Friday, February 10, 2017

No Spend January/ Updated Recap

January is the month!! As a family we have decided to have a no spend month.  Basically meaning we will only purchase food and gas...no eating out(unless we use a gift card), no going to do activities that cost money, and no buying stuff online...I know, how will we survive?  Funny thing is, I feel like not only will this be a HUGE challenge but I'm thinking by the end of the month I'm going to feel so liberated, in the social idea that is.  Because this era spends spends spends I think it's going to be so wonderful to teach our kids about savings.  I hope they learn to appreciate what we already have.  I hope they learn to love spending more time as a family and that not everything that's fun costs money.

When I sat down with my husband last night and talked about writing a list of things to do this month that are free and the whole family will enjoy, I was surprised at how many things we came up with.  Why have we not been doing this every month?  Yes there's so much freedom that comes with being able to SPEND our money but what powerful freedom comes from not having to! So here's our list of free activities to do as a family.  I'm sure it will continue to grow, and I'm even more positive that the kids will think of ideas to add to this list.

1. Go sledding
2. Make and deliver treats to friends or neighbors
3. Host a potluck dinner
4. Host a game night
5. Go to the library once a week
6. Visit the Bean Museum at BYU
7. Go to the mall play area
8. Attend the library's night time activities (magic show)
9. Put together a jigsaw puzzle
10. Build a snowman
11. Write letters to family
12. Build a fort
13. Tour a fire station
14. Make homemade ice cream in a bag
15. Go to the Rec Center (we already have a pass)
16. Visit the BYU museum of Paleontology
17. Visit Orem Heritage Museum
18. Visit the Springville Museum of Art
19. Visit Woodbury Art Museum at the mall
20. Go on a winter scavenger hunt
21. Have a family movie night


So we still have a long way to go on the activities but I'd say that's a pretty good way to start.  I'm amazed at how many local places have free admission so definitely check out your local area to see what's going on around you.

Now on to the nitty gritty.  THE RULES.  You, obviously can make your own rules if you're wanting to join in.  Maybe January isn't the best month for you...so pick a different one!  Anyway, these are our family's rules.

1. We can only spend our money on food and gas
2. Any automatic payment can still go through (like my DoTERRA order, or our Comcast TV and internet plan)
3. No eating out


That's it. Not too detailed.  We for sure will be putting our gift cards to good use this month.  We still have a date night planned that we aren't going to be spending any of our own money on...so we will see how that goes.  All in all I hope our family feels freedom in this challenge.  I hope we all come to realize just how much we are blessed and how much we have in abundance.  We live so very comfortably and for that I am so grateful for, but because we live so comfortably I tend to forget that our money is so sacred.  It could be taken from us at any time and though its a materialistic thing it's also what helps keep us living and enjoying life.  So here's to our no spend month!!  Hopefully we survive.  I'm sure it will be a struggle at first.  I may have to say no to outings with girlfriends, Mike might have to give up fountain Diet Dr Pepper for a month, but we will survive and in all reality...we will have saved SO MUCH in just one month of not spending.  Let me know if you're going to join the challenge.  You can check out my friend Cress Matthews (she came up with the idea) blog and follow along with her as well. Cheers to a new year and to saving our hard earned cash!




AND NOW THE RECAP!!!!


I would love to say that this past month was pure bliss and was easy as pie, but the honest truth is that no spend month is no joke.  It took a lot of planning to not eat out, it took a lot of patience to not want to indulge and do something spa like for myself, and it took some getting used to with avoiding stores like the plague.  With this being our first no spend month in the 9 years we've been married, it was eye opening to see what it was that we continually treat ourselves to and the types of things we buy to make our lives easier.  Here are a few things I learned this past month.

1. Spending money is a time filler.
Yup, I admit it...when I'm bored I spend money.  Usually it's in the form of aimlessly walking through every aisle of Target and convincing myself that the things in my cart will make my life happier.  If I learned anything this last month it's that I don't NEED half of thing I think I do.  That, and when I'm bored I need to be better about filling my time with activities instead of things.

2. Cooking brings me joy.
I've always known this.  I've loved cooking since I was young but this push to HAVE to cook every day was something I truly enjoyed.  Oh sure, 4:00 pm rolled around and I would drag my feet to start prepping for dinner, but once I got going I couldn't stop and I loved every minute.  Not only did I finally get around to trying the recipes I pinned on Pinterest, but I also discovered that the more I cook at home the more my kids eat the things they never wanted to before.  True story...my kids are way less picky than they used to be and I think it has something to do with not being asked what they want at a restaurant.  They get what they get. Right?


3. I like to spend money on others.
It's no secret that my "love language" is gift giving.  When I see something I think someone would really enjoy I usually try to get it for them as a gift.  With not spending money, this was impossible to do for my friends. Instead I baked cookies, delivered dinners, and had friends over for food and company.  Maybe I wasn't actually buying them things but the effort and sentiment was still present. Money doesn't buy love and this month, as much as I wanted to get my friends a few things here and there to brighten their day, I realized that my effort and smiling face would just have to do...and I think they still really enjoyed it.

4. The kids didn't notice.
You read correct.  The kids had NO IDEA that we weren't spending money.  It may have been their age...cause they're still tiny humans, but they really didn't notice that we stopped eating out.  They didn't realize that the stupid little craft items weren't sneaking their way into our cart at the store.  They were oblivious to it all and that made me so extremely happy.  I had this idea in my head that they would be disappointed when they couldn't have chicken nuggets and fries.  I thought they would be so sad that we weren't going out for ice cream.  But the truth of the matter is...they were just as happy when we made it at home.  They thought is was so fun when we made ice cream from scratch.  They love homemade chicken nuggets and fries.  They were thrilled when we sat down with scissors and pens and made our own crafts.  Kids are happy when we spend time with them, not money on them.

5. Essentials really are essential.
This last month put more perspective on my life.  I came to realize that the things I thought I couldn't live without I really could.  That the things that make my life easier are only convenient, they aren't essential.  I already have so many things in my life that bring me joy.  Money doesn't buy happiness, it buys freedom.  Freedom to come and go as you please.  Freedom to take a break from the HAVE TO's and freedom to fill our lives with things from here and now.

In the coming months I'm going to be building a capsule wardrobe to help myself from buying crappy clothes that only last a few washes.  I'll be making more dinners and lunches at home.  I'll be filling my time with books and the company of friends instead of shopping.  But most of all I'll be more in tune to what I NEED as apposed to what I WANT.  This summer I hope to do another no spend month and would love to have you join in.  Stay updated on what month by following along on my Instagram! Have a happy weekend, friends!

Friday, December 23, 2016

I'm Merrier Thanks To Merry Maids


I'm going to get REAL honest with ya'll.  I'm a control freak.  I like to have my house cleaned the way I like it and most of the time, no one does it the way I prefer.  I know, I'm the worst.  However, if I'm being even more brutally honest...I hardly ever have time to clean these days.  Between nursing Daisy, playing with the kids, getting all my errands run, and making dinner, the house is just a disaster. After the kids go to bed I tidy the house and put things away but the 'cleaning' isn't getting done.  My husband helps out here and there but when he comes home from work I hate to ask him to help clean when he has put in hours and hours of standing at work.  Basically what I'm saying is...it's become more and more obvious that in my life right now I NEED help.  Add on the fact that my mom was coming into town and you have yourself a wreck of a person who was trying to do it all and realizing I couldn't do it all.

When it came to finding someone to clean my house it was like breaking down a wall of feelings.  Feelings that I SHOULD be able to clean my house.  Feelings like I had failed at being a homemaker.  Not feeling confident in myself because I knew I needed help.  It's funny how much we doubt ourselves as mothers.  We do A LOT, you guys.  We are keeping tiny people alive and that takes a whole bunch of work.  This house cleaning was a way to give back to myself.  Time that I could give to my children instead of sitting them in front of the TV while I cleaned the house.  So the search went on in trying to find someone who could clean and meet my expectations.  

Many of my friends get their homes cleaned.  They found people they trust and they know they will do a great job.  But for me...again, control freak, I was looking for someone who was not only qualified but was also trained, insured, and had great reviews.  Who answered the call...Merry Maids. The company is trusted, insured, has great reviews, and all their happy cleaners are extensively trained and have a high expectation on how things should be cared for.  

Scheduling was easy and when they came to my house they had smiles on their faces and got right to work.  I'm not even exaggerating when I say that my house has never been cleaner.  When we moved in our house it was newly remodeled and still had dust floating around for weeks after.  It took forever to finally get things settled and wiped clean.  When the Merry Maids left my house after hours and hours of cleaning, my house looked, smelled, and shined better than it did when we moved in.  They scrubbed permanent marker off of the walls (Jade likes to color...anywhere she can).  They made my girls' beds.  The baseboards where clean, the walls had been washed.  They vacuumed my couch cushions and under the pillows.  Every frame on my wall had been dusted and wiped down.  I even came home from running errands to find them sitting on the floor cleaning the return air vents! My dining room chairs were scrubbed from the food and fingerprints my kids left behind.  And then my head blew up from amazement.   


After my brain matter was cleaned off the walls, I kid I kid, we went on a walk through the house and made sure every room, hallway, and corner was cleaned to my approval.  They pointed out areas that they spent extra time on.  They ultimately made sure I was 100% happy with the cleaning...and by golly I WAS!  I sat on my bed after they had left and felt such a huge weight was lifted from my shoulders.  I didn't have to worry anymore about my mom coming into town knowing she wouldn't feel like she had to clean on her visit.  She would be able to just show up, relax, and enjoy time with my family instead of scrubbing the bathtub and toilet.

Now I understand if having your house cleaned isn't something you ever thought about.  I was that person too.  I never in a million years thought I would need it.  I mean, I'm the weirdo who LIKES to clean.  But I'm at a place in my life where I need the help.  I need that part of my life to just be done.  It may only be for a year, or the rest of my life, but for now it just feels great knowing I don't have to stress about it.  

So, lets talk about pricing shall we?  Cause I know you and I are both on a budget.  Between buying new clothes for the kids every new season and keeping the house stalked with food, how can one afford house cleaning?  When the kids are young and growing by the second, my time with them is priceless.  I would hate to look back on their growing years and feel like I've missed precious moments because I was too busy with a mop in my hand.  I would hate to have them look back on the memories they've made and I'm missing from them because I was vacuuming.  So how can you and I afford house cleaning?  Simple.  By understanding what's most important in our stage of life.  I want most to be making memories with my kids.  I want them to see that I don't just put in all my effort in cleaning the house but that I put a large amount of time and effort into showing them love in how they need love. I can not put a price on their time.  

Merry Maids has a $50 off deal right now for the holidays in Utah.  Just mention Holiday Clean Up.  Even better...if you sign up for their 24 cleaning agreement (that's a bi-weekly cleaning) they'll knock off $400 on your initial deep cleaning service.  HUGE DEAL!!  Maybe you're not looking for a bi-weekly cleaning?  Get in touch with them and discuss what it is you're needing or looking for and they'll get you what you need.  

I now have piece of mind this holiday season.  I don't have to scrub anything in my house.  I can just enjoy my family, make memories, and relax in my clean bathtub with an ice cold Diet Coke.  My mom dreams have come true.  Seriously friends, Keep Calm and Call Merry Maids.


Saturday, December 10, 2016

Coping with Seasonal Depression

This time of year is usually about giving, joy, and warm fuzzies. But for me this time of year brings on a different effect.  I become burdened, I feel alone and isolated, and more often than not I don't take care of myself.  My hair hasn't been washed for more than a week and I'm pretty sure if I were to wring it out I could fill a small bottle with oil. I have not put on makeup or really gotten dressed, for that matter, for days and it's starting to settle in that the good old seasonal sadness, or depression if you will, has come to take it's course.

A few years ago I had my first experience with this inner demon.  It took me by surprise and buried me deep in my bed for days.  I didn't accomplish anything I needed to.  I sat and stared at my television for hours and hours and dreaded the undertakings of keeping up a household and caring for my kids.  What got me out of this horror was taking care of ME.  Something I wasn't doing in any sort of fashion.  I obviously wasn't bathing regularly, I was eating crap...or not eating at all, I stayed inside and neglected my physical, emotional, and spiritual needs.

Many would argue that mental health is something that can be controlled.  I used to think the same thing.  In fact I'm pretty sure I said "snap out of it" to my sister who's struggled with depression her entire life.  It's not a quick fix when it comes to finding light in a time of darkness.  It's not like one can just flip a switch and all is right in the world again.  The joy and happiness come back at a slow and steady pace as long as we are striving for it.  I'm not an expert in depression or treatments for it, but because of my seasonal struggle, I've found ways to bring me slowly back to that state of mind where I feel level and in control.

This week has been one where I've noticed that evil seasonal shadow hovering above me. It has me feeling tired, unmotivated, and dreading the care of my little ones.  With being a nursing momma it's been even harder to wrap my arms around  my baby to feed her.  Her cries are like knives to my ears because I know it means I'll have to crawl out of my cozy and darkened room to feed her and comfort her when I can't seem to feed and comfort myself.  Today I finally realized that while I can't just 'snap out of it' I know I can be in control of my life.  So I wanted to share a few things that help me during this difficult time of year.  Before I share I should state that, again, I'm not an expert, and if you feel like you need professional and medical help, that is where you should go.  But for me my heart and mind tell me that I can crawl out of this darkness on my own if I simply put some effort towards the cause.

I'm starting with placenta pills.  That's right people, I take pills filled with my dehydrated placenta from when I was pregnant with Daisy.  It sounds absolutely disgusting and, believe me, when I first heard about it I thought the same thing.  I'm happy to share the fact that I ingest these pills though because they have been my lifesavers in a time of sadness.  From what I've read, they're filled with your bodies hormones that are needed to help you recover during the postpartum months.  They help with hormone balance, milk production, mood swings, and that's just to name a few.  From  my own experience I can honestly say that they've made a HUGE difference in how I've felt after I take them. Still kinda gross, but if it works...I ain't complaining.

Essential oils are a major part in helping to brighten my darkest days.  I could go on and on about how great they are and the science behind their affects but for now I'll just say this.  What happens to you when you smell something you love?  Do you cry or grin?  I stick to a few oils that I love and smell them or diffuse them throughout the day.  Citrus oils are amazing during the dreary winter months because they're uplifting and warming.  I put a drop on my wrists and breathe in deep and sure enough, within a few moments I start to feel more level.

Self care is an obvious one.  This season has been especially hard because my self care is almost non existent.  All day I'm caring for three other humans...ok four if you count the hubby.  I'm giving giving giving all day long to others but I'm not giving back to myself.  I love the quote, "In order to take care of others you must first take care of yourself." Yes, I am a firm believer on service and giving to those around me, but when I'm on empty it becomes nearly impossible to have anything left to give.  This one is so hard for me to follow through on.  By the end of the day there aren't enough hours left before bed to really take care of myself.  So I simplify by doing small and simple things to help fill that emptiness.  I take a bath, paint my nails, wear a skin mask, watch my favorite movie, or indulge in my favorite dessert or snack.  Sometimes the simplest of things bring about the most joy.  And this rings so true in the self care department.

Lastly is the hardest one for me to complete and yet it's always the one that's most needed.  EXERCISE!  Remember how I suffered from seasonal depression a few years ago?  Well, the thing that got me through was exercise.  It always sounds more simple and easy than it really is.  But I didn't just buy a gym pass and drag myself to the treadmill everyday. No.  I enrolled in a class that I knew I would love and WANT to go to and sure enough I went.  I went three times a week for 2 months.  I pushed through the burn and the soreness and went back again and again.  Why?  Because those endorphins my brain was pumping was necessity and I could feel it after the first time I went.  I understand that not everyone can afford this type of thing so instead I say this.  Find a friend and go together.  You can walk around the mall or swim at the rec center near you.  While you workout, spill your hearts to one another.  Release the feelings of sadness and solitude you're experiencing and work together to feel uplifted.

Ok one more.  I always call upon my Heavenly Father for support.  It's not easy carrying around the burden of depression.  But I'm grateful I have the knowledge that my Father in Heaven knows my struggles.  He carries me when I can not carry myself.  Christ experienced all our trials, afflictions and pain so that we wouldn't feel alone in those times of need.  Pray for comfort, for support, and for guidance.

I hope this time of year, especially if you that struggle like I do, you won't feel alone.  I hope you know that this time of year is hard for a lot of us.  Don't be afraid to reach out for help or express what you feel to those you can confide in and love.  And please please please, if you need help you need to ask.  Don't be ashamed of your trial.  It's a trial many of us experience, and many of us are here for care and support.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Disneyland Travel Tips

I left my heart in Disneyland.  True story.  Since I was a little girl this place has been a happy escape for me.  The moment I walk through those gates and hear the chipper music and smell the scent of railroad ties I know it's going to be a good day.  We try and make it to our favorite place once a year, but as the kids get older and times become more hectic and stressful we've realized that once a year isn't cutting it. It needs to happen more often.  This year I turned 30 and wanted nothing more than to celebrate at my favorite place on Earth, but we also surprised the girls!  They had no idea where we were going or when we would arrive.  We just reassured them that they would love it and, sure enough, they did.

When Mike asked what it was I wanted for my birthday I literally couldn't think of a tangable item.  Sure gift cards are great and so is money...duh...but I knew deep down what I really wanted was a family vacation to Disneyland.  When I said it outloud to him I honestly laughed about it because I knew that was a lot to ask.  I mean, come on, we just had a baby and were still paying off bills to the hospital.  But little did I know that he would say yes and make it happen.  Gosh I love my man!!

When we plan our Disneyland vacations we always use Get Away Today.  They make it easy to plan and organize where you'll stay, how you'll get to the park everyday, if breakfast is included, and they make sure you'll be comfortable.  Sure it's easy to just hop online and figure it all out on your own but when I call into Get Away Today I know they'll have all the answers and will guide me to the right hotel and accomidations I need for my family and me.

Weeks before your trip they mail out your Disneyland tickets and all the info you'll need for your stay.  Seriously guys, I can't begin to explain how easy they make it to get your trip off to the right start.

We stayed at a beautiful hotel just a mile from the park and it not only included free parking, free breakfast, but also a free shuttle to and from the park that ran every half hour.  WINNING!!!  The hotel was so accomidating and brought us a crib for Daisy and truly made our stay so comfortable.

On with the birthday celebrations!  Right inside Disneyland on you left is City Hall.  It's a small quaint little building that has bathrooms attached...if ya need.  Inside City Hall is where you can request a free pin!  I, of course, got my birthday pin and a pin for Daisy's first time. It's necessity when you're celebrating your birthday. Why you ask? Because every cast member will celebrate right along with you.  Who doesn't want to be told Happy Birthday a million times a day?


I've written before about all my tips and tricks for a family fun trip to Disneyland you can read here.  But this time around we were with a tiny little baby who was still nursing and needing extra sleep and attention.  So here are a few extra tips for traveling with a baby. 

Disneyland and California Adventure both have Baby Care Buildings.  They're both great but I highly prefer Disneyland's for nursing!  They're nursing rooms are in a seperate area far away from the changing rooms so you're staying away from the smells. Catch my drift *wink wink*?  On top of the great nursing rooms, they also have tiny toilets for little kids who are potty training.  Jade got so excited to use them becuase they were "just her size". If the cast members aren't too busy they'll even congradulate the kids after they go with a sticker.  So cute right?  This is also a place you want to keep on your radar if you have a child in diapers.  They have a small shop inside where you can purchase anything from baby food to diapers and wipes.  Pretty much anything baby might need you can get it here if you're in a pinch.  Thank goodness for Disneyland's kind heart. 


If you're not near these buildings on your travels I've found so many hidden and quiet areas that are perfect for nursing or a small break where the kids can have a snack. Don't stress too much about finding places to 'hide' to nurse your little one.  As you walk around just make mental notes of places that might work and you'll be sure to have success. 

If your baby is asleep you can still go on many of the rides with them! Be advised that some of the rides do require your baby to be on your lap and facing forward, but if you've got them in a wrap, like I did with Daisy many times, they're just fine to be left alone sleeping. Another great way to ride the rides while baby sleeps is asking for a Stroller Pass from the cast member at the begining of the line of the ride you're wanting to go on.  That way one parent can take the kids on the ride while the other parent sits with the baby and then they can switch and the kids gets to ride all over again.  The Stroller Pass allows up to three people so our girls got to ride a lot of the rides twice without having to wait in the lines forever.

Disneyland will forever be my most favorite place on earth.  It holds dear memories for me. It reminds me of simpler times.  Time spent with family. Time spent laughing and acting ridiculous.  It's given me moments with my kids I never want to forget.  There's no doubt in my mind that my own children will find joy in this magical place throughout their lives as well.  They'll look back on these family vacations with a smile because family time is everything and nothing beats the magic of Disney.


Saturday, October 22, 2016

Soon, I'll Be 30 Years Old

In just two short days I'll be turning 30 and this past week I've been in a bit of a funk.  I've found myself looking in the mirror and not liking what I see.  I've had negative thoughts of not being accomplished enough.  I've felt alone and exhausted.  It sounds silly to say that turning 30 has effected me in this way.  I mean, I'm a huge birthday celebrator.  In years past I've made the whole MONTH of October my birthday, forcing anyone and everyone around me to celebrate.  This year, though, that hasn't been the case.

This morning I took some time to be alone while Daisy napped and the girls played to write down some goals and thoughts on why I've felt so down.  My main conclusion...turning 30 means I'm really an ADULT.  Call me crazy but I'm pretty sure I'm not the only one who still feels like they just graduated from High School.  And even though I have children, own a home, and have a small business I see myself as a young 20 something still figuring out life.  No one has life figured out but I'm no longer a young 20 something.

I'm going to be 30.

All of a sudden I look at myself and see lines and wrinkles that weren't there before.  I find myself tired and lacking energy.  I don't want to get ready anymore because...really who cares?  I'm a mom of three kids and who do I need to impress?  The reality is...my worth isn't measured by my age or beauty.  I'm an honest friend, a hard worker, a valiant mother, and a fervent lover.  I give give give more than I'm capable, at times, and I continue to grow and learn through others examples.

So, I made goals to help myself feel as though I'm progressing in life and age to bring myself up.  These goals aren't anything crazy or out of reach.  They're simple, honest, and realistic goals that I know will lift my spirits along with my overall well being.  So, here they are in all their beauty...

- Eat a salad everyday.
Sounds dumb, I know, but a while ago I went a whole week doing this and my, oh my, what a difference it made.  Not only in my energy levels but in the digestion part too...if you catch my drift.

-Write a thank you note to someone once a month.
We are all grateful, there's no doubt about it, but how often do we really sit down and write out our thoughts to someone who've made our lives better and shown them some honest thanking?  I don't do it enough, so I'm making it a priority to thank those around me more often and to, more specifically, write out a note to someone with more detail.

- Finish a good book once a month.
Because I don't read enough...

- Drink 60 oz. of water everyday.
Why is it so hard to drink water.  It's near impossible for me, anyway.  So I'm upping the auntie to not only feel better but improve my skin and all that goodness.

That's it people!  Nothing too overwhelming, nothing that's impossible to accomplish.  Just simple goals that will help to realign my feelings and allow myself some peace and love.  Turning 30 doesn't have to be so bad.  In fact, I'm starting to think it'll be one of the best years yet!

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Maui Travel Tips

A year ago we planned a trip to Hawaii to relax and enjoy a little one on one time.  Little did we know that our Daisy girl would make a surprise into our lives a month after planning our trip. Ha ha...I guess that's life right?  Due to breastfeeding she was invited on our trip.  So everything in this here travel tip post is ALL baby accommodating and family friendly.

I feel like I spent hours and hours researching activities to do on Maui and things to eat.  After all the research, we put it to the test and tried so many of the things suggested, and I have to admit that most of them were a huge hit!  So I've broken it all down in hopes that it makes it a bit easier to plan your Maui vacation and hit up all the wonderful, and beautiful, things the island has to offer.  First up...food...the most important. *wink wink*

FOOD ON MAUI

The food on Maui is more than delicious.  The seafood is usually caught that morning making it the most fresh and tasty.  So even if you're one who doesn't like fish, I dare you to just taste it while you're on the island...cause you might just change your mind.  Here are a few restaurants we absolutely loved...


Barefoot Cafe,  Hana Maui

While Driving the road to Hana we took a wrong turn and ended up at a cute little beach off the beaten path.  Locals were enjoying the sun with their families and having a bite by this small cafe...which is the epitome of a "whole in the wall" restaurant.  Don't let that deter you though.  This place was YUM!  Above is a picture of what I sadly had to share with the hubs.  I seriously wish I could've licked the plate clean it was that good.  Nothing beats a Wasabi Tempura Mahi cooked to order and eating it right on the beach.


Kihei Caffe,  Kihei Maui
Breakfast was a rough one for us to find...especially with baby Daisy.  Having her with us meant we woke up at 4:00 am everyday and we were all starving.  Thankfully we stopped by a local grocer to pick up some breakfast snacks to hold us over, but after we found Kihei Caffe we were all a bit bummed we hadn't eaten there every morning.  They open at 5:00 am for all us early birds and serve some of the yummiest and filling goods to start your day.  From sweet to savory it was a win.  Our recommendations include eggs benedict, pork fried rice and eggs, and huevos rancheros.

Wow Wow Lemonade, Kihei Maui
Another perfect breakfast stop.  Super fresh lemonade and the yummiest of acai bowls.  Piled high with fruits found on the island. Make sure to buy a glass tumbler to take home with you as a souvenir.   I've been sipping on ice water from mine since our vacay.  

Sadly I was too busy eating all the food to get any more pictures but here are a few other awesome places we ate that you HAVE to check out while you're there.
Mama's Fish House, Paia Maui
Paia Fish Market, Paia Maui
MonkeyPod, Walea Maui
Pita Paradise, Walea Maui
ADVENTURES
Now on to the adventures.  I'm sure if you're planning a trip to Maui you've already heard about traveling down the windy road to Hana.  Well, I will happily agree with the rest of the world that it's something you can not miss.  It allows you to see the infinite beauty that lies on Maui.  Traveling from jungle to tropical, african desert and volcanic terrain, you see it all.  It's literally awe-inspiring.  We all stood at turn offs to take pictures and the only words that came to mind were "Holy Canoli". Ha ha. We were just that baffled by the beauty(and the beauty of my friend Kayti...amiright).
Before you head out on your adventure, keep in mind that there are soooo many stops you can take along the way on the road to Hana.  Look through the list HERE and pick and choose what you want to see/do.  Some of the stops require an entry fee so bring along enough cash just in case they don't take card.  Due to having Daisy with us, we skipped some of the hikes because the bugs are out of control. So first tip...bring bug spray.  We forgot this very important tip and got eaten alive at our first stop...bummer.  Don't make the same mistake we did. Also, here's tip number two, if you suffer at all from motion sickness, take some Dramamine an hour before you head out the door.  You'll thank me later for that one.  A few of the stops we loved, followed by their mile marker and cost (if any), were

Twin Falls (2) This was out first stop and we were devoured by mosquitoes.  Spray before you hike! There are two different hikes to the falls.  One is basically a small walk up to the first falls.  Then there's a longer hike up to the falls at the top.  Since we got eaten alive we skipped the second hike but after seeing pictures online of what we missed out on we wished we would have seen the upper falls.  So, definitely hike the rest of the way.
Upper Waikani Falls (19)  This waterfall is right off the road, so no need to stop if you don't want to but it's beautiful.  You'll pass it on your right but keep driving and you'll see a small parking area on your left. Take a few minutes to hike down to the bottom and bring a camera.  Also I've been told by the hubs that the water was really nice, so don't be afraid to swim a bit.
Lava Tubes (31) $12 per person.  The Lava Tubes don't open until 10:00 am so make sure you take enough stops so you aren't just sitting around waiting for it to open.   
Black Sand Beach (32) The beach is pretty rocky in most parts so wear water shoes if that bothers you, and the waves are pretty intense.  If you aren't the best swimmer I'd just stick to chilling on the beach. Bring a towel and sunscreen and keep in mind that it's WAY hotter than you think it'll be due to the back sand. 
Seven Sacred Pools (42) $20 per car. Our last stop on the road to Hana was the seven sacred pools.  You have to pay to get into the Haleakala National Park and it's whopping $20!  So here's another tip for ya.  If you're planning to drive all the way up to the Haleakala Crater to see the sun rise plan your trip within three days of each other and keep your receipt, that way you don't have to pay twice for entry into the National Park.  You're welcome.  All along the road are great hiking areas so plan ahead and bring good hiking shoes and clothing.  Some of the hikes take a while so also plan on bringing some kind of backpack to bring water and snacks if you desire.  We also just wore our swimsuits the whole time in case we wanted to hop into any of the waterfalls or swim at the beaches along the way.

After the seven sacred pools there aren't many stops left so you can choose to turn around and drive back or be the risky type and drive all the way around the bottom half of the island.  My opinion...drive the rest of the way.  The scenery alone is worth the drive.  So stunning!  I'm still amazed that people live out there and every morning they wake up to such beautiful views of Maui.

Haleakala Crater

By far this is the most flattering photo ever taken of me.  I mean duh. Ha ha. Our first morning on the island we woke up SUPER early and drove up to Haleakala Crater to see the sunrise.  We were TOTALLY unprepared I might add.  I'm talking the windiest road ever (enter motion sickness emoji) and we didn't do our research as to just how freaking cold it was going to be up there. I'm talking mid 40 degrees.  Of course we grabbed some blankets on our way out of the hotel to bundle ourselves up with but that was it.  My advice...pack a jacket and some warmer shoes if this is on your "must see" list. Sadly, luck wasn't on our side.  We got up to the top of the mountain just minutes before the sunrise and BAM!!! Just like that the clouds rolled in and we saw nothing but wet fog that drenched us all and had us shivering to the core.  The good news is that up on that steep mountain is a tiny little visitors center that has toasted macadamia nuts and dried bananas.  Sure they cost an arm and a leg, so forget about your child's college fund, but these macadamia nuts are pure deliciousness!  Buy like 5 bags.  For REALS and then send some to me!!! K thanks...Also, I will mention, once again, that to enter the national park it costs $20 per car. Save your receipt and make sure to hit up the seven sacred pools within three days as to not pay an additional $20. Again, you're welcome.


While on Maui we had our fare share of rain...and flash flooding.  This, as told to us by the locals, isn't common so don't you fret.  However, even with a bit of bad weather and some cancelled plans, we still had such a wonderful time.  I basically lived in my swimsuit, drank more shirley temples than  I can count, and showed my nursing boobs to too many passersby...sorry...ok totally NOT sorry.  


A few things that saved us, as far as traveling with baby Daisy?  First off we borrowed this City Select stroller and bassinet attachment from our friends and I don't know how I've been able to be a parent without it.  Daisy slept in comfort in that little bassinet at the pool, beach, and restaurants.  She isn't a fan of her car seat (can you blame her?) so this honestly made our entire trip so much more enjoyable.  

I also couldn't live without my Stekki Bebe wrap.  The fabric is soft and stretchy but still holds baby close to you.  It's also WATER SAFE!! Whoop Whoop!  Take a dip in the pool with baby...it just doesn't get any better.  We carried Daisy in it while we hiked, took walks to the beach, and around town to be hands free. 

Another must have is a stroller fan.  I mean what baby doesn't want a light breeze while they travel around or take a snooze?  The one we loved came with a clip and we attached it to the bassinet cover to give Daisy a cool down while she napped.  

I truly hope this info is helpful in planning your Maui getaway.  There's no doubt that even if you decide to sit by the pool at your hotel you'll still have the most wonderful and relaxing time.  As they say in Hawaii...Mahalo and Aloha!




Sunday, July 24, 2016

Diaper bag essentials

There are a few items on my list of things I hate about having a baby.  That list includes car seats, diaper bags, spit up and blow outs...oh and sleepless nights.  But I'm not kidding when I say that I can now check diaper bag off the list.
It's taken me two kids and countless amounts of diaper bags to finally figure out what I need IN my bag and what I need my bag to do for me.  At first I started out with one of those giant hideous diaper bags and it was chocked full of an endless amount of what nots that I never used.  Plus it was like a black hole in there.  I'd empty it out about once a month and would find a slew of things I thought I had lost. Ha ha ha.  It just didn't work.  Then I thought I'd try out one of those name brand diaper bags that looked super cute and had an over the shoulder strap cause it was stylish and cute and yet it didn't function at all the way I wanted it to.  It constantly fell over spilling all of my essentials all over the car, dirty floor, and store cart.  It was so frustrating that once I was out of the diaper bag stage I immediately donated it so someone else could suffer through the awfulness of that bag.  Maybe that was mean of me?  Now that I have my Kiki Lu diaper bag I feel like I'm not driving myself nuts by having to carry around all the goods my baby needs.  This bag is amazing!! It's not only stylish and beautiful but it's completely functional for all of my needs.  It's made from a durable faux leather that's easy to clean and it has ample amounts of pockets and zippers to keep things in their place...no more black hole.  It has straps to wear as a backpack, which is one of my favorite things because, hello, hands free!! But it comes with a strap to wear as an over the shoulder option too. Anything that has more than one option is fine by me!

Now let's talk about what's IN my diaper bag.  Once again, because this is my third baby I've narrowed my needs down to a few essentials.  One of the reasons is obviously because I don't actually need a million things in my bag.  I used to have 3 or 4 burp clothes, bottles...even though I was breastfeeding, like 5 diapers, 2 outfits for baby, a water bottle, toys, and the list goes on and on.  It was seriously ridiculous and my bag got so stinking heavy.  

I've narrowed it down to just a few essentials that I know I need and baby needs and that's it!  First off is the obvious...stuff to change diapers.  I like to keep either a onsie or a cute romper at hand in case baby has a blow out.  Depending on how long I'll be out of the house is how I determine the amount of diapers I'll need.  For a quick trip to the store or a meal out I pack 1 to 2 diapers, longer trips mean more diapers.  I also have been loving my gathre mat.  A friend gave me this mat and it has made changing baby girl while out and about so much easier.  I don't have to lay her on the nasty changing station in the public restroom cause I have this mat as a barrier.  It's easy to wipe down and sanitize and it folds up to about the size of a diaper.  I'm a lover of Huggies wipes and these new wipe holders are awesome.  They used to have the hard cover ones and they just didn't work well and would sometimes not seal and then you were left with dry wipes.  No bueno! These bags are easy to refill and have super cute patterns to match whatever your style.  I stuff all of these goodies in a zipper top bag (mine is from Old Navy, pictured in the top photo) and allows all of the diaper changing needs to be in one spot so I don't have to take the whole diaper bag into the bathroom with me.  I just grab the zipper top bag and I have everything I need.  Easy peasy.


Tubby Todd is my new favorite baby brand.  After a bout of nasty diaper rash with Daisy, and nothing was working, we tried the All Over Ointment and in a day it was completely gone...not better but GONE!  This stuff is not only great for diaper rash but we use it for cradle cap, baby acne, and dry skin.  It's seriously a must have for baby!  The Dream Cream is for momma's dry hands, cause we all know how often we wash our hands...they get all dry and nasty and this stuff does the job at moisturizing without leaving an oily feeling behind. 


Lastly, let's talk fabric.  I, of course, carry burp clothes with me cause we all know...spit happens.  But I also keep with me a swaddle blanket.  Now usually it's draped over baby girl's legs in the car seat but on occasion I grab one quickly as I run out the door and stuff it in my diaper bag.  I also always have a wrap baby carrier with me.  When it comes to having three kiddos with me it's just easier to have baby in the wrap so I can have both hands free to shop, grab my kids before they run out into the road, or hold their tiny hands. I may be outnumbered but at least I've got both of my hands free to keep them all close. 

I'd never claim to be an expert diaper bag packer but I will say I've definitely had my fair share of lessons learned and because of that, my diaper bag packing has improved.  Maybe your bag looks a bit different than mine and that's fine but I'm pretty sure all of us moms can agree that all of our kids are different, their needs are different, and our own must haves differ.  Being a momma is rough but now a days these handy diaper bags make life a little easier.  Can I get an AMEN?



Diaper Bag : Kiki Lu Designs
Zipper Top Bag : Old Navy(similar)
Romper : Rad Revolution
Baby Creams : Tubby Todd
Baby Wrap : Stekki Bebe
Baby Blanket : Captain Silly Pants
Changing Pad : Gathre

Newborn Milk Bath Photoshoot



I already feel like my little Daisy is getting jipped in the picture department.  I'm just too busy these days holding her, dealing with house duties, and taking care of her sisters.  So my sweet gal doesn't get her spotlight in the photo department very often.  So when I came across a picture of a milk bath newborn shoot I knew it would be so much fun to replicate it in a way with my Daisy.  Luckily I have a talented friend who I also knew would be so on board for the idea.

Catherine I met through my shop on Etsy.  She is a super talented photographer and she is so comfortable to take photos with.  I am so honored that she enjoys taking pictures of my little family and is so willing to hear my wild ideas.  I showed her the picture I loved of the milk bath newborn shoot and she immediately got what I was aiming for.  I wanted all the little details of Daisy.  I wanted to capture the bond Daisy and I have and somehow, through these photos, see how sugary sweet Daisy's personality is.  Well, it's pretty obvious from these beautiful photos that Catherine was able to capture all that I wanted and more.  Enjoy, and if you're wanting these same pictures with your little baby or little ones I'm freely willing to offer up my tub for you!  You can contact Catherine through her Instagram @catherinecallanphoto.


Sunday, July 17, 2016

Mom of...THREE?

I was warned over and over again that three kids was going to throw me for a loop.  People had told me that their third was their hardest adjustment.  So when Daisy arrived I was fully prepared to be rocked, but boy was I not ready to be rocked like THIS!

With every baby, I feel like a different lesson was being taught to me.  With my first, slow down.  My second, patience.  And now my third and there's no doubt that Heavenly Father is trying to teach me to let things be.  I'm constantly trying to do it all and it all must be perfect.  I keep my house clean and keep detailed and organized to-do lists.  It's just my nature to want everything to be up to a certain expectation when it comes to how my house is kept.  I can't help it, I just want it all done right...at least in my eyes.  But Daisy's arrival has slowly been teaching me that it's ok to just let things be messy, to-do lists unchecked, and showing up late is A OK.

The other day I FINALLY decided to take time to clean my house.  I nursed Daisy first thing and in the back of my mind I thought 'hurry Daisy hurry...eat quicker, I've got things to do' and it dawned on me that I need to stop and savor these moments with her...and, why in the world am I that eager to clean.  She will soon spread out her feedings and no longer want to be cuddled up close to me and be soothed by the sound of my heartbeat.  She won't be able to fall asleep on my shoulder and my one on one time with her while she eats will be no more.  I think there's a reason why we grow up so fast when we are little and I'm pretty sure it's because God is trying to tell us to pay more attention to all the little and precious moments of parenthood.  If you're a parent I'm sure you've heard countless times how fast time flies.  Before you know it you're kids will be off and married, and while we are still far from that I'm sitting here still in awe that I have a 6 year old.  When did that happen?  I swear it was just yesterday that I was swaddling her up for bed, or at least that's how it feels.  We live in a fast pace world where we are consumed by our phones, Pokemon Go...kill me, and television.  I'm guilty of saying to my kids all too often "hold on just a minute" so I can finish what I'm doing before giving them my full attention.   I refuse to be that absent minded parent.  I'm going to put my phone away more often so when my kids say "mom look at me" I'll be able to quickly and attentively see my children.  There will still be days when I need a break from them.  There will still be times when I hide in the bathroom for a moment alone.  But I know without a doubt that what I want my kids to remember about their childhood is that I was present, not just physically but mentally and emotionally.  My time with them isn't going to be surrounded by big plans, trips, and countless amounts of money spent on their behalf.  It will still be walks to the park and blowing bubbles in the yard, but let's be real kids just want our eyes to be on them and our hearts to be consumed by their cuteness.  

I'm sure the time will come when I get my groove back and things run a bit smoother, but for now things will just have to be hectic and crazy.  I'm not going to get everything I want to get done in one day.  There will be piles of laundry unwashed and dishes in the sink.  Fingerprints on the windows and splatter marks on the mirrors.  The grocery lists will grow and grow before things are crossed off and purchased, but at least I'll know that my time was spent in more important ways.  I'll be cuddling my baby and playing with my kids.  I'll be changing diapers and bathing little bodies.  More time will be spent eating popsicles than wiping down countertops and THAT is what matters most.


Friday, June 24, 2016

Daisy's Birth Story

I've never hesitated when it's come to having a photographer in my delivery room.  There's something so amazing about being able to look back at these pictures and relive the beauty and special feelings that surrounded that day.  We're so lucky to have had Carrie Lashelle Photography there to capture these precious moments and to willingly be on speed dial waiting for Daisy's arrival.  So... on with the birth story...shall we?
At midnight my water broke and I basically quarantined myself to my bathroom because with every contraction came a little bit more fluid..TMI?  I seriously walked around my bathroom with a towel stuffed in my underwear.  My OCD was out of control! I let my hubby sleep while I waited for contractions to get closer together and sure enough about 2 hours later I was starting to feel like things had moved along enough to wake my sleeping prince.  He jumped out of bed and started getting our girls ready to go back to sleep at their Aunt and Uncle's house. We dropped them off and hurried over the hospital. 

We arrived at the hospital at about 3:15 am and there wasn't a single soul delivering when we arrived.  The parking lot was empty and the halls were quiet.  All the nurses jumped to it when we showed up and immediately got us in the delivery room and started to get everything prepped.  One of the nurses checked my dilation and to all of our surprise I was at a 7 to 8.  I seriously was in complete shock.  Thank goodness I took hypnobirthing, otherwise I'm pretty sure I never would have progressed that far on my own.  They gave me the option to get an epidural and because of my hesitation in decision making, it was too late and I had no choice but to deliver naturally.  The Dr. was on his way to the hospital and I sat in the hospital bed still trying to wrap my brain around the fact that I was actually going to push this baby out of me without pain meds.  My contractions weren't painful, just uncomfortable, and with every one I had to concentrate on my breathing and relax. 

When the Dr. finally arrived I was checked again and was dilated to a 9.  That's when things started to get real.  Really uncomfortable, really painful, and it no longer felt good to sit down.  Through the last few contractions, to fully dilate, I stood up.  Mike was my support and I hugged him and tried to relax.  I rocked a bit and hummed and moaned and pretty sure I looked like a complete weirdo to anyone else in the room.  Do what you gotta do right?  

Then it hit...that feeling of major pressure and it was totally time to push this kid out. It was about 4:00 am by this point and there were plastic sheets draped on the floor and the table and the Dr. was dressed like he was about to weld an art project. It was like a scene from Dexter in my delivery room, and I didn't care one bit.  I'm not going to lie, it all hurt like crazy but even more than that I was scared.  Fear overwhelmed me.  Fear that I wouldn't have the strength to get her out.  Fear that I would literally be torn in half, and that in itself made me tense up.  One of the nurses, who was so kind to let me squeeze her hand with every push, told me to push through the pain...easier said than done, but that's what I did.  And with a few pushes that included me screaming like from the movies, everyone in the room cheering me on, and a prayer in my heart, she was out.  All the pain floats away and the only thing that matters is that sweet little babe being placed on my chest.  




There's a peace that consumes a delivery room when a baby is born.  I like to think that Heavenly Father is there watching.  Even though the baby is crying, all is calm.  And just like that your heart grows a little bigger to make room for another little babe that means the world to you.  You don't care that your hoo-haa is hanging out for all the world to see and that your chest is completely exposed so you can get your baby to latch to nurse.  All that matters to you is your new baby and hearing them breath and squeal and fuss.  They've been separated from you for the first time in their tiny lives and yet all you want is for them to be back with you.

Sadly, I hemorrhaged after delivery and lost a lot of blood.  I felt weak and hot and then cold and then hot.  I had no strength.  I was queazy.  The nurses hooked me up to an IV and pumped me full of fluid. My blood pressure would drop and then spike and as much as I wanted to hold Daisy and care for her, I felt so awful that I couldn't.  I wasn't able to stand without feeling faint until later that afternoon.  And that night I received a blood transfusion and 2 units of blood.  Not a fun experience, but it makes me even more grateful that I was in the hospital and under the care of professionals who truly cared for my well being and health.  
Here we are 2 weeks later and I look back at these pictures and I'm amazed that all of this happened.  I'm amazed that my delivery was so quick, that my body had the strength to do what it did, and that Daisy is here in my arms and is healthy and happy.  I'm overwhelmed by the love I was shown from the nurses who cared so much about my comfort and healing.  The delivery was like a dream.  I almost can't even believe that it happened and that my mind and body had the strength to deliver without medication. I owe so much to my husband for standing by my side and hold my hand while I screamed in pain.  He cheered me on and whispered to me how proud he was of what I was able to do.  So much love for that amazing man!


Daisy Blaine Kowallis born Thursday June 9th, 2016 at 4:13 am.  6 pounds 12 ounces, 19 inches long.  We are madly in love and she truly is our miracle baby.