Tuesday, March 3, 2015

March Goals

Ahhh - where in the world did February go? We were on the go so much and it flew right by.

I feel like I accomplished a lot, but not much of it was on my list of February goals. Here's a recap of February:

  • Home I somewhat kept up with chores. The house was in tip top shape when we left for Disney. The week we got back, I was room mom for the Valentine's Day party and spent my free time on that and LAUNDRY catch up. Then it was off to Costa Rica. When David's parents got here to stay with Georgia the house was clean. So this can count...right?
  • Clutter I've been getting rid of things, just working on one small area at a time. Several cabinets and drawers have been cleaned out, and all of Georgia's clothes that are too small are now in boxes. I didn't really keep up with tagging the clothes for consignment though.
  • Blogging I think I did pretty well with this. I'm not great at pre-writing and scheduling posts when I travel, but I did pick up my involvement in social media this month.
  • Finances I kept up with our budget this month! We had a couple of unplanned expenses (vet), but I was much better about spending without thinking. I did root touch ups at home and avoided a $300 visit to the salon.
  • Exercise Nope, nope, and nope. I don't even want to talk about this one! A lot of walking in Disney, but nothing intentional. I paid for it when I had to wear a swimsuit in Costa Rica.
  • Eating Finally! A win! I didn't have any Cokes or sweet tea except while on vacation! I did a lot better on eating out, too. Most of the times I ate on the run were planned rather than necessary.
  • Bible I don't know that I fit in three devotions a week, every week, but I have found it easier and easier to want to get up and study my Bible. I also finished my prayer box.
  • Marriage We had a date week in Costa Rica. A lot of communication and relaxing together, which was just what we needed.
  • Social We had playdates outside of the house and several more planned, but the weather didn't allow for it. One thing I loved was getting together with some girlfriends from Sunday School. We really clicked and have plans to make it a regular thing.
  • Writing I didn't do any more articles. The PR contact left the project and I never got in touch with her replacement.
So...I've reassessed everything, and I don't think making specific goals, even though they are small, is working very well for me. I've decided to try just focusing on the areas during the month and tracking my progress rather than being disappointed when I don't meet each specific goal. I think focusing on what I do get done will make me a much happier person than focusing on a goal that may need to change anyway.

You can get little tidbits all month long if you follow me on Facebook!

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Monday, March 2, 2015

Natural At Home Fruit Enzyme Cleansing Facial

I've only had a few spa facials. They tend to leave my skin feeling oily and pores clogged with rich moisturizers. They're a nice treat though, even if expensive, and probably really good for my skin.

I recently read Complexion Perfection by Kate Somerville. She's the celeb facialist who eventually designed a skincare line that includes the famous ExfoliKate, which I've never used. The book was very informative as far as which ingredients we should be looking for in skincare products and different treatments for each individual skin type. She only promoted her products in passing and gave lots of tips for price conscious shoppers and recipes for a few at home skin treatments.

I decided to experiment with a natural fruit enzyme cleansing facial. The enzymes in fruit naturally exfoliate skin by breaking down the outer layer of dead skin, just like microdermabrasion and exfoliating skin creams - they're just not as harsh and they tend to minimize inflammation that sometimes happens with those types of exfoliation.

This facial took maybe about twenty minutes, including gathering the supplies from my kitchen. Afterward, my skin felt tighter and incredibly soft, but I didn't really see the results until the next morning (I did the facial in the late afternoon). My skin looked clean and glowing, and felt very moisturized without feeling clogged or greasy.

Here's what you'll need and do for your own natural fruit facial:
  1. Smash four or five grapes and use the juice, pulp and skin to wash your face. Really scrub so the juice gets into your pores. You can also use mango, papaya or pineapple for this cleansing step.
  2. Spread a thick layer of plain Greek yogurt on your face and wait for it to dry and firm a bit. Yogurt contains lactic acid, which is a natural alpha-hydroxy that includes anti-aging benefits. It's best to use plain flavored organic...but non-organic honey yogurt was all we had in the fridge. I figured if I'm putting the stuff into my body I may as well use it on my skin.
  3. Next, separate an egg and beat the white lightly. Spread this on your face and let it dry completely. Eggs gross me out and I thought about skipping this step, but the nutrients in them really outweigh the ickiness. They preserve moisture in your skin and eliminate free radicals (a big factor in ageing). They can supposedly actually slow down the wrinkling process in your skin. 
  4. As it dries, the egg white will make your skin feel pretty tight. I used a barely damp washcloth to scrub it off - another step that helps exfoliate - then rinsed with cold water. No soap. If you have sensitive skin, you may want rinse off instead of exfoliating again.
  5. Follow with your favorite products. I suggest hyaluronic acid to lock moisture in the skin, vitamin C serum or gel for skin protection and a natural oil such as argan, olive or organic coconut oil to moisturize.
I'm going to try some more facials - and you can see them in process if you're following me on Instagram!

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Monday, February 23, 2015

Our Walt Disney World Vacation Videos

We spent the first week of February at Walt Disney World in Florida. We made way too many videos to post. A few aren't postable because a button on my shirt was popped open for half the day and nobody bothered to tell me.

I hope you enjoy these!

Although we booked our trip nine months in advance and I was so incredibly excited, we were able to keep it a secret from Georgia. After I got two hours of restless sleep, we left the house at four in the morning for a very early flight. I packed her little Disney suitcase with some goodies. She thinks hotels are the best treat in the world, so I'm glad we were able to tell her we were staying at one.

Georgia was very much looking forward to meeting Minnie once she found out where we were going. My friend Lisa gave me this adorable top that her little girl wore as a dress. Minnie loved it!

We got back to our room after dinner that first night to find PIXIE DUST all over the place! Tinkerbell had paid us a visit, complete with little trinkets. She brought gifts every night, but didn't leave anymore pixie dust. You can hear Georgia in the video saying that Tink should have cleaned up after herself...

We met every princess possible. We got to meet Rapunzel, Cinderella, Anna and Elsa without waiting in line! Out of these four, Georgia was most excited to meet Rapunzel.

Rapunzel was my favorite. Great interaction and lots of one-on-one time.

Tuesday we went to the EPCOT Princess Lunch at Akershus Hall. We happened to look up and see Georgia acting like Ariel...

Watch until the very end. Ariel tells us Georgia "is perfect". Yep! My instincts were right and validated by a real live Disney princess!

I plan on doing recaps of our visit and answering some of the planning questions I had in future posts. If there's anything in particular you'd like to see or hear, please let me know in the comments.

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Friday, February 20, 2015

Fave Finds Friday

World Champion of Staying Awake

This book is really cute! I saw it on display at the library - as luck would have it, the week Georgia was keeping me on my toes by coming downstairs with bedtime excuses until eleven every night. We both thought it was really sweet and it has some fun imaginative play. It would make a really fun gift paired with some pajamas.

Nioxin Hair Growth Shampoo

This stuff has done completely crazy, amazing things for my hair. I've always thought hair growth shampoos were for old men, but seeing that a beauty blogger I read uses it piqued my interest. 

I started using it around Thanksgiving, and when I went in for a hair trim right before Christmas, my stylist couldn't believe how long and thick my hair was. I use the shampoo and conditioner for color treated hair, and you can take this little quiz on the Nioxin website to see which "system" you should try. I bought a complete set with the root spray, but I really only use the shampoo and conditioner. 

I have the set for color treated hair and I wash my hair 2-3 times a week. I took my Phyto shampoo and conditioner on vacation for a week earlier this month and I noticed how much hair was falling out in the shower and afterward while I styled. Honestly, only a few strands a day fall out with the Nioxin.

I took a photo at my salon after my last trim, so when I go back I'll get an after for you guys. I buy it from Amazon because it's the cheapest I've found.

Disney Princess Figurines at Dollar Store

The Dollar Store wins yet again for cheap gifts! Georgia has a small set of princesses and Winnie the Pooh figurines that her grandparents gave her last year. She plays with them so much. They live in her princess castle, in the doll house and they go in the klip klop stable. I was really surprised when I saw them for $1 each because they were pricey at Disney. The Easter Bunny will be filling her basket with the princesses she doesn't have yet. They also have Winnie the Pooh and Mickey Mouse Clubhouse characters.

Super Cheap Earrings from  Nordstrom

I saw a woman wearing these earrings at Disney and asked where she got them. When she told me they were only $8, you better bet I got right on my phone and ordered them. Nordstrom shipping is free and ebates was giving  25% cash back that day which made a great deal even better. The description says turquoise, but they are more of a mint color. They're a pretty inexpensive alternative to these Kate Spade studs and I'm ordering them in coral the next time I place a Nordstrom order.

You Need A Budget App

I plan on doing a post on how the YNAB software and app has changed my spending and how we budget. Just know that if you need to get on board with something right now, this is my top choice. If you've never set up a budget before, there are tons of video tutorials on the website to help you get started. It is a one time fee of $60 and it is well worth it. I have downloaded the software onto both our computers and put the app on our phones and iPads. Here is a referral code for $6 off  YNAB.

Linking up with Friday Favorites / Five on Friday / Life in Leggings

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Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Haute Mommy Spring Picks from Old Navy

I typically love Old Navy for basic spring pieces. They always have great pastels and neutrals, as well as trendy items at the right price for only wearing them for one season.

Luckily for you, I had some time to kill between dropping Georgia off at preschool and a dentist appointment, so I stopped in. Even luckier for you, I had my camera with me. (My phone has no more storage. I have something like 2900 photos on it and I'm too nervous to move them all to my computer.)

I took a huge selection of the new items into the dressing room with me. I photographed at least twenty-five of them on me. But in the spirit of being a transparent blogger, I only want to share and recommend the items I actually bought or will be buying soon.

A pastel button down was on my list of Spring Must Haves. This isn't a color I would normally be drawn to, but remember, I'm trying to break the habit of only buying neutrals.

I don't love the fit. I had to buy a medium; since I'm a little busty Old Navy's smalls always shrink in the wash and the buttons pop open at the worst time. Like when you're visiting with Ariel at Disney World. I think the medium will be fine with the half-tuck though.

I actually didn't buy this denim jacket because I already have one that hasn't been worn, but I wanted to show how you all one of the ways I plan to style the shirt for spring.

This photo is most indicative of the real-life color of the shirt. While it's cotton, it is pretty sheer so you'll need to wear a cami. I borrowed one from Old Navy for the photo shoot and it worked just fine.

This neon striped shirt ($11 right now) is one I know will only last me until the end of summer due to frequent washing, and that's fine. I also hope think the neon trend will be gone by next year. It's cute and the fit is a little slim. I bought a small and I don't plan on putting it in the dryer.

If you don't already have a military jacket, this one is a great pick! I love the collar that can be worn up or down. I don't love the drawstrings at the bottom hem. For the life of me, I couldn't figure out how to shorten them. I'm going to cut the strings to a length I like and reattach the beads. 

Size XS in this one. When an item is more masculine (military jacket, khaki pants, polo shirts), you need a more fitted shape to keep it looking feminine.

A found a pastel button down, as per my usual Old Navy spring shopping. This one is a light pink gingham. It's also going to look great with the denim and military jackets, as well as with jeans, white jeans, capris, shorts...you get the picture. Well worth the price in my opinion.

You need this! I bought last year's short-sleeved stripe version and this one is a better fit. I can see myself wearing it with sandals, wedges, ballet flats, or as a swimsuit cover tunic.

This top is a great buy, too. I love the pattern which looks more high end to me. This one is also pretty sheer, so keep that camisole handy. 

The white pants didn't fit me well at all, so I obviously didn't buy them. As you can see, they stretch across my hips, which usually means that pants are too small. But they were big on my waist and baggy in the thighs (you can't see this because of the way I'm standing). My waist is not small compared to my hips. In fact, it's probably proportionately bigger than most women's.

This is why I always recommend buying premium denim. They use actual live human fit models and cut fewer "stacks" of fabric at a time which keeps the fit true and the proportions correct. If you can't stomach the cost, just know that all of the premium denim I've ever owned have lasted at least five years. I get tired of them before they wear out.

I ended up coming  home and ordering a couple of things that weren't in stock in my size. I will let you know how those work out.

My denim jeans are J Brand. Earrings are Kendra Scott. Lip gloss is Clinique - it goes on darker and less pink than the online pictures. Camera is Canon. Similar watch. Similar emerald and diamond celebration ring.

Fortunately, I touched up my roots after seeing these pictures!

Is there anything you plan on buying? Did I miss anything?

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Tuesday, February 17, 2015

EMERGENCY POST!!! Neiman Marcus is HALF OFF!!

This deal is no longer going on. It was a one day promotion.

My friend Erin just sent me a note that she got two Tory Burch flip flops for $50 shipped using Visa Checkout. I signed up for Visa Checkout during Christmas sales, but I connected it to my American Express which is the card I use to buy everything (5-8% cash back on the clear one with blue square on it).

You can use Ebates for an additional 8% cash back on your Neiman purchase, essentially getting you 58% off your order!! If you haven't signed up for Ebates, do it now!

Just click to pay with Visa Checkout when you check out at Neiman and you'll automatically get 50% off $100. If you haven't signed up, it will have you create an account as you check out.

I played around with math for some things I really need and just over totaled $50 with these items. They also have some really good gift with purchases in the Beauty department.
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Transitioning To Becoming a Stay At Home Mom or Parent

Own It

This is perhaps one of the most important important steps, but one I didn't get around to until two years into this gig.

When people asked "What do you do?", my automatic response was "I stay at home with my daughter, and I'm also a CPA" even though I didn't even consider myself a CPA since I wasn't actively working. Although I wouldn't admit it at the time, I needed to let people know that I was still useful - that I was no bimbo who went to college simply to obtain an Mrs. degree.

To be clear, leaving my career once I had children was something I had always planned on, and not a decision I ever wavered on. I'm not sure why I felt the need to justify staying at home.

Realize that you are lucky. There are very many women who wish they could stay at home with their children but aren't able to. If this is something you want, accept it as a blessing and be thankful for it.

Realize that your new role is important. Quite possibly the most important one you'll ever have, and that you are shaping little people - who will soon be adults (!!!) and hopefully productive members of society. And that's definitely something to be proud of.

Seek Out A Support System of Other Stay At Home Moms

Definitely keep your work friends and working-mom friends. But keep in mind that you'll want to have friends in a situation similar to yours. It's a bonus if you can find friends with little ones the same age as yours.

While my career was more pressuring than mothering and running a house, the stresses now are different. It is very nice and comforting to have friends who face the same issues and who can offer support and advice.

I was lucky to meet one of my closest friends through a mutual acquaintance right when I moved to my suburb. I met the other through a group called MOPS, which I highly recommend for connecting with other moms of kids who aren't yet in kindergarten.

There are plenty of playgroups and meetups. You can find them on Facebook and Meetup. It may take awhile to find your niche (it did for me) but attending a few bum get togethers is so worth it when you finally find moms you truly connect with.

Realize That Some Friendships Will Naturally Diminish

After having a baby, I realized the things I thought I would care so much about really didn't make a difference at all. I had a couple of friends with kids who were obsessed over the right clothes, the right activities, the right image...for their kids

Yes, maybe I am a bit spendier on Georgia's clothes and activities than some mothers. But if she wants to leave the house in a Lily Pulitzer shift dress and her cowboy boots, I'm  not going to be a control freak because it might possibly, somehow in a minuscule way to a random person, reflect on me. If she wants me to buy a glittery, sequined outfit I'd prefer she didn't wear, I'm not going to kill her little spirit by not letting her wear it. If she wants to switch from ballet to tae kwan do, while I might secretly cry, I'm going to let her follow her dreams.

As a personal example, I had a close friend who was a bit superficial, but I loved her anyway. One day she called me crying because her frenemy was coming up with more creative ideas for her Elf on A Shelf. I wish I were kidding, but unfortunately I'm not. After a few similar dramatic episodes over non-issues I knew I had to cut ties and slowly let that friendship fade.

Evaluate your priorities and values, a mommy mission statement if you will, and align yourself with those in mind. Then align how and who you spend time with, keeping the same priorities in mind.

Get Involved Outside Your Home

This is truly my sanity saver. I have to stay involved in personal and social activities or I feel like I become only a mom, with no roles other than those of a parent, wife and homemaker.

Get involved in activities just for you. Find things that don't involve your kids such as volunteering or an adult-only Bible study. Again, MOPS is a great resource even though some of the discussion revolves around children. 

I'm involved in Junior League and I work almost year round on two fundraisers for Child Advocates. I get to spend time with other adults, some who work or aren't parents or married, which is great for keeping my own identity. 

I pay for childcare if I have to. If that's not in your budget, trade babysitting with your stay at home mom friends, as I try to do with mine. My daughter really enjoys having friends over, too.

Develop A System That Works For You

Good grief, this one took me a long time, too! I ran around forever, and still do some days, like a chicken with my head cut off. I was used to a structure of waking up, dressing up, meetings all day, gym during lunch and happy hour after work.

I spent more days than I care to admit on the couch in PJs with a sink full of dishes and a huge pile of laundry before I figured this one out.

The key for me now is getting up, getting dressed, a tad of makeup, a little hair teasing (hey, we're in Texas) and looking like I have real plans. We don't leave the house every day, but we would leave looking good if something fun came up.

I also do what I call a daily Power Hour, just like I did at my office job. It consists of going over my to do list, making a flexible plan for the day, and looking at the rest of the week's calendar to fill empty days with something to do. It really doesn't take an hour, usually just ten minutes or so, but Power Quarter Hour doesn't sound quite as catchy.

A Note on Financials

I honestly wish I had better advice in this area since I think this is what most families worry most about. Quite frankly, my husband and I have always been blessed financially with very good jobs. We knew even before we were married that I would stay at home so we planned for it during the five years we were married before having Georgia. Waiting a few years into your marriage and until your careers are at a high-paying point definitely helps out financially.

Between retirement, investments and savings accounts, we have always saved my entire salary. By the time I quit working, David's career was at a point where we knew we could live comfortably and still save on just one salary.

Although we did cut back on frivolous spending such as dining, expensive gifts for one another, and my designer accessory collecting hobby, our lifestyle didn't suffer too much. If I have one piece of advice, it is to make sure you fit fully funding your retirement plans into your budget. Give up a few wants to make sure you don't suffer later.

I know that everyone isn't in this situation - ever - and I'm sorry that I don't have a better answer. I wish every mom who truly wanted to stay at home could. But since I am a CPA, I am happy to give thoughts on budgeting, saving and finances if you'd like to contact me.

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Monday, February 16, 2015

Georgia's Janie & Jack Fashion Show / President's Day Sale Alert! / Job Offer

Georgia and I happened to stop by Janie & Jack just as the President's Day Sale markdowns were happening, so we got prime picks! And a job offer. I was pulling outfits so fast and knew some of the line names and they offered me a job on the spot. I don't think I have time for it, but the discount is incredibly tempting. Especially after this spree.

While browsing for links, I saw that a lot of these are a few bucks cheaper online - great for you guys, not so great for me. There is an extra 20% off sale items, too.

Before you see these photos, know that I didn't direct any of this. You say "model" this girl is all in! And oops! momma didn't spruce up her hair or face before this. She'd just gotten back from a bike ride with Daddy - Georgia, not mommy.

For sizing reference, Georgia is 27 pounds and around 40 inches tall. Her torso is long, so she wears anywhere from 2t (dresses, some tops) to 4 (swimsuits, rompers) in Janie & Jack.

This is my absolute favorite color on her, and I couldn't resist. Although I normally do something more traditional, I love this so much I think it's going to be her Easter dress. This sale price is a steal for this dress! It has crinoline so the skirt really is puffy, she is just holding one layer of it up. She is wearing size 2t and it fits perfectly.

I really need to find an Easter dress for me that coordinates with this. Please let me know if you see anything!


She already has one for this season, but I couldn't resist the nautical theme and Georgia couldn't resist the sparkly gold seahorses on this swimsuit. She is wearing a size 4 and it fits perfectly. 

adore this Jackie-O style dress. It wasn't so cute on the hanger, but I knew it had potential. She wore it to church with little black shoes and it was simply perfect. She's wearing size 3 (a 2t might work better) in this and I bought it in size 5, too - we can take a year long break from it. 

The creamy color was a great compliment to her complexion and of course she loved the slightly metallic threading. It was part of a holiday collection, but accessorized right, it looks great for spring.

Georgia kept saying "I'm not Jackie-O! That's a boy!" We really need to school her, don't we?

My love for anything nautical is carrying over to her wardrobe. I'm not sure if we will keep this one. It's a size 3 and I think she needs 2t since the arm holes are pretty big. Most folks could probably save it for next year but her torso is so long that I'm afraid it will be too short. It's not available online and I got one of the last ones in our store.

Another Super Sale Alert! Under $30!!!

I got this for her to wear next year (size 4) but since it is sparkly she wanted to show it to you all.

We ended up buying three bags full of stuff - yikes! Most of the items are for winter, so they're no longer online. I bought ahead in bigger sizes, so they didn't really work for fashion show purposes.

Here are a couple more things that came home with us. Unfortunately, my little model had some Disney Princess + Lion King figurines to play with, so we cut the fashion show short.

Of course I loved the black and white stripes on this swim cap and suit set. Since she will do swim lessons a few times a week this summer, we totally need a million swimsuits right? I bought size 4.

I plan on buying silver tights to go with this flocked dress next winter.

Here's the aqua color I love so much. I bought a size 5 in this dress because I think it's a little too mature for Georgia in her little baby hair.

I got this textured geometric print dress in size 5, too. I think it would look really cute with knee socks for a younger girl, though. What do you think?

This little metallic print sweater was a really good price, so I bought it for next year, too. They were sold out of matching pants and I didn't love the tulle skirts, so I'll have her wear it with jeans or sweater leggings.

The website does not do this dress justice. It has a light metallic threading and Georgia loves the girlishness of it. It would be really pretty for Easter if you like more contemporary dresses. Just add some little white gloves!

I have an addiction to Janie and Jack's retro-style swimsuits and rompers. They were totally out of size 3 and 4 so I put my name on a list and they'll call if anyone returns.

Are you catching any sales today?

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