Wednesday, June 28, 2017

What's Hap-pinning Wednesday: My Love for Off-the-Shoulder

Y'all know by now that I'm still loving the off-the-shoulder trend. It's seriously one of my favorite looks, and I'm so thankful it has stuck around for another year, because I was pregnant last spring {and trying to return to my pre-baby weight last summer}, so I'm excited I can partake in this fun fashion trend now! 

So, when I had the opportunity to work with Modest Modern Mama and share the most precious off-the-shoulder top with y'all, I was thrilled! 

This top is just adorable and comfortable, and I love the chambray look and the length of the top. It's perfect for spring and summer in hot Texas, and pairing it with my white jeans and nude wedges is great for a date night...but I also have visions of throwing on white shorts for bopping around town with the boys and still looking cute. 

I styled this with my favorite white crops, nude wedges from two seasons ago, my mother's necklace, Laura Cox Designs earrings, old Target sunglasses and my most favorite accessory of them all: a bead bracelet Walker made me for Mother's Day. 




I love this company: it was started by a mama and offers clothing with fits that are appropriate for mamas {and non-mamas} alike; perfect for chasing after kiddos without having it all hang out, fall down or look inappropriate. Because let's face it: my body just isn't the same after having two boys, regardless of the fact that I'm at my pre-pregnancy weight. But my most favorite thing about Modest Modern Mama is their mission statement: "It is our mission to unite this generation in fabulous style and timeless grace. In an age where women are greatly celebrated, Modest Modern Mama hopes to bring inclusive style to this forgotten season of life." Cheers to that. 

*I was gifted this top in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are strictly my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that support this blog.




Linking up with Jessi and Jenn
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Monday, June 26, 2017

Weekending

The weekends always fly by in a flash! Here's a bit of what we were up to, even though it was quite low-key: 

\\ FRIDAY: 

+ I had breakfast with Goggle Man before going to get Knox out of his crib and saw that he had gotten sick everywhere and had a horrible rash on his cheek. It was so sad. So, we immediately high-tailed it to the pediatrician. Thankfully, he didn't get sick again and we all managed to stay well over the weekend, so I think it must have been a weird fluke and/or the new yogurt I introduced him to that didn't sit well with him. {Brandon has a dairy intolerance and I'm thinking Knox might have one, too...} Either way, we cancelled dinner plans with friends Friday evening and instead laid low. 



+ Once the boys were in bed, Brandon grilled steaks and corn on the cob, and I made this Caprese salad for supper. We were both so tired and called it an early night. 


\\ SATURDAY:

+ We woke up to a torrential downpour and it was rainy pretty much all day Saturday, so we had a super lazy day. We took the boys to our local library before lunch and they both loved reading books, checking them out, and stopping in the little coffee shop there for a smoothie (or a "smoovie," as Walker says). I actually tried a lavender latte for the first time and it was delicious! 



+ Brandon cashed in his Father's Day gift -- a one-hour massage -- during the boys' nap time and I took a nap myself! 

+ The sun finally peeked out and we had a fun little evening outside. The boys chalked and played in the backyard, and Brandon grilled chicken while I made these delicious potatoes and asparagus. 

+ We finished the latest season of "Orange is the New Black" and started "El Chapo" on Netflix and then went to bed way later than we should. 


\\ SUNDAY: 

+ We went to church and came home with this original PlayStation that one of my friends was giving away. Brandon immediately hooked it up with its 700 cords in our bedroom {which, by the way, please ignore how messy it is} and he and Walker played on that thing for at least an hour. He said, "Brittany, this is the moment my Dad dreams came true." Oh man, face palm! 


+ Meanwhile, Knox helped me with laundry and picking up around the house, and he was super proud of himself for pulling up on the washing machine...and proceeded to stand there and watch it for what felt like forever. 


+ We had another lazy afternoon of naps for the boys and me while Brandon went to work out {naps > working out to me! ;)}, did a bit of organizing and getting ready for the week, and chalking out on the back patio. 


We have a full week of karate and swim lessons for Walker; Knox's one-year portraits {a month late, whoops!} with my friend Liz; and prepping for the beach! Have a great week! 

Linking up with Biana 

Friday, June 23, 2017

Friday!

Happy Friday! 


-ONE-
These two cuties are my parents on their wedding day 25 years ago. Earlier this week, they celebrated their Silver Wedding Anniversary: 25 years married! Their story is an awesome one: my dad had little almost-five-year-old me and met my mom in January 1992. After one month {!!!} they got engaged in February 1992. They were married in June 1992. I mean, they say "When you know, you know," and these two sure did know! So thankful for them and their example of a God-honoring marriage. Love you guys! 




-TWO-
Can I tell you what's amazing? A weekend with absolutely zero plans. I see a lot of naps in my future and lots of planning and packing for the beach; we are headed there in a little over a week! 


-THREE-
Speaking of packing, I shared on my Insta Stories last week a little peek into my OCD-ness when it comes to packing the boys for our travels, and I got a lot of questions about it, so I thought I'd share here, too! 

Because it takes a ridiculous amount of planning and preparation for even a weekend trip with the boys, I make sure I'm as organized as can be. 

I first make a list, broken down by what each boy needs; what they both need; and any random, miscellaneous stuff we might need for that particular trip. Then, I label gallon-sized Ziploc bags with each boy and each day. I then go into their rooms and lay out their clothes, pajamas, diapers, socks, etc. for each day and pack that days "stuff" into that day's labeled Ziploc and pack into their suitcase. 

It just makes it so much easier to grab and go and know what they're going to wear that day without having to dig around a suitcase to find matching shorts; and if my boys are staying with my parents or in-law's, it makes it easier for them to just know what to put them in {and me to know they're matching when I'm gone, ha!}. 

Something else I do is pack a Walmart grocery bag in each of their suitcases for dirty clothes so they don't yuck up all the other stuff {clean clothes, stuffed animals, etc.}. And, this makes unpacking a breeze: just dump the contents of the bag in the washing machine on your way in the door! 

Does anyone else pack this way?


-FOUR-
Is anyone watching "The Bachelorette" this summer? Brandon is actually watching with me this go-round and we both felt so sorry for Fred! We loved him! {Sorry if I just spoiled that for you...} But every season we say we aren't going to get sucked in and yet here we are watching and fully invested. ;) 



-FIVE-
I took Walker out on a little date last night: Dairy Queen (or Dairy "Clean," as he says) and a trip to Walgreens to pick out some goggles for the beach. It was so special to have some sweet one-on-one time with my biggest little guy, and he cracked me up wanting to wear those "boggles" all the way through Walgreens, into the car, and even in the shower! Ha! 



Linking up with: April, Amanda, Andrea and Katie

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Thoughts for Thursday: Summer Essentials for the South

I have lived in Texas my entire life, and every year -- without fail -- I will find myself complaining about the heat and humidity as if I'm actually surprised by it. I truly do think that the three months of daily 100+ degree temperatures and accompanying humidity is like giving birth: awful as you're going through it, but once it's over you're all, "Eh, okay, it wasn't that bad!" and then you basically make yourself forget how bad it actually was so you'll do it again. Or in our case, so we don't pack up the kids and move to Saskatchewan in mid-August. {Can I just say here that my poor children have never seen snow? Maybe Saskatchewan wouldn't be the best idea...} 

So whether you've lived here your entire life, are planning a move to the South soon, or are just a Northerner blessing our hearts, here are some summer essentials for the South, where air conditioning is king and we basically try to spend any and all time in water...not out of desire, but necessity: 

For the Mamas: 






*Honorable Mention: Yeti Tumbler 


+ I love these cooling towels for all of us when we're out and about or working in the yard, but especially when we are at the pool or the beach on those ridiculously hot, humid, July summer days. You get them wet, wring them out, and they stay cold for up to four hours! They're great when you're just so hot your body is having trouble cooling down. We love ours! 

+ The Yeti Cooler is definitely an investment, but if you've ever purchased any Yeti products before, you understand that they're worth the money. This bag is great for keeping drinks, snacks, adult beverages and ice packs nice and chilly at the pool or beach. I can leave it in the back of my car while we're running errands on the way to the pool {or even in my car on a four-hour drive down to my parents'} and everything is just as cold as when I took it out of the fridge. I love this thing! 

+ Cheap sunglasses are a must for summertime around here...especially with kids. If you're at the lake or pool, you know you need a pair that you're okay with losing to the waves, or on a jet ski, or even to your kiddos' own devices. I love the cheap aviators from Target the best. 

+ I'm all about sun protection, so I always cover my head when we're at the pool, beach or lake -- whether with a ball cap or a wide-brimmed hat. I love this one because it's cheap, packs well in a suitcase, but also covers my face, neck and shoulders. 

+ A functional swimsuit is a must down here! I feel like I practically live in my bathing suit from about late May-late September, so finding one that's cute, good quality and functional is definitely a "do!" I'm constantly chasing after my boys at the pool, lake and beach, so I for sure need something that will hold everything in, look cute, but still allow me to get on the ground and/or in the water and play with them. 

+ I love taking the boys on picnics when the temperatures warm up, so a big picnic mat is always in my car and beach bag. Whether we're at the park, or the neighborhood pool, I love having something we can sit on other than the hot ground, and I love that this one is wipeable! 

+ And for the Honorable Mention, I put this here because it's not a "must," but it's definitely a "nice to have." I love my Yeti and love that I can put ice and water in it in the morning and the ice is still there at night when I bring it to my nightstand. Drinking lots and lots of water is definitely a must in the South, and I find myself really only liking to drink ice cold water, so this is a great solution! 

For the Babies & Kids: 









+ Mosquitoes, how I loathe thee. They're so prevalent down South and West Nile truly does scare the mess out of me. So, whether it's 7 a.m. or 7 p.m., my boys are slathered in this deet-free bug spray. It doesn't smell the best and is a little oily, but my pediatrician recommended a deet-free one for their age, and this is one of the only ones I could find locally!

+ This mineral sunscreen is my favorite! At SPF 50, I actually slather this stuff on my fair-skinned self, too! Both of my boys have eczema, and this sunscreen is really good for that, as it's free of PABA, phthalates, parabens, fragrances or nano-particles; plus, it's dermatologist and pediatrician-tested! 

+ My boys look like miniature frat boys when they wear their Croakies, but I love them for their functionality. Each year, I pick up cheapie sunglasses for them from the Dollar Aisle at Target, and invested in these Croakies to keep their sunglasses from falling off their face and instead around their neck. It helps them {and me!} know where they are, which is nice {see: no fighting}. 

+ Even if you have a pool at your home {we actually don't}, a water table is great for little ones! My boys will splash and splash in this thing for up to an hour, which is nice for this mama. ;) It's also a great thing to play with under a covered patio when it's raining and you can't go in the pool. 

+ I purchased a portable fan to clip onto Knox's infant car seat last summer to help that poor guy cool down during the hot summer months. He was born in May, and I always feel like those infant car seats get so dang hot! So, I clipped this onto the handle of it when we were out and about, and I really feel like it helped keep him from being drenched in sweat. I kept it, and we use it on the stroller now, and of course it's one of Walker's favorite "toys." 

+ A plastic pool, ahhhh the joys of childhood. Some days when I don't feel like loading the boys {and all their gear} up to go to the neighborhood pool, I just fill up our cheap plastic pool in the backyard and let them play. It's totally worth the $10 price tag! 

+ These are my very favorite sun hats for my boys. They have SPF 50 in them, and I love that they have a drawstring in the back to adjust to the size of the baby's head. My fair-skinned boys definitely can't be without a hat outside in Texas in the summer! 

+ As you know, pediatricians don't recommend babies wear sunscreen until at least six months of age, so this sun blanket {with UPF 50+} is a great alternative when you have a teeny baby outside in the summer. Basically, it works like a sun shield to protect their sweet, delicate little skin. 

+ Also along the lines of keeping cool, this bucket seat liner fits most strollers and bucket seats. It's made from state of the art, 3-ply poly-mesh material that promotes airflow between your child’s body and their seat. So, warm air escapes, preventing overheating and perspiring keeping baby cool and comfortable. I love this for when I know we're going to be outside a ton, and even though we haven't attempted Disney yet, I feel like this would be the PERFECT place to use it! 

+ Honorable Mentions: I put these here because I feel like flotation devices are pretty specific to you and your child, but we love the puddle jumper for Walker. Yes, he knows how to swim, but when we're at a big public pool or the beach or lake, I like having something on him to put my mind at ease. 

When I found the infant life jacket {linked above} for Knox, I was in love. I searched high and low for a flotation device for him that was suitable for children under 30 pounds, and this had excellent ratings...and is U.S. Coast Guard approved. 

And the stainless steel sippy cup. Basically the kid version of a Yeti and even though it's not necessary, it sure is nice to have to ensure your kiddos' drinks stay nice and cold, just like yours! 


Linking up with Annie, Natalie and Julie 
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Wednesday, June 21, 2017

I'm a Sleep Freak for My Kids {and I admit it}

As a mom, there is nothing quite more infuriating than unsolicited advice -- especially from those without children. And for me, there's nothing quite more infuriating than unsolicited advice about my kids' sleep. 

If you've read my blog for a while now, you know that both of my children were on BabyWise beginning pretty early. {You can read those posts here and here.} Something that was and still is very important to us is sleep -- for every person in this household. The older I'm becoming and the more years of this mom thing I have under my belt, I'm realizing that it's true what they say: "To each their own," and, to be honest, if someone isn't doing it the way you do it or think they should do it, it's not wrong; it's just not your way. 

All of that to say, I'm a sleep freak for my kids, and I admit it. My kids are on sleep schedules and have been since the {almost} beginning. It's what works for us. My kids are in bed by 7 p.m. {GASP!} every night and, for the most part, have been sleeping through the night since they were three months old. And here's where I'm about to get real crazy: my children never slept in bed with us overnight, I rarely make exceptions for the time they go to bed, and my 3.5-year-old still takes a nap. Again, it's what works for us. I'm the sound machine blasting, note to the mailman to kindly SHUT UP on the front door writing, sleep sack donning, box fan blasting in the hallway, blackout curtain hanging, "sshhhh, shhhhh"-ing sleep freak mama. 

I can't tell you how much I've heard about my kids and their sleep. Sure, there was a ton of stuff at first when Walker was tiny, my favorite being a family member asking when they would be able to come over since Walker was "always sleeping." That same person told me last year what a great sleeper he was. I also heard, "You're letting the schedule run you," But, I think I've gotten it more the second go-round with Knox: "He needs to learn how to nap on-the-go," "What's 15 more minutes of them being awake?" "When my subsequent kids were little, I didn't give them a morning nap because it didn't work for our schedule," "My kids dropped their naps at 3," "My kids never have a set bedtime." Notice a theme there? I, I, I, me, me, me, our, our, our. 

I realize there are parents out there who don't put their kids to bed at a certain time; who think sleep schedules are for the birds; co-sleep with their kids; and think naps are stupid. Hey, no judgment here. You do you, man. I'm just not one of you. 

I'm in the category of "Crazy Bedtime Psycho Mom." We eat dinner at 5:30 p.m., start baths at 6:15 p.m. {yes, even in the summer}; we read a couple of books and we put the boys to bed by 7 p.m. They sleep, they're awake at 7 a.m. {Sometimes earlier (Walker) but we don't get him out of his bed until his clock turns green.} Yes, it sounds harsh, but sleep makes all of us happier people. No matter what time I put my kids to bed, they'll still be ready and rarin' to go by or before 7 a.m. So if they're going to get up early anyway, they're going to go to bed early and get the good rest they need, and the good, quality time I need with my husband without a toddler interrupting me every .067 seconds telling me to look at his LEGO creation for the 506th time that day, or a one-year-old quite literally climbing up my legs while simultaneously screaming his head off reaching for me. Because, you know, witching hour. When they sleep, they're happy. When they're happy, I'm happy. When I'm happy, my husband's happy. Sleep = Happy in this household. 

And on that note, some suggestions I've received regarding my kids' sleep: "Just put them to bed later. They'll sleep later." (Wrong.) "Try to get rid of the nap. They'll sleep later in the morning." (Negative; just a cranky toddler from about 2-7 p.m., but thanks for the suggestion!) "It's cruel to not get them out of bed when they wake up in the morning." (Ummm, I'd be up at 4 a.m. some days and yeah, that's not happening.) "I think he will be fine going down 30 minutes later tonight." (Uh, 30 minutes is a lifetime in child time, and if you'd like to come wrangle them in the bathtub while they're slippery and screaming and overtired, then please, be my guest.) 

All of that to say, one day we'll be fun again and get to do fun things again. This isn't forever, but it is our life right now. One day I'll get to let my kids go crab hunting on the beach at night; or stay up and have a family movie night; or allow us to not turn down an invitation to a family dinner that begins at 7 p.m. But today is not that day. 

Sleep. Blessed sleep.

Linking up with Jessi and Jenn 

Monday, June 19, 2017

Father's Day Weekending

We had a wonderful weekend in my hometown celebrating Father's Day! Here's a quick little recap: 

\\ FRIDAY: 

+ Since Brandon got off at 11 a.m., we hit the road as soon as he got home. I donned my cute new top from Pearl & Monroe, my favorite shorts, earrings from Laura Cox Designs and last year's Target sandals for the four-hour car trip. 


+ The boys did relatively well in the car on the four-hour trip, save for Knox not napping at all and some standstill construction traffic where it literally took us 45 minutes to go less than five miles. But once we got to my grandparents' house, we had a wonderful time! We caught up with them over a glass of wine, and then went out to dinner with them and my three siblings at one of my favorite local Cajun restaurants. It was a great evening! 

We stay with my grandparents when we go to my hometown and I just love that special time that Brandon and I, as well as our boys, get to spend with just them. I know we will look back on these memories one day and just smile. My boys love their Nana and Pah!


\\ SATURDAY: 

+ We were up and at 'em and had breakfast with my grandparents at a delicious new bakery in my hometown. I had a yummy iced coffee and this to die-for homemade buttermilk drop biscuit breakfast sandwich with thick-cut bacon, Havarti cheese and an egg over-medium. I ate every bite!


+ My parents had just returned from an Alaskan cruise to celebrate their anniversary, so we gave them ample time to sleep in and then went out to their house to visit with them for a bit after Knox's morning nap. We had lunch, took a boat ride, then took the Mule out for a ride around their neighborhood, which ended with my Dad stopping to get sno-cones for everyone. My boys were in heaven at their Foxy and Papa's house!




+ Then, Brandon and I got the boys down for late naps, and my parents told us to go out and enjoy the lake while they listened for the boys. It was great! My oldest younger brother had to go back to work, but my younger brother, his girlfriend, my sister, Brandon and I all enjoyed two hours out on the lake jumping off the dock, swimming, playing volleyball and sitting on a giant float visiting. It was so much fun! 


+ Once the boys were up, we had dinner and then took the boat back out for an evening cruise. 


\\ SUNDAY:

+ Walker and I joined my parents, brother, sister and grandparents at church while Brandon stayed back with a napping Knox, then we all had lunch together before my crazy family hit the road. Knox didn't nap in the car {again}; we made four stops within the first 40 minutes of being on the road; and Walker fell asleep approximately 26 minutes before we got to our house, but it was a fabulous weekend spent with family and my heart is just extra full this morning. 

Linking up with Biana 

Friday, June 16, 2017

Friday!

Happy Friday! 


-ONE-
I'm so excited to celebrate my sweet dad this weekend for Father's Day. I know everyone says it, but I truly do have the best dad. My parents divorced when I was two years old, and he raised me by himself until I was five. He then married my step-mom when I was five, but I'll tell you that in those three years, he was the ultimate "Mr. Mom!" He learned how to fix my hair, and I vividly remember special times between us during those early years. {And on the subject of my mom, there is zero "step" in that title, though; to me, she is my mom, and my boys' grandmother and we don't even recognize the "step" factor in it at all.} So I'm excited that we get to be together this weekend. I just love him so much! 


And of course, I'm beyond thankful for my husband and what a wonderful dad he is to our boys; how hard he works to provide for our family; and the sacrifices he makes being away from us traveling once a month. He loves his boys dearly, and we are thrilled to celebrate him this weekend, too. 


-TWO-
We made these Hawaiian Chicken Chile Kebabs earlier this week and they were delicious, not to mention healthy. Definitely add these to your summer grill rotation! 


-THREE-
I went into Sephora last week to pick up a gift card for my sister's birthday, and of course, in true Sephora fashion, they sucked me in with all the goodies in store, not to mention the creative displays. What caught my eye were the, basically, "Splurge vs. Save" displays. They had an expensive mascara labeled and then the affordable Sephora brand that does the same thing right next to it. So, I purchased this mascara for $12 {!!!}, which is basically a dupe of the cult Diorshow Mascara, which retails for $28.50. And I love it! Definitely use a light coat at first, let it dry a minute and build from there; I love the volume it gives to my lashes without being clumpy. 


-FOUR-
Speaking of things I've recently purchased, I took Annie's advice and bought this foldable pool for the kiddos at the beach. It's technically a pet pool, but after reading a lot of reviews on it, I'm thinking this is going to be great to have -- and great to be able to put in a suitcase. 

I have a feeling that Knox is going to be iffy about the sand, so I wanted to have a "clean" place for him to play in with water -- or even nap in! -- while we're out on the beach. And if I know his big brother, he'll be in it quite a bit, too. ;) 


-FIVE-
This is so random, but if you're ever struggling to find something for your kids to do on a hot summer day {or even a rainy day, or a freezing day...}, take them to PetsMart. My boys love to go see all the fish, guinea pigs, hamsters and cats up for adoption, and the dogs in training or at "day care." I'm telling you, it entertains them for at least an hour and the giggles I hear from them just make me smile so big. It's the little things, y'all! 


I hope y'all have wonderful weekends! 

Linking up with: AprilAmanda, Andrea and Katie 
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