Maternity DIY Roundup

If you’re expecting a baby, and running out of cute outfit ideas, check out these amazing maternity tutorials!

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Being pregnant is such an exciting and wonderful time of life…until nothing fits!  If you’re loathe to spend money on stuff you’ll only wear for 6 months (or can’t find anything you love) click on over to some of these amazing maternity DIY’s!  They’re all free, simple tutorials and will have you feeling like a million bucks in no time.

  1.  Ruffle Hem Shift Dress by Merrick’s Art
  2. Flutter Sleeve Dress by Whisk ‘Em
  3. DIY Maternity Jeans by What’s Up Moms
  4. Chartreuse Easter Dress by Elle Apparel Blog
  5. Quick Criss Cross Maternity Top by Cotton and Curls
  6. Maternity Dress by The Sara ProjectHappy sewing, mamas!

Traveling with Kids: You Can Do It!

With a little preparation (and a good attitude) anyone can enjoy a family vacation, even with lots of little kids!

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This year my awesome mother-in-law suggested we all fly to Montana to visit Luke’s oldest sister and have a nice, cold, festive Thanksgiving! We said yes, of course, and the kids were brimming with excitement for weeks!

I, on the other hand, began to feel the vague misgivings of a potential looming disaster.  To say I felt uneasy about the logistics of getting 7 kids through airport security and a flight without meltdowns would be putting it lightly.  Also, I was 7 months pregnant.  You understand my hesitation.

In the end, the flight TO Montana was a dream; everyone was so excited, they were angels!  The flight back was, ah, well…not as successful.  I mentioned to Luke afterwards that overall I’d describe that second flight as “less than painful than 2 root canals”, and he agreed.   Take that as you will.

I wanted to share some of my favorite tips for surviving travel with the whole family!  Or even just a handful of the family.  Or even just ONE tyrannic toddler.  Read on for some ideas that really can make or break the trip…

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  1. If staying in a hotel or rental property (vs. staying with relatives) pack toys, food and baby feeding supplies.My big kids love a pack of cards or some books; a couple of action figures, pocket-sized dolls or matchbox cars work well for the younger crowd.   We prefer to stay in rooms with a kitchenette if possible and always buy some snacks and cereal to tide kids over between meals.  Make feeding time for the baby or toddler easier by packing the special spoons, sippy cups and bibs that you usually use at home.  And check out this portable booster seat!  Genius.
  2. Make sure you’ll have everything necessary to keep the littles happy at bedtime: a portable crib, pacifier(s!), favorite blanket and white noise machine (we love this one but sometimes even use a white noise app on our phones!) are our favorite tools for a peaceful nighttime routine, even in a strange place.  Think about your own child’s evening habits and make sure you can replicate them as closely as possible while on vacation.Finding a dark, quiet place for a baby or toddler to sleep can be the trickiest step.  My ideal place to set up a portable crib is in a large walk-in closet!  I’ve also had success putting a crib between the decorative and blackout layers of curtains in a hotel room, shielding baby from both the morning sun and the TV or hotel room lights.  I even once put a infant to sleep on a thick blanket in an empty bathtub!  We turned on the bathroom exhaust fan and closed the door and she slept like a dream.  (This only works with very little babies who are non-mobile, obviously!)
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3.  Be sure to pack well for your children, without going overboard.  This can be hard to do but I generally pack something like this:
Kids ages 7+: 1 shirt, pair socks and pair underwear per day and 1 pair of pants for every other day
Kids ages 2-6: 1 full outfit (shirt, pants, socks, underwear) per day PLUS 1 extra outfit
Kids ages 2 and under: Same as above but bring TWO extra outfits

Obviously this can be adjusted depending on how long you stay, whether or not you have access to a washing machine and the likelihood of your children ruining outfits (muddy or snowy places, etc).  And don’t forget to pack each day’s clothes up together by taking everything your kid will need for 1 day and then rolling it all up tightly.   Then there’s no rummaging around suitcases looking for stuff!

4.  Lastly, if you’re going to be flying with your crew, don’t be tempted to overpack!  There are a few essentials you want to have with you, but the less crap you have to haul through security and 4 miles to your gate (which, when traveling with kids, will always be the furthest one possible, obviously) the better!

Here are my essentials: Drinks and snacks (especially if your airline doesn’t provide much, and nowadays most don’t!), a new toy, coloring book (with attached markers/crayons if possible!), movie or games on a device (don’t forget headphones and a splitter if needed), and a book for older children who can read.  My hands-down best trick for keeping kids happy this trip?  A giant bag of little suckers.  I’ve learned to let go of my control freakish tendencies when traveling and just give the kids whatever keeps them happy….within reason.
Also check out this post for my favorite household items to entertain squirmy toddlers on a plane!

Comment below with any other tried and true tips you have for making family vacay fun and easy!

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Flowy Dresses, Earth Tones

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Dress: eShakti (I customized mine with shorter sleeves for our warm weather) || Watch: Arvo || Bag: Target Similar options || Wedges: Forever 21 Similar Options ||Necklace: Anthropologie Similar

Shopping trips for myself should really be called “If Only…” trips: “If only this were longer”, “If only this had sleeves”, “If only this had a different neckline…” and on and on!

That’s why I was blown away when I hear about eShakti.com‘s customizable clothing…eShakti is an online women’s clothing retailer that customizes ALL of their clothes to your specifications!  You can change length, sleeves, neckline and other details to make sure you get the style and fit you really want.  It’s absolutely brilliant!!  Learn all about how eShakti works here!

In other news, this season is really a GREAT time to be pregnant or have a few extra pounds hanging around.  Flowy dresses are everywhere and are SO comfy.  This dusty green color is another of my fave Fall colors – and it pairs perfectly with the other hot colors this season: pale pink, merlot and navy; I love them all!

What color combo are you loving the most right now?

5 Tips to help kids love work

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser.
All opinions are mine alone.
#RollAwayLint #CollectiveBias

There’s no way mom can do everything around the house – nor should she!  Get the kids involved with these easy tips and tools.

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There comes a time in every mother’s life when she realizes that she is basically just a maid.  Eventually all the little people just start assuming mom’s gonna do everything (because she always has) and mom slowly goes insane from all laundry-dishes-toilet-scrubbing.

The trick, of course, is to get the kids to actually HELP around the house, but as any mother who’s ever passed her 6 year old a dust cloth can attest, this is easier said than done.  Read on for some tried and true tips for getting small children to not only pitch in, but LOVE doing it!

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  1.  Give them kid-friendly tools for the job.  None of my little kids can handle the vacuum by themself yet, so we pulled out these  Scotch-Brite™ 50% Stickier Lint Rollers to help pick up crumbs and junk around the house.  They handled the inside of the couch cushions and the living room rug like a breeze!  And I’m telling you, my kids were FIGHTING over using them; they thought it was the most fun ever.The rollers picked up small dirt and crumbs easily, but also grabbed bigger debris, like pumpkin seeds that my kids had dumped inside the couch.  They were even sticky enough to grab glitter on the rug from a broken Christmas ornament.  Yep, you read that right…they clean up GLITTER.  The nemesis of mothers everywhere.target-lint-rollers
    (I got mine at Target in the aisle with all the cleaning supplies)
  2. Add music and/or a reward at the end.  My kids clean up the playroom in record time when T. Swift is blasting, and they work extra hard and fast when there’s a treat or some electronics time waiting for them when they’re done.
  3. Allow them independence.  There wasn’t much instruction needed to show the kids how to use the Scotch-Brite 50% Stickier Lint Rollers, so I just handed them over and got out of their way.  If you struggle with control freakish tendencies like I do, you can be tempted to micromanage every little job, but nothing kills kids’ enthusiasm like a mom who keeps correcting them!make-jobs-for-kids

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4.  Praise the steps along the way.  My little ones mostly just want to make me happy; if I can give them positive reinforcement as they’re learning a chore, they’ll remember that chore as a fun experience.  That means they’ll be more likely to do it in the future – score!

5.  Turn it into a game.  Next time I’m going to tell each kid that it’s a race to see who can get their Scotch-Brite 50% Stickier Lint Roller to lose its stickiness the quickest.  The quicker they fill up their roller with crumbs and junk, the quicker my (er, our) job is done!  We also loved using them on our upholstered bar stools, cause those things are always covered in crud.  Then I’ll put someone on the couch downstairs, and on the Christmas tree skirt, and on the carpeted stairs…

Teaching kids to work (and enjoy it) is not always an easy thing, but I find that my younger kids always want to be involved in what mom is doing.  If we can help them learn basic skills and then get out of their way, they just might surprise us in what they can do!

Check out more inspiration for your Scotch-Brite 50% Stickier Lint Roller HERE.  And get a Target Cartwheel Offer for 15% Off Scotch-Brite 50% Stickier Lint Roller (11/27-12/3) HERE!

Leggings: A Maternity Essential

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Similar Tunic || Leggings: BP || Similar Loafers || Hat: Similar and love this one! || Watch: Michael Kors ||Earrings: Nickel & Suede

It’s now officially cool here in Arizona…and it’s about freaking time!  Now that I want to wear pants all the time, leggings are definitely on major rotation.   As in, like, every day.

I posted a few tips about wearing leggings responsibly (haha!  I love that term) last year here, so check that post out if you have hesitations about wearing stretchy pants in public.  After swapping out my tunic and loafers for longs sweaters and booties, I plan on wearing this for look for the forseeable future!

*Note: I actually forgot about the pictures from this shoot for a couple months…don’t worry, the current 30 week baby bump is MUCH bigger!  And so is baby Mimi…why do they have to grow so fast??

Loving the difficult child

Despite our best intentions as mothers, some kids go through really tough phases.  If you find yourself struggling to show love to a certain little one, you’re not alone!

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When I first became a mom, I remember just kind of assuming that not only did moms always love their kids, but they always liked being around them, no matter what!  It wasn’t until Liam became a naughty toddler that I saw just a glimpse of the other side of motherhood: the challenge of loving a difficult child.

Now, in the grand scheme of things, our family has had it pretty easy: no kids with special needs or major health issues, no diagnosed behavioral or mental health problems. And yet, I’ve found myself struggling to show love to some of my kids when they’ve exhibited less than lovable behavior.  That’s not an easy thing to admit as a mom…but if you’ve ever felt this way, you’re not alone!

After Liam’s naughty preschool years, my first real struggle with this came with our older twin, the fiery redheaded Vivian (in fact I often blame her spunkiness on that wild hair!).  She has pushed me beyond the limits of my patience more times than I can count.  She has a mind of her own and when determined, she simply cannot be convinced otherwise.  In fact, if she had been my first child, I might have seriously questioned my mothering abilities!

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Vivian’s now getting considerably more mature and easy to reason with- but she’s still a spicy little one. Finn has now become my more challenging child, and sometimes it just breaks my heart that I spend all day dealing with his outbursts instead of enjoying his cute face and personality.  

It’s also extremely frustrating to parent these difficult children in public. For example, I’ve learned that Finn’s meltdowns are best diffused with humor or distraction but when we’re out in public, I feel pressured to scold him when he acts naughty.  It’s a struggle to remain calm and collected when strangers are staring and judging you and your screaming child!

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In the end, I try to remember a few important things when I’m dealing with a child in a naughty phase:

1. Separating the child from the behavior is one of the most powerful ways of continuing to love our sweet kids, even when they’re driving us completely crazy.

Our kids are good people who sometimes struggle with bad behavior.  Just as our mistakes as adults don’t define us, kids are also allowed to throw fits and melt down without being classified as “bad”.

2.  Keeping my cool as a mom goes a long way in helping my children overcome their emotional outbursts.  When children are dealing with a lot of crazy emotions and frustrations, it’s important for their grown up to stay calm and rational (when anyone figures out how to do this while a toddler is kicking you and screaming he hates you, let me know, eh??).

3.  Showing more love is always helpful.  I know how hard it is to give compassion to a child who’s hurting others or pushing your buttons, but I believe this is what we all need the most!

Hang in there moms! And, next time you see another mom at the grocery store pushing a screaming child around in a cart with a maniacal look on her face, just give her a fist bump and maybe slip her kid some candy.

Best Black Friday Deals!

Once you’re over your turkey-coma this weekend, you’ll probably end up at least thinking about doing some holiday shopping.  Even though I REALLY dislike packed parking lots, holiday shopping never fails to get me in the Christmas spirit!

I’ve collected some Black Friday/Cyber Monday deals from a few of my favorite stores below.  Here are some great places to start, whether you’re looking for the hubs, the kids, the in-laws or even yourself (wait – am I the only one who shops for herself on Black Friday??).

TARGET
Running a 10 days of deals promotion…check them all out here!
Toys are 20% off through Wednesday!

Check out the widget below for some of our faves.  That pink kitchen is adorable and we LOVE Magna-Tiles & Nerf guns.

 

AMAZON
My favorite place for pajama-clad-lazy-mom shopping!
Check out all Black Friday deals HERE
And some great sales on Amazon devices HERE

Kindles have been BIG hits at our house…plus they make reading more fun!

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NORDSTROM RACK

Traditionally one of my go-to places for grown up gifts:
stylish clothes and accessories for those of us on a budget.
Check out their gift guide HERE
And the widget below for some things I wouldn’t mind if Santa brought me…

KOHLS
All Black Friday deals HERE
I always love Kohl’s for holiday gift shopping – great deals and you can buy everything there!

Some of my faves are below:  Essie nail polish, cute neutral Nikes, KitchenAid, manly watch for the hubs, and the Batman cave and plasma cars have been hot toys at our house for years!

Date night for Fall

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**GIVEAWAY CLOSED!  Congrats Heather P.!**

Hey all!  After loving this cute dress from Pink Blush Maternity earlier this summer, I was excited to shop their actual maternity section when this bump popped!  Anybody else have the darndest time finding flattering, affordable maternity clothes?

This time, I picked a cute sequined tunic that is perfect for date night or any time I want to dress up just the teensiest bit.  It’s lightweight which is great for fall in Arizona, but can be layered when it gets colder (I can’t wait to try it with leather leggings and boots!).

I really love buying pregnancy clothes that can still be used after baby is born since it seems such a waste to buy stuff I love, and then shove it under my bed for years.  Although admittedly, I’ve had more opportunities to wear maternity stuff than most people!

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Tunic: Pink Blush Maternity || Maternity denim: Madewell || Heels: Justfab ||
Bag: J Crew || Watch: Arvo || Necklace: Anthropologie || Sunglasses

A note about pregnant bodies: Guys – I SO get the angst that comes with watching your youthful, energetic body stretch and expand to accommodate growing a little baby.  It’s really hard sometimes to deal with these changes and maintain confidence in yourself and your looks (ask me how it feels to take regular pictures of myself and post them to the internet – yikes).

But in the end, the sacrifice of growing a baby is SO worth it, we all know that!  Just be patient with your body (including the weird emotions and crazy cravings that may accompany it) and embrace your growing shape.  Don’t feel like you can never look nice just because you’re uncomfortable or don’t feel like yourself.  Spend a little money to outfit your new figure and flaunt it.  Taking some extra time on yourself while pregnant can do a lot to boost your self-esteem and make you extra grateful for the miracle of pregnancy!

Be sure to enter the Rafflecopter giveaway for some free cute clothes!!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

And if all else fails, just start breaking out ridiculous dance moves…

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Check out this great link up post for some more Fall/Winter sweater inspiration!

This post created in partnership with PinkBlush.  All opinions are my own.  Previous winners of PinkBlush gift cards in the past 3 months are not eligible for giveaway.

 

Holiday Food Delivery (& Tutorial)

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser.
All opinions are mine alone.
#ShareTheHoliday #CollectiveBias

Make delivering treats and meals to neighbors easy this holiday season with Rubbermaid TakeAlongs and a simple tote tutorial!

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Undoubtedly, my favorite part of the holiday season is the food.  Mmm, the foooood!  Thanksgiving feasts and cookie exchanges and Christmas parties and treats from neighbors…it’s all just such a glorious season for celebrating with delicious things.

While the cabinet where I keep my plastic food storage containers is always a big fat mess, I find myself running out of containers more and more at this time of year.  Whether it’s delivering treats to friends and family or storing leftovers from all our parties and big dinners, I never seem to have enough containers to store food (to say nothing of matching lids…where do those things GO?!).

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I love these Rubbermaid TakeAlongs from Walmart because they’re available in festive red, green and holiday prints (from now until December 24th!), are available in tons of sizes and they’re affordable enough to give away!  They’re super easy to open and close securely, and they can safely go in the freezer, microwave and dishwasher.  (You can find them on an end cap in the housewares department.)

I recently found myself wishing I had the perfect tote to carry several food storage containers so that I could more easily deliver dinners and treats to friends.  So today I’ve got a tutorial for a quick and easy solution!  This tote is the perfect size for the biggest of the Rubbermaid containers (as well as perfect for hauling a 9″x13″ casserole pan) and deep enough to stack several on top of each other.  There’s room for an entire dinner for a friend (with room for entree, side salad and dessert) or just use it for delivering several containers of cookies!

Click Read more for the tutorial…

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DIY Flutter Sleeve Dress

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Well, I’m officially pregnant enough that it’s getting difficult to dress this bump.  You’d think I’d have this great wardrobe of stylish maternity clothes now that I’m on my 7th go around but, alas…my under-the-bed box of big-girl clothes was pretty sad looking when I opened it up a couple months ago.

Sundays are especially hard because I want to look nice for church…and not just squeezed into a too-small T-shirt dress.  I went rummaging through the fabric stash a while ago and found this floral from Joann Fabrics I’d bought ages ago.  I was saving it for the perfect project and I’m thrilled with how this flutter sleeve maternity dress turned out.  It’d be perfect for just about any body shape, pregnant or not!

The tutorial is pretty simple, and I’ve included a free pattern for the flutter sleeves.  They’re a little trickier to draft than your typical sleeve but they lend so much more to a basic dress silhouette.  Read on for the full tutorial!

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