Fun and Flirtatious Date Night Look

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{ Greylin Red Artemis Jumpsuit $30 Rent the Runway – I’m wearing an XS and it fits perfectly }

{ Christian Louboutin So Kate Pumps }

{ Kate Spade Bow Clutch – old but I like this one, too }

{ Givenchy Sunglasses }

 

Happy Thursday, loves!

Friday is just around the corner, and I thought this might be an appropriate time to share my new favorite date night ensemble from Rent the Runway. Since it’s my birthday month, RTR sent over a $30 gift card to use on any rental this month. I decided I was going to step outside of my usual comfort zone of timeless classics and find something a little more flirty and fun for date night.

This week has been all things hectic. I have been volunteering all day, every day at our girls’ school at the Book Fair (all our board members spend the entire week at the school working the book fair like this because #teamwork) taking our kids to and from cheer and tumbling, hosting extra kiddos at home, and dealing with Safety Patrol meetings and such. It’s my #momlife situation all the time.

The jeans and tee shirt mom life is definitely one I enjoy, but at the very core of my being I just need all things fancy and fabulous (hey, I didn’t earn the nickname Fancy Pants for nothin’). Last Friday night we had date night/birthday dinner with our best friends. Every time we have one of these nights, it consists of too much food, too much wine, and hours and hours at a table laughing hysterically at just about everything.

Basically, it means I take all form-fitting ensembles off the table. Literally, because I will eat everything in front of me. As I was thinking of what I’d wear on date night, I thought I’d try something different. That’s what I love so much about Rent the Runway. I can try new things, new styles, and new looks that I’m not sure are really me – and if I hate it, I can send it right back and get something else or simply take a credit. Since I had my birthday credit, I figured I’d really try something new. That’s when I decided I’d go for this amazing red jumpsuit.

Typically, I’m a DVF wrap dress and stilettos kind of gal, and jumpsuits don’t find their way into my closet. I’m petite, so length is always an issue. This one, however, was so much fun. With the fun cut-outs in the front, back, and on the sides, I felt just a little bit daring. The bold red is my favorite, and I cannot tell you how many compliments I received that night. Everyone and their mother loved it (even my mom liked it – which almost made me change my clothes before we left!). If you’re looking for something fun and flirty, this is it.

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Quick, Healthy Pizza With CauliPower!

Happy Friday, loves!

This week flew by! Perhaps it was being gone all last weekend, or maybe it was our daughter’s Safety Patrol Induction ceremony and all that went into planning that (hey, surprise! I’m on the Safety Patrol committee….because what committee am I *not* on? Oh, none, that’s the one I’m not on), or perhaps it’s just because it was a four-day week. I don’t know, but it flew by!

Last week I was fortunate enough to do a campaign with CauliPower, which is an amazing cauliflower pizza crust. We love pizza in our house, but we are huge fans of taking our favorite foods and turning them into healthier options. When the amazing people from CauliPower reached out to me, I was all in to try their amazing crust and shoot this campaign (which is a hilariously funny story I’ll get to in a moment).

Craig and I are big fans of food. We like to consider ourselves foodies. We love to try the most amazing restaurants in the most amazing cities, and we love to cook. I’m not great at it, but he is – and we’re an amazing team. Because we are very health conscious (because metabolism and good genes alone aren’t enough once you hit those mid-30s my friends), we always find a way to make our favorite meals healthier. Since we love pizza, we always look for a cauliflower crust, and we always choose healthy toppings.

This campaign was fun. I received the product on Monday night, the campaign was due Thursday morning, but I wasn’t home Tuesday because of a PTA meeting and a Safety Patrol meeting. We didn’t have time to shoot until Wednesday night – a night all the kids are home, we had guests, and it was POURING rain. The sky was black. Like the night.

Our house is usually amazing for shooting my campaigns because we have so much natural light. We like to say our house is made of glass, and it kind of is. It’s amazing how much beautiful light we have, and we like our furniture and décor to be light and bright, too. Except that it was dark. It was so dark because it was pouring. The rain was insane. The thunder and lighting were insane. Our power went out several times while we tried to shoot. It was so dark, and it made our light, bright kitchen look like a dark, closed off kitchen.

The recessed lights didn’t do any justice. I set the fire alarm off cooking chicken sausage. The kids were terrified of the smoke and the storm. My gorgeous lifestyle shot was not gorgeous. And I drank all the wine.

The pizza, though, was spectacular.

So, I thought I’d share the recipe with you.

WHAT YOU NEED

1 cauliflower pizza crust

1 red onion

Fresh mozzarella cheese

Arugula

1 red bell pepper

Salt and pepper

EVOO

3 pieces chicken sausage

 

All you need to do is cook your sausage completely and cut it into small bites. Next, cover your pizza crust with arugula. Slice your bell pepper and add slices to the pepper, add mozzarella cheese, sliced red onion, and then top it with your sausage, and sprinkle a little bit of EVOO on top before adding salt and pepper (I totally borrowed this recipe from my friend, Veronyca Poupard, follow her here on Instagram for more health and fitness tips). Bake it for approximately 10 minutes at 425 degrees, and then enjoy.

I like to pair this healthy pizza with a glass of dry red wine – and you might, too.

Enjoy!

Fall Favorites for the Home

Happy fall, y’all!

I know, I know. It’s not officially fall until September 22 (right?), but it’s officially official in my house effective September 1. If there’s college football on television, it’s fall. I mean, it’s never actually fall in Florida, but there are faux pumpkins on my mantel, so it’s fall.

I can justify just about anything in my life, for real. It’s amazing how I can magically believe that any day now  – as of September 1 – I can look at my weather app and the 15-day forecast and expect that at any not fall, and that’s what the weather says for the next 15 days every single day that I check it. But, really, any day now. I just know it.

It’s officially September, which is the first official month of the most exciting and wonderful time of the year for me. This is the time of year I live for, and I cannot even hide my excitement. There’s so much excitement in our house this time of year, and I love it. It’s my birthday month (hey, 35). It’s college football (Go Gators). It’s fall (I know, I know). It’s everything I love the most about the year.

We just spent the weekend on a little vacation to a place we’ve never been. We’ve been Floridians our entire lives, but we always prefer to spend our vacation time out of the state seeing the world rather than traveling our own state, but we tried West Palm Beach for the weekend. Let me tell you about the love I have for Palm Beach right now. The moment we drove over the bridge onto Palm Beach Island, I fell in love. The amazingly gorgeous homes with so much character and all the flowers growing up the walls. The beautiful Breakers resort. Worth Avenue. I felt right at home driving along the coast without any touristy stuff blocking our view of the ocean or high-rise buildings in the way of the gorgeous landscape. And all my favorite stores on one street is one way to put a smile on my face.

We thoroughly enjoyed our stay in Palm Beach, and we’re already thinking about another trip – because I am dying to stay at the Brazilian Court Hotel now – but the entire time we were there spending the weekend with our littles, I was kind of sad about missing my annual fall decorating on September 1. Putting it off until the third made me a little sad. Like, I lost two whole days of fall.

Thankfully, the time passed, we came home, and my house now looks like fall. I’m just waiting on my weather app to get with the program.

On that note, I want to share my fall must-haves with you. There are certain things I cannot go without every year in my home, and I know you’ll love them as much as I do.

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Fall Scents

I love Bath & Body Works candles. I am a sucker for their fall fragrances. The one, this one, and this one are my favorites. I prefer the single-wick candles for smaller rooms such as bathrooms and hallways, and the 3-wick versions for the kitchen and living areas of the house. There is a good reason for this; the single-wick candles don’t put off nearly as much scent as the 3-wick candles, and our main area needs a 3-wick or we just don’t smell it. The space is too large for one small candle, so I highly recommend you get the 3-wicks if you have a large space to freshen.

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Fall Soaps

Okay, I know – but I really don’t love the soaps in any of our bathrooms or our kitchen to smell like the wrong time of year. I change out the soaps every season, and I always use the B&BW foaming hand soap. It’s my favorite, and these are our favorite scents here, here, and here.

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Flameless Glitter Candles

These flameless candles are my favorite. I haven’t bought them in silver yet, but I think I’m going to for Christmas this year. I bought gold ones and green ones years ago, and I love them this time of year. They really do make a statement that’s still elegant enough to not feel tacky during the fall season. They make great accents on the table where you might not want an open flame because of little hands or the passing of plates.

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White Pumpkins

Over the past four years, I’ve gradually found myself falling more and more in love with all things white. Perhaps it’s this house. It’s so farmhouse-like, and I love how white, bright, and open it is. It’s a dream, and I recently realized that I’ve removed all the colored pumpkins and other décor from my life in favor of white pumpkins. These are some of my favorite, and I know you’ll love them. They’re sophisticated and fun, but they’re still seasonally appropriate.

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Thankful Wood Sign

This is probably my favorite piece. I have it on the mantel in our family room. It’s where we spend the most time in our house since it’s right off the kitchen, and it’s where we have the most beautiful natural light come through from all the doors and windows. It’s my favorite room in the house, and I love that we have this constant reminder to be thankful. To quote Pinterest, “There are so many beautiful reasons to be grateful,” and I cannot agree more. We live a life filled with abundance; we have the most spectacularly beautiful people in our lives, a house filled with laughter (and some yelling…but a lot more laughter), and happy hearts. We are thankful for this life we lead with our God leading the way for us, and we love the reminder.

Midi Madness – The Perfect Midi Dress for Under $22

{ Dress from Amazon, Michael Kors Wedges (sold out) similar here and here, Sunglasses by Givenchy }

Happy Tuesday, Loves!

It’s such a beautiful day in the Sunshine State today! It’s also the second day of school, and the mood in the Raiford house is a good one.

There is nothing like the feeling of taking happy, excited, enthusiastic kids to school on a Tuesday morning. Fostering a love of education is one of the most important things imaginable in mine and my husband’s opinion. So far, so good. Our kids were brimming with excitement when I picked them up from their first day yesterday, and nothing makes my heart smile bigger.

They love their teachers, their classrooms, their friends, their syllabus…Addison loves her Safety Patrol job of holding the front doors of the school opening every morning and afternoon. Ava loved that she got to hold those same doors open herself for a few moments in the morning while I was outside directing parents to the front office for visitor tags, tagging their kids with stickers stating how they’re getting home, and my husband was upstairs in the library handing out Safety Patrol belts to the new class of Safeties. She couldn’t yet go to class because it was too early, so she and some of the other PTA kids got to hold the doors. It was, in Ava’s words, the coolest day ever.

The twins were full of excitement (after they cried when I picked them up) about writing their names and their new seats and their new classmates in VPK. It was a good day. Addison’s excitement is boiling over because she’s headed to the Taylor Swift concert tonight with her best friend and her family, and Ava’s excited that she’s the ‘big kid’ for the night at home.

Meanwhile, I’m finally feeling better. Today, I’d say 80%. My sinuses are still crazy, and I’m exhausted, but I’m SO excited my husband and I finally have a quiet house, no one is in our office all day asking for snacks, and we’re actually productive. Well, I am. He never loses productivity or his work, but I do all summer, and I’m glad to have my scheduled time in my office again. I love spending summer with the kids, but I don’t love an unstructured work schedule each day. it’s not who I am.

We get our lunch dates, our gym dates, and our lives back for six solid hours a day again. It’s good. And….I get to go to yoga today. I haven’t worked out in five days now because I haven’t felt well, and I hate that feeling. But, I also know that overdoing it doesn’t allow me to heal properly. Today, I’m back, and my yoga class is an intense heartrate, fast-paced, crazy class. I cannot wait.

In the meantime, however, I’m sharing today’s look with you. It’s probably my new favorite for several reasons. For one, I’m beyond in love with my new Givenchy sunglasses. Get used to them, because you’re about to see a lot of them! Second, this dress is my new favorite. And, are you ready for this? It was $21 on Amazon! Yes, Amazon! I saw a similar one over the summer at Nordstrom, but they were out of my size. I waited. And waited. And waited, and I could never get the color I wanted in my size. So, I googled it, found this one, and figured for $21, it doesn’t matter if it’s awful. What’s amazing is that it’s not! It’s not thin or cheap looking at all! And, it comes in like a million colors and patterns, so you can probably expect to see this dress on repeat in other patterns and colors.

Transitioning Back to A School Routine and Schedule for the Whole Family

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Happy Monday, loves!

It’s the first day of school, and we have the most excited kids you’ve ever met! Addison begins her first day of 5th grade, Ava begins her first year as a 2nd grader, and the twins begin VPK. We are all so excited about today, and we can’t hide it! Addy can’t wait to get her Safety Patrol Belt and find out where she’s positioned – and it’s been really hard keeping that a secret from her the past few days!

Ava can’t wait to see if her teacher is wearing the special necklace she made her, which is another secret I’ve been keeping for a few days! The twins are so excited to be ‘big kids’ and carry their new lunch boxes (by the way, if I haven’t raved about Pottery Barn Kids products before, can I take a moment to do so right now? We’ve been ordering the kids their lunch boxes and backpacks from PBK since they began school, and every year their items last all year, they stay clean, and they don’t break. They look as good at the end of the year they do at the beginning. The only reason we buy new ones is because it’s so ‘boring’ to carry the same back pack and lunch box for more than a year).

Unfortunately, I’ve been battling what I think is a severe sinus infection since Wednesday. It’s either that or a cold, but I can’t catch a break. I have intense pressure in my sinuses, and that results in a terrible headache. My throat hurt for the first three days – just a little, though – and didn’t really hurt over the weekend, so I’m not sure where I stand. Addison began to feel poorly on Friday, and she was ready to go home from the school and rest. Carter has been pretty lethargic, and Ava’s had some sore throat issues off and on since Thursday.

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Our weekend was spent in bed. Literally, we were all asleep before 7 Friday night. We all slept late (well, late for us) Saturday, and we spent the day on the couch relaxing. Sunday was a repeat of Saturday, and we are all feeling much better this morning.  Except for this awful sinus pressure (recommendations? I can’t take allergy meds. I feel so loopy, sick, and terrible when I take them, so if anyone has any suggestions, that would be amazing!). I slept for 15 hours Saturday night and into Sunday, we skipped church, and we spent two solid days in our pajamas reading, watching movies, napping, and just being the laziest and germiest family you’ve ever met.

I knew this would happen, though. We had the roughest (it was so much fun, but it was tiring) weekend last weekend. Two midnight or later nights in a row, no time at home at all during the days, two parties, a date night, and a family gathering. We slept and showered at home, and definitely not enough of the sleep part. This week meant I needed to be up earlier to get more work done since I was gone from the house almost every day and evening for PTA duties, school functions, cheer practices, and appointments in between meeting deadlines. I overdid it, the kids overdid it, and we needed a weekend off.

Now it’s Monday, it’s back to school day, and the excitement is palpable!

With that, I wanted to share a few quick ways to make the start of the school year a little more manageable and easier. The transition is always a little difficult. No schedule all summer to a normal schedule takes a little time to grow accustomed to.

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It’s All Right to Struggle

You are not alone. If the first week or two with the new schedules and routines kind of throws you off after a summer of sleeping in, lounging around, doing what you want to do, and not being accountable for anything or anyone, it’s all right. Don’t add to the stress by being hard on yourself. Give yourself grace, and understand you will get through this. And, know you are not alone. We all feel the struggle. It’s real.

Prep Ahead of Time

I always make my kids pick out their outfit the night before school. This week, I’ve made them choose their outfits, accessories, and shoes for the entire week, and line them up in their closets so each morning is easier than the one before. We like to get as much done the night before as possible, and that includes packing all the non-perishable lunch items, organizing back packs, and loading what we can load ahead of time into the car.

Organize Lunches

Our kids won’t eat school lunch. I’m okay with that because I never ate it, either. But we have four of them, and that means packing lunches is a thing. The twins are in VPK, and that means they have to have a morning snack, an afternoon snack, and lunch. And everything must be labeled with their first and last names, and it must be separated into the correct area every morning before school begins.

And all four kids like different things. What we did is buy several bins, and we designated the fourth shelf in the pantry as the school lunches shelf. Their water bottles and Gatorades for the week are lined up. Their snacks are in one bin. Their chips in another bin. Their non-cold fruit in another bin. Their main food is in another (i.e. Addison likes a deli sandwich every day, so the bread we like from the deli is in this bin, and so are the English Muffins that Charlotte likes for lunch, and so are the miniature club crackers Carter likes as the “main” dish to his fruit).

The rest of the fruit is in the fridge, but we cut it up and put it in the correct containers the evening before to keep it as fresh as possible. Everything is clearly labeled in the bins and on the containers, and Craig just has to throw it in their lunch boxes along with their ice packs every morning.

This also helps us realize when we are running low on one thing or another so we can put it on the grocery list and make sure we don’t have any early morning panic attacks if so and so is out of their favorite whatever.

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Create A Morning Schedule

Our kids know they get out of bed, sit down at the bar while Craig makes their breakfast, and then they get dressed once they put their plates in the sink and clean up after themselves. They brush their teeth, put their shoes on, and they wait for me to call them for hair time when I’m doing working for the morning. Once hair is done, they give Craig hugs and kisses and head straight for the car. They load themselves into the car, and we go. They know the routine.

Consider A Reward

We also make sure each morning runs smoothly by bribing them with a Friday morning donut date. The stipulation is that all four of them must follow every morning instruction in a timely manner without being asked repeatedly, and they must do it with a positive attitude. If just one of them falls apart and can’t handle it, none of them get to go on a pre-school donut date on Fridays. Trust me when I say this encourages teamwork and a lot fewer hectic, crazy, upsetting situations in the mornings for all six of us.

Have Fun

Our kids love to pick their favorite songs or their favorite movie to watch in the car. We let everyone have a turn, and it keeps them excited to get into the car. We might choose a new movie they’ve never seen to put in the DVD player for the first week or so of school, and then they go back to wanting to listen to their favorite music. We all sing, dance, and make the ride to school fun. It really does help.

Take A Deep Breath

New schedules and routines are a little difficult, so give yourself some time to grow accustomed to it. Our schedule is all off this year, and we won’t even really start our new one until next week, and I know I’m a little stressed about it.

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But we will get through it. Our nephew’s mother is building her new house by the girls’ school – which is an amazing school – and he’ll be zoned to go there once it’s done in a few months. However, she is the guidance counselor at another school, which starts two hours earlier than the kids’ school. Her son is going into kindergarten this year. She will be dropping him off at our house every morning to have breakfast and get ready for school. I’ll now take him, too.

But the good news is that she will pick up the twins from school every afternoon so I don’t have to go to two schools in two different towns every afternoon. She’ll come to our house and drop them off, pick up our nephew, and it will all be fine. Addy does have to be at school early and stay late for her Safety duties, but we will definitely manage. We can do this.

See, I’m already stressed! But in a few weeks, I’ll be fine. Now, say a prayer for me as I’m headed to school to drop my babies off on their first day of VPK and then handle all the parents as they want to walk their kids to class for the first day at the girl’s school. I don’t know exactly what I’ll be doing yet, but I know that it’s going to involve something like 850 kids and their parents – and it’ll be stressful, but it’s what I love. Being present in the kids’ lives and in their schools makes me happy because it makes them happy. I wouldn’t trade it.

Self-Care Tips to Get You Through the Last Few Days of Summer Vacation

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Happy Monday, loves!

Or, as I like to call it, Happy Last Week of Summer Vacation!

There aren’t any back to school blues around here, if it’s not already evident. I know so many families struggle with that feeling, and I do empathize. It’s hard to send the kids back to school in this day and age. You worry about their safety. You worry about their well-being. You worry. That’s all that matters. I get it. I worry. I do. We both worry, but we also both work from home, and having the kids back in school is such a stress-reliever in our household.

But I digress. We’re excited about school starting next week. Addy is so excited to start the fifth grade. She’s a Safety Patrol, and she cannot wait to start her new duties. She’s also a competitive cheerleader, which means her season officially begins (this week, actually). Ava is excited about going into the second grade and finally feeling like one of the bigger kids at school.

The twins go into VPK. They’ll have the same teacher Ava had, who is the MOST amazing VPK teacher you can imagine. We love her, and they are beyond excited to be in her class this year. So, in our house, it’s exciting to go back to school. Combine that with the fact that September 1 is the first official day of the best part of the year – the “ber” months. I turn 35 in September, and all things pumpkin happen in Casa Raiford on September 1. It’s the most wonderful time of the year.

Now…back to the back to school blues, or the lack thereof in our case. Our kids love school, so they aren’t sad to go back. I love school, too, because no one is asking me for a snack every 7 seconds (at best). My husband and I both work from home, and while we do love the time we get with the kids during summer, there comes a point around mid-July when we (to borrow a famous, pointless, meaningless line from every teenager) literally cannot even.

That eight-week summer vacation mark is like the turning point. I find my patience is worn thinner than Nicole Richie after her sudden weight loss. The sound of quiet is not something I’ve heard in months, and I miss it desperately. The kids are no longer interested in doing anything fun during the day because they’re just tired of me (and vice versa). It’s hot, and it’s humid, or it’s always raining. They’re tired of going to the movies. They’re tired of swimming. They’re tired of movie nights, and card games, and trips, and being on the go.

They are tired of us. We are tired of them. We all want school to start.

Now, don’t get me wrong. The first two months of summer are magical. We have fun. And we’re still having more fun than we should probably be allowed to have, but we’re all tired. We are all ready for routine and normalcy. Those first few months are filled with vacations and travel and fun and the sun and friends.

To put that into perspective, out of the last 9 weeks, we’ve had only 1 weekend where we were home. And that probably doesn’t count because we had 7 extra kids for a sleepover. Every other weekend has been spent traveling or we’ve been home long enough to sleep and shower before the next activity. And it’s been amazing.

Which leads me to what I’m thinking could be my point (it could change…I don’t know where I’m going with this). My point is that the last two or three weeks of summer take a toll on me, and I don’t really like who I am and the control of my emotions and mood I lose. I wouldn’t trade this life we live, but I won’t pretend the last few weeks of summer vacation don’t make me cranky. In fact, I put that in my gratitude journal this morning. I’m grateful that’s my life problem.

I found myself in a situation recently where I felt very ugly. I found myself reacting to something out loud that is none of my business – at all – but it bothered me. Rather than doing what I normally do, which is talk to my husband about it and remind myself that the way other people behave is none of my business, I let it fester. I reacted to it, spoke of it, and instantly regretted it. It’s not who I am. I’m a live and let live kind of gal, but it upset me. I can’t control other people – nor do I want to – but I certainly didn’t intend to stoop to a level beneath me. I did. I’m disappointed in myself, but I’m reminding myself to have grace, forget it, and move on. It’s not who I am, and I know one moment of anger doesn’t define me.

My point is that I don’t love my mood all the time this time of year, and it takes a lot of effort to be my normally sarcastic, happy self. And that’s why I’m sharing a few of my tried and true patience-finders, mood-boosters, and self-care tips.

Or, as I like to call it, “do this before no one ever speaks to you again,” advice.

(Only 7 more days)

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Give Myself Grace

I’m imperfect, but I own it. I am nothing if not unapologetically myself. I prefer to give myself grace and allow myself to be okay with mistakes, with a bad attitude, and with my imperfections. I try to give grace to others by reminding myself that their behavior, words, and actions are a reflection of where they are in their lives, how they feel in their hearts, and their own unhappiness. And I try to do the same to myself when I’m less than graceful. I have all the respect for people who don’t make excuses or place blame when they make mistakes. I have all the respect for people who simply say, “That’s my bad, and I apologize,” and own it. I live by that rule.

Take All the Deep Breaths

It’s cliché, I know, but taking all the deep breaths is the most helpful thing imaginable. I’ve learned equal five-count breathing works best. Inhale deeply for a count of five. Hold your breath for a count of five. Exhale with an audible sigh for a count of five. While doing this, imagine all the happy thoughts you’re inhaling in the form of the color white. When you exhale, change that imagery to a red or black color to represent all the negativity. It’s silly, I know, but oh my goodness does it work. I find myself frustrated with so many things these last

Check On Myself

One thing I like to do is check in with myself. What’s bothering me? Is someone in my life bringing too much negativity to the table, and am I responding poorly to it? Have I taken on too much? Am I taking care of myself? Finding the answers to these questions often leads me to where I’m failing by either reminding me my monthly visitor is on her way and I’m a raging bitch because I’m hormonal or because I haven’t been eating well thanks to a busy schedule and not being home or because I haven’t been to the gym yet, or whatever. Checking in on myself allows me to see where I’m in need of some self-care, and it helps.

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Take A Time Out

I’m a firm believer in time-outs for myself. When I start to feel myself become snippy or short with my kids or my husband, I know it’s time for me to walk away and take a time out. I find it happens more this time of year than any other, but it’s easily cured with a run, a trip to Starbucks, sitting on the front porch to work, or sitting on the back deck with a book and strict instructions not to talk to me for a half hour. I’m better for it.

A time out can come in many forms. It can be a total social media blackout. Not answering your phone or texts for a few days. Removing toxic people from your life to the best of your ability. Removing yourself from situations that make you feel uncomfortable. It’s whatever you need it to be.

Recognize Stress and Tackle It

I think if I delved deeper into it, I’d notice that it’s the added stress of back to school stuff that makes me crazier than ever this time of year. My work schedule is interrupted 2-3 days a week with additional school-related activities for all four kids, their needs take over, we lose our easy nights and our flexibility in the evenings, and it takes a toll.

I’ve worked hard over the past 10 years cultivating my client relationships and creating a work schedule that allows me to be productive enough to run a successful business while still being a mom and wife, and this time of year it’s like taking a perfect schedule and piling 100 things for other people on top of it. It gets overwhelming, and it requires me to stop back and recognize where the stress is coming from so I can tackle it before it gets to me.

Delegate

I’m extra fortunate to be married to a man who doesn’t believe it’s the job of the wife and mom to take care of the kids. He’s hands-on all the time. He packs lunches, makes a homemade breakfast every morning, and gets the kids dressed and ready for school so I can have a few uninterrupted hours of work every morning to get my day off on a good note. He gives baths, helps with homework, cleans up after himself, and he’s a master laundry-doer.

He’s the best life partner, parent, and husband. I couldn’t do half of it without him. Even then, however, sometimes I just have to delegate. He’s just as busy as I am with his career, but we both know we just have to say, “Babe, I’m drowning, and I feel like I’m everyone’s bitch, and I’m a little crazy right now,” and the other steps up to do what needs doing to make life easier on the other. Delegating tasks is a life saver at home, at work, and anywhere else. Do it. It helps. What also helps is delegating other tasks – hire someone to clean your house, mow your lawn, detail your car, shop for you, and take back control of your life. Trust me when I say it changes your life.

Make No Excuses

If there is one thing in life that drives me nuts, it’s when people talk and talk and talk and never do. They are going to, they will, they should, they want to, they whatever. I’m a fan of conversations that sound more like I did, I accomplished, I managed, I handled, I mastered. I find it’s easy to feel overwhelmed when I make myself a lot of promises and need to back them up, and that’s my no excuses platform. I feel it’s easier to feel less stressed and better when I just do it and say, “I did it,” to myself. It’s really simple. Don’t talk about it, just do it. Like, tell me your story, not your plan. Use that motto on yourself.

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Just Choose to Be Happy

I promise it’s not nearly as hard as it sounds, but you must make the effort. I find that waking up in prayer and listening to my favorite Christian music when I work in the morning helps me set the tone for a happy day. If I find myself thinking about a problem or a situation, I give it to God and move on. I replace negative thoughts (I have so much to do today, but I have to do this and that and be there and here and I won’t get anything done) with positive thoughts (You are a badass mother and you’ve got this) and move forward.

I say it all the time – happiness is homemade, and I’m so abundantly grateful for all the blessings we have in our lives. I always feel guilty when I’m in a bad mood because I don’t feel I have a reason for it – but, I’m imperfect, and that’s okay.

10 Years of Parenthood: An Open Letter to Our Sweet Girl on Your 10th Birthday

Ten years.

That’s how long daddy and I have been parents. You, our sweet baby girl, Addison Grace, were born on this day in 2008. You came into the world a week before your due date, and only about six hours after you decided to make it obvious you were arriving. My contractions started late at night, and they were only 2 minutes apart in under an hour. You arrived less than six hours later – and I just barely made it to the hospital in time for an epidural and delivery! I haven’t forgotten that, kiddo.

I’ll never forget that moment. We got to hold our sweet baby for the very first time. Only 10 months before, we sat at our resort in Hawaii enjoying a bottle of champagne and celebrating my 24th birthday when daddy asked me if I wanted to have a baby. We’d been married three years, we’d traveled constantly, we’d built a house and then a home, and we were ready. Well, it took me a few days to decide I was ready, but you get the point.

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It was six weeks later when we woke up at 6 am. The pregnancy test box said I could start taking tests that day (six days early). I’d never taken one before, so I didn’t know what to expect or what might happen. A few minutes later, I was officially pregnant. That afternoon, we were at the University of Florida for a football game (it was November 17) and we went down to the sports shop, bought shirts that said “Gator Mom,” and “Gator Dad,” asked the family who were at the game with us to take a photo of us standing in front of our seats, held up our shirts, and waited while they all took a moment (we literally did not have any clue that you didn’t announce your pregnancy at three weeks and one day at that point…).

The next 36 weeks flew by so quickly. Our lives changed so much that year, and it was the most beautiful year of our lives. You came into our lives, and our entire world changed for the better. You were the easiest, sweetest little thing. We took you everywhere. Before you were six months old, you’d been to the Bahamas, Boston, Texas, Mexico, and Ohio. You spent your first birthday riding in your first limo, cruising Newport Harbor in an amazing boat, and enjoying a week in Orange County, California. You were the best baby (thank you for sleeping through the night and following our schedules and routines so well. I’m not sure I would make a great sleep-deprived human.)

{You when you turned two weeks old, you when you came home from the hospital for the first time and we put you in your swing, and you on the day of your first birthday}

You’ve given us so much. Laughter, love, happiness, joy. You are the sweetest girl, and you make us so proud.

You are the best big sister your sisters and brother could ever ask for. You are just like daddy in terms of your personality. You’ll do anything for anyone, you’ve got an unlimited supply of patience, and you are kind. You have a good heart and the sweetest soul. You’re a rule follower, and you never get in trouble. You are, quite simply, a complete joy.

It’s because of you we are parents. It’s because of you we have three more beautiful babies. And it’s because of you we have so much to smile about. Happy Birthday, Addison Grace. You’re 10 today, and that is huge. You are the most special little girl (almost big girl) in the world, and we love you more than we could ever put into words. You’ve taught us so much about being parents, and about love, and I want to share with you what you’ve taught me and what I want you to know on this day 10 years after you changed our world.

{Your first trip to the Lowry Park Zoo, on a boat cruising through Newport Harbor in Orange County, CA on your first birthday, and your first trip to Disney}

It’s the little things that matter the most

If you’ve taught us one thing above all else, it’s that it really is the little things in life. It doesn’t matter how many times we take you to Disney, or how many places we travel, or what we do, you are happiest when we sit down with you at the end of a day and play a game of cards or watch a movie with you. The big things are amazing, but you’ve taught us that it’s the simplest moments in life that are the best. We can sit down with you and google knock knock jokes and have the best time, ever. You make everything amazing.

Snack time is all the time

I just hope you always love being so active, and that you always love to join us in the gym for a run. Because, girl….you eat a lot. My parents always told me they one day hoped I’d have a daughter just like me for karma purposes (that would be Ava, if you’re wondering) and even though no one wants to hear their mother come out of their mouth, I hope you one day have a child who spends 11 weeks every summer asking if it’s snack time every 2.7 seconds. You’ll understand a fraction of my crazy, perhaps. Don’t worry, I won’t say I told you so.

{You and Ava when you were the very best of friends as babes, us when we were a family of four hanging out on Emerald Isle in NC, you and Ava in North Carolina, you and the babes in North Carolina, you and Carter on a flight to Texas)

What we do, you see, emulate, and believe

Our behavior is important to you, and we work very hard to make sure you’re getting the best of us all the time. We know you see what we do more than you hear what we say, and we are so inspired by that. We work so hard to make sure you learn how to be kind, gracious, and generous. We want you to learn to give back, to treat others with kindness even when they don’t deserve it in the moment, and we work very hard to make sure you know what’s right and what’s not.

Your daddy is the role model you’ll look up to when you take an interest in boys (which you better not do until you’re 76). He is what you want to look for in a gentleman. Someone who treats you with kindness and respect. Someone who opens your doors and stands when you walk into a room or leave the table. Someone who makes you laugh and smile, but someone who is also perfectly fine when you’re a mess. Look to daddy, sweet girl. He’s everything and then some when it comes to the kind of man you want to spend your time with. Anyone who treats you as anything less simply isn’t worth your time.

What we say is so important

You hear everything we say, even when we don’t think that you do. We hope you hear us when we tell you that you’re beautiful inside and out. We hope you hear us when we tell you how intelligent you are, how smart you are, and how amazing you are. We hope you hear those things, and we hope you know that those are the things we mean the most.

{You driving the boat in Tennessee, enjoying the only cow in Texas that doesn’t smell one fall, searching for shells two summers in a row in NC (I hope your future kids love doing that as much as you do every summer), scalloping, paddleboarding at the river house, and hanging out with our favorites on a summer evening}

Your love is unconditional

When we have bad days or my patience is wearing thin (usually with one of your younger siblings) or a stranger in public, you always love us. When I have a moment I’m not proud of, you still love me. Your love is unconditional, sweet, and so innocent. And I love that. I want to be more like you.

Life is better with babies

Like, really, really better. I never knew how much I enjoyed eating cold food, taking 7 hours to complete one conversation with another adult, or how much I loved spending time at Disney World until you came along. I could watch you do the same roundoff back handspring a million times a day and still think it’s the coolest thing ever. Life was beautiful before you, and it’s still unbelievable to me how much more of everything beautiful it is with you.

{You and G…because I know these pictures embarrass you, and we can’t get you to pose together anymore. Let’s see…Halloween, hanging out in North Carolina, bowling, at a resort in Orlando, and walking to dinner during another Orlando trip….I left out all the kissing pictures. I didn’t want to make it weird.}

We will always worry

It doesn’t matter where we are, where you are, who you are with, what we are doing, what you are doing, or how old we all are – we will never not worry about you.

When you’re in school and daddy and I are at home in our office working, I randomly worry that you’re eating enough at lunch (and your dad side eyes me and tells me that you have more food in your lunchbox than Publix has in one aisle). I worry that you didn’t hear me tell you I love you when I dropped you off. I worry how other kids behave and how you’re responding to them. I worry that you’re feeling sick or sad or confused or excited or what. And yet, every single day, I pick you up from the best day ever, and your smile is contagious. But, sweet girl, we will always worry about you.

We will always miss you when we are not with you

Always. Even when you and Ava and the babies make us so insanely crazy with your bickering that we cannot wait for a break, we miss you. We aren’t giving up our date nights or weekends away every few months, but we do miss you like crazy. We are always so excited to come home to you when we land.

{You make us so proud dancing, cheering, being Baptised, and choosing such sweet friends to surround yourself with}

There is joy in everything

Oh, Addison. You have taught us so much, and I love how much you’ve taught us about joy. With your smile and your sweet laugh, there is joy in every moment. You taught us that every moment is a good one, and that there is some sort of joy even in the saddest moments.

When I cried thinking about how hard it was going to be saying goodbye to great grandma when we left Texas last week, you put your sweet arms around me and told me it was okay and that you miss her, too. Even in one of my most difficult moments, you found a way to show me joy just by being you.

You are the best parts of both of us

Well, you’re the best parts of your daddy. I think you ended up with all my worst qualities, but you really do make them work. Never stop being like daddy. He’s the best person I know, and following in his footsteps is a very good thing. I’m sorry you somehow ended up with my OCD, and my anxiety about messiness and imperfections. I love that you have my perfectionism, but I hope you keep it a healthy situation unlike your crazy mama. Don’t let it make you cray, but if you want to keep thinking you want to be just like me when you grow up, I won’t argue with you. Just be like, 75% better than me and you’ll be all right.

{The summer you turned 7. We began your birthday month on the lake in Tennessee with our favorites. Remember when you jumped off that bridge holding Uncle Geremy’s hand like a champ?! We ended it at the Omni with all of our favorites, and the royal treatment for you, birthday girl. You and all your friends/cousins had your own table at dinner, your own waitstaff, your own cake, and your own fun}

Addybug, thanks for making us parents. Thanks for being the best. Thanks for being our family. Thank you for bringing so much light and laughter and love and happiness in our home on a daily basis. And thanks for not being too mad at us that you ended up with two little sisters and a little brother. We know they make you crazy, but it’s only because they love you so much because you’re so lovable.

Thank you for being a shining example of class. You might only be 10, but you are one of the most elegant, classiest people I have the pleasure of knowing. Your kindness shines through your eyes, and you are such a good person without even trying. I love how you always cheer people on, how you are so excited about their excitement, and how you always look to help when someone needs it. I love that you are such a class act. Never change, ever. The world needs about 7 billion more people just like you.

{That one time you and Ava asked us if you could join me and daddy the next time we went to NYC. Riding to dinner in a limo, taking photos with Lady Liberty, snapping quick pics in the hotel lobby before dinner, and shopping at American Girl. That was probably our favorite trip, ever. Daddy and I have spent 2-3 weekends a year in NYC for the past decade, but there was nothing like seeing it through your eyes for the first time}

We love you so much. All the time. No matter what. You’re our baby, and you will always be our baby. You are our greatest joy and every piece of our hearts.

Happy 10th Birthday, our blue-eyed beauty.

#NSale Early Access Picks (Not Very Fall-Weather Related)

I am so late with this, and I know it. The #Nsale has been going on for basically a week now, and I’m just now getting around to sharing my purchases and a few other favorites. I have to tell you, I didn’t even shop the sale the first few days, and it’s almost open to the public at this point! Early access ends tomorrow, and here I am…today.

In my defense, I was gone for four days, and traveling with a family of six takes a little prep work. We did have the best weekend. I’ll be totally honest with you, though. I hate, hate, hate, detest, hate, really hate a lot the area in Texas where my grandmother lives. I mean, I cringe, die on the inside, and really pout a lot while we’re there. But, she’s my favorite person in the entire world – and that makes the trip so worthwhile.

It’s just so far out of the way. It smells terrible because of all the cows that line the highways for miles and miles. It’s all so orange. There are no trees. There is no water. The sky is not so much blue as it is a hazy color. And the smell….oh my goodness. My skin feels so dusty when I’m there. I guess we can say that I’m just not the country type. The Midwest just is not for me. I love that other people love that simple country living so much, but it’s not for me. I need my palm trees and my salty ocean air. I need the bright blue sky.

I need to smell fresh flowers and see color that isn’t orange. It’s just who I am. Oh, and I need to be close to fresh fruit at all times. You would not believe how many restaurants we went to where they didn’t have fruit or actually asked, “Why?” when we tried to order fresh fruit (and one restaurant didn’t have eggs benedict, nor had they ever heard of it).

We have to stay an hour and a half away from my grandmother’s house to even have a decent hotel, and even that is a stretch. There’s no four or five-star hotels for hundreds of miles, and the absolutely best we could do was a Hilton suites hotel where one person works at the front desk, you have to park your own car, carry your own luggage, and everyone goes downstairs in the morning to eat a free meal that looks like it’s been sitting outside for days and days. Thankfully, we found a Cracker Barrel and a Starbucks (even if neither had fruit or yogurt!). And my grandmother lives in a dry county.

Basically, it’s just not for me.

But, spending time with her is everything to me. We got to spend our Saturday night alone with her, my husband and I. My mom and dad were also in Texas visiting with my niece and nephew with them, so they kept our kids for us so we could spend the evening with my grandmother. She’s almost 100, and she’s the sharpest, most intelligent, most hilarious woman. Her mind is sharper than mine will ever be, and she’s lived a century. We had the most incredible evening with her – and our kids love the farm. The animals, the barn, all of it. I don’t even know who they are.

The flight isn’t bad, but the drive to her house is hours and hours, and that’s a long situation. Overall, everyone was super well-behaved considering we spent four days off schedule and without the creature comforts we are accustomed to. It was so hard to say goodbye…my heart hurts.

So, that was our weekend. We are glad to be home, and now I have to get back to work writing all the things. And bringing you my Nordstrom sale picks. To be honest, some of these things are just on sale. They’re not even part of the sale, but does that matter?

Also, you won’t find a lot of fall stuff on my list. Honestly, I live in Florida. I don’t get a fall season, so I don’t buy much in terms of fall clothes. I’ll still be swimsuit shopping for months, so you’re getting what I love that works for my life.

Shoes

Tory Burch slides, Tory Burch sandals, Nikes, Hunter Boots, Hunter Boots

I have a particular love for these rubber TB sandals. I love them for the beach, the pool, and to wear in the shower when we travel ( I can’t shower barefoot). You cannot ruin them! Additionally, I love these simple Nikes for the gym. They’re streamlined and clean. And while we might not have a lot of fall weather here in Florida, rain is always a problem. And I love my Hunters. Remember to size down a full size for the best fit.

Dresses/Rompers

Midi dress, shirt dress, pompom romper, casual dress, white romper

I love this sweet midi. It’ll pair well with a fun blazer and sky-high heels for a slightly dressier look, or with flats for a fun casual look. I also have this split-neck shirt dress, and it’s just a little see-through when it’s daytime. Wear it at night or invest in a slip! This romper is too much fun, and this knotted dress is so flattering on all body types. My favorite, though, is this all-white romper I’ll never be able to wear because, well, all white.

Jeans

7 For All Mankind One, Two, Three

You know I’m a diehard 7fam jeans lover. I won’t wear much else. And these third pair are my absolute favorite ever – I picked up two more pair to go with the three or four I already have. I love them that much. Actually, they might be all  you see me in ever again. And at this price, I might order a few more!

Tops

Black tee, stripe tee, sweatshirt

This black tee is one of my favorite purchases ever, and it’s so cheap! I also love this casual stripe tee to pair with a blazer and heels during the fall (if we get one) and this sweatshirt is perfect for running errands, cool mornings with my coffee on the deck, and evenings when there might be an actual chill in the air.

 

Your Next Travel Must-Have: Charcoal Whitening Powder

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Travel is one of my favorite things, but it definitely has a way of taking its toll on my body and my health. It’s so easy to eat fast food, it’s so easy to say yes to that second glass of red wine, and it’s so easy to drink all the coffee. I’m so guilty of using travel as an excuse to treat myself – and who doesn’t? – and then head to the hotel gym for a two-mile run like that’s going to make up for all the room service Belgian waffles and bacon.

However, the biggest problem I have when I travel is the damage I do to my white smile. Red wine and coffee. Coffee and red wine. We’re having fun, so the glasses of vino are flowing, and I’m exhausted being in a different time zone, away from my bed, and away from my carefully crafted routine, which means my coffee consumption becomes a problem. I’m sure I need coffee intervention, but that’s not the point here, right? We travel often, and I need something to keep my smile in check.

I take a lot of photos for social media and tiffanyraiford.com, and that means I need to be sure my smile is always white, which is basically impossible after 200 trips to Starbucks. I don’t always have time to wear whitening trays or head to the dentist for a whitening treatment. I need something fast, easy, convenient, and portable.

When the amazing people from Avistar asked me to try their charcoal whitening powder, I was excited. I’d heard such good things about this easy way of whitening in the past, and I was hoping it was the answer to my travel whitening needs.

The Avistar Natural Teeth Whitener and Detoxifier with Activated Charcoal Powder changed my travel life. I simply bring it with me on my flights, and I use it every day. The difference is immediate, and it helps me feel more confident in my smile when we aren’t home – even after a gallon of coffee.

The best part is that it’s so simple to use. I wet my toothbrush, dip it into the powder, and I brush for two minutes. After rinsing, I brush my teeth as usual – which helps remove the charcoal residue from between my teeth. My teeth are whiter and brighter, and my smile that much more confident.

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Tips for Use

Now that you’re ready to change your travel game face (literally) forever, here are a few things I’ve learned to make your whitening experience a little easier and less of a mess (hello, living and learning).

  • Whiten before you put your makeup on, so you don’t end up with charcoal powder on your lipstick
  • Don’t use a lot on your toothbrush. You only need to dab your brush in the powder for a very small layer. A little of this whitening product goes a LONG way.
  • Brush afterward. You can use it alone or you can put it on top of your toothpaste, but I found the best way to use it to make a smaller mess and to have the brightest smile is by using it first and then brushing afterward.
  • Expect a mess – unless you’re perfect, unlike me. Just grab a baby wipe or a Clorox wipe to have on hand while you brush. The charcoal does make a bit of a mess in the sink if you brush like me, but it wipes right up.

If you’re looking for a quick, efficient, and effective whitening method to use on the road, this is it. And you don’t have to reserve it for travel, either. You can use it at home. It’s easy, and the best part is that it has no effect on sensitive teeth. I have sensitive teeth, and I’m always hesitant to try new products. This one is perfect if you want to have the pearliest whites because you won’t feel anything.

It’s a win, but the fact that it’s sold on Amazon.com and you can have it in two days or less with Prime Shipping is a game-changer, for certain. It’s organic, too, so you needn’t worry about putting anything questionable on your teeth and gums.

You can’t lose, so why are you waiting to order?

Staying Healthy When Time is of the Essence

Happy Wednesday loves!

I have no problem admitting I’m vain. I like to look good. I take care of myself, and I like to maintain good health for aesthetic purposes. However, I really like to maintain good health for a few other – more important – reasons than just my outward appearance (though I believe looking good on the outside helps improve self-confidence, which helps improve my mood, which helps improve my productivity, which makes me a nicer person, which makes my family like me more, which makes me happier…it’s the circle of life, right?).

I don’t know if y’all know this, but I have four little babes – and I want to be around for a very long time. I have a lot of boys to tell them they can’t date, a lot of girls to smile at in person and tell my husband, “Oh, HELL no,” when our son can’t hear, weddings to dress up for, grandbabies to cuddle and love, and basically another 80 or 90 years of memories to make (laugh now, but longevity is a thing in my family, and my husband likes to make the very bad joke that I’ll be married to my second husband a lot longer than him because he’ll live an average lifespan to my 120 years. He’s so wrong, though. There can’t be two men in this world crazy enough to want to live with me).

Anyway, my point is that life is a little bit crazy with all we have going on, and this week is one of those weeks that just gets crazier – if you can believe that.

We haven’t been home in the evenings in well over a week, I’m in the middle of packing us up for a 2.5-hour flight to Texas, a 5-hour drive from the airport to the farm, and time spent with my amazing grandmother. I have clients, deadlines, and projects going on. Kids with sports and activities, and there is always fun to be had with our people. We were out late last Tuesday for the fourth, Wednesday because we had our regularly scheduled #wednesdaynightdinner, Thursday for a family exercise situation at the YMCA, Friday for family date night, Saturday on the boat, Saturday night for family date night, Sunday at church and the river house, Monday for hair appointments and cheer uniform fittings, last night for tumbling, tonight for #wednesdaynightdinner, tomorrow night for a meeting…do you see what I mean?

I’m up at 5 am, we aren’t getting everyone to bed until late, and then we’re passing out quickly after them, and I’m exhausted. I have to work ahead so I don’t have to take my computer with me while we’re gone, and that means doubling up my efforts. It’s a lot of prep and work (thank you Lord for sending me a husband who efficiently packs for himself so that I don’t have to) but it’s my life, y’all.

So…this is usually when I start to feel myself coming down with something, but I refuse.

We put a lot of emphasis on healthy habits and eating, and we always have. It’s just a lifestyle for us, and it works so well. We have more energy, we feel better, and we get sick infrequently, but weeks like this always challenge me as I run myself into the ground. So, I thought I’d share a quick blog post about how I make sure I stay healthy when life is like, “No, eat all the donuts and definitely go to Chick-Fil-A and get that warm cookie for dessert,”.

Keep Eating the Good Stuff

It’s so easy to decide to get all kinds of lazy when life is hectic. Drive-thrus, take out, and unhealthy eats are just easier, but that’s not how we roll. I maintain my regularly scheduled eating on weeks like this. Some of my favorite quick and easy go-to meals include the following.

  • Greek yogurt, fruit, granola
  • Strawberries, blueberries, oranges and raspberries
  • Lots and lots of water and coffee
  • Peanut butter with tiny chocolate chips when I want something sweet

For dinner, we almost always have something simple like fresh salmon with a lemon butter sauce, baked or grilled chicken with either a cilantro lime marinade or something like a mango/avocado salsa on top, filet, and we rarely ever have a starch. We are double up the veggie kind of people – not that we don’t love starches, but we reserve those for get-togethers and stuff like that.

We love to take our favorite guilty pleasure foods and make them healthier. For example, I’m a taco-aholic who could eat them all day, every day, constantly. Problem – I don’t like pork or really any form of red meat other than filet. So, we bake chicken, mix it with chile peppers, tomatoes, and onions, bake it, and put it in a taco shell. Amazing. I also love pizza, so we will do a cauliflower crust with baked chicken, tomatoes, red onion, fresh mozzarella, and some buffalo sauce – amazing.

The key is to find things you love that don’t take much time to make, and then make them a lot healthier. It helps you stay feeling good and not falling apart because your body hates what you’re putting into it.

Don’t Skip the Gym

This one is easy for me. I love how I feel when I work out, so missing a day at the gym is not something I allow often. The good news is you can take a half hour and just go with it, and that’s amazing! Take a walk, go for a run, do a yoga work out on your computer. I do two to three days a week of intense yoga for an hour. I do three to four days a week on the treadmill. I run 8 miles a week minimum, and I’m working up my minimum to 10 miles a week. I also mix in another class such as HIIT (okay, once, last week) here and there to try something new. Just don’t skip the workout. It’s so important.

Take a Break

Sometimes you just need one. I know I do. I like to take a break, drink some water, read a little. Sit on the porch and watch the sunset. Sit on the deck and watch the sunrise with some coffee and whatever Bible study I have for the week. One thing that’s always been helpful to us is definitely our Wednesday night dinner tradition. It’s like 10 years of a mandatory mid-week break. We either host our friends or they host us. The kids get to play, we get to have an adult conversation (which is definitely appropriate and mature….), and force ourselves to put work away for a few hours. Maybe it doesn’t seem like much, but it’s like therapy when you’re a workaholic with a hundred kids.

Find Motivation

Sometimes I get tired. I lack motivation and the desire to do anything. I know once I get started I’ll be fine, but it’s the getting started part that sucks. So, I start writing down things I already did today on my to-do list for the sheer satisfaction of crossing them off.

Brush my teeth. Check. Wake up. Check. Shower. Check. Drink coffee. Check. Kiss husband. Check. Kiss babies. Check. I mean, my to-do list sometimes looks like a hot ass mess of WTF, but once I see more items checked off than not, my brain forgets that things like ‘Breathe, check,’ are not actual accomplishments and my bad-assery kicks in and I get things done.

What do you do to stay healthy mentally, physically, and emotionally when you’ve living la vida loca (but the boring kind of la vida loca, not the music video kind where you’re on a yacht poppin’ bottles and living it up)?