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)?

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Dinnerly Dinner Subscription Review: Simple, Delicious, and Affordable

Cooking is not my forte.

I like to cook – kind of – but I don’t excel. Does that make sense? No? I know…I’ll try to find a way to explain that so it makes a bit more sense.

I love Food Network. I’d love to cook well, and there are a few dishes I’m quite good at making. But only because I’ve made them a million times and perfected them.

I don’t follow endless directions well. There’s just too much going on with a real recipe for me to handle it will. I prefer to bake, and I’m really good at baking. It’s easy when everything is basically in one pan. It all cooks the same time, there’s one thing at a time that requires my attention. Cooking is too much.

So I married a man who cooks like a champ, enjoys spending time in the kitchen, and keeps us well fed and happy.

When the amazing people from Dinnerly reached out and asked me if I’d like to try their dinner subscription service, I figured I might as well try. Perhaps I could cook some new dishes for my family quickly and with six or fewer ingredients, I was on board with it.

What is Dinnerly?

It’s the most affordable, simplest dinner subscription service on the market. The company provides up to three meals per week, delivered to your door with every single ingredient you need to cook dinner save for a few household items you already have in your pantry. It’s in a cooler, it’s fresh, and it’s simple.

You have everything delivered, you cook the meal, and you don’t need to grocery shop, meal plan, or stress about how you’re going to feed your family. The good news is that most of the recipes they send are on the healthy side. As a family who tends to skip the starches and breads in favor of additional veggie sides, simple grilled or baked chicken or fresh fish and – always – Filet Friday, we were on board with the healthier options.

What Makes Dinnerly Different than Other Subscription Services?

Simple – it’s far more affordable, far simpler, and a lot less stressful. You don’t have a half dozen different menu options in different categories to choose from. You have three. You choose them, you make them, you enjoy them – and even the ones I didn’t think sounded amazing when we received the box were so good!

The meals are $5 per person. You can order a 4-person package or a 2-person package. My husband and I have four small kids, and the 4-person boxes were more than enough food for all six of us. There was so much left over!

Additionally, Dinnerly makes the job SO much easier than other companies because every meal consists of six ingredients or less. It’s quick, it’s delicious, it’s easy. What more do you want?

What Else Should I Know?

The one thing you should know before anything else is you should check your recipes online before your box arrives is you will need a few things from home for some recipes. It’s all simple things, however, like salt and pepper or a little oil. You have it lying around, so it’s never a big deal.

Dinnerly also makes sure you’re able to get your recipes online through your confirmation email. This saves paper, and it saves you money as a result. You save all the recipes on your computer to reference later, and you aren’t inundated with paper recipes to file, put away, lose, or store. I mean, I cannot handle another needless piece of paper in my house, and I imagine you feel the same.

{Our meals consisted of the three pictured here: Potato Rosti, Meatloaf and Caramelized Cabbage, and Creamy Chicken Tetrazzini}

How Was Dinnerly For Us?

Welllllll…it was amazing, but only because my husband saved the day. I tried. I did. But again, even with only six ingredients, I struggle to cook more than one thing at a time or follow multiple steps at a time. Things burned. I used all the shallots in the meatloaf and saved none of them for the other meal half of them were meant for – because who reads directions in advance?!

Me. And you. We should all read the directions quickly before we make things. It does limit the complications and makes cooking easier. Of course, I’ll never admit this to my husband. Obviously.

Dinnerly was great once my husband took over. He found it simple and easy, quick and efficient, and his cooking was far better than mine. We have already signed up to use Dinnerly again when we have the time to cook at home three nights a week – once the kids’ activities calm down a bit over summer vacation!

Dinnerly was a great choice for our family because we don’t like complicated meals. We like fresh food, healthy food, and we simply don’t care much for the ‘traditional’ dinner items most people eat on a regular basis. We like more veggies than anything else, we like everything fresh and nothing pre-packaged or frozen, and we like simple menu items that taste flawless. Dinnerly definitely delivered – literally and figuratively!

Visit Dinnerly to see for yourself what the subscription service is like, what it entails (you choose how often you want it and only get deliveries when you decide!), and what’s for dinner this week.

Happy Birthday, Babes: Answers to the 10 Most Commonly Asked Questions We Get About the Twins

Four years ago today we welcomed our last babies into our world. Our twins, Carter and Charlotte, were born. I was 36 weeks and 6 days pregnant when they made our debut at 3 lbs. and 5 lbs. They spent a week in the NICU, and we spent a week living at the hospital – unofficially in the room we were discharged from after two days thanks to the amazing nurses who offered it to us – and our lives changed.

Now they’re four.

Four.

I don’t even know where the time went. They are the sweetest babies. They have their moments, but we have been so fortunate with our sweet babes. They’ve always been excellent 12-hour nighttime sleepers. They’ve always been easy babies, well-behaved babies, and they don’t give us too much trouble. We are fortunate, and we appreciate every moment of their sweetness.

And in honor of their fourth birthday, I’m answering a few of the most common questions we receive about being twin parents and about twins. These aren’t Instagram-sent questions. These are walking through Publix with the twins and hearing questions from complete strangers we’ve never met in our lives. All. The. Time.

  1. They’re twins? But he’s taller than her! They don’t look that much alike!

Yes. This is true. Carter is taller than Charlotte. He’s also five pounds heavier, and he’s got a penis. It’s called fraternal. And yes, I’m sure they’re not identical. And yes, it’s possible to have twins who don’t look alike.

  1. Did you plan on having twins?

Absolutely not. Had I known I hyper ovulate, there’s a good chance we might have stopped before we had more than one at a time.

  1. Are they natural?

They’re not unnatural. I assume this is the “nice” way strangers ask us if we went through fertility treatments to conceive. To be frank, it’s a bit rude – and none of anyone else’s business. We all know where babies come from, so there’s that. But no, we conceived our babies very naturally. Did you want that visual?

  1. Did you just want to die when you found out you were having twins? I’d kill myself if I found out I was having twins and I already had two kids at home!

I’m here, aren’t I? So, no; I did not die. One baby is a beautiful blessing. Two is an amazing blessing. It might be shocking to find out there’s more than one baby in there, but it’s not suicide-worthy.

  1. Better you than me, right? Ha ha ha!

Yes, yes, and yes.

  1. Did your lives totally end when you had twins?

Nope. We lead a very fulfilling, beautiful life to be honest. It’s just a little louder, a little busier, and there’s a lot more hugs and kisses to go around, and we have a lot more laughter in our house. And we never worry about sitting by strangers on planes. We get the entire row to ourselves, and that’s a total win.

  1. How do you sleep?

Lying down cuddled up as close as I can get to my husband in my very comfortable bed. We are very schedule-oriented, so our kids have always been great sleepers. We’re not sleep-deprived. Even with newborns in the house, we weren’t. We’ve been very fortunate.

  1. Can you tell them apart?

I can’t get their names straight, but we’ve numbered them – so it works.

Really?! Yes, this is a serious – and frequently asked – question. They’re not identical. They’re not even the same gender. They don’t even have the same body parts. And besides, Charlotte has long hair and Carter doesn’t so it’s totally easy to tell them apart.

  1. Do they have the same personality?

No. They do not. Carter should have been named Joy. This boy is nothing but pure joy all the time. He’s always got the biggest, sweetest, most genuine smile on his face. He’s always got a hug to share, big kisses, and a massive smile on his face. Charlotte is a bit more reserved, and she has to love you a LOT before she’s going to kiss you or even share a smile with you. She also owns Carter and the big girls. Anything she wants, she looks at them and they make it happen. She’s a leader, and Carter is just along for the ride.

  1. Do you just love having twins?

More than anything! We were shocked, we thought it was a joke, and we weren’t sure how we’d manage two babies at one time with two bigger girls at home when we found out baby number three was baby three and four. But God’s plan is always greater than our own plans. He knows. He brings you what you need in your life and He knew we needed these babies in our lives even when we didn’t know it. He knew. And He was right. Our hearts are FULL.

We get to have the privilege of living in a household that is always filled with laughter – occasional bickering – and we are never without a little person with so much love for us that they can’t contain it. Our lives are full, and there is nothing quite like getting to watch these babies grow up together. We have so much goodness in our lives right now, and one day we will find our home filled to overflowing when our four babies and their spouses and their own babies come over for dinner, birthdays, and holidays. It’s going to be loud, crazy, and overflowing – and it’s everything we want in life.

Happy Birthday, sweet babes. You are loved.

FAQs: Answering a Few of the Most Commonly Asked Questions I Get On Instagram

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Hey, y’all! Happy Wednesday…and happy cooler weather, Floridians! I’m so happy to have this gorgeous 70-degree high situation back in my life. This weekend was spectacular – and in more ways that one. We had a house full of kids and family all weekend, and we got to spend a child-free night being treated like VIPs with 10 of our very best friends all night long. It included a party bus (with a bathroom on board, which is always perfection), a suite at an Orlando Magic Game, and entirely too much fun.

Did you know flossing is more than just what you do after you brush?! #funfact

I don’t know if it’s because I’m trying to use Instagram Stories more often these days or what, but I’m getting so many more questions that I usually get via DM on Insta, and I thought I might take a moment to answer a few of them. When I start to notice a few of the same questions come through over and over, I try to just address them publicly so it’s a little easier than sending dozens of the same replies.

So….here we go.

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  1. Are all four of your kids yours?

Yes! I don’t really know why I get this question so many times, but I’ve had a few “you look too young to have four kids,” “do you have a blended family,” and even once or twice, “it’s just so uncommon to see a couple with four kids who all belong to the same two parents,” in the DMs lately. Yes, all four kids belong to me and to my husband – together. We will celebrate our 13th wedding anniversary in two months, and we will have a 10-year-old as of July. Our Ava turns 7 this month, and our twins turn 4 this month. They’re all ours.

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  1. What would you say is your personal style definition?

Lazy chic. Honestly. I’m lazy. I have four kids. I have a business to run. I have a husband and a house and the kids have about 7679377 extracurricular activities, and I still like sleep. So I like to go for lazy, but I’ll call it classic simplicity. I love fashion, but I like to spend as little time in the morning as possible figuring out what to wear. I’m a uniform kind of girl. Give me a Lilly Pulitzer shift and a pair of Tory Burch sandals and I’m dressed for the summer. Give me skinny jeans and a tunic with a pair of heels, and I’m dressed the rest of the year. I have a uniform – and I’m okay with that.

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  1. A lot of what you link is really expensive. How do you decide what to splurge on and what to save on?

Style is very personal, and that’s what makes it so amazing. I like a good mixture of high and low-end pieces. I’m not a very trendy person – and that’s all right – but I do love classics. I spend a lot on the basics: jeans, LBDs, shoes, and handbags – and sunglasses. Anything not designed to last a lifetime, I don’t spend a lot on. Maxi dresses, rompers, tee shirts, tunics, and things like that don’t get much of my money.

I do spend a lot on certain pieces, but they are pieces that last a lifetime. Much of what I wear are things I’ve had 3, 5, 10, 12 years and still wear/carry like it’s brand-new because quality is ALWAYS better than quantity. I don’t consider the staples or classics a waste. It’s personal.

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  1. What’s your workout routine?

Simple – I move my body. I belong to my local YMCA, and I stop by three mornings a week after I drop the kids off at school. Those days I do a mixture of cardio and weights. I prefer machines like the elliptical or treadmill, and I always look up different challenging 30-minute routines on Pinterest to make each work out different and challenging.

Two days a week I go home for a few hours to work and then I head back to the Y for an hour-long yoga class. I love and adore my yoga classes – they are amazing. I feel so good, so strong, and so amazing afterward! If I can’t make it to the gym one day, I just run a mile through our neighborhood. I hate to run, so that’s always my motivation to get to the gym when I don’t feel like it!

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  1. How are you so thin even though you have four kids?

Honestly, I think it’s a combination of good genes and my diet. I don’t ‘diet’ per say. I just like to eat healthy. I have an occasional sweet tooth I don’t deny, but 90% of the time we just eat healthy. We like our meals very simple, very filled with fresh ingredients, and very healthy. We season and bake those small chicken breast cutlets (maybe tenders? Publix, what do you call them?) we buy in the meat department and then roast some broccoli and add a salad or something for most meals. We do different variations of things like that most nights.

During the day, I love Greek yogurt with a lot of fruit and a little granola, oranges are my go-to snack (Well, cuties…I can’t eat an entire orange because it’s too big!) and I will have a spoonful of peanut butter with a few little chocolate chips on them if I need some energy or just want something sweet. We don’t eat a lot of red meat – just filet – and I can probably count on one hand how many times a year we have a starch or bread side with dinner at home. We double up on our veggies.

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  1. What size are you and how tall are you?

I am *almost* 5’3, but that really surprises people. I wear heels 90% of the time, so I always seem taller to people until they see me in flats for the first time – and then they’re shocked. My size depends on what I wear as well as the designer.

  • I wear size 25 jeans
  • I wear an XS top
  • I wear size 37.5 or 38 shoe (it depends heavily on the designer and the style)
  • Dresses are either size 2 or XS

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  1. Are your kids active?

Yes! Well, Addison is. She keeps us busy. Ava tried some sports, didn’t like any of them, and prefers to read and write and create art. Charlotte and Carter aren’t four yet (next week!) so we’ve missed being able to sign them up for anything, though they will start playing tee ball in the fall. Addison, however, needs to be active all the time.

She’s in running club two mornings a week before school. She takes a gymnastics class, two advanced tumbling classes, three dance classes (lyrical, hip hop, and ballet), and she’s a competitive cheerleader. Her gym closed last year when the season was over, but a new gym is beginning a competitive squad this summer, so she’ll take that back up in a few months.

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  1. You’re always saying your husband is super hands-on, but is he really?

Yes! I always say he’s the best mom I know! He is SUPER hands-on, and I kind of hate to even call it that. He does 99% of the laundry, he packs the kids’ lunches, he makes their breakfast and gets them dressed for school, and he cleans up any messes along the way throughout the day. He cooks, he cleans, he gives baths, he does homework. He just does whatever needs doing when it needs doing. He’s a dream, and we make a really good team!

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  1. You have a lot of date nights. How do you get away with that?

We have my parents and my mother-in-law all very close to us, and we just ask. They love the kids, and they know having four kids is a handful, so they’re always happy to help. If they’re not free, they’ll offer an alternative night instead. It’s a great situation, the kids get to spend time with their grandparents all the time, and everyone is super happy. We try for date night every other week, and we mostly succeed.

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  1. How do you travel with your kids?

It takes about a day of packing to pack for a family of 6 and get it all right – and that’s the worst part. We’ve never not traveled with them. They’ve been flying, staying in hotels, and traveling since they were all born, so they just know how it’s done. They are well-behaved, too. They might have their moments at home or whatever, but they know the expectation in public, and they know how to behave at dinner, on a plane, in the airport, whatever. I think it’s just so second-nature to them. We also make sure they have plenty of snacks, coloring books, books, and other activities to keep them occupied in their own carry-ons so they’re never bored.

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  1. You don’t share a lot of photos of your kids on IG. Why not?

I use Instagram primarily for business purposes. It’s where I post collaborations, outfit of the day photos, and where I share my blog. I share pictures of the kids on occasion, but it’s a very public platform so you won’t see much about them. I use Facebook for my family. It’s private, and it’s where I share stories and pictures of the kids. Although, I’m a little bad about that because I don’t really use Facebook unless I remember I have some photos I want to share with my family or I’m with friends and everyone is tagging me in photos – then I remember!

  1. Where do you shop?

Online. Believe it or not, I don’t love shopping in person. I really don’t have much time to shop in a store, and most of the stores I like aren’t anywhere near me. I also find I become easily annoyed going navigating the layout in any store when I could literally just filter my search online and have all of exactly what I’m looking for in under 3 seconds – and without needing to put on pants or a bra.

As for where I shop, I’m simple. It’s either from Lily Pulizter, or it’s from Nordstrom. I rarely shop elsewhere, mostly because I don’t know how things will fit, or I’ve had to return one too many things because it’s just not what I wanted when it arrived. Nordstrom and Lily keep my game strong, though I do love Bloomingdales and Saks, too.

5 Daily Self-Care Habits that Make Life So Much Sweeter

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Every day is different, yet it’s remarkably the same in Raiford household. We run a tight ship with schedules and routines for ourselves and the kids. It’s helpful in keeping everyone on track (and me less crazy), and it’s taught our kids some amazing habits. They know to clean up after themselves because messes make mommy twitch. They know the bedtime routine and don’t fight it, and they know our expectations of them throughout the day.

That doesn’t stop them from bickering, telling on one another, or making us crazy in general with the constant question of, “May I have a snack, please?” and the subsequent, “Oh, that big bowl of macaroni and cheese with a side of cucumbers and salad? That wasn’t my snack. That was just food,” that follows.

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They’re cute, but they’re annoying at times.

Our days are structured. It helps us run my business, it helps Craig’s job, and it helps with the kids. We call it organized chaos. But I’m sharing a smallish secret. I say smallish because anyone who knows me well knows this.

I’m a totally anal-retentive, upright, Type-A, perfectionist control freak. I can’t leave the house if there is anything out of place. I can’t handle anything being disorganized. I can’t handle any type of mess. You guys….I vacuum my SUV out the moment I pull it into the garage and get the kids out of it every single day.

The good news, it only takes me 30 seconds to keep my car spotless every day and a good 10 minutes for us to turn out home spotless at the end of the day. So, good things come from my really poor qualities.

Even with all my organization and my routines and structures, life overwhelms me sometimes. Four kids is a lot. My business takes a lot from me. Being a present wife and mom takes a lot from me. Being involved in the kid’s school lives at two different schools takes a lot out of me. I’ve learned to recognize when I’m overwhelmed and overdoing it. I start to snap at the kids and my husband without any real reason. I find myself super annoyed with everyone and everything, and I find my already very thin patience unraveling.

And I know I need to step back, chill the eff out, and regain control of my life. Since the twins were born, I’ve learned a lot about myself I didn’t know before. I’m so much more familiar with myself, my needs, my body. I know when I’m overdoing it, and I’ve learned how to rest when I need it. I’ve also learned my breakdown periods are few and far between when I practice daily self-care.

As an insane creature of habit, I’ve managed to schedule a few things into my day every single day that gives me peace, helps me stay calm, and makes me feel in control and good. I didn’t know it at first, but it’s self-care and I’m all about it. Since I get a lot of questions about how I manage to stay (and by stay, we’re talking appear, people) so calm and collected and put together with four kids, I thought I’d share what I do each day to help.

Side Note – basically my entire life is easier and more organized because my husband is 100 percent involved in everything around our house because of his own accord. Dishes, bath time, dinner time, bed time, laundry, the kids, diapers, whatever. He’s the reason my life is easy. And I appreciate the hell out of him.

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I Exercise Daily

I make time every day, even when I don’t have it, to work out. Even if can’t do more than 20 minutes on the elliptical at the YMCA, I’m there doing it. Working my body, sweating it out, and getting my heart going make me feel good. I love the energy I get, and I love how I feel. My favorite is yoga. I take two yoga classes per week and sometimes a third. I love how strong I feel, how good I feel, and how it motivates me. Exercise is so good.

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I Wake Up Early

5 am. That’s my everyday wake up call. I need it. I need it to shower, blow dry my hair, put on makeup, and enjoy a cup of coffee before I head into my office to start my workday. I need it before everyone is awake. I need the calm of being able to start my day quietly with my First 5 App, with some daily devotionals, and to just enjoy the morning in peace. It’s my favorite time of day.

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I Practice Gratitude

This is a fairly new habit I’ve included in my daily routine, but it’s good. I’ve been using a gratitude journal. I’m impatient and easily annoyed and constantly baffled by the number of people in the world who cannot do their jobs correctly, who cannot do what they say they are going to do, and who don’t seem to value the concept of hard work and customer service. And I’m really bad about letting that kind of stuff irritate me.

So I’ve been practicing gratitude by focusing every day on three things I really am grateful for. I have a long list, but I’ve been trying to focus on writing down what really touches me at the moment. The other day, for example, I was sitting at my desk working on some deadlines at 6:45 am when Craig went upstairs to get the twins out of bed to have breakfast. They came downstairs and immediately came to my desk to give me hugs and kisses and “I yuve you, mommy’s,” before they took off for the breakfast they are hungry for the second they open their eyes (am I the only person who cannot figure out how these tiny humans are starving the second they wake up?).

I realized in that moment how insanely grateful I am that no matter what I’m doing or how I’m feeling or how they are feeling, our kids are always ready to come say good morning to me before they do anything else so they can get their love in first and foremost. So, I wrote it down. And then I thought about how sweet that is all day long, and I didn’t even lose my shit when a company made a promise to me they couldn’t keep and I wanted to shake them and ask them what the hell is their problem.

If you say you can have something done in 30 minutes when I call, and then I come in and drop my stuff off and then you tell me an hour later when I come back to pick it up that you don’t even know if you can do it in the next two days, why do you say you can do it in 30 minutes? (Maybe I took my frustration to my car, lost my shit for a minute or two, and defintely ended up the topic of conversation around the dinner table of the guy parked in front of me. “You guys won’t believe this crazy psychopath I saw today. What a piece of work!”)

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I Eat Well

I love a donut or a cookie as much as the next girl, but I really love the way I feel when I make healthy eating choices. I like pizza and junk food, but I don’t like the lethargy I feel after I eat like that. I have more energy when I eat well, so it’s a favor I do myself.

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I Start My Day with Uplifting Music 

I’m easily distracted while Craig is getting the kids ready for school in the morning, but that’s also my most productive work time. I pop my headphones in and turn my music up. Most mornings I listen to a Christian Contemporary station on Pandora, but sometimes I’m in the mood for classical or my favorite Frank Sinatra station. Whatever it is, I love listening to uplifting music in the morning. Craig once said he loves when I listen to Christian music in the am because I sing (oops) and he loves that my good mood instantly makes him feel good. Who even knew?

See? It’s not all that difficult to practice happy and healthy things during the day. These little habits make such a positive difference in my mood every day. What do you do to help you focus and stay on track during the day?

5 Things I Let Go Of That Changed My Life

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I love the New Year. I love looking back on where we were a year ago and how far we’ve come since, and I love seeing how much we’ve grown and accomplished. This year is no different. We’ve set our goals, we’ve made our peace with the most wonderful time of the year being over for another year, and we’ve welcomed the New Year with excitement. We have big plans for 2018, and we’re excited.

But we’re also excited about what’s changed in the past year. One of my favorite things to do is look back and take note of some of the positive changes that occurred during the year, and most of the time those changes go along with giving something up. 2017 was a year for the books, and it’s been eye-opening seeing how many things we gave up/changed/altered about our lives in the past year that have made life a lot sweeter.

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  1. Excessive Drinking

We have always been social drinkers, but 2017 was a bit eye-opening for us in terms of just how much we were really consuming. There wasn’t any specific instance or time when we thought we needed to tone it down a bit, but we did. I think it was a culmination of different things. It was a lack of energy, a desire to be more present and feel better, and it was the stage the twins were in.

They turned 3 last year, and they became so much easier. We began taking them more places with us and really enjoying our time with them, but that comes with being that much more exhausted at the end of the day. There came a point when we took the kids to Disney one Saturday night, came home, went to bed, and woke up feeling energized and amazing. Not drinking on Saturday meant waking up Sunday filled with energy – and really good moods.

That feeling was addicting. It wasn’t long before we were going weeks without a drink. During the Fourth of July, I drank sparkling water in my Yeti all night – and I woke up the next day feeling amazing. I loved it. We both loved it. We definitely still drink – there’s no stopping us from ordering a bottle of wine with dinner and enjoying a glass of red each night or drinking when we have a party or attend one. But it’s changed – a lot. It’s one or two drinks instead of 5 or 6. Sometimes it’s just water in the Yeti and no drinks.

We didn’t set out to make this change, but it just naturally occurred. The benefits have been being more energized, healthier, more present, in a better mood, not nearly as tired, and waking up every morning feeling really good has been a plus. It’s also allowed us to be better role models for our kids, and that’s a really good feeling.

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  1. Letting the Little Things Get to Us

Okay….so….it turns out I’m a little bit of a control freak. A lot neat freak. A major “my way or the highway,” kind of gal. But sometime during the year I managed to stop letting the little things get to me. Let’s not panic, though. I’m still a neat freak. I still can’t leave the house unless it’s perfectly clean or go to bed without it being perfectly clean, or allow anything unused to spend even a second out of place during the day. But…I made great strides letting the little things go.

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  1. Responding Immediately

I wear an Apple watch, so I get all my messages and my alerts and my calls immediately. I don’t miss a text because my phone is on vibrate on the counter or a call because I can’t hear the phone over the kids. I get everything immediately, and I always felt this overwhelming need to respond the second I got a message or text.

I’m getting better about not doing that. Not that there is anything wrong with being a quick responder – I like that about people. But it was to the point I was interrupting myself, my work, my thought processes to respond to messages in the middle of completing a deadline, and it was slowing me down and making me more productive. I still see the message – though sometimes I don’t read it if I’m really into what I’m doing and don’t want to take a chance of disrupting the flow. I just respond later if I’m super busy, and it’s made it so much easier for me to finish what I started.

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  1. Letting Go of Guilt

You know, I still feel a little guilty when I’m away from the kids or when I’m out having fun with my girlfriends while Craig is home with the babies, but I let a lot of that go over the course of 2017. Craig and I spend every minute of every day caring for our four kids, my business, his career, and our home. We don’t want to feel guilty when we take off for a weekend in New York twice a few times a year or dating regularly. We want to enjoy the moment and really stop feeling guilty about being away, about asking our parents to babysit, about the kids missing us…our marriage needs our focus and attention, and we realized that we can’t feel guilty about that.

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  1. Fear of Going Outside my Comfort Zone

I spent the past decade building my business, acquiring a long list of amazing clients, and working hard to earn my reputation in this industry, and I’m very proud of that. I’ve had some amazing opportunities, but I’ve missed out on just as many because I’m very comfortable in my comfort zone and not an inch outside of it.

When I had the opportunity to attend an event in South Florida in January last year, I decided I was not going to let my fear of attending events alone without knowing anyone bother me. I booked a flight before I could talk myself out of it, and I went. I struggled, of course. I hate being in situations where I don’t know people and everyone else already has a friend or a group with them, but I stuck my hand out, smiled, and said, “Hi, I’m Tiffany. What’s you’re name?” and went from there. I made a few new business connections, networked, and really stepped outside my zone of comfort.

And you know what? I hated every second of it, but I was super grateful I did it. I spent my flight home taking notes, making lists, and reveling in the fact I did something that makes me so uncomfortable and made it through. I had no regrets, and decided at that point I was going to push myself to get outside my comfort zone so I could build my personal brand and blog in addition to my professional business. It was liberating, and it’s the thing I’m most proud of letting go.

The New Year is all about embracing new goals and making positive changes in your life, but it’s also about reflecting on what you’ve learned, how much you’ve evolved, and how you can continue to grow in the new year. Looking back on my year in 2017 and getting to see just how much I grew and how much I changed has been amazing. I’m proud of myself, and I’m proud of how I continue to change, grow, learn, and evolve. I feel like I matured a bit in 2017, and I like that (but don’t worry…I don’t plan on maturing too much or ever growing up. I hear it’s a trap, anyway!).

How have you changed in the past year? Where were you a year ago, how were you feeling, and what changed in your life and about you over the course of 2017?

34 Life Lessons to Live By For My 34th Birthday

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Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, it’s true – but it’s really inside your personality. If you’re ugly on the inside, it won’t take people long to determine you’re ugly on the outside. Basically, you control your beauty and it starts from the inside (remember – sarcastic people who love to laugh and genuinely kind people are the best…and we could all strive to be a little most of all of the above) but that doesn’t mean you get to forget about the outside. I mean, you can be Mother Theresa’s personality twin but girl, if you’re not taking care of the outside, you’re going to look more like the kid from the Exorcist. Just saying.

Beauty tips and lifestyle tips are really a dime a dozen. The internet is filled with them (and the internet doesn’t lie, y’all) but it’s really the simplest, most basic habits that really help you put your best face forward both literally and figuratively.

As I age, I’m learning that basics are my best friend. I’m turning 34 on Saturday – Happy Birthday to ME! – and I thought I’d share 34 of my favorite beauty and life tips. Use one, use 34, use 7, ignore them all – it’s your face, ladies – but hopefully one of these tips that have changed my life more than once over the past 34 years can do the same for you.

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Basic Health Makes You Gorgeous

  1. It keeps you young, helps you sleep better, and gives you energy. Now you don’t have dark circles, your stressful attitude is gone, and your smile is more sincere. Instant gorgeous.
  2. Drink the water. Drink all the water. I might have a small three cup of coffee obsession in the mornings, but it’s water, water, water, water, all the time. I keep my Yeti filled all day long so I always have cold water – your skin cannot thank you enough for all the water you should give it.
  3. Seriously. Get some sleep. I have four kids, a husband I like to spend a little personal time with each night, a house to maintain, an active social life, and a business to run – and you better believe nothing stops me from sleeping 8 hours every night (also, you’re all welcome. I’m a monster with less than 8). There’s nothing so pressing in your life you can’t get a solid 8 hours (unless you’re new parents).
  4. Eat well – and often. I loooooove good food. I don’t tell people to diet. I don’t. I love donuts and ice cream and other things that aren’t so good for me. And I never say no. But I also never go overboard. I love those things, but I’d much rather have a bowl of yogurt and blueberries or some roasted broccoli. I’ve found healthy food can be made into something magical, and your body will crave it.
  5. If you’re not laughing to a point you feel it’s probably inappropriate each day, you’re not doing life right. Sorry. Laugh more. Forget everything else.
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Care for Your Skin Every Day 

  1. Don’t forget to moisturize. It’s the best thing you can do for your skin, and not just your face, ladies.
  2. Wear sunscreen. All. The. Time.
  3. Wash your face. I don’t care what you wash it with, just wash it at the end of the day.
  4. Keep your hands off your face – they’re really gross.
  5. Keep your phone off your face – it’s even nastier than your hands (at least those are washed!).

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Change Your Attitude and Watch Your Glow

  1. Choose to be happy. Sure, some days suck. It’s true, but focusing on the all the negatives gets you nowhere. Focus on the good in life, and be thankful for your problems. My grandmother always said that if I threw all my problems into a pile with everyone else’s, I’d want mine back FAST.
  2. Be nice. Seriously, it’s not that hard.
  3. When you decide to be a giver, you decide to be a happier version of you. Just remember that giving is only pretty when it’s private. Once you post it on social media, you take away from the giving and become a taker.
  4. Don’t compare yourself. Girl, you are amazing and you don’t have to try and be like or better than or whatever than anyone else. Everyone has a different life, different wants, different tastes, and differently dreams. Live yours, love yours, and be happy for everyone else doing the same. It’s very, very simple.
  5. Be you. It’s much easier. And it’s much better than trying to be someone else.

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Know Yourself and Be Yourself

  1. Know what looks good on you, and stick with it. For example, high necklines and sleeveless tops and off-the-shoulder tops are not flattering on me. I don’t wear them. They’re amazing on others, and I really love them, but I know they’re not spectacular on my broad shoulders – so I avoid them.
  2. Know your colors. It might sound silly, but it’s not. You might have yellow or blue undertones. Figure out it, and pick colors that flatter you. Want to know why I wear so much Lilly? Because bright, very bold colors look good on me. Muted colors do not. That once made me sad, but I’m growing to appreciate it.
  3. Don’t wear it if you’re not comfortable in it. Darling, if you don’t feel comfortable, you don’t look confident. If you don’t look confident, you don’t look good. I don’t care if you’re wearing a $7,500 Versace gown or a $7 H&M dress. If you’re not comfortable, it doesn’t flatter.
  4. Wear the heels. They make your legs look amazing. I’ve never met a woman in heels who doesn’t look like a bombshell.
  5. Don’t worry about anyone else. If you like it, rock it. Who cares what anyone else thinks?

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Pick Good People and Be Good People

  1. All right, so sometimes you can’t really choose the people in your life (I mean, you can’t pick your family, right?!) but you don’t have to spend too much time with great auntie Sue and her secondhand smoke, so that’s a plus. The people you do get to pick, pick them well. They should complement you (both literally and figuratively).
  2. Get rid of toxic people or minimize your time with them. We all have them in our lives, and sometimes you just have to minimize your time with them. If they don’t fill your tank or make you feel good, you don’t need ‘em.
  3. Be a good person. Treat your people well. Be good to them. Make an effort. Remember they are on your side and you are on theirs. Check in, find time, make time, and have fun.
  4. Be kind. If you’re not a kind person, you’re not anyone’s kind of person.

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Be Deliberate With Your Time

  1. Say no. It’s okay to say no to people and things that don’t add value to your life, that you’re simply not in the mood for, or that you simply don’t have time for.
  2. Forget busy. It’s overrated. We’re all busy, but I never really realize how much “busy” we have in our lives until we had the twins and became the parents of four. Our busy now is much different. The kind of busy we have with four kids is not like the kind of busy we had before. A lot of our ‘busy’ is not by choice. Before, it was. Get rid of it and take back your life.
  3. Go on dates. With yourself, with your friends, with your spouse. I went on my first date with my husband 16 years ago, and I enjoy our date nights more now than I did then – and that never fails to amaze me! I love that time alone. I feel so energized and refreshed when it’s just the two of us having a good time. Probably because he makes me laugh. I like to laugh. Also, he’s cute. And I like kissing him. But that’s not any of your business.
  4. Keep it simple. I won’t lie – I’m a very fancy girl at heart, and I want the high heels and the fancy date nights and the champagne. But it’s the simplest things that make the most of our time. It’s cookie baking with the kids. It’s Gator football parties with our people. It’s our weekly Wednesday night dinner date with some of our favorite friends in the world that we’ve been having for – wait for this – almost 10 years. From one baby and a weekly dinner at our favorite restaurant on Wednesday nights to 7 sweet (mostly) babies and Wednesday dinner at alternate houses every week. It’s a really simple thing, but it never fails to make my heart happy.
  5. Make time to rest. The best thing we ever did for ourselves was take our Sundays and turn them into our own personal Sunday Funday. We don’t make many plans on Sundays unless it’s something really important. We church. We eat. We sleep in. We shop. We play outside. We basically say no to everyone but our kids – and Mondays are so much easier because of it.

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And a Few Others

  1. Do what makes your heart happy. Trust me when I say it makes all the difference in the world.
  2. Spend some money on your shoes and handbags. Who cares about anything else?
  3. Wear lipstick. It’s pretty.
  4. It’s prettier.
  5. Love your kids. They are the coolest people you’ll ever know. Love them hard – but don’t forget to be a parent first, to strive to be the worst parent ever from time to time (it means you’re doing it right), and don’t forget to be realistic. They’re not perfect. They’re actually probably pretty annoying sometimes, but they’re also funny, sweet, and they love hard. So try to ignore the annoying, embarrass them as often as possible, and have all the dance parties in the family room. They’re the best things.

Difficult Decisions in Difficult Situations: Family First Always

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It turns out being a grown-up is entirely too overrated. I mean, honestly.

You guys…we are facing some serious problems here in Florida. Serious problems – and this is a serious post. I know you want fashion and lifestyle tips and things like that, but this week things these seem a little less important than what’s happening. Or perhaps that’s what I’m telling myself as I cross off one flight, two flights, hotels, limos, and dinner reservations as cancelled/refunded/rescheduled one at a time. You see, I’m leaving tonight for NYFW. This is my third year going – and it’s my all-time favorite part about what I do for a living.

Except that I’m not leaving. For the first time in three years, I’m missing Fashion Week in New York City. Am I disappointed? Oh, I’m crushed. I love NYFW. I love NYC. It’s my home away from home. My husband and I spend several weekends a year in NYC, and I was certainly looking forward to a weekend of quality time with him. But…our kids, our home, our family. Those things are more important.

Fashion Week happens again in February. I’ll be there. This weekend is all about being safe. It’s about praying and being with my family and hoping Hurricane Irma doesn’t devastate us and our sweet Coastal Florida community. Could we make it Friday and come home Saturday first thing so we don’t miss my most important day of shows and presentations on Friday? Yes, we probably could.

Do we want to take the chance this beast changes track at the last minute, speeds up, or anything else changes and we can’t get home even on a 6 am flight Saturday morning? No. Absolutely not. There’s not a chance in HELL we want to be away from our kids if that happens. We don’t even know about being here as it stands right now. We’re fortunate we both work from home and have the option to pick up and go anytime we want/need. We are also very fortunate my father-in-law lives in North Carolina and has always made it very clear to us his door is always open (I mean, we totally know it’s because we bring all these cute grandkids of his with us, but we’ll take it).

So, we make grown-up decisions this week; all kinds of grown-up decisions. Does it suck? Yep. Absolutely. But, I’ve officially managed to get FULL REFUNDs on every single thing we booked this weekend. I’ve been refunded our flight costs, our hotel costs, our limo costs – all of it. Everyone has been so accommodating and amazing and wonderful and kind and sweet, and I love that. And our parents have been so gracious to offer to keep the kids so we can rebook our trip for the end of the month to celebrate my birthday. No NYFW, but we still get to spend a long weekend away with one another focusing on us and our marriage – and my 34th birthday.

On that note, I want to address a few very serious things.

Be Kind – If you’re not being kind right now in the midst of this storm, change your attitude. Don’t be a miserable bitch at the gas pump because the lines are long. Don’t be an ass because someone else got the last bit of water before you. We ae all scared. We are all worried. We have a Cat 5 hurricane breaking records left and right barreling down on us – some of us worse than others – and we are all terrified. Be kind. The world needs more of that. Offer a helping hand rather than a snide eye-roll. Know there will be more gas. Know there will be more water. Work together to help your neighbors with their window covers. Work with them to communicate when you’re evacuating or staying behind. Be kind, people. Please.

Be Respectful – This is a great time of need for many people. The storm is taking a more Easterly track at the moment (and that’s very good for me and my West Coast Florida address) but it’s not great for any of us. There will be rain. There will be flooding. There will be power outages. Stay home once it begins. Don’t be the jerk driving through flood waters if you aren’t on your way to check on your family, home, or business. Every time you drive through those waters – even slowly – you push the water into homes and businesses more than it’s already in those homes and businesses. The devastation is going to be everywhere – and we must all be respectful.

Be Safe – Have a plan, have a system, and have some common sense. This is not the time to worry about increasing your Instagram following by posting a crazy video of you driving your Golf Cart through the backyard in hurricane-force winds. This storm is a killer. It’s a beast. It’s not a joke, and you’re not doing yourself any favors by treating it as such. If you’re ordered to evacuate, get out. Don’t play games. The governor doesn’t require you do this because he loves to see traffic backed up all over the place. He does this to keep you alive.

Be Welcoming – Do you have an elderly neighbor without a spouse or family? Do you have a single mom living next door with her small baby? Do you know someone who has no one? If you do, consider opening up your home if you’re staying behind. Think about how terrified you are, and now think about how terrified that single mom/child/elderly person is all by him or herself without anyone in the dark, the heat, the damp, the storm. Open your door by opening your heart.

Be Prepared – I know this is tough. Supplies are low (but the wine aisle is FULL, so that’s something to consider). It’s a mess out there. But be prepared. Know where you’ll go in your home if there is a tornado. Have a safe place. For example, my husband’s closet has a door on the back wall that opens up into a room beneath our staircase. We keep blankets, pillows, non-perishable items, shoes, and other things in here for us and our kids if ever there is a tornado or other dangerous situation. We want to be safe – and you should know where you will go in your home if something happens. There is no time in the moment to think about this. Think now. It might save your life.

Be Prepared…Again – Be prepared for what might occur. This is not a Cat 1 or even a Cat 2. This is a Cat 5. Even if this storm loses some of its power, it’s still going to be a strong storm. This storm has 185 mph winds. Even if it loses significant strength, it can still be a powerful storm. Be prepared for what might happen.

Friends, I don’t love this situation. I hate it. I don’t hate, because hate is such a wasted emotion. But I hate thinking of what might happen, but it’s time to for us to do that. Understand and be prepared for the worst. You might lose your home. You might lose your belongings. You might come home after evacuating to a mess unlike anything you’ve ever experienced. You might come home to nothing wrong. You don’t know. But you must prepare yourself. Know how to get in touch with your insurance agency. Take photos and videos of the interior of your home before you go. Take photos and videos of all your belongings. Do this for you and your family.

You guys, this is going to be a very long road for so many of us. I’m praying that this thing doesn’t affect us nearly as much as it could. I’m praying that this storm goes out to the Atlantic and misses the states. I’m praying for all the people in the islands. I’m praying for us. I’m praying.

I’m praying.

Night. Day. I’m praying. Our strength at this time lies in Him. Pray. And be prepared. And be nice. Because honestly, mean people suck. Don’t suck.

Good luck. Stay safe. And may the odds be ever in OUR favor. We are in this together, and we will get through this.

6 Simple Habits that Make Every Morning Better

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My magic number is 5.

5 people live with me whom I love more than anyone in the world.

5 is the number of minutes I always white lie about when I’m getting ready/on my way/being rushed.

5 is the number of times I have to repeat myself before anyone even attempts to half listen to me.

5 is the number of the month in which I became engaged to and married my love.

5 is the number of times prior to leaving the house in the morning I ask my husband why we even had kids in the first place.

5 am is the time I wake up.

5 is my magic number.

What can I say? I’m a morning person. I like to get up at 5 (30….45….) for about a million reasons. I’ve become such a morning person since having kids. I like the peace and quiet and the beauty of early morning. We have this amazing back deck that spans almost the entire length of our house, and it just so happens to face the sunrise. I love to sit out there and watch the sky change colors over the trees.

I like the quiet. I like the me time. I like that everyone else is still asleep and I feel like I’m getting some time to myself (something that’s so underrated when you’re a mom of four). I really just like starting my day on a calm and peaceful manner. I don’t like starting my day with the kids.

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Does that make me a bad mom?

You know what? I don’t even care.

My day sucks when the kids get up before me. This mama needs coffee, quiet, and peace or I’m less mom of the year and more “She could be on the 5 o’clock news,” and that’s not my style. There’s just nothing peaceful about rolling out of bed to four kids asking for breakfast (who the hell even eats within 2 seconds of waking up??), asking for glasses of water or milk, asking me to get something down for them to wear, and I seriously hate cold coffee.

My whole day is thrown completely off if I don’t get to start it on my terms, which is why I’m an advocate for setting the alarm and waking up before the littles. Trust me, waking up early is hard, but it’s totally worth it. I have 6 really, really, really simple life tips that help make mornings more productive – not including the early wake up – so you can really make the most of your day.

Set Up the Night Before

You know to choose what everyone is wearing and organize what you need for the following day prior to bed, right? Well, this goes a bit further. You’ve set out the kid’s school clothes, you’ve organized your handbag and chosen your own outfit, and now it’s time to sit down and relax. Kidding – now it’s time to set up what you need.

My husband is so sweet. He opens the Keurig, puts a K-cup in it, and even puts my coffee mug (upside down so no germs get in it) on the stand before we go to bed. In the morning when the alarm goes off and I jump in the shower, he even gets up and turns on the Keurig so it’s hot and ready for me to just push the button when I get out of the shower. It’s a really little thing, but it’s really nice not to have to stand around for a few minutes waiting on the coffee pot to warm up – and it’s extra nice to have everything you need already there.

Go to Bed Early

This isn’t easy for night owls, but going to bed no later than 10 pm is really the best. You’ll grow accustomed to it, I promise. I like it because it gives me a few hours after the kids go to bed to spend time with my husband in the evenings, but it also allows me to get 7 hours of sleep and still feel refreshed the following day.

You guys – it’s possible to live without dark circles under your eyes. I mean that. It’s a real thing, even for a mom of four. I promise.

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Prioritize Your Life

This isn’t a popular opinion, I’m sure, but we have to stop glorifying ‘busy,’ and start glorifying things like relaxed, and refreshed, and peaceful. I learned that from my kids, believe it or not. We are busy. We have four kids, activities, two careers, I run a business, we have a home, we travel, we have a busy social life – we are busy.

But when our kids started saying things like, ‘Why can’t we just stay home?’ to us on occasion in the past year, we realized ‘busy’ is not all it’s cracked up to be. You know what is? Spending time in our home enjoying it. We love our home – it’s our dream home, for crying out loud, and we were totally neglecting spending time at home. Our kids have learned to appreciate the simplest things in life more than anything, and it’s allowed us to prioritize what’s important to us, which is sleeping well, feeling good, and being productive. And guess what? It makes mornings and the subsequent day so much nicer when we are rested and well.

Clean Up

Some people can handle a little disarray. I cannot. But no one can deny it feels damn good to go to bed in a spotless house and wake up in the same spotless house each day. How much less stressed do we feel when we’re up and have nothing to clean, worry about, think about, organize, etc.? I promise you will wake up feeling good about life when your home is in order.

Find Your Jam

What do you look forward to most in the mornings? I’m extra productive in the mornings, so I’m go-go-go from the moment I wake up. But I’ve figured out my jam is getting out of the shower and sitting on my couch with my first cup of coffee in complete darkness with my First 5 App. I literally feel so relaxed and calm spending a little time with God in the morning.

And I love that quiet time. There was a time in my life when I rolled my eyes (secretly and without being disrespectful) at people who said they needed quiet time to reflect and meditate, but I was so wrong to judge.

You guys – it’s serious. It feels good to start the day that way. It’s impossible not to feel good when you have a productive, peaceful, happy start to the morning.

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Don’t Force It

Look, you need to get organized and wake up before the kids if you want to really start your day on a good note. But you also have to know your body. Sometimes you need more sleep. Sometimes you need that rest, and sometimes you need to do things a little off-schedule.

Don’t force yourself to have a good day when you know your body/mind/soul needs something else entirely. You know yourself, so listen to what your body is telling you. It’s okay to interrupt your routine sometimes, I promise.

What do you guys do to make sure your mornings are more productive and enjoyable? How do you get a head start on a beautiful day?

Travel Tips to Make Packing and Flying Easier With or Without Kids

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Happy Wednesday, darlings!

I’m currently sitting poolside in Hawaii sipping cocktails with my love as we enjoy the sound of the ocean and one another’s company.

Kidding.

I’m currently running around like a madwoman trying to get my house ready for our house-sitters, the last details of our vacation handled, picking up snacks for the kids for our flight, checking into our flights, hoping the scale at the airline ticketing counter is broken…

I’m in vacay mode at the moment. And by vacay mode, I mean we leave today and there are still a million and one things to do, because prepping for vacation does require a vacation. Right?

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That said, I have a few moments (and I made a promise) to share some of my must-dos, haves, and tips for packing for a family of six – or any family or person or cat or whatever, really. I had a lot of questions the other day on my Insta-stories from you guys asking if I have any tips for packing for so many people.

Yes. Don’t.

Kidding. Kind of.

The other question I was asked more than a few times was how I pack for so many people and keep our luggage under-weight.

I don’t.

Not kidding.

I’m a chronic over-packer, and I have no shame in my game, my friends. But I do have a few tips that might help you get packed, organized, and make the most of your time before you leave and when you come home.

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  1. Leave a perfect house: Truth be told, I can’t handle mess at all. I can’t do it. I can’t leave my house to run the kids to school in the morning if my coffee cup is sitting in the sink. I can’t leave my house with anything messy, out of place, unorganized. Before we leave on vacation, I wash all the sheets and remake the beds so we come home to fresh beds, we wash all the laundry so we come home to nothing but vacation laundry, and we stock the fridge so we aren’t worried about shopping. Our house sitters know I need to see absolute perfection when we get home, and they’re SUPER great about making sure everything is perfect. It takes some serious stress off of traveling knowing you get to come home after a trip to a perfect house.
  2. Pack trash bags: I do this, because the little bags hotels leave in closets are not big enough for dirty laundry, and I can’t handle dirty laundry touching clean laundry. This also helps you find a barrier between shoes and clean clothes. Because, ew.
  3. Make use of all space: The best thing I can tell you is to make use of all your luggage space. I like to stick my swimsuits inside my hats and stick my hats on the bottom of luggage. One, it keeps them from becoming deformed while we travel – because you know it’s next to impossible to get a hat back to its original shape once it’s been flattened – and to use that space. I also stick all the kid’s socks and stuff inside their shoes to make more space.

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  1. Buy what you need when you get there: I don’t pack non-essentials. I’m picky about my hair products and bath products at home, but I’m fine using the hotel stuff or picking up diapers and wipes and things when we arrive to avoid packing so much stuff. I never pack swim diapers or sunscreen – that’s what Walgreens and Target are for, right?
  2. Mix and match: I am an over-packer, but I’ve learned that I can pack just a few swim tops and bottoms for all of us and we can mix and match. If we have a four-day trip, I pack two tops and two bottoms that all go together, and I remix them during the trip so I have four suits. Less packing, more style, easy.
  3. Skip the separates: With the exception of my husband and my son, you won’t find any separates in our luggage. It’s all dresses all the time. We just don’t even bother with anything else. Vacay is all about dresses, and it really narrows down what we pack.

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***My absolute favorite tip ever for travel – pack sample items. If you order from Sephora regularly, you know you get three free samples with your purchase. I always choose lotions, hair product, and perfume samples. I throw them in a drawer in my bathroom and go through them when we travel so I have little items that don’t take up much space and that can be thrown away when I run out. It’s less packing and unpacking – and it uses none of my baggage weight allowance!***

If there is anything I highly recommend when you travel, it’s dry shampoo. Always buy good dry shampoo (my favorite is DryBar, linked here at Sephora) because who wants to bother with shampoo on vacation?

I also pack each of the kids their own backpack to use as a carry on through the airport, and I put new coloring books, crayons, little activities, toys, their tablets, and fun snacks in them for the kids. This way they have something to keep them entertained on our flight they’ve never seen before, so it’s all new and exciting for them. You have no idea what a bag of M&Ms can do for my twins – who pretty rarely get any junk food to eat!

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If you don’t use apps for airlines, use apps. Check your luggage. It’s so much easier to make it through the airport when I can use my watch or phone for boarding passes, and when we don’t have to carry so much stuff. We also always check the kid’s car seats so we don’t have to rent them with a rental car (here’s a fun tip – car seats always fly free with airlines, and you get a fun bag to put them in to keep them from becoming dirty and disgusting).