with my giant belly.)

Similar bluetooth headphones here and here.

4. Nook and Overdrive App

My husband got me a Nook as a Christmas present before we had kids, and it was one of my all time favorite gifts. For some reason, I sometimes forget that I have it, and don't make use of it as much as I could. However, I realized we have a baby coming soon, which means some downtime on the couch nursing the baby, which makes the perfect time to get caught up on some reading! While it's near impossible to read a physical book while nursing a baby, eBooks are perfect, since you don't need both hands! I decided to dive back into my Nook and check out what the library had to offer on the Overdrive app. If you're not already using the Overdrive app, get on it! It's not just for Nooks! You can use it on your iPhone, iPad, Kindle, or whatever device you happen to have. You just enter your library card information and you can borrow electronic books and audio books from your library. 

5. Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars

So you know how everyone has their go-to meal or dish they bring for potlucks, parties, and families that need meal trains when someone is sick or they've had a baby? Mine is chocolate chip cookie bars. Sorry I can't come up with an easy nutritious meal to bring your family in your time of need, but here is some delicious dessert! Anyway, I also make these every once and awhile for a special treat on the weekends, and they just so happened to be calling my name this week. During this stage of my pregnancy I oscillate multiple times per day between, "#fitpregnancy! Reaching that 10,000 step goal and drinking all the water! Nutrition!" and "What's the nearest chocolate thing I can eat?" So...the chocolate thing won out. Anyway, I use this recipe from Sweet Tooth Sweet Life, and it turns out perfectly every. single. time. Sometimes I make healthy substitutions like using half wheat flour or coconut oil instead of butter, but this time I just went all out. No health. Just deliciousness. 

That's it for this Friday! What's got you smiling this week? Have a wonderful weekend!

Linking up with Carolina Charm and Hello Happiness for Five on Friday, and Andrea from Momfessionals for Friday Favorites!

book recommendations: nonfiction and personal development

I'm the type of person that reads multiple books at once. I like to have a fiction book, a personal development book, and a devotional book all in rotation on my nightstand. I often feel like there is too much information in the world, and I want to devour it all at once! I can't choose just one book to read!

I have noticed that my reading has decreased since having my second child. I think the reason is that I have become very protective of my free time, and I don't want to invest myself in a book if it's only going to disappoint me. My favorite way to choose a book is if it's recommended to me by a trusted friend, so I thought I would pay it forward and provide a list of some of my own favorite books. That way, those who want to read more have a place to start when diving into the world of reading. 

I'm breaking up my book recommendations by category, so today I'll be sharing my favorite books for nonfiction, personal development, and building a business.

Better Than Before -  Gretchen Rubin

I just started reading this one, as it finally became available on the Overdrive app on my Nook. However I listen to Gretchen Rubin's podcast Happier every Wednesday, and many of the concepts in Better than Before are discussed on the podcast, too! I love everything I've read by Gretchen Rubin, so I'm excited to dive into her take on habits, a topic which has always fascinated me.

Fiercely You: God, guts, glitter, and glamour for the female entrepreneur  - Gretchen Brocio

This book was sent to me by a dear friend and mentor in my home based business. As a Christian woman and mother trying to create a business in the online space, it's super easy to second guess yourself and feel doubt about what you're creating. I was inspired by the success stories of the women she interviewed in the book! 

How to Blog For Profit Without Selling Your Soul - Ruth Soukup

I asked for this book for Christmas, and was so happy to receive it as a gift for my birthday (which is just a few weeks after Christmas). I've been blogging for years, but just decided to start taking it more seriously. I learn best by reading, so I scoured the internet for books on blogging, and this one received great reviews on Amazon. So far it has been super informative, and I've been working my way sl-ow-ly through it, because I like to apply the advice it gives straight away. It contains so many actionable tips and words of wisdom for those who are looking to turn their blog into a business with integrity. I'm finding the Pinterest advice especially helpful, since every article I read about how to use Pinterest to grow your blog is basically a commercial for Tailwind or Boardbooster. This is not a "how to set up a blog" type of book, but it is geared for someone at the beginning of their journey to monetize their blog. 

Blue Zones: Lessons for Living Longer From the People Who've Lived the Longest - Dan Buettner

This is not a recent read, but a favorite I keep going back to. I bought it on my Nook a few years ago, and became obsessed with it, recommending to all my family and friends. The author researches people who live in Blue Zones - areas around the globe with communities of people who tend to live much longer than the average person - to see which habits and practices contribute to their longevity. It's fascinating to read, because so often we attribute good health to food and exercise, but there is so much more to it! The book also highlights good genes, good habits, community, religion, stress-coping mechanisms, and purpose. It's a good read for anyone overwhelmed by all the health advice out there. 

The Go-Giver: A Little Story About a Powerful Business Idea - Bob Burg and John David Mann

I absolutely loved this book from the concept to the execution, and devoured it in one car ride. It advises that the secret to success in business is to focus on giving rather than receiving. It is told in story format, so it's different from the slow, dry, information-packed personal development and business books we're used to! I believe this is a must-read for anyone with a job, but especially entrepreneurs and those in the network marketing industry. 

I love adding to my reading list, so share your favorite personal development or nonfiction books below!

10 things I learned from cleaning my house

A few events transpired lately to cause a dramatic shift in the cleanliness and organization of our home. 

  1. Everyone in our house got sick. And it kept coming back.
  2. My nesting instincts kicked in.
  3. Our landlord came by for an inspection.

I'm a mother of two children ages 3 and 1, with a third on the way, I teach part time, and run this blog and a home-based business, which could all be excuses for why our home is a disaster. In fact, I have been using these circumstances to justify clutter and messes over the past few months. And there certainly were times when it couldn't be helped, such as the first trimester of my pregnancy when it was a rare sighting to see me out of bed.

However, for the most part, the mess, clutter, and disorganization of our home was a result of excess and lack of discipline and routine. 

Over the years, the amount of stuff we owned grew and grew until I reached the breaking point a few weeks ago when I felt suffocated by our possessions. With my third trimester baby bump, it was physically painful to bend over and clean up after the kids, and I felt like all I did was follow them around and clean, with little to no results. Our home still looked cluttered at the end of each day, and it was incredibly defeating. So I did what any hormonal pregnant woman would do - I texted my husband one morning through tears and curse words that I was getting rid of EVERYTHING in our house. Throwing it all away. Starting fresh. Nesting, guys. It's a real thing.

Not to mention, one member of our family or another has been sick since January. Our house needed a good spring cleaning and scrubbing down. When our landlord texted to say he would be stopping by to check the status of our place before renewing the lease, it was the final straw. So we spent an entire Saturday going through every closet, drawer, and bin. We threw away or set aside to donate bags upon bags of clutter that we didn't even know was occupying space in our lives. We ruthlessly culled our children's toys down to the most played-with toys that inspired imaginative play (while they were napping of course). In the spirit of Marie Kondo, I thanked and released a few mementoes from my time abroad in South America. We figured out how to sell our old iPhones, and bid adieu to electronics that no longer worked or had a purpose. We got our carpets cleaned, and scrubbed down every surface, nook, and cranny of our rental home.

The relief and pride my husband and I both felt at the end of our cleaning and organizing spree was palpable. With a little time and a lot of elbow grease, we transformed our home into a haven instead of a source of stress. And while we are by no means done (the garage is our next project to tackle), it feels like the beginning of a new way of living. 

Here are a few things I've learned from decluttering and deep cleaning our home in the past few weeks:

1. Living in a neat, clean environment inspires you to be better in every area of your life.

2. Getting your children involved in the process in paramount. Tell them what you are doing, give them age-appropriate responsibilities, and show them how and where to put away the toys you have kept. They will get excited about keeping a clean home.

3. Most of the clutter we had was a result of not making a decision about something, or being too lazy to take action. The iPhones in my desk drawer were a prime example. We had gotten new phones about a year ago, but didn't know what to do with the old ones. Instead of researching how to handle it right away, I just stashed them away to deal with later. 

4. Almost nothing is as peaceful as a clear surface. Empty counters, floors, and coffee tables are a beautiful thing.

5. I'm a better housekeeper when the clutter is gone. I'm much more inclined to vacuum, dust, or wipe down surfaces when I don't see junk everywhere.

6. A place for everything and everything in it's place. Yes, it's a cliche, but it's a cliche for a reason. it feels really good to know exactly where the scissors go instead of just stuffing them in a junk drawer. 

7. It takes practice. If your current habit is to set something on the counter instead of putting it where it belongs, it will take practice and discipline to change that habit. Don't be discouraged if you find yourself falling back into old habits. Keep working at it!

8. A mindset of abundance and gratitude staves off the desire to bring more into your house. "We have everything we need and more."

9. I need a printed out schedule to do chores. I used the free printable from Clean Mama, and put it on the fridge. Mondays are for wiping down bathrooms, Tuesdays are for dusting, etc. etc.

10. We're trying a new habit. Every night after dinner and before we put the kids to bed, we will do a 10 minute family clean up, vacuum the carpets, and clean the kitchen.  

I wouldn't dare call us minimalist. We still have far more than we need, but I'm learning that it's a journey. It's a shift in perspective from always needing more and feeling frustrated in your surroundings to joy and contentment in the space you're in with the things you have. 

friday favorites #10

Β‘Feliz viernes a todos! We were on spring break this week, which is funny, because this is the only week we have had in northern Florida that actually feels like winter! I truly didn't mind the lower temps, but did feel bad for everyone vacationing from northern climates, as we did not have great beach weather to offer.

This week was a perfect mix of relaxing, productive, and fun. Having Justin's parents in town was so nice, because anytime you can outnumber the kids, things tend to be a lot easier. So while I'm riding the high of a great week off school, let's dive in, shall we?

Friday Favorites

#1. Exploring St. Augustine

One thing I was most excited about when we moved to Florida was our proximity to St. Augustine, America's oldest city. I had visited once as a teenager, and was looking forward to exploring the charming streets that I remembered. It's the perfect spot to bring visitors because you can choose to simply stroll St. George Street and browse the shops there, take tours to learn about the history of this fascinating city, or visit monuments like the Fountain of Youth. 

This time we chose to tour Castillo de San Marcos National Monument. While it was slightly terrifying to have a one-year-old boy running around atop the fort with relatively low walls in some areas, the views were incredible, and reading about the role the Castillo played in our history was fascinating. A must-see if you're ever in St. Augustine!

#2. Prohibition Kitchen + Poutine!

While in St. Augustine, we ducked into a restaurant called Prohibition Kitchen for lunch. All of the food was incredible, but when we saw the poutine on the appetizer menu, we knew we had to give it a try. I had heard my sister and her husband raving about this dish after they visited Montreal, but was very skeptical of the French fry and gravy combo. We were not disappointed, though! Our platter of poutine was polished off in a matter of minutes, and it was the perfect amount for the table to share without getting overly full before our meals came out. 

The atmosphere of the gastropub was another thing we couldn't stop raving about! The repurposed wood and huge booths truly made you feel like you were back in the 1920s. I was also a fan of the high ceilings and super friendly service. This pregnant mama was craving a burger, so I didn't order anything too adventurous (aside from our poutine appetizer!), but you know it's a good burger when I barely touch the fries! 

#3. Pedicures

So the last time I got a pedicure was for my sister-in-law's wedding almost two years ago. I forgot what a relaxing treat it is! Armed with recommendations from some local ladies, my mother-in-law and I snuck away from the husbands and kids for a bit to get pampered. I loved getting to relax and converse with her without getting interrupted by the kids. I chose a cerulean blue for my toes, while my MIL picked a bright pink! Now if only it were warm enough to enjoy our freshly pedicured toes on the beach!

#4. Strawberry Orange Creamsicle Shakes

To counteract some of the rich and delicious food we've been consuming lately with all of our visitors, I've been relying on my favorite superfood shakes for breakfast and sometimes lunch to fight bloating and fill in the gaps of nutrition I might be missing. I usually stick with chocolate, but for some reason an ice cold strawberry shake was calling my name. (Pregnancy cravings, perhaps?) I added a scoop of my orange electrolyte drink mix and blended it with a few frozen strawberries, and I was in heaven! Although, when Pippa saw my beautiful concoction, she ended up drinking half of it. But hey! I'm not opposed to her getting good nutrition, too, so I let her have as much as she wanted.

#5. Justin's 31st Birthday!

That's right, folks! I'm officially married to a 31-year-old today. I'm still super young and in my 20s, so I have a few more months to tease him about being old. We enjoyed his favorite meal while his parents were here - taco salad, and I whipped up a brownie caramel cheesecake for dessert, since cheesecake is his favorite! (I used this recipe). Justin definitely deserves a celebration today. He's such a great dad to our kids, a passionate teacher who loves his job and his students, and a wonderful husband. Happy birthday, babe! 

That's it for this Friday! What's got you smiling this week?

Linking up with Carolina Charm and Hello Happiness for Five on Friday, and Andrea from Momfessionals for Friday Favorites!

33 week pregnancy update

It seems like I was just sitting down to write about the struggles of the first trimester, and now I'm  6 weeks away from meeting our little guy! This pregnancy hasn't always been easy, but with two other kids, a part time teaching job, and running my home based business, it truly has been a whirlwind. 

size of the baby: baby is the size of a pineapple, or a head of celery, and is probably just over 4 pounds. No wonder I'm struggling to carry this belly around!

gender: baby boy!

maternity clothes: basically wearing the same 2-3 dresses every day. I find them to be a lot more comfortable than any sort of waistband. Plus a lot of my maternity shirts don't even cover the bump anymore!

movement: some crazy gymnastics are happening in there, and it is a sight to behold. My belly is taking on strange shapes, and it's been a fun game to guess which body part is poking out. I've been showing Pippa how the baby loves to move about 45 minutes after dinner when I lay down, and she's been loving "playing" with the baby. 

sleep: I've actually been sleeping very well, just waking up a few times a night to go to the bathroom. I've also stocked the bed with tons of extra pillows, which has been helping with the hip pain I tend to feel when I lay down. I sometimes wake up with sharp round ligament pain, but am usually able to fall right back asleep.

prenatal fitness: It's been a weird week for my health. I got the stomach flu twice in the past week, so my normal daily walk didn't happen quite as often. In addition, my family visited last week, and Justin's family is in town this week, so naturally there has been some going out to eat and extra treats involved. Basically I've vacillated between not keeping anything down and indulging in foods I don't normally eat. 

Having said that, the past week not included, I'm very much a creature of habit when it comes to eating. I've been diligent about having 1 or 2 superfood shakes each day to up my protein intake and get extra nutritious calories. I've packed lots of fruits and vegetables for lunches, and consumed lots of water. I also make sure to walk 2 miles each day with the double stroller and the dog. My weight gain has been almost pound for pound the same as my other pregnancies, even though walking has been my only workout this time. Crazy how our bodies know exactly what to do!

Finally, I'm starting to think about postpartum health. Forefront on my mind is the diastasis recti that never quite healed from my second pregnancy, as I didn't realize until too late that I had it. I plan to ask my doctor for a good physical therapist recommendation, and to utilize a belly band after giving birth (like I talked about in this post). I also love that I have a nutrition plan in place for losing the baby weight safely and consistently, even when nursing!

missing: wearing cute clothes. Not waddling. Not grunting every time I stand up. 

craving: not many cravings at this point besides cold water and sometimes fruit. Mostly I'm just trying to find the balance between extreme hunger and painfully full. There is no in between.

symptoms: where oh where to begin? 

First of all, I have been nesting with a vengeance. I don't really remember feeling the urge to clean, purge, and organize with my other two pregnancies, but to give you an idea of where I'm at, I texted Justin last week making a sweeping declaration about throwing out everything in our house. His concern was palpable. Then this past weekend we got rid of about 10 bags of junk and clutter in one afternoon, which left me feeling nauseous and exhausted, but extremely satisfied. 

Another symptom I've been experiencing is intense Braxton Hicks contractions. Basically anytime I'm standing or walking for more than a few minutes my stomach gets rock solid and starts cramping. Usually some water and changing positions helps, so I haven't been too concerned about it. I did have a little scare this past weekend, though, when I got hit with my second round of the stomach bug that's been going around. No matter what I did, the Braxton Hicks wouldn't stop, probably due to dehydration. I was very close to calling the hospital, but the contractions started to subside later that afternoon when I was able to nap and keep some fluids down. Stay in there for a few more weeks, baby! 

Finally, crazy heartburn, aching joints, and the occasional swollen feet have been my normal the past few weeks. Third trimester, I will not miss you when you are done. Not even a little bit. 

looking forward to: a relaxing week and weekend! We're on spring break right now with family visiting, so it's been nice to have the extra help with Pippa and Teddy. I'm hoping to get ahead on school and blog work in the next few days!

best moments: getting to spend time with family! 

That wraps it up! Only six more weeks until our scheduled C-Section (which hasn't actually been scheduled yet, but I have an idea of the time frame. So weird to be able to pick out your child's birthday!) Now excuse me while I go Google "how to handle the transition from 2 to 3 children."