Life At Home

How To Make Your Work Week Suck Less

Monday’s make up 1/7 of your life. This means that I am grumpy 1/7 of the time. You know what, a few other days of the week aren’t that great either.

The dreaded work week. Having to get through five whole days before the weekend. For the longest time I was living each day just working to get to Friday night to start my weekend.

And then my daughter turned one. Her first year was the fastest year of my life. Was it because I was constantly just working to get to the weekend? Was I enjoying the rest of the week at all?

Whatever it was I realized that I needed to really enjoy the other days of the week and not only live my life for Saturdays and Sundays. Here are some things I started doing to make my life easier Monday through Friday.

Meal prep for the week.

If you utilize your Sunday you can prep yourself for the week to relieve some stress for Monday through Friday. Make little snack bags for the kids’ lunches on Sunday nights instead of doing it five times throughout the week. Try to meal prep for the week so you know what meal you’ll eat which night, and don’t have to think on the fly each night. Try to get all the grocery shopping out of the way over the weekend so you’re ready for your week.

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Get organized.

Write out a schedule for the events or activities happening for the following week so you’re not caught off guard with the PTA meeting on Wednesday night, or the extra dance rehearsal right after school.

Choose your outfits ahead of time.

Whether it’s the Sunday before the entire week, or just the night before try to figure out what you’re going to wear for the next day. This will allow you more time while you’re getting ready for other things, or just keep you from rushing around each morning. With all this extra time you’ll look fabulous all week long.

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Find something you enjoy doing every single day.

I know with our busy schedules this can be hard to do, but try to find something small that can help you enjoy the day. Maybe it’s watching one of your favorite shows. Maybe it’s listening to your favorite podcast or playlist in the car on the way to work. Maybe you need to ditch your normal breakfast and make yourself a big fancy feast, or better yet, go out to eat for breakfast. Find something each day that will put you in a good mood.

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(shop this sweater here)

Make a playlist for each day of the week.

Instead of just listening to the same songs over and over again in the car, make a special playlist for each day of the week to listen to. Madonna Monday, Whitney Houston Wednesday, Funky Friday… shall I go on?

Let Monday be your cheat day.

If you’re dieting and have a cheat day, don’t use it up over the weekend. Use the extra time you have on the weekend to eat right and save your cheat day for Monday. It’ll make it easier to get out of bed knowing the deliciousness your day is about to reveal.

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Whether it’s the week or the weekend try to enjoy every single day of your life in one way or another.

Life At Home

Earn Money Back With Ibotta

I am always skeptical when I hear the words “earn money back”. Okay, what am I going to have to sign up for? How much of this is believable?

With Ibotta, you really can get money back. Is it a lot? Nope, but for me it’s basically free money, and I use it every week that I go grocery shopping. No that we’ve added a third member to our family the grocery bill seems to be higher than ever, and this app has saved us money here and there after only using it one year. Let me tell you how it works.

Once you sign up for Ibotta you can browse tons of stores to see if you can find a rebate. It includes Uber, Amazon, Charlotte Russe, Target, Walmart, Jo-Ann Fabrics, Thrive Market, CVS Pharmacy, Wegmans, Rite Aid, Babies R Us, Home Depot, Walgreens, Tops, Sam’s Club. I’m tired of listing them, but there are more.

 

Once you find your store, choose it and see if there is anything on there that you’ve purchased. Click the Plus Sign to add it to your items list. A lot of times they have “Any Item” which gives you $0.25 back just for making any purchase and showing your receipt.

They typically have at least one or two generic items like “Any Milk”, “Any Tomatoes”, “Any Baby Wipes”, that you may use, but for the most part they are specific brands. The Ibotta brands are always easy to see because they are white and pink. Below you can see the milk is an Ibotta brand, and the baby wipes is the other. I’ve made the most money off of random generic items more than anything else.

After you’ve gone through all the categories and checked which items you’ve purchased you will be asked to take a picture of your receipt, so make sure you have not throw that away. Make sure to capture the entire receipt. It usually takes me two or three pictures since our list is long. Sometimes the receipt may not catch some of the items you’ve checked, so you may have to click “Add Rebates” incase your milk or bananas were left off. Once you’re done click the “Collect Purchases” button, and you’re done. It will then tell you how much money was added to your account.

I don’t even look at the Ibotta app until after I’ve purchased my groceries. I found that if I looked at what was on there before I shopped I was buying something we didn’t need just to get the money back, and in the end I was spending more money. Now I use it and typically get about $0.25-$0.50 back a week just for doing my normal grocery shopping. I know it doesn’t sound like a lot, but all together I’ve made about $60.00 in the last year, from just doing my normal grocery shopping routine. You can only withdraw funds when they reach a $20.00 minimum. It’s easy, and I’m making money, so why not?!

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If you have any questions or would like help setting it up, please contact me. I hope you’re able to utilize this simple way to get money soon.

Self Love

Find These Friends.

There are always the friends you have that are true, honest to goodness people. And then there are the friends that you have in your life that you say to yourself, “Why am I friends with this person?”

Too many times we keep negative friends around, and that’s okay. Sometimes you just have things in common with those friends. Perhaps you stay friends to help that individual in some way. Maybe those people are the only ones around to socialize with, and it’s better than being alone. If you’re alright being friends with a few negative people that’s alright. More power to you.

Here’s the thing, you cannot be friends with only negative people. You have to have some friends in your life that are true, positive role models to be around. People that can bring you happiness, and don’t tear you down into this dark hole of gossip and bitterness. You need people that you can genuinely have a conversation with. People that you can laugh with just as easy as you can talk with.

Find these friends.

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(shop my sweater here and my jeans here)

People who genuinely listen to you.

Not just stare at you and let you speak, but actually listen to you. Friends who genuinely follow along with your story, have their eyes focused on you, ask follow up questions, aren’t just sitting there on their phone while you talk to them. People that don’t chime into other conversations while you’re in the middle of speaking. Friends who don’t somehow revert a situation back to them and their problems.

Friends who listen are friends who care.

People who remember your birthday.

Okay, I know not everyone is great with dates, but they should at least be able to remember the month. If they know the month you were born in they are a good friend.

People who ask you questions about your life.

You know someone is a true friend when they ask you questions about your life. Not even just, “So how’s work?”, but things like, “So whatever happened with that coworker who was three hours late to work that one day?”. Find the friends that remember your conversations and truly care about what is going on in your life.

People who are more positive than they are negative.

No one is perfect. No one can be a happy-go-lucky, positive person all the time. But it’s important to have friends that are frequently in good spirits, as opposed to always being “Debbie Downers”. Being around negative people can be a drain, and often puts others in a bad mood as well. Find friends who would rather talk about the accomplishments of people as opposed to gossiping about others.

People who you can be yourself around.

If you have to change who you are or hide how you feel when being around certain people, it’s not worth spending time with them. You shouldn’t have to change the way you talk, act, or feel when you’re around your friends. Find the friends that genuinely love your true self, your quirks and all the silly, awesome things about you.

People who you can respectfully disagree with.

True friends should allow you to express yourself, and won’t judge you. It’s okay to have disagreements, and it’s okay to voice opinions, but there needs to be a mutual respect for each other. Some people think that if you’re friends you should have the same opinions. Friends are not always going to agree on everything, and that’s okay. It’s important to understand that each person comes from a different place on a matter, and each individual should respect that.

People who you look forward to seeing.

If you’re getting in the car to meet a friend for dinner and you are dreading it, are they really a friend? Find the people that you enjoy spending your time with, you look forward to seeing and that you want to be around.

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It’s okay to have acquaintances and people in your life that don’t meet all these needs, but try to find the people that do. Find the good people in your life, be a good friend to them, and keep them there.

Baby

Four Reasons I Stopped Sharing My Child As Frequently on Social Media

When I was pregnant I said to my husband one night at dinner, “Once we have this baby I am not going to post pictures of her all the time. I don’t want to be one of those moms”.

HAHAHA! Okay, good one.

I was totally one of those moms. After my daughter was born, I posted a picture almost every other day, if not every day for almost her whole first year. I was seriously obsessive, and I’m sure extremely annoying to some people.

One night my daughter had her last bottle before bed and fell asleep in my arms. I was so excited about this because it didn’t happen very often anymore. I snapped an adorable picture of her snuggled into my arms with the most peaceful look on her face. I was about to say to my husband, “Aww I can’t wait to put this on Facebook”, when out of nowhere something hit me. Something in my brain triggered this weird feeling I hadn’t had before with her. It was the simple thought of, “why do you feel that Facebook or any other form of social media needs to see this?”

I gave the whole idea more thought and decided I’m going to stop sharing as much as I currently do about my daughter. Here were four questions I started asking myself.

Is she safe?

Honestly this wasn’t a huge one for me, but it’s definitely one reason to think about. I’ve always been smart about what I share and where I share it. I typically don’t tag any places or locations I’ve been to with her locally, I put some thought into the backgrounds of all our pictures, and most of the time I don’t even share her name in captions.

Do those small precautions mean that we are totally safe? No, not necessarily. So why risk the possibly of something happening?

It also has to do with internet safety. There are a lot of strange people out there, and you never know what they may do with some of the pictures they see on the internet.

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What will she think about these pictures I’ve posted?

We’ve made all of her decisions for her up to this point, including what pictures are shared of her. I’d like to think that she wouldn’t be upset that I posted her adorable, chubby baby pictures all over my Facebook page and Instagram account, but what if she would be upset?

I’ve never posted naked bath pictures or ones of her in just her diaper. But what if I’ve posted something I thought was sweet, and she looks back on it and think it’s embarrassing? I remember a few times when my mom would say something embarrassing about me to someone and I was mortified, but at least she didn’t post it somewhere for hundreds of people to see.

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Will these pictures and videos be meaningful later in life?

One of my favorite things to do now and then when I go to my parents house is pull out the old photo albums and home videos and spend hours just looking through or watching them. Being able to do that is so fun and special.

If I post all of these pictures and videos now, will they be meaningful later to her, or to us? This is a question I don’t think anyone can really answer because it’s a very new idea. We are some of the first parents to live with these easily accessible cameras that can capture videos or pictures in a seconds notice. Maybe this is not necessarily a sharing related issue as much as it is a living with technology in this day in age issue. But maybe not sharing so much with everyone will make it more meaningful to my family and I.

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Am I really even enjoying this moment?

Going back to my daughter sleeping in my arms, I mentioned how that rarely happened anymore. This unique moment of her snuggled into me was happening, and I’m sitting there, stretching my arm as high as I can to get the best angle, the best pose, the best picture of it. Is the picture going to be more important than the moment that is actually happening? Not in this case.

Are there special occasions that you should whip out the camera? ABSOLUTELY. All the firsts, the birthdays, the funny moments, any special occasion. But in this moment it was only special to me and my baby. My Facebook didn’t need to see it. Would some people have appreciated it? Of course, but in this case I found it just wasn’t necessary to share.

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Does this mean I am going to delete all pictures of my daughter and never post one of her again? No, but it will limit my posts, and what I decide to share with people. Already my Instagram account has drastically decreased in the number of pictures I post of her compared to what it used to look like (picture on the left is from a few months ago, pictures of the front is from today).

Here are some tips I use for sharing my child a little less:

  • I used to get so many close ups of her face. I try to not get so many pictures close up, maybe only a few here and there.
  • I try to only post pictures of special events or memories I want to remember. No more, “Look how cute she is here!”, or “Look at her sweet outfit here!”.
  • If she’s doing something cute, or something I want to remember I sometimes take a snapshot from behind or with a blocked view, like the picture of her napping or with our dog above on the right. This way I remember the event, but when I post it on Instagram it’s a sweet picture from behind and does not include her face.
  • I try to only post pictures of her every other picture. This way she’s not plastered all over my social media account.
  • I’ve been posting more pictures of my daughter on Instagram stories as opposed to my actual Instagram account. These are a quick fun way to share photos or videos without them permanently being on an account.

Am I saying that you should follow these guidelines and do what I do? Absolutely not. This was a personal decision for my family, and each individual should choose what works for them.

I think sometimes we feel we need to share everything good and beautiful that’s going on in our lives that sometimes it consumes us. We strive to get the perfect shot or the best pose to prove something to our friends or followers. But in my opinion, sometimes you just have to live in the moment with the people you love without anyone else’s approval.

Life At Home

The Cleaning Schedule That Finally Helped to Keep My House Clean

Alright people, when it comes to cleaning, I’m the freaking worst. I will pick up, tidy and organize any day of the week, but actually, physically cleaning makes me want to punch myself in the throat.

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For the longest time I felt like every single time I cleaned it didn’t even do anything. I felt like all of a sudden within two days the house was a mess again, and I had to do it all over.

One of my new year resolutions was to be better about cleaning. Well that finally kicked into gear around April. I give all the credit to one simple list I created. This cleaning list, or cleaning schedule changed my life. It held me accountable for keeping all the parts of my house clean and organized. After creating this list I realized that I would even like to add more because it has helped me stay on top of my home.

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I broke things up into daily, weekly, monthly, 3-6 months, and annual chores. When I made my list I plugged ALL of these things into my calendar app. At the beginning of the week I look for what needs to be done and BOOM! I try to get it out of the way ASAP. Here is an example of a cleaning schedule that works for us. Some things you may feel need to be cleaned sooner, or some not as often. All I know is my house is so much cleaner.

Daily Chores:

  1. Wipe down countertops
  2. Wash dishes
  3. Sweep kitchen
  4. Make bed
  5. Laundry (as needed)

Weekly Chores:

  1. Dust
  2. Clean bathroom
  3. Change bedding
  4. Vacuum
  5. Clean appliances
  6. Mop
  7. Clean mirrors
  8. Take out trash
  9. Clean coffee pot/coffeemaker
  10. Brush dog hair off the couch

Monthly Chores:

  1. Dust blinds
  2. Clean out fridge
  3. Wash shower curtain
  4. Wipe down doors
  5. Wipe down baseboards

3-6 Month Chores:

  1. Clean under and behind furniture
  2. Wash car
  3. Clean inside oven
  4. Clean inside microwave
  5. Clean windows
  6. Clean out vacuum

Annual Chores:

  1. Clean fireplace
  2. Deep clean carpets
  3. Clean curtains
  4. Clean around dryer vents
  5. Clean out gutters

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What are some things I missed? Let me know!

Baby

How to Get Your Dog and Baby to Be BFF’s

Before my daughter came along we had our Saint Bernard, black lab mix, Jack. He is an awesome dog, and we are so lucky to have him. Like all dogs he has his quirks, and he’s not perfectly trained. The skill he is really the best at is doing any command on the first, second, third,  fourth try.

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Because Jack wasn’t necessarily the perfect dog to bring a baby home to, I was a little worried about how he would get along with this new human that would be entering our home, but more importantly his home. He’s always been great with other kids in the neighborhood, but I thought I would do a little research on bringing a new baby home with a dog. Some things I found helpful; some not so much. Here are four things that worked well in our experience with bringing a baby home to our dog.

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Prepare a little ahead of time.

I read you should walk the dog with the stroller a few times to get him used to how future walks might be. Let me tell you, it was good practice for both dog and mama. If your dog needs to be on a leash it’s good practice to figure out how you’re going to maneuver everything. We have a regular leash, but we also had a retractable leash. I found the retractable leash gave him more room, and he wasn’t forced to be close to the moving stroller all the time.

We also let Jack into the nursery a lot. Sometimes we would even bring him in there to play on the rug and show him it’s a fun space. To this day it’s one of his favorite places to relax. We also set up some of the baby items around the house (pack ‘n play, swing, etc.) to get him used to where some of these things would go.

I was told it’s good to let the dog smell some of the baby toys or clothes that had been washed in baby laundry detergent to get him used to new smells. Dogs are very keen to smells, so I’d like to think that this really prepared him for the newest arrival.

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Don’t change the dogs designated space.

I know that babies come with a ton of stuff, but do your best to keep the dog items in the same places. This could include dog bed, food location, where the toys are kept, or even some of his favorite places to lay. At one point we thought we might move the basket of dog toys to a new spot, but we found he never touched them and instead started going up to the nursery and stealing baby toys. Once we moved his toys back it definitely helped make him feel at home again. He may steal an occasional baby toy here and there…

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Have a fun, safe greeting when baby first arrives.

This helps if both parents are available. Let one parent hold the baby, while the other can worry about the dog. Try to stay very calm and excited to show the dog that this is a very exciting thing that’s happening. If the dog keeps getting too excited or aggressive just keep taking baby away and trying again. At some point the dog is likely to lose a little energy and sniff baby to see what this new adventure is all about.

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Always give the dog an escape route.

This is more for when the baby is at a crawling or walking point. Most likely your baby will want to play or crawl on your dog. In our experience our dog did not mind this with our daughter. He was so gentle as she tugged on his ear and pulled his tail. He took it like a champ.

There was one time he was trapped between her, her toy basket, and the couch. He had no way to escape. She began really tugging at him and he was sick of it with nowhere to go, so he barked really loud at her. Fortunately our daughter thought this was hilarious, but my husband and I could see the possibly of this escalating quickly. We let Jack out so he could get away, and he stayed in the other room for a little while.

After that we learned to always make sure he has a way to get out of a situation. If he is trapped or stuck with the baby we move something, or move her to make sure that if Jack is done being poked and prodded that he has a way to get out. This has made life easier for him, and safer for our daughter.

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We are very lucky to have a dog who is so well behaved and loves our daughter. I hope that these tips will help you adjust to this exciting, new time in your life.

Self Love

How To Be Even More Awesome Than You Already Are

There are a lot of really terrible people in the world. I mean, not you of course. You’re awesome. But a lot of other people? Yeah. They’re not cool.

It’s really hard to be as awesome as you and I. I mean it takes work to get to this level. Maybe that’s why so many people just don’t even try to be better people. Here’s what you can do to be even more awesome, or maybe these lame people should give these things a try.

Smile at people.

People you do know. People you don’t know. Just smile at them. Don’t be creepy about it, but if you make eye contact with people across a restaurant, give them a quick smile. Did you have a nice cashier as you were checking out at Target? Give her a polite small.

It can go a long way.

Listen to people when they talk.

No I mean really listen to people as they talk. Even if their story is about how they went through their grandma’s sock drawer, listen politely. Make eye contact, ask some simple follow up questions to show that you care, “Wow, so I mean, how old do you think some of these socks are?”

Even if you don’t care, show people that you do. It’s just a nice thing to do.

Bring a gift when you go places.

Going over to a friends house? Bring a bottle of wine. Hanging out with the guys to watch football? Bring some beer. It seems as though alcohol suits these situations best, but other small things can be great too. A small potted plant or bouquet of flowers. Homemade cookies, brownies… let’s be honest, homemade anything.

People will appreciate it. And who knows, maybe they’ll want to return the favor when they show up at your door.

Stop talking about people.

Okay, for real. What is the point? Maybe you’re truly not one to gossip, but every once and a while it just slips out when you’re with your gal pals. It happens, but if you notice that you’re talking about an individual do these two steps:

  1. Stop! Think to yourself, “Hmm, would I like it if I was the person in this situation right now?”
  2. Veer the conversation in a different direction.

That’s not so bad, right? Now doesn’t that feel good?

Tip a wee bit higher.

“But I’m already an amazing tipper”. OKAY FINE, then skip to the next one. But a lot of people are not. Really this goes for the good service you find. Servers, drivers, anyone that you’re tipping appreciates and remembers the faces of people who tip well, so why not?

Compliment someone.

Don’t be afraid to say something nice to someone. Most people don’t bite. We live in a day in age where people get offended by something that is said in the blink of an eye, so I know that sometimes you may be nervous to put yourself out there and talk to people. But if you really like someones jeans, or you see a mom doing a kick-ass job grocery shopping with three kids, or you run into one of your old, favorite teachers, tell them how you feel. Compliment them on the awesome job that they’re doing.

We need more nice people in this world.

Put your phone down for a bit.

If you are hanging with your friends on a Saturday night, put the phone down. You can interact with your friends human faces instead of their virtual ones.

I’m not saying you have to put it down for the entire time, but if you’re playing a game or you’re having a conversation with friends don’t worry about your phone. If people are talking and you’re liking things left and right on social media, are you really giving your friends the attention they deserve?

Hang out, talk, eat, and relax without the phone. You can check everything later.

Ask your host if they need help with anything.

When you go to a friends or families house for dinner ask the host if they need help cooking, or setting the table. It is a fact that 98% of the time if you ask your host if they need help they will say no.

Okay, that’s not true, but I mean it could be. Even if they do want help they’ll probably just ask you to peel potatoes or something. Eh, that’s not so bad!

Either way they will appreciate that you offered to help, or that you actually did.

Just be nice.

Say nice things. Try to see the positive in everyone and everything. Be friendly to people you know. Be friendly to people you don’t know. Help others. Just do good.

Our world can be a sad, angry place. We need more awesome people like you. And for those that are already awesome, why not be AWESOMER?

Bonus- Dress like a unicorn.

I mean who’s more awesome than a unicorn?

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