A Glimpse Into Babywearing and Weights

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FABLETICS

babywearing workout proof

There are two types of babywearing workouts:

The one when you wear your baby as a tool, to add weight to yourself and to also soothe them. This is generally while they are little, don't talk, and can't reach around your with their arms yet.

Then there's the one that I had this morning. When your toddler is making a fool of himself, and you, by smearing banana all over the gym floor and then begging to be held. But then you hold him and he wants down. Cue, the Ergo and some help to restrain the beast that is your child.

But not to worry, wearing a thirty pound kettlebell on your back is nothing compared to a thirty pound toddler who kicks you when you're deep into your squat and then scratches your waistline and laughs. 

Really, though. I enjoy nothing more than working out with my baby boy. He was 4 weeks old when we got back to the gym, and he's spent most of his days in that Ergo, strapped to his mamma while she kicks booty. Literally.

It always seems to be when we need them to cooperate most, they decide to ruffle feathers. Old news, I know. So instead of an in-depth review of this bad-ass brand today, I'm going to prove to you that this brand is not only workout proof, but babywearing workout proof.

You're welcome.

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I'm wearing the Fabletics Camila Bra in clay in a medium. Honestly, it is a little loose on me. Granted, I don't have much to fill it up. However, it is ultra comfy, stays crazy cool through a sweaty workout, and the back is so cute. 

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This goody is best worn for slow weight lifting or yoga workouts, as it doesn't have a ton of support. But that's my jam, since there's not much to support. And it's nice and stretchy. 

Joey, obviously, is happy back there. And mamma got her squats and sumos in, even with the extra weight.

*This post does contain affiliate links and I may be compensated from the brand retailers. However, all opinions, photos and copy are my own. Thanks for supporting me and the brands I love!

Eggplant Parmesan

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dinner

for two

His right hand shook. All the time.

His face was long and narrow. It had lost all its chunk. Looking back at his baby photos now makes me wonder how we can come out of the womb so full of rosy fat cheeks, and then it’s up to us to keep the color in our face.

Even drinking water was hard. Drops of water would spill from the sides of his mouth and onto his heather gray tee, now hanging on him like a husband’s shirt a wife would sleep in. The water left dark spots, elongated rain drops, cascading down his abdomen. We tried to combat the mess by offering him a straw instead, but that failed, leaving shallow white scratches on his lip line and chin from the consistency of missing the straw with mouth.

I began parking in the reserved spaces. His room was on the second floor, but to get there from the normal parking spots, it required us to walk a block down the highway-like side road and cross at the too-shortly timed crosswalk, then across a parking lot and through the empty waiting room. But if you parked in the reserved spaces, you could walk in the back doors, climb sterile stairs and enter the second floor through a window lined and new-ish waiting room, always with a friendly nurse at the desk.

Besides, a parking ticket was worth the money at this point.

I hadn’t been to work in almost two months. Looking back, I’m thankful that I didn’t have a “real” job. I would of course have been fired. And gladly so. Any company that wanted to keep me away from where I really needed to be would have been on my literal shit list.

On the flip side, it wasn’t much better being self-employed. I had no form of income if I didn’t work. I left work that night of January 4th and left piles of undone work strewn about my desk, photos were left uploading from an unnamed import from an unremembered photoshoot. Emails were left not only unread but unnoticed, believing that they would be moved up the list on the morning of January 5th. And unless you knew me personally, and maybe not even then, you wouldn’t know these things. That the desk and inbox and camera would stay exactly as they were for months to come. Collecting dust and memories of “before,” never to be put back the same way again.

I wonder what the unforgiving and unempathetic clients I had then think now. The ones that sent the emails asking why I had dropped off the face of the earth with no warning, using harsh words and a stern tone of voice. Those emails and calls going unanswered, them asking for their deposit back since I failed on my end of the deal.

But I couldn’t give them their deposit back. I had spent it. Living. Spending it on hospital cafeteria food and gas to drive to Santa Clara and so much coffee that motherhood coffee intake even now seems insignificant in comparison.

In a way, I guess I was fired. I was just lucky to have done the work I had done on January 4th, I suppose.

I crawled in his bed with him, and we watched the gag reel from the Big Bang Theory. He laughed, but it wasn’t his laugh. It was hollow and too high pitched.

After dark, the air inside the hospital was stale. The windows never opened, and for some reason, in the daylight it seemed clearer. Like the sunshine could seep through the windows’ weather coating, but after dark, they sealed tighter and that air inside started to roll over onto itself and stopped moving.

The food there was rancid. To get to the cafeteria from his room, you had to walk down a grey hallway, too wide and with bars on the windows that looked down into the bare courtyard on one side and the parking garage on the other. Each time it felt as if we were walking, or wheeling, down the fictional hallway from Shutter Island. Families pushing their loved ones in wheel chairs, blank stares and half-nods of solidarity as you passed. Once in the cafeteria, your choices were slim. The tables something you’d see in a 1970’s schoolhouse cafeteria. Wood veneer, wobbly and lined up like a summer camp.

It was late, and the uneaten dinner on his table in the room next to his bed was now stale and cold. His answer when I asked if he was hungry was just a look. I didn’t need him to speak to understand what he needed.

Days were focused on incremental tasks, such as lifting his foot up to his knee in order to tie his shoe. But the actual tying wasn’t applicable yet. Just get your foot there, bud. Things like learning how to hold a fork, but getting the fork to the mouth wasn’t possible yet. We watched like a hawk as he ate, confirming each bite was the size a toddler might take, ensuring he wouldn’t choke on the too-soft wheat bread and whipped peanut butter.

I had a mere six minutes until the cafeteria closed. Pulling myself out of his bed next to him like a band-aid being pulled off a wound which was not yet healed. Putting the laptop on the bed next to his boney hips, and pushing the bedside button, lifting his head just a few inches higher than his chest.

“I will be back, ok?”

The dinner was eggplant parmesan. Doused in red sauce and cheese that was not quite melted on top. I made two plates in Styrofoam containers, added cold garlic bread and two small cartons of milk, one plain and one chocolate.

I hid the extra container in my purse. The nurses would surely scold me for feeding him something such as eggplant parmesan. After tracking each bite of food and each sip of water and each ice chip sucked on, a real dinner with mediocre marinara sauce would of course throw off their data.

He looked at the dinner like it was Mount Everest. Eyes wide but unwavering. Until this point, we made a point to not eat our own food in his room, as to not upset him. More so not to upset him so much that he would want to say something, and then realize he didn’t know how, and then be more upset.

His left hand reached over his body to grab the fork from my hand. I held the white crunchy container over his chest, close to his chin, and he slowly scooped a forkful of red sauce, making it to his own mouth. He chewed slowly. His eyes closed, his head tilted back, and then he swallowed twice.

His eyes opened and he stared at me. There was red sauce smeared on his right cheek and his left index finger.

His smile was unsymmetrical, lazy on his right side. His teeth were caked in unswallowed marinara sauce. He put down the fork, spilling eggplant parmesan on his brown blanket. His eyes did not leave mine for what felt like eternity. His smile plastered on his face, like that of a school child who was just told they could have more candy.

I slowly helped him eat the rest, plus some of mine.

I threw the containers in the trash can in the hallway four rooms down. If someone was going to get in trouble, let it be someone else.

My shoes, grey Toms that had been worn to unwearable measure, slipped off my feet and onto the floor. I took my hair out of its four-day worn ponytail, and lifted up the brown eggplant parmesan stained blanket and crawled under with him.

We watched the gag reel again, until I heard his breathing slow and his eyes were twitching but closed tight.

It was the only night I spent in the hospital. Breathing stale air and waiting for his 7 am wakeup call to try and walk on his own again.

But he knew. And I knew. He would never have to walk alone.

Beneficial Baby Budget

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HOW TO HAVE A BUDGET

with a toddler

Full disclosure – we didn’t really do much of the “budget baby” situation. I didn’t buy anything used, we purchased what we need on Amazon Prime for full price and never looked back. I had an Honest diaper subscription for the first year and paid an extraordinary amount for glass bottles and rubber Natursutton nipples.

However, now that we are in a parenting groove, we’ve learned a few tips and tricks. I will admit, some things are worth paying for. Those glass bottles and those expensive pacifiers, for instance, since they were the only ones Joey would take. And to be honest, I felt better not putting weird chemicals and plastic in his mouth all the time.

Other super expensive things that come with baby? Formula (if you don’t have the privilege of a great breastfeeding experience), diapers and wipes, and contraptions to hold them.

These are the things that dented our budget. That overdrew our checking account, that made it so we could only eat ramen for a lengthy bit of time. I wish I was kidding.

However, this was a situation I was glad to be in, looking back. I felt really good about how we were raising our newborn, and there were things I wasn’t willing to sacrifice for him, but would definitely sacrifice for us. Hence, ramen.

If you’re on a major budget, I am probably not the best example. I prefer to be totally transparent, so whether this makes you like me more or not, it is the truth.

Fast forward into toddlerhood, and we are no longer in the initial – first parent of a newborn scared of everything wondering if we are doing it wrong – phase. No, we are officially in the – how can we save some more money for private school or college without having to eat ramen – phase. I like this phase a lot more.

Some things still apply – Joey’s primary cup is made of stainless steel (not plastic), he uses the same expensive pacifiers, though I can’t remember the last time I replaced them, and many of his clothes are from the used clothing store in town.

Alternatively, we now buy Kirkland brand diapers and wipes, feed him whole milk instead of formula and prefer to let him wander instead of containing his wild being.

Though probably not mainstream, I do want to share our three most beneficial baby budget tips for toddlers.

  1. Joey has had a horrible time with diapers. He HATES getting his diaper changed, and for the longest time, we couldn’t figure out why. No major diaper rash, no irritation. But then it hit me – it hurts when I wipe him! The wipes themselves hurt.
    1. We can’t afford the expensive, sensitive skin, fragrance free wipes. I mean, we go through them like we do blueberries (Joey is quite messy, if you haven’t noticed).  And on top of that, I can’t afford the time to make my own wipes from fabric scraps and soap.
    2. What did I do? I kept the buttload of Kirkland wipes I had, and added a quarter cup of extra water to his diaper warmer. THEN, I added a tablespoon of coconut oil to the top of the pack and let it seep all the way through. It took two days and his little bum is much happier. Sometimes, I even add some coconut oil to the diaper I’m about to put on him, for extra measure. Soft bum, happy mum.
  2. Meals. Food for babies. It’s freaking expensive. Especially if you buy the pre-packaged snacks “made for toddlers” at the store. Give yourself a baby boy with the energy of a navy seal and you’ve got yourself broke as a joke.
    1. Joey snacks on meal-type foods. The only snacks that are really in our cupboards are dried fruit and granola bars. Throw in some Goldfish and some sweet potato chips and we have ourselves a snack party.
    2. For most snacks, Joey eats things like mandarins, avocados and parsnip fries. Believe it or not, fruit and vegetables are way cheaper than pre-packages snack foods. I know that this saves us a pretty penny, and keeps our cupboards and bodies clean.
  3. Finally, strategic child care. And when I say strategic, I mean PLANNED SO WELL THAT FRIENDS THINK WE HAVE NO FLEXIBILITY.
    1. An entire section of the upcoming Mompreneur Ecourse is focused on strategic childcare. That’s how important I think this is. It will cost more than enough to find childcare, nevermind actually pay for said childcare. Your time is money, literally, so have a plan and don’t spend your evening scrambling for a babysitter for the next morning.
    2. Figure out what you have in your budget for daycare, and then use it. It’s worth more than you think to have that sort of reliability in your life. Then, when needed, use the remaining days to take advantage of grandmas and friends and sitters. I get more done in the two days Joey goes to daycare than any other day, simply because I have the reliability of those days. 8-6, no matter what. That’s worth the few hundred dollars a month for me, even if I don’t get to work the other days at all.

I told you they were not mainstream J But this is what has been the most beneficial for us, as a family of three. We are small, and not super tight with money, this I know. But these are the tools we’ve implemented to keep our baby and ourselves healthy, on budget and happy.

xoxo

How to be REAL in an age of digital perception

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BEING REAL

when perception rules all

Perception is everything. All the good. All the bad.

In the social media world, for instance, perception can be formed in the blink of an eye. Or the glance of a scroll, I suppose. Each photo or caption is carefully crafted. Lies can be told, or the truth can be told, and no one the wiser.

We can actually purchase Instagram graphics, pay someone to write our captions. The imagery isn’t even of our real lives. The work in the photo isn’t even ours. It’s a photo of a top knot on someone else’s head, the shoes on someone else’s feet, goodies arranged on someone else’s desk.

So long as the imagery and verbiage is perceived as our own, no one the wiser.

However, it’s also this form of perception that can be intriguing. The perfectly curated, color coded, planned out feed is what followers are looking for. It’s what begs the popularity, the sponsored posts and affiliate links.

We work so hard to be perceived properly.

Just today, here are three examples of things I’ve done in order to better my digital perception:

  1. I curse like a polite sailor in real life, but if I put cuss words in my caption I might turn off some of my followers because I’m too crude for their comfort level.
  2. My toddler is wearing a diaper that is sagging so low that it’s painful to look at, but he won’t let me change it, so I’m just not going to show him in my Instagram stories today. I don’t want to see the DM of someone telling me to change his diaper.
  3. I AirDropped a photo of myself and Adam from my sister’s phone to my phone, then to my computer so I could edit it in Lightroom so it followed my “feed’s color story,” and also fixed my double chin, then AirDropped it back to my phone, then uploaded it to Instagram. I then opened a website to generate some hashtags on my computer, copied them and emailed them to myself, then opened my email on my phone, copied them from there, and posted them in a caption on Instagram. This is a lot of work for one cute photo of me and my husband.
  4. I am only 2 pages into my second book of 2018, but haven’t posted it on my blog yet because it was an impulse by from Target and I didn’t have it on my 2018 Reading List blog. Hence, isn’t following “the plan.”
  5. In an effort to get my posts set for the week ahead, I hid all of Joey’s toys behind the couch to my living room photos wouldn’t show the mess.

Also, I’m drinking a beer at 2 pm while I write this and my son is making lots of noise in his crib in the other room because he doesn’t want to nap and my dishwasher is full but not running because the noise bothers me and there are booger smears on my pants that I have no intention of scrubbing off anytime soon and I’m totally winging this post because it’s on my mind and I need a post for Tuesday.

Real life, but unseen.

It’s hard to be real in the digital world and not put a damper on the perception you’ve strived so hard to earn. To be honest, I wanted to prove that I could post “real” photos (unedited and technically bad) with great captions and still build an audience of engaged followers and blog readers and affiliates. I was wrong. As soon as I started curating my posts, from imagery to caption development, that audience became much more engaged, larger and best of all, a group of friends that I don’t even know!

However, I still strive to be undeniably authentic, raw and minorly edited.

Every time someone tells me that they love the realness in my posts, the little girl inside me does a happy dance. Because once upon a time, someone told me that I could be myself when I grew up. And then I grew up, and society seemed to scream “Don’t be yourself.”

Here are some of my favorite tips on how to be REAL in a world where digital perception reins all.

  1. Don’t try to please everyone. When you begin to focus more on quantity than quality, you lose your own quality. Sure, my swearing may turn off some people, but those people probably wouldn’t love me in real life either. My friends, both digital and real life, know I like to curse, and will either love me for it or call me out. Both is good. And like Jenna Kutcher says, you can’t make everyone happy – you aren’t Nutella.
  2. In regards to photos, edit edit edit. Find a style and STICK TO IT. To be honest, it really doesn’t matter what your photo is of, so long as it looks like yours. Especially as a business, branding is everything. And that includes the style of your photos. My best tip for this is to find and use a Lightroom preset. There are millions out there, and finding one that fits your style and brand vision will help tremendously. The goal is to have someone scrolling or reading, and know immediately that it’s you, simply because of the style of your photo.
  3. Post real life in the midst of the perfectly curated. On my Instagram account, this happens often. I post a lot of real life intermixed with the curated. On my blog, it’s a little bit less (more planned, less candid), and my Facebook is VERY real life every day. And as my business is found from all three of these platforms, each has its place. It’s important to remind those who already follow you, and tell any new tribe members, what your life is really like. That’s not to say that you should ALWAYS post real life mess, but the reminder that you are real is VERY important.
  4. Be brave. This, in my opinion, is the most important one. Be brave with yourself, your audience and your platform. Don’t be afraid to post or write and share. It can be terrifying to share the most intimate parts of your life. But society is craving real. Craving candid. Craving other vulnerable ladies. It’s ok to look and act and be scared. It makes your realness even better.
  5. Finally, digitally treat others how you’d like to be digitally treated. Complimentary comments, follows for your likers, sharing their names and handles, posting their blog, adding them as a Facebook friend. All these things matter, and make you so much more human than you would be if you didn’t. If the goal for your digital business is to grow, and find an engaged tribe, you have to be engaged too. Communicating makes you human, makes you real, makes you approachable.

Want to be the first to hear about the Mompreneur Ecourse or Podcast, launching soon? Sign up below! There may even be a freebie involved ;)

 

 

Arms of Love

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EM'S

love story

The fastest way to work on yourself is to bring someone else into the equation.

The first time I heard this quote, I immediately rebutted with an out loud, “Ya, ok…”

But then, my father in me, started looking at it like a math equation.

1 + 1 = 2
1 + 0 = 1

Take it even further.

1 x 1 = 1
1 x 0 = 0

There is no logical way you can add or multiply, and end up with less.

Ok, ok, I know what you’re thinking. Because I was thinking it, too.

Being alone is important. Self love can only be achieved when you learn to love yourself, by yourself, for yourself.

Let me ask you one question.

During the time you’ve been alone, have you grown substantially as an empathetic, compassionate, emotionally strong and mature human being?

I want to tell you a story about someone I love very, very much. Maybe someday, I’ll tell you my own story.

My sister in law, Em, came up to the house one night, and in deep need of condolence. She was struggling.

After years of focusing on her education, and sacrificing large life moments and milestones because of it, she has found herself very close to receiving her doctorate at UC Davis. She is seriously kicking you know what in the professional education world.

Em has had some amazing moments over the last decade or so. Some spectacular memories, some fantastic opportunities, and has grown substantially as a wonderful, faithful human.

After a very long conversation and a few bottles of wine, her and Adam and myself found ourselves at a crossroads – Emily was craving connection. With us, her friends, someone to grow old with, God, and eventually, children.

For so long, Em has been focused on herself. And yes, she has been madly in love with someone, and thought for a long time she would marry him.

But then she didn’t.

Her immediate reaction was that she wanted some time alone. To focus and finish school. To graduate, find her place in the world of tenure and professing and to settle down. Her hesitation was that love would get in the way of all the hard work and sacrifices she has already made. And it felt necessary to be alone to work on the things within herself she wanted to work on. Those things, she told us, were:

  1. Communication
  2. Prioritizing family
  3. Faith

Since we didn’t have the emotional energy to cross yet another bridge of “what’s next,” we left the conversation at that cross roads.

If you find someone right away, see how it goes. If you don’t, that’s ok, too.

This was the day before I left for southern Cali, and on the plane, I listened to Dale Partridge say, “The fastest way to work on yourself is to bring someone else into the equation.”

This kind of tipped my opinion upside down. Until then, I had always thought that my time “alone” had been the most productive in growth. Upon further recollection, though, I realized that “alone” has a very negative connotation, and in many cases, is completely wrong.

  1. Yes, I had been “alone” when I moved home from college. But then I wasn’t. I had my family.
  2. Yes, I had been “alone” that afternoon, before I found God in the sunset. But then I wasn’t. My angel friend (we’ll talk about him another time) had brought me to Him.
  3. And then I had Him. And I was no longer alone.
  4. Yes, I had been “alone” when I learned I could be alone. But then I wasn’t. Adam walked around the corner and scooped me up and never left my side again.
  5. I have not been alone since.

Mind you, this part of my life happened within a 60 day span, the summer of 2009.

Ok, back to Em.

Upon my return from Disney, I learned that Emily had a date with someone, who we all have known for years. And that she was very excited about it.

That date was two nights later, and here is what her text said to me the next morning:

“Best. Date. Ever. I didn’t really feel like a first date. But you probably could have guessed I would say that. Thank you so much. I have never been so excited about anything or just life in general.”

Never been so excited about anything, or life in general.

I highly doubt Em would have been this excited about life in general after spending weeks alone, working on herself.

Since this date, Emily has called me nearly every day. We text all day, and she came to spend a week with us for Christmas. This is more communication I’ve had with Emily in over three years.

So, with one interaction with another person, who sparked her, she has already begun working on her three priorities. Communication. Family. Faith.

After this, I started journaling about marriage and relationships. Jotting down moments I remember from my own, things I’ve noticed and experiences I’ve witnessed.

None of them that have equated into more, or better, have happened alone.

I plan to write and share more about this theory, but I’d like to leave you with one last thought for the night.

Safety is found in the arms of love.

Reading List

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READING LIST

for the mompreneur

Sharing what I read this last year is not on my priority list. I did not read enough.

I said this to myself as I yet again put a book down and grab another at 1 am on a Tuesday night.

Really. How could I have read 10 books this year?! But somehow, I did. To be honest, I don't remember reading them, but I dang sure remember what I gleaned.

My reading list for 2018 is pretty ambitious. But I hear it gets easier to read more as your children grow. And let's be honest. If I can do 10 books during my first experience with a toddler, I can for sure do more now.

So what did I read? Some things were great, some not so much. But nonetheless, here they are!

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FICTION

The Mountain Between Us

Oh my, you guys. I picked this one up on the airport and had it read and done the next day. Honestly, picked it up because it has Kate Winslet on the cover, and she's, well, da bomb. Also, my favorite childhood book was Hatchet, and as I started reading the back cover of this one, I was brought back to my 10 year old self diving yet again into the depths of the woods after a plane crash. It's deep and dark and suspenseful and not a moment of dull. Loved it. 5 stars. Or more.

Big Little Lies

This is not news to anyone that this is a must read. I started this book, got anxious and instead watched the HBO series in two days flat and then finished reading the book. Both great. Highly recommended. Book, of course, is better than the show. But both great. Also, it's pretty rare I don't expect an ending in a book like this and this one threw me. Bravo Liane.

Two by Two

Nic Sparks will always have my heart, but I have to be in the right season of my life to read his books. Mostly because I have to remember that the men in these books are not real men, and the romance that exists here is literal fairytale. I have a tendency to be mad at Adam for the week post finishing a Nic book. I mean, why can't he take me on a date in a row boat and let me feed the geese and then kiss me in the rain? Is that too much to ask?! However, this little number (or quite long read if you care about number of pages) is a good one, and actually is more about parenthood than romance. Which I loved, obvi.

Since We Fell

Again, super quick read for me. And IMO, Gone Girl status. Go with it. It's a goodie.

NONFICTION

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NONFICTION

Toddler Wise

Did you happen to watch my Insta Story about me reading this book? Well, basically, I LOVED Babywise. Pretty much lived and breathed it for the first year of Joey's life. So, when we were looking for a little bit of guidance in the toddler world, this was my go-to. However, I'm sad to say I don't super recommend it. What I gleaned was a fairly intense and wordy way to say, "Let your kids explore and be curious, but not too much." 

David and Goliath

Well, Malcolm Gladwell never disappoints. And this was my second time reading this book. I don't remember reading it all the way through either time, however, I enjoy every second. I like to pick his books a little bit, and read the bits and pieces that resonate with me in the moment. 

Made to Stick

Oh my gosh, my praise for this book. I found it when I was researching my mission statement strategies for clients, and it took me a while to read. It was worth every moment. It's all about ideas and why some work and some don't. So intriguing and interesting and super entertaining.

Are You Useful?

This book was given to me by a friend when we were talking at length about how to effectively run a gym. Long term, this book was great. It is written by a fairly elementary author, which is why it's also so endearing. The book references physical strength as a way to become mentally strong as well, and how we can use our bodies for good in relationships, business and weight lifting. I would describe it as a Why-To exercise book in the best way.

31 Days of Prayer for the Dreamer and the Doer

This book. Round three for me. I love this goody. There is a prayer for anything, and when I'm searching for how to talk to God about what I'm going through, this is what I reach for. A bedside (or purse, let's be honest) necessity. Also, Jen and Kelly are super badass and idols for me.

Show Your Work

I left the best for last. Not pictured because it has since been passed on to friends, but this book is BADASS. I loved it. LOOOOVVED IT. It's real and honest and short and sweet and so so so true. It affirmed that we do what we do because we love it, so why not SHOW IT OFF?! Success is found in the process, not the result.

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2018

My reading list for 2018 is short as of the moment, but I like this spontaneous for the most part. There are few norms (Jesus Calling, my all time every day in my purse devotional), but these are all HIGHLY recommended and will be read pronto.

What Alice Forgot

Why Not Me?

Small Great Things

The Woman in the Window

Tribe of Mentors

January 4th

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JAN 4

the beginning

Carey was working on making a wedding dress out of butcher paper.

She had a mannequin. One of the vintage ones with the gorgeous wooden stand and linen body. The ruffles had begun to form around the bust and she was working to start the bodice, each pearl tipped pin strategically placed and each fold creating a stunning silhouette.

Our broadway office as dimly lit by the chandelier and the leaves had fallen outside the open second story windows, letting in the fresh air that smelled of rain and tempura from the fast food place below our building. It was dark, and the heater in our building was always on high, making even the coldest of nights feel like an old man’s scotch and cigar by the fire kind of night in our brick lined second story abode.

I left before Carey was done with her night, snapping a photo outside our door, looking in. It’s black and white now, the original color lost to social media filters and cell phone purchases.

Adam called as I drove home, telling him that I was on the Esplanade, headed his direction. We talked about what to eat for dinner, how long he’d been at the house and if the dogs had been fed yet.

He talked normal, like all was right in the world.

It was the very cold and windy night of January 4th, 2013.

I had bangs then, and I was wearing a baby blue cardigan, extra soft and long, pockets in the front. My hair was in a bun low on my neck, and my leggings and pink studded flats were not adequately warm for the night we were having.

I pulled into our driveway, marveling at our Christmas lights that Adam had so graciously put up for me. Our Christmas tree still shone through my front window. Per tradition, the tree doesn’t come down until my birthday, 5 days later. Little did I know then that it would be much, much later than that this year.

Adam didn’t live there yet. It was just me at the time. Tony was on Christmas break from college, helping Mom and Dad at home with cows, and Adam was living in a rundown and quite cold house across town with some other friends.

Adam met me in the driveway, face serious. He was wearing a red shirt and a black fleece vest.

The drive to the hospital, a mere 5 blocks away, is lost to me. I don’t remember if I drove, or if Adam drove. What vehicle did we take? Did I go in the house before we left to get there? Where was my purse or my phone or my house key?

Auntie Shelly was already there, Adam said. She was not on shift that night but had scrubbed up and went in, simply so she could be in the ER when he arrived.

He was being air flighted in, and the trauma team was ready and waiting, she said. She met us at the door.

It was under construction, making the ER waiting room also the main entrance to the hospital. The door to the actual emergency department was a teeny beige heavy door with a simple silver doorknob at the end of a wide but very dark hallway.

Shelly said something about a social worker.

What the hell is a social worker and why do I need one?

She also told me that I would be able to hear the helicopter arrive, and that there would be a call for the trauma team over the intercom every two minutes as they got closer.

The voice on the intercom was a woman. Her words pierced the air around me, seemingly overly loud and unnecessarily harsh.

We sat in that hallway, on the floor. I sat with both my legs to my right side. My mind does not paint any sort of picture for me now, what the rest of the world looked like in there. If there was an empty chair or a waiting room or a person trying to help me find somewhere to go. I didn’t cry. I focused on a piece of lint on the brown tile floor in front of me.

They had not arrived yet. No helicopter sounds. No one I knew other than Adam and Shelly in my space. Shelly would disappear and then reappear often, back and forth through the heavy beige door. She would just look at me, and then turn around again.

“How bad?” were the only words I could articulate.

The answer, I already knew.

This blonde woman was kneeling in front of me. Her name was something that reminded me of a cartoon character and she spoke so slowly I wanted to slap her and tell her to just spit it out. Her words blurred together, and she looked at me with a stare like I had just been told news that I couldn’t handle. But there was no news. He wasn’t here yet. No one was here yet.

Why were they not here yet?

The intercom rang and two people dressed in all blue sprinted in front of me and went through the heavy door.

Did you know the helicopter shakes the whole hospital? Its wings moving enough air to make me feel like I was going to lift out of this life, right here on the first floor of a concrete and steel building.

It had been hours, I’m told. I had been sitting there for hours.

I finally did a scan. Our pastor was sitting in the waiting room. He didn’t approach me.

At some point, Mom and Dad and Scott got there. To be honest, the first memory I have of my parents is three days later. 

Shock must have set in, since how I got from the floor and through the heavy beige door is non-existent to me now.

The slow talking blonde woman was still there. Her words meaning nothing to me.

There was another man now. His hair wild and grey and his glasses thick. He was dressed in street clothes but they called him Doctor. His Nike tennis shoes were worn well and he spoke coldly.

I was last in line. All these other people entered the room before me. Who were they? Why are they here?

He laid there, on a gurney. There were machines everywhere and all I could see was the recessed hole where your chest meets your neck, the sunken space where your collar bone meets its mate. It was empty.

“Where is his Saint Christopher? Why is it not here? Who took it off him? Put it back on him!” I screamed at nobody. I was suddenly in a time warp. The white and green room was spinning around me, and I was screaming but no one could hear me. Why can't they year me? Is my voice real? Is this real? Am I real?

I chased a woman out of the room, begging her to tell me where his necklace was. She turned around and spoke to some other person dressed in gray. All gray. They responded with some sort of nod and continued to briskly walk away.

“He didn’t have one on, honey. I’m sorry, we don’t have it.”

The next moments are so much of a blur. This street clothed “doctor” had a meeting with us in this box of an office. I don’t know who “us” was or what he said. Words like “brain swelling” and “Glasgow scale” and “waiting.”

I walked out of the door by myself. Adam must have followed me. I stared at him, and fell to my knees. I sobbed and punched Adam’s shoulder and couldn’t get my feet to work.

He picked me up and carried me like a child, slung between his arms as I retreated back into myself, only to come up for air three days later, when a man named Chris spoke the only word I needed to hear in order to breathe again.

Hope.

Rest

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THE SEASON OF REST

and why it's important

This post is inspired in whole by Sadie, my dear friend who has taught me the true meaning of rest, replenishment and self-care.

Tonight, as I sit here in my bed wayyy past my bedtime, I’m reflecting on my year.

And mostly, on how we all hold these extreme expectations for the end of the year. Examples?

Let’s talk creative biz clients. Business owners always have big plans for the end of the year. We are going to send out a brand spanking new mailer, all the bells and whistles, the first of the year. We are going to launch our new line. The new site will be live and the product shop will have made way over our projections by December 29th.

Let’s talk our own work. My books are going to be up to date, I will have completed my 2018 power sheets and goal setting strategy and be on track to start my new year off right with social media campaigns. All of my 2017 projects will be finished, billed and paid.

Let’s talk deadlines. The timeline on the contract says “hope to launch before Christmas.” The job was done and wrapped up with a neat little bow and delivered like a present on Christmas morning and my client checked their email during unwrapping with their children and was so happy to have had it completed for that day that they sent me flowers as a thank you!

Let’s talk health, and food. We won’t overeat. We will have discipline and not eat all the cookies. We will KEEP our workout schedule and if our jeans begin to feel a little tight, we will restrain from yet another cinnamon roll for breakfast and instead eat a yogurt.

Let’s talk relationships. I will be gifting everyone I love something this year, even if it is something small. I will make sure to call all my relatives on Christmas, or even Christmas Eve, and have my Thank you notes written before they get back from their Christmas travels. My husband will know how much I love him because I got him the greatest gift that we was not expecting, and he will love me so much to get me the gift I really wanted but didn’t tell him I wanted. The Christmas blessing will be flawless and my dad will praise me later for doing such a great job. No fights will be had around the dinner table and no one will flake last minute and not show up.

Did any of these things come true?

Didn’t think so.

Why do we do this to ourselves?! This is a legitimate question.

You guys! This is unreasonable. This is way too much pressure!

Winter, these deep dark days of little light and warmth are not meant for us to “thrive.” Yet, we put this weight on our shoulders that just because the man made calendar year is ending, we have to be “complete” too.

Shame on us! If we really listened to our bodies, our hearts and minds and souls, here is what we would hear:

“Take reprieve from the light, and learn to love the darkness. Reach deep within yourself, and rest. Rest with the intent of work, but the work is yet to be done. Use these long nights as they are meant to be used, with sleep and recovery and growth. Darkness invites us to lay low, to take cover from all the bustle of nature and light and competition. In darkness, we use our own nourishment and heal. The cold brings hibernation, a way of living death, so that we may naturally rest, recover and learn to grow again, once the warmth and light hits our souls.”

Yet, here we are, working the week after Christmas. Working the week after our Savior celebrated His human arrival on Earth. Do you think Mary worked that week? I don’t think so. I think she was so astounded by the fact that she, the virgin Mary, birthed a child, the Child of God, that she RESTED. She swaddled and nursed and slept. Her body, her soul and her spirit had been through the most trying of times, and she took reprieve in the darkness, surrounded my wise men and the Holy Spirit and her soul mate, and savored the Savior.

What if we didn’t? What if we didn’t hustle during this time? What if we did what all the nature and spirits are nudging us to do?

Would the world really stop turning? No. Would your business fail? No. Would you feel like you were less than? No. And why? Because when the light and warmth finally does hit your face naturally, and you rested instead of shoveling snow, you can gracefully watch the snow melt the path in front of you and you can walk without falling. You can stand taller and more gracefully tackle your dreams.

This pressure. This pain. This perseverance that is so heavy on your heart this season. Let it go, let it pass without so much as a glance back. And next year, when the days begin to get shorter and the nights colder, take the cue to retreat back into yourself.

If you’re really wondering how it might go, know this.

My goals for 2018 are not set, and my books are a mess. But tax day isn’t until April and my goals don’t determine my dreams. It’s currently four days after Christmas, and frankly, I’m pretty sure no one has noticed that the job isn’t done yet. I’m not sorry I ate the extra cinnamon roll because it was delicious and I didn’t gift anyone anything I didn’t think they’d love and use – and guess what, the people I love don’t need gifts to know I love them.

I’ve cooked and written and slept more than I have in years, just in the last two weeks. My baby is happy as a clam to go down his new slide all day and I’m pretty happy to drink tea and watch him.

My friends, my prayer for you this season is that you take what time we have left to rest, and rest well. Soon, the days will be longer and the temperature warmer and the hustle will start all over.

Resolutions That Don't Make Me Cringe

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NEW YEAR'S RESOLUTIONS

that don't scare me

This year, my resolution is to make resolutions that don't scare me. 

Feel me?

I feel the need to stop making resolutions for myself that imply that something is wrong with me.

Like losing weight, or eating healthier, or working harder, keeping a cleaner house, or whatever. Most resolutions imply that we aren't doing something well enough, and we need to be BETTER at something that we seem to be failing at.

To be honest, I don't really want to be better at anything. I just want to be a better person. For myself, for my family, for God. So instead of making resolutions that make me feel less than any of that, I am making resolutions that actually make me happy. Things that are totally doable, will make me happy while doing them, and better my life in itty bitty little ways.

Without further ado:

  1. Take care of my skin and stop going to bed with my makeup on.
  2. Wash my hair more than twice a month.
  3. Watch Friends another time all the way through.
  4. Be graceful.
  5. Wear bright clothes.
  6. Play more cards.

Listen. It’s possible to work on the internal, deeper meaning stuff, all day every day. Maybe not all day, but a lot. And in the midst of that work, you forget, or regret, to do other things. Like wash your face.

The same as when you get so caught up in your skin care routine that you forget to pray. It goes both ways.

I think that resolutions should be more about concrete, personal goals, rather than businessy stuff. I can share my business goals another time, but for today, let’s talk about (what apparently is a problem I have) personal hygiene.

Skin care. I have been literally washing my face in the morning, if that, applying my makeup, and going about my day. You guys, that is it. No joke. Under eye circles, eh, I’m a mom. Smeared eyeliner from yesterday, eh, nobody got time to remove that. Mascara from three days ago, well, my eyelashes seem to get longer that way.

No. Just, no. I’ve got blackheads that could stay with me until I die if I don’t do something soon, and my poor nose area is so dry that it has to work really hard to produce enough skin cells every day.

Nope. This year, I am washing my face at night. Exfoliating twice a week. Applying eye cream and moisturizer, and dare I say it, SUNSCREEN. I do live in California, mind you. It is always sunny here.

And for the hair washing thing? Well, I had a nightmare that my dry shampoo made all my hair fall out. And then I googled it and apparently that happens. I’ve got to wash my hair more often.

But my favorite hair day is day 9. This could pose a major problem.

FRIENDS. Here is something I truly believe. Every time I watch Friends, Netflix adds a deleted scene. I promise, it has not been played before. Just today, I watched as Ross told Phoebe something, I swear, he had never said before. There’s no way I missed it 25 other times. This can’t be true.

So I’m vowing to watch it again. And again. In an effort to catch all the scenes Netflix deems needed.

As far as being graceful? This is running in tangent with my 2017 resolution of offering more grace. Not only do I want to offer it this year, I’d like to have some. Attract it, enact it, example it and enforce it. This one dives a little deeper into the deeper meaning stuff. But I'm not putting too much weight on that. I more just want to keep going with my 2017 resolution. So far, so good.

Have you seen my closet sales lately, on my IG stories? You’ll find that most of what I’m ditching is neutral. Why you might ask? Well, I saw some photos of me this last year, and all the ones I like, I’m wearing something bright. Not neutral.

So to the closet I will go and major purge will ensue. And then to the thrift store and Nordstrom sales I will go and purchase all things bright red and black and pink. Because, color. No more beige.

Last but not least, cards.

Once upon a time, mostly the years right after college, we played cards a lot. Mostly because we were broke as a freaking joke and had nothing better to do. But also because it was fun. And with jobs and babies and housekeeping, playing cards has gone out the window. My goal this year is to gather my tribe around my table more often and pour more wine and play more cards. If you’d like to join, please come. It’s quite fun.

Why Amazon Prime Runs My Life

Really though. If it wasn’t for Amazon Prime, there are certain things that would happen in our household.

Like first, there would be no cleaning supplies. And that includes hygienic things, too. Whether it’s hand soap, dish soap, laundry soap, Clorox wipes, shampoo or baby wipes, seriously, nothing would be clean. Nothing.

Second, we would have no snacks. I buy all of our fresh produce from the market or from a local fresh supermarket, but snacks stuff for Joe? Amazon. Peter Rabbit pouches, gluten free pretzels, veggie sticks, etc. Things that are just a little too hard to make myself, I order from Amazon.

Pretty much any baby supply ever would never end up in our house. Literally everything Joey owns is either ordered on Amazon or picked up in Target for a retail therapy run. Not kidding, not even a little. Bottles and washcloths and nail clippers and nose suckers and all.

Technology would not work. As in, none of our phones or computers would be charged, my backup drives would have failed and printing would cease to exist. 

So ya, Amazing Prime pretty much runs our house on an everyday basis.

And though tis the season for gift giving, we can so quickly forget that we should probably not blow our budget on things other people don’e need and instead gift ourselves the everyday luxury of having essentials delivered to our door.

My gift of the year? An Amazon Prime membership for literally everyone I love.

I get a lot of questions from friends and Insta friends about what I could possibly order on Amazon Prime so often, and how in fact it makes sense to me. So for fun, I’m sharing my most recent list of orders from the Prime, and also my top 5 things to have for Thanksgiving (many overlap…) that you can get in two days flat from the Prime.

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ORDERS

 
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Ok first, let’s talk about how I got this bad boy. Stephen’s Free Stuff. Meaning I got it for free. FREE. And also, I freaking love this thing and it’s the best non-$40 I ever spent. I even reviewed it on Amazon, and I’m gifting it to all my momma friends, new or seasoned. You need it. I need it. We all need it.

 
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Remember this? Yep, Primed for $24

 
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They fit Instagram prints from Artifact Uprising just perfectly, and also, notes from my husband on the back of said prints, promising that he won’t buy another boat for a while.

 
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Because Adam stole mine to use for some fishing bait concoction. And this one is frosted and pretty. Use it to spray olive oil. As in, on roast chickens, in a baking tin instead of nonstick spray, on roasting veggies, etc. 

 
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Still obsessing over this book and it has really expanded my horizons since I read it. You should too. Also be looking for an Insta challenge based off this book soon.

 
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THINGS YOU NEED

The Year of Cozy

This ring light for your phone

You know, for taking the best table selfies possible

The Misto

As stated above. Just get one.

Half Bakes Harvest’s Cookbook

This Candle

It smells like the best Thanksgiving sunset of your dreams.

Wear All the Babies

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WEAR ALL THE BABIES

why I love babywearing and why you should, too

Let’s talk for a hot minute about babywearing.

First, you’re preggo. And frankly, you wish, so badly, that you could take that baby off of you so heaven forbid you can COOL DOWN a little.

When I was working out while pregnant, I was so jealous of all the moms that could take their babies out of the carrier and lay them on a blanket, finish their get-ups and flutter kicks and bridges, and do a pushup all the way down without their belly hitting the floor first.

Second, after you have this tiny little human, and your belly ever so slowly begins to go back to the new normal, you wish so so badly you can put them back in, if only for a minute so you can GET SOME SLEEP.

No? Just me? Ok, didn’t think so.

This, my friends, is how babywearing made my life manageable. Notice I say manageable. Not great, not doable, not better, and certainly not easy. But, totally manageable. I mean, we are all living and happy and developing well and adjusting to this new thing, parenthood and childhood.

What we can so quickly forget is that babies need to adjust, too. This “baby” thing is totally new to them, just as this “parent” thing is totally new to us. Once I realized that we were learning together, not just trying to stay alive, it was much easier to understand his needs as they correlated with mine.

Something I found super early on was that this baby wanted back inside my belly almost as bad as I wanted him to be, too. But, alas, we cannot make that happen, nor do we really want to. So skin to skin, tummy to tummy, heart to heart is as close as we can get.

At first, the easiest thing to do was to accept the fact that this babe needed sleep, and so did I. And so sleeping on my chest was what we did. I soon figured out that I needed to do other things, too. Like laundry and eat and make dinner and WALK.

Enter, babywearing.

It was not uncommon at the very beginning, for me to strap on my Moby wrap and let that skin to skin contact happen. We all know that breastfeeding is ridiculous and mostly wonderful, and that sometimes it’s just easier to not wear a shirt. I mean, you’ll be whipping that thing out in no time anyway. For me, when we were alone and home and comfy, a shirtless baby and momma would be all wrapped up together in that Moby, happy and sleepy and full and perfect.

The babywearing continued into the night time witching hours, the social outings galore and then finally, back to the gym. Shirts on and all.

Joey is now 15 months old, and the babywearing trend has not faded, not even a little. And until he is too big for me to carry, it will stay the path.

Because of this experience, I want to share my passion, reasonings, tips and tricks and loves of babywearing with you all. But also because of this, it’s too much to share in a single post.

So coming at you the next three weeks:

  • Babywearing and the newborn bubble
  • Babywearing and fitness
  • Babywearing lifestyle

Coming at you this Thursday is all about the newborn bubble, and this was my most fondly remembered stage.


Ok, ok. But why should you care? I know that these “series” things are hard to follow and you might lose interest in a hurry and only read about the stage you’re currently in and then dismiss the rest. Can I ask you, friend, stick with me?

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Because that’s what I did, and then I wished I had prepared. Each phase of babywearing is different, and I would have taken even more joy and comfort and excitement in knowing how and what was coming next.

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Because there’s a GIVEAWAY with each post! I want to share this joy of babywearing with all of you, so with each babywearing post, I’ll be giving away a sling, carrier, membership, or something awesome to a lucky winner. Does this entice you?

I’m so thankful to all of you and for all of you. Many of you have stuck with me through this whole mommyhood thing, and now you support me sharing all about it. For that, I am eternally in your debt, and can’t wait to share the love with you.

Xoxo for now.

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Taking a Break

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I DIDN'T NEED A VACATION

 

I needed a social media hiatus

I didn't need a vacation, I needed a social media hiatus. 

The moment I knew this was the case? When I remembered what someone I don't know in real life posted about on Instagram, but couldn't remember what my husband was doing tomorrow.

I had this plan, you see. I was going to blog twice a week and post on Instagram every day and take better photos that complimented my brand. I was going to story more of my every day, share and show my work, answer the influx of DMs about how I do my hair and also finish writing my book. 

I totally did this, for like, a month.

And it worked, I have to admit. My following grew, my engagement was off the charts. I was being asked to be an influencer for brands and speak at different meetings and classes and I was also being HIRED. Which is the goal. The ultimate goal. To make money, to make a living off of sharing what I love.

Here's what happened:

I got so busy doing what I loved that I missed also doing what I love. 

It goes both ways - I got so busy sharing that I missed working, and I got so busy working that I missed sharing. 

There has got to be a better way. 

It was like I had my healthy smoothie ingredients all cleaned and put into the blender, and then I turned it on and it exploded all over the counter and on the ceiling and stained my white shirt. Turns out, healthy smoothies kind of taste gross anyway.

There is one thing I am ultra proud of though - I didn't compromise. I was intentional about my priorities, and yes, some suffered, but nothing was given up. Not family time, not my fitness, not my food choices, and not my sleep. 

So what now? Well, I got what I was going for - work I wanted. And now it's time to do that work.

There's a time and a place for putting your head down, working hard, and coming up for air when you need to. I'm in that time, and happy to be there. 

So for the meantime, that meant less sharing, more working. But I know that that won't last. Because there's also a time and a place for screaming from rooftops and sharing all those baby smiles and shoes and recipes and run away dogs.

Ok, but since there haven't been any stories for like, two weeks, here's what has been going down in the Andreini household and Studio 22 walls:

  1. I learned how to make soft, flaky, buttery crackers, paleo style, And Joey is obsessed. As am I.
  2. So many of my friends are pregnant and have newborns and I'm so blessed to be able to be present for them as much as I can be. 
  3. Adam has been literally fishing his tail off. Trip after trip while also working his full time gig. So he's been gone a lot, but when he's home, it's so so wonderful.
  4. Joey has learned this deep scream cry thing that is absolutely horrendous.
  5. I've been working (a little) on the upcoming Mompreneur ecourse that is set to launch next month. So stay tuned.
  6. I've had the same piles of laundry on my bed/couch/floor/dresser/anywhere there's a clean surface for over a week. I just keep moving them around instead of putting them away.
  7. I'm drinking rose at 3:30 pm on a Monday.
  8. I have binge watched Parenthood for the last two days while Joey was at my mom's. I literally didn't even get out of my pajamas yesterday and I worked during the parts I remembered from the first time I binge watched it years ago.
  9. I went shopping with my momma friends at the used baby clothing store in Chico today with the babies after we worked out and it was the highlight of my week. If you had asked me if I would be doing that 3 years ago, I would have laughed at you. And now it's freaking awesome.

How to Deal in the Midst of Working and Throes of Motherhood

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WHEN THE PLAN DOESN'T GO ACCORDING TO PLAN

how to deal

This, my friends, is the most commonly asked question from working mother to working mother –

How do you balance it all?

What I’ve learned, so far anyway, is that you really can’t. All you can do is take it moment by moment, day by day, week by week, and pray for the best.

But some moments, days and weeks just simply don’t work. Part of what makes it all so hard to balance is that when us mommas try to make priority lists, we can’t seem to find the bottom. Everything might as well be written with the number “1” next to it, because it’s all IMPORTANT.

Trying to put kids before work, or work before kids, or self before work or husband before kids, or anything in between, simply just isn’t possible. Throw in friends’ celebrations of insta fame, family phone calls about which tea to buy and delivering too-small diapers to the local shelter, and you miss the mark on everything, it seems.

Yet somehow, we find a way. Each night, we go to bed, our kids and our husbands and our selves fed (pretty much), clean (pretty much), and loved (a lot).

But, I ask again, HOW?

The day to day balance of it all not only takes practice, but discipline. And a whole lot of self-awareness, I’m coming to realize. And that’s not easy stuff. Realizing that you set yourself up for a small disaster that morning is not an easy thing to swallow, and neither is knowing that you ate that donut when you should have had an egg.

Pay for that later.

I’m not saying, in any way, that I have this down. Not even a little. But I have managed to stay pretty much afloat, and for that, I can only attribute success to God. However, I have been able to figure out and enact some “protocol” if you will, that has helped be balance motherhood and working, so I thought I’d share.

First, I always assume that things are going to go according to plan.

If I don’t, then I end up taking too much time, energy and resources out of the rest of my day to plan for something that may or may not happen. For example, if the plan is to drop Joey off at daycare at 8:15 and not pick him up until 5:30 to go straight home, then I don’t pack an extra set of clothes for him, my sling, or any snacks.

But what if the plan goes awry? Well, I’ll get to that.

Second, I give myself as much “me” time as I think I need.

Whether it’s none, 15 minutes or two hours, I always give myself that grace. Sometimes I’m excited to get right to work, so I don’t take much downtime, if any. Other days, I need a moment alone with coffee, or I have the urge to write, or I am worried about a friend that needs to vent. I take that time, no questions, no apologies. It keeps me human, sane and healthy.

But what if there really is NO TIME? Well, I’ll get to that.

Third, I never schedule things day-of.

I try, really hard, to not make last minute plans. UNLESS it’s something I really, really want to do. But so long as I keep my schedule as it stood that morning when I woke up, I know that I can accomplish everything, be on time and not rush to finish.

But what if that’s not possible? Well, I’ll get to that.

I have found that these three things have kept most of my days smooth and fairly stress free.

But what about all the “but what if”s?

My friends, the Type A in me can not, would not, will not, leave those alone.

So I made a flowchart.

This flowchart (made prettier for you, mine is on a post-it note in my Jeep), has helped me through almost every balancing decision I’ve needed to make this last year.

Disclaimer – please don’t use this flowchart for life and death situations. This is really meant for the everyday balancing act. Trust me when I say, this will not get you out of a speeding ticket, missed family dinner or escaped pets running down the road. Sorry.

13 Weeks to Goal Time

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THE JOURNAL OF ALL JOURNALS

FOR GOAL SETTING

Accountability is something that can feel like the dreamer’s worst nightmare.

Many days, entrepreneurs and lone biz owners and creative dreamers work alone. This allows procrastination and excuses to take over, and for self-discipline to fly right out the window.

At least that’s my struggle.

And I actually have a team to keep hold me accountable. My ladies in the studio are my partners in crime, and we keep each other in check quite often. However, that’s only if we share our dreams and plan with each other, and sometimes, there just isn’t enough time or brain space to keep all these details straight for one another.

This year was a huge transition in my business. I went from graphic design agency to a one woman show - mompreneur blogger and biz coach. With this shift came big changes in goals and dreams and ideas, and the road to get there was unknown and scary to me.

I needed a new way to outline my new goals, and the steps to get there. Enter, the Best Self Journal.

I should note that this is not a sponsored post. I really, really just love this planner, and think it’s the perfect tool for anyone making this shift in dream shaking.

The most wonderful thing about this planner is that it helped me to articulate my goals, and the steps to get there, in a very real and understandable way. Best part? It keeps the WHY at the forefront of each goal. Why do I want to do this? As a lover of the WHY, I love that I can refer to this when I feel a little lost or unmotivated or like I’m failing. And I love that there is a timeframe attached – 13 weeks.

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What My Goals Are

Launch and sell digital NHQ products and services

Nicole&Co. site and store live

Write and publish 25 blogs

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How Am I Doing

  1. This goal has changed shape a little bit, and instead of launching NHQ products online, I decided to shift that into offering Nicole&Co. business coaching services and products. But it’s going wonderfully so far. After being able to outline and articulate my services, I was able to list them online, price them for potential clients, and even start working with some new businesses. What’s left to do? The product side. I still need to transition some of my NHQ products into Nicole&Co. branded products and list them for sale on the site.
  2. Welp, this one happened quickly! The Nicole&Co. site is live, and the store is almost there! I have my list of products, some are designed, none are printed and ready to ship. So, a little left to do on that, but way over halfway!
  3. Again, this goal shifted. Instead of working to publish 25 blogs, I decided to make this an affiliate or product based goal. My new end game is to generate some passive income with affiliates and paid writing gigs. So far, so great. I can’t wait to see where this one takes me as time goes on.
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Other Things I Love About the Journal

  1. Short To-Do list each day. 3 most important things get listed, and that’s my list. I love that I don’t feel like I need to fill space with lists, but instead keep my eye on the prize, and accomplish the things that will get me towards my goals.
  2. Time blocking. Instead of lists, this journal promotes the intentional use of time. My most productive days are when I outline and fill my time slots. Even if I’m filling them with things like “Mommy time” or “gym” or even “travel to and from work,” I know what I’m doing, when, and why.
  3. Weekly review. This is my favorite part. In the beginning of the week, I outline 5 things, and how many times that week I want to accomplish them. Mine are usually: gym (5), write (3), Insta post (6), design product (2), affiliate (1). At the end of the week, I am able to calculate what I accomplished, if I hit my goal, and how I can do better next week.
  4. That I can skip a week. The journal is undated, so I can take a week off if needed (which I did). This made my 13 weeks into 14 weeks total, but I didn’t work towards anything during the week I took off. I literally went on vacation, and didn’t feel pressured into my timeframe.

So, if you're looking to set some pretty serious goals and MAKE THEM HAPPEN, I highly suggest using this badass tool. 

Want one?

GO HERE! 

WHY I AM MOURNING THE HARDEST YEAR OF MY LIFE BEING OVER

Let’s be super clear about one thing – this last year was really, really hard.

However, I’ve had years that were full of much more pain, suffering, fear, loss, terror and hardships. But this last year was definitely the hardest.

So why then, am I sad it’s over?

Don’t get me wrong, I am definitely not going through baby fever. In fact, you’d be hard pressed to convince me to have another right now. I’m still getting used to this new life, and I’m not about to switch it all up again. My goodness, I barely have enough time to shave my legs on a weekly basis. And don’t even get me started on washing my hair.

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I’m having some pretty serious nostalgia though, about this last year.

We are never going to get this first year back. Not even with another baby. Joey was, and is, Joey, and nothing could ever be the same.

He was so, so hard. Newborn Joey was what we would call, well, INTENSE. And though I can’t exactly explain why, I can explain some of the moments that made it so.

Joey didn’t really sleep. Like, at all, for the first few weeks of this life. So we didn’t really get the whole squishy sleeping baby phase. But once he did start sleeping, it was only at night.

Disclaimer – I completely understand how amazing it is that my baby slept through the night at 6 weeks old and never regressed.

But to be honest, I would have taken a late-night bedtime or a 2 am feeding in hopes of it bringing us NAP TIME.

Ok, now that that’s out of the way, other tough things? Adam had to go back to work SO EARLY (like one week); breastfeeding was NOT WORKING; major baby blues (and some managed postpartum depression); and a few other sleepless days and screaming baby road trips and bouts of pretty serious colds and the flue, and we are to where we are now.

But man oh man, will I miss so many things.

The slowness.

I feel like now that this season is over, we will be back to the hustle and bustle of everyday life, and though I missed that while we were in this season, I don’t really want to go back to that.

Having a baby brings so much slowness to life. Things simply revolve around sleep and food and diapers. So you learn to move slow, in everything.

Rocking baby to sleep is slow, diaper changes are (generally) slow, getting ready to leave to go somewhere is slow, as is getting to that place. Mornings are slow, bedtimes are slow. The slower, the better.

I will miss this slowness. I want so badly to rekindle that in my life. Why do we hurry when we could instead go slow, and enjoy the moment, and not worry about what’s next? We can’t enjoy the time we are in if we don’t slow down enough to see it.

Resting well.

Everyone knows that you’re tired with a baby. But before Joey, I did not understand how to rest. Now, I feel like if there is a moment to rest, I take it. And I do it well. Less time is spent “resting” while on my phone or in front of the TV. My rest includes things like prayer, and sleep, and nourishing my body with food and water. I rest with my husband by having good conversation and I rest with my friends by hearing about their lives.

Being a new mom.

Motherhood was new, and with new comes excitement. And fear. And change. And education. I love all these things. I like feeling the adrenaline of something new, and I like the magic that change can bring. New motherhood is such a huge blessing and privilege, and I so badly don’t want the feeling to pass.

Simple pleasures.

Things like naked butts and water hoses, belly giggles and throwing blueberries, clapping and clucking, head nods and head shakes, new teeth and growing fingernails. It’s so simple and makes us so happy. All our milestones now are huge – like walking and talking and learning the colors and picking out shoes. I will so badly miss the simple pleasures of when a “coo” turned into a real noise and when he learned to grab a rattle, and then to shake it. Watching him learn what music sounded like, or how dancing felt. Seeing him love the softness of a blanket, and the feeling of his hand on my neck while he nursed. So, so simple.

I know there are so many great, great things to come. That toddlerhood has its own loveliness and challenges, just as infants do. And I will enjoy each moment in its own right, and I will look back and feel like this every year that passes.

But right now, I feel as if I need the space to grieve this first year’s passing. I need to mourn the fleeting moments that I so enjoyed.

It’s like having the best night of your life, and not wanting to fall asleep because it will be over, and tomorrow will be different. But I really liked today. It was so, so long, and so, so hard. But oh, was it wonderful.

ERGO BABY | OMNI 360 + A GIVEAWAY!

Let me start from the beginning.

I have an addiction to babywearing. I think it’s seriously the best thing that’s ever happened to motherhood. I feel proud to be a parent when I think about how long ago, and how wonderfully, moms have been wearing their babies. How much they got done, how much they bonded with their kids, and how much they knew it was the only way to parent.

Babywearing is really the only way I have been able to BE A PARENT this last year.

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Babywearing is how I got dinner cooked, how I went to church, how I wrote blog posts, and how I worked out.

Because of wearing my baby, I now have not only my pre-baby body back, but a body that is healthier, stronger and slimmer than it has ever been (that includes college…).

My journey of babywearing is long, and bouncy, as I use a lot of different carriers and jump back and forth between them often, depending on our current needs.

Ergo, though able to be used through basically every stage of babyhood, has been the most essential to me in the last 6 months, particularly at the gym.

(Post is in partnership with ErgoBaby)

I’ve been lucky enough to be a part of Ergo’s influencer team, and with that came the pleasure of trying out the brand new Omni 360 baby carrier. As a religious user of the original Ergo 360, I have to admit I was hesitant, as I didn’t really want to change my mind on how much love I had for my carrier.

Final thoughts? Well, I still ADORE my Ergo 360, and will continue to use it for my babywearing workouts. But, the Omni 360 definitely has a place in the babywearing arsenal.

Want to win one of these bad boys? Check out my latest Insta post to enter! Hurry though, giveaway ends in a flash.

WIN

Pros

  • Front babywearing. I actually prefer the Omni, simple because I can get Joey in an out without taking the carrier off my shoulders. Best part? I don’t have to clip the straps behind my back.
  • Flexibility of size. I love not needing an infant insert, and that depending on size of baby, I can easily adjust the height of the carrier, even while it’s on. So easy, simple, and customizable.
  • Front outward carry. Joey could have stayed like this all day in this carrier. I was able to keep him up a little higher because of the adjustment options, his arms were much more comfortable and the slimmer hip stance made it even more chill for him. Also, his head didn’t rub against my chest as aggressively as in the original 360.
  • Solid colors. My Ergo 360 is solid black, but honestly it’s the only one I’ve seen. This Omni 360 comes in lots of solid colors with no two-tone, light colored inside, making the look so much cleaner, and stains much less of an issue.

Cons

  • Hip strap. After wearing Joey on the front for more than an hour, my lower back wasn’t very happy with me. The thinner hip straps and lower back support patch didn’t really fit me very well, and I definitely prefer the wide, velcro strap of the original 360.
  • Going from person to person. Because of the so many adjustment options, switching the carrier from person to person is a little cumbersome. It takes a little more effort to fit it correctly.
  • Tightness. I couldn’t get it quite tight enough in our workout to do some of the exercises we normally do with our original 360.

So all in all? LOVED IT. But I will keep my nice, broken in, solid black, deodorant stained, perfectly adjusted Ergo 360 for the time being. Talk to me when I have a newborn though… I’ll be ordering one of these Omni 360s in a hurry.

Want to purchase an Ergo? I suggest you do ;) Get 10% by signing up for for the Nicole&Co. email updates and get your discount code.

Want to see Joey and me awkwardly review the Omni 360 at home? Check it out below and leave some love.

Back to Work

After a year of working “part time,” whatever that means, I’ve decided to go back to work full time.

As we all know, as a self-employed biz owner, “going to work” really doesn’t have a specific meaning. I feel like I am always working somehow, whether I’m laying in bed brainstorming about new ideas or I’m quickly answering emails while Joey takes a nap or I’m working in my studio, uninterrupted, getting sheez done. The term “work” for us is very subjective.

So what does “full time” or “part time” look like for me?

Well, it took me a year, a bounced rent check and an emotional roller coaster ride to find out.

I suddenly feel this sense of urgency that I haven’t felt in the last year. I have more than enjoyed my flexible time schedule, the relaxed days with Joey and giving myself the grace to not have time sensitive goals.

It’s time for a change, though. I’m finding that I now have these big dreams, and no patience to do them slowly. I have been oh-so lucky to have this first year with my son with little distraction. I worked just enough to get by, and that was wonderful. It was a great change of pace for someone who’s been close to a workaholic her entire career.

The term “rest” has a whole new meaning for me. I now know how to rest well, and the importance of it.

I missed almost nothing. I got to see Joey take his first steps and say his first word and make him homemade baby food and dedicate the time to build my body again. All of these things have been the most rewarding moments and journeys of my life so far, and I am so grateful that I was gifted the time, and the opportunity, to take them.

Little time has been spent on my computer. Little time has been spent late at night, working on ideas and building my business up.

The tides have shifted, and I’m now excited for the late nights and overloaded computer files and inspiration is flowing out of me and onto these blank pages faster than I can type.

In the midst of this emotional table turning, we had a mini financial crisis, and it opened my eyes to the fact that I not only was craving the change, but we NEEDED it as a family. Flexibility has trumped financial security for the maximum amount of time right now, and now we have to make the switch.

And I’m oddly ok with it.

So what does that look like for us?

Well, Joey is headed to a few full days of daycare, and I am upping my self-discipline game and working from home while Joey naps on the days he doesn’t go there (which is only Mondays…).

Figuring all this out took quite a few post-it notes covered in numbers and time slots, a very emotional conversation with my husband and three sleepless nights for me.

All in all, this definition of “full time” isn’t 8-5, five days a week. It’s three very long days away from my family, early mornings and late nights, and sacrificing my flexibility for dream chasing.

Worth it? Totally. Exhausting? Totally. Is Joey going to care that his momma spent a few more hours a week chasing dreams while he plays with his friends? Nope.

The key to this whole thing? An insanely supportive husband and a God that doesn’t leave me hanging. Oh, and self-discipline. But that’s a story for another time.

See you at the studio, loves.

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Testimony of a One Year Old's Mom

I’ve had so many posts scheduled for this day, the day before Joey turns 1 year old. Including:

  • Things I wish my 1 year old would remember someday
  • Why it’s the best and worst year ever
  • How time actually moves too fast
  • How to figure out why the hell the baby is crying

And a few others that now, seem completely insignificant.

So instead, I’m going to write a short and candid post on how I’m really feeling the night before my baby boy turns one year old.

I’m overcome. I feel like there’s no way in hell I could be a parent to a one year old. I mean, that means that a year ago, I gave birth to another human. That I actually grew another person inside of my body with fingers and toes and a heart and eyes. I mean, really. Who does that? Women, apparently. I had no idea, really, what that meant.

But now I know. I know what it feels like, literally and figuratively, to make a human. To raise them for a whole year, and know that it is only a penny’s worth of time in the grand scheme of life. But it seems like eternity, all the while seeming like a small fraction of my short life so far.

I like to think that so far, we’ve raised a good human. I mean, he’s doing great, as far as one year olds go. I think he has a wonderful personality, he’s kind and outgoing and outspoken. He is walking and laughing and playing like a big kid.

I also like to think that he knows Jesus, and knows that we love him, and that he has a profound purpose in this world. I also know that that’s a lot to expect of a human that’s only been in the real world for 365 days.

Joey has experienced so much in such a short amount of time. He has seen so much of our world. He has seen every emotion we could have in a single year: fear, resilience, passion, happiness, contentment, panic, sadness, grief, worry, joy, heartbreak. You name, he’s probably seen us feel it.

We can so quickly forget that our babies can feel, too. If we feel something, they can too. And how hard would it be to feel something, and not know why? Sweet Joey can feel my anxiety, and it scares him. His empathy is already there, and he doesn’t even know it yet.

You see, the first year of parenthood is a perfect disaster. You will probably cry more than you ever have before, tragedy or no tragedy in your past. You will laugh, and sleep, and also be sleep deprived. You will spend more time in a rocking chair than you ever thought humanly possible. Your hips and neck and wrists will hurt. You will forget that you have an identity outside of motherhood, and that your purpose is beyond this bundle of supposed joy that is currently screaming in your arms.

But then you’ll also do what are supposedly stupid things, like have a litter of puppies and a baby at the same time, and realize that it was actually the most fun you’ve had with little living creatures in your lifetime. You’ll drink wine and nurse your baby and forget that that matters. You’ll consume copious amounts of coffee and lose more hair ties than you even bought and break your cell phone more than once.

You’re going to lose handfulls of hair, from hormones and from your child pulling it out of your head (you’ll realize it’s too precious to pull out yourself, so you’ll drink more coffee instead). You can get your body back, or have a whole new body if you want one, it’s up to you. Your job will either be waiting or not waiting, and you’ll be ok with that.

The first year is just like nothing I could ever explain in the amount of detail it deserves. It’s life changing and life giving and life depleting, all at once.

I can’t say it’s been the best year of my life, but it’s certainly not the worst. And frankly, when Joey stands up in the middle of the living room and walks to the puppy for kisses, my heart explodes. And I’m just so happy that we did all that we did this year. No regrets, no questions. Just pure and utter amazement that we are all still alive, healthy and happy. Thank you Lord, for making that my truth.

What First Steps Really Mean

You guys, Joey walked yesterday. He stood up, looked around and walked like he had somewhere to go that was much more important than where he was.

I have never been more proud of anything, or anyone, ever, than I was right then.

Joey also turns a whole year old in a mere ten days.

What happened?

Oh ya, we got pregnant and had a baby. We even kind of planned it. Like we said to each other, “Let’s get pregnant and have a baby and turn our world upside down!”

Not totally sure we were thinking straight, but let me tell you something. It’s been the best year of our lives.

If you had asked me if I ever thought we’d spend so much time watching a baby try (and most often fail) walk for the first time, I would have told you that you were crazy.

I mean, what did we even do before we had Joey? Did we just sit around and talk about other things? Like what? What could we possibly have to talk about that much?

But something else happened this last year, too. I learned so much about myself I didn’t even realize there was to learn. I know that we never stop growing as humans, children of God and as spouses and parents and siblings and friends and all that jazz. But what I didn’t realize is that there is this huge part inside your soul that is completely dedicated to self growth as an individual.

Examples?

  • I’m more self-disciplined
  • I can control my emotions better (still not great, but better)
  • My time is more intentional
  • I realized how to be a good friend and what that meant
  • My multitasking skills are significantly more refined
  • The understanding of what it means to be a great wife change completely


Sure, you can learn many of these things without having kids at all, but notice, none of these things actually have anything to do with being a mom. It’s simply self growth.

How the hell does that happen?

I mean, don’t get me wrong. I still can eat an entire box of mac and cheese and not blink an eye, or cry at a freaking Rocket Mortgage commercial, or scroll Insta while Joey ruins the TV remote, or yell at my sweet husband, or forget I even have friends sometimes, but nonetheless. In general, I have been able to grow so much as an individual this last year.

So when Joey took those first few steps away from me and towards something else, I realized that maybe, that’s the point of this first year.

It’s so hard, so terribly hard. And so terribly wonderful, too.

But if I hadn’t been able to grow, for myself, how would I be able to teach Joey how to grow into himself, too?

Every night I tell him that he is brave and kind and smart - that he is rejoiced over every day. But what I forget sometimes is that I am, too.

His steps reminded me that I, too, am growing. I, too, am learning how to do things I’ve never done before.

Ask me again, in ten days, how I feel. It will probably be different. Granted, Joey is taking an extra long nap at the moment and I am freshly showered and coffee filled, so life seems pretty great. Mid-tantrum about taking away his tupperware hat might have me singing a different tune.

But that’s part of it, right? Growing. Being able to nap and cry all in the same minute (I’m talking about me, not Joey). Or being able to take your first steps, away from Mom and Dad and towards your tupperware hat. It’s all important. And unexpected. And hard and wonderful and freaking weird.