Packing For A Ski Getaway

Packing For A Ski Getaway

With President’s Day coming up next week, a lot of schools are having their annual “ski week” winter break. And we are going to take advantage of the long weekend ourselves with a little ski vacation to our favorite place for a winter getaway – Sun Valley, Idaho. Today I’m sharing some inspiration and recommendations of what to pack for a winter ski trip.

On the slopes…

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One :: Smartwool makes the warmest layering pieces, and this sweater is sure to keep you warm all day

Two :: Obermeyer makes really nice, affordable ski gear and this is my favorite ski jacket

Three :: This Patagonia zip up is a great layering piece

Four :: Another Smartwool layering necessity

Five :: On really warm days I sometimes ski in just sunglasses, but goggles are best on cooler days for warmth and protection

Six :: These are the Obermeyer ski pants that I wear

Seven :: I’m usually taking my time down the easy greens with my kiddos, so I opt for a beanie. If I’m skiing on my own going faster on more challenging runs, a helmet is in order.

Eight :: I always wear a cozy scarf that I can pull up around my face on the coldest of days

Nine :: I ski on Rossignol skis, and they are a great all around, affordable ski

Ten :: A Patagonia nano is great for layering on really cold days, or on its own on warmer days

Eleven :: I swear by my North Face gloves; they are the only ones who keep my hands toasty all day (these are on MAJOR sale too)

Twelve :: Smartwool socks are a must have

Thirteen :: These are the best boots to wear to and from the lodge

Fourteen :: I really love my Salomon boots and I had mine custom fitted at a local ski shop for ultimate comfort

Apres Ski…

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One :: A cozy cashmere turtleneck is a must pack item

Two :: This is an investment coat, but it will keep you toasty warm strolling around the town all day long

Three :: The honeycomb detail adds some interest to this cozy sweater

Four :: Such a fun little sporty and affordable sweater

Five :: This cozy Free People beanie is currently 40% off

Six :: These boots manage to be stylish and practical

Seven :: Leather leggings are a great comfortable option

Eight :: This cashmere zip up is a great layering option

Nine :: A ski resort is the perfect place to wear alllll the fur pieces, and this cozy coat is on sale for $60

Ten :: This fair isle sweater is so pretty and timeless

Eleven :: A cashmere scarf is a must and this one is currently 50% off

Twelve :: This cashmere blend poncho is the perfect travel piece. WANT

Thirteen :: A designer beanie is a fun piece to elevate your entire winter wardrobe

Fourteen :: Hiking boots are cute and functional in the snow

Fifteen :: These fun little gloves are on sale for $11

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Valentines Gifts For The Kids

Valentine’s Day around our house is typically a family affair where we do a gift exchange for everyone in the family and share a fun dinner together. We typically keep gifts minimal, but I do like gifting my boys each a small basket filled with things like bath bombs, small toys/games, books, and candies. Today I wanted to share a few fun ideas for Valentine’s gifts for the littles!

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One :: For the kiddo that’s too cool for something sappy

Two :: I’m pretty sure every kid loves slime and this glitter kit looks really fun

Three :: Every girl I know loves making bracelets

Four :: This non-toxic nail polish set is perfect for little piggies

Five :: I love this sweet little hooded towel

Six :: Evan got this watch for Christmas and he loves it

Seven :: A special way to tell your kiddo all the ways you love them

Eight :: Dylan’s candy bar has the cutest candy for special occasions

Nine :: This organic cotton onesie is perfect for your littlest valentine

Ten :: This smart phone controlled paper airplane kit is a super fun way to deliver a valentine

Eleven :: A mommy and me set of trendy heart shaped sunglasses would be so fun

Twelve :: Perfect chocolate treat for the gamer

Thirteen :: My boys are getting whoopie cushions in their valentines baskets, which I know they will get a kick out of

Fourteen :: My kiddos love kinetic sand, and this is a really cute set

Fifteen :: When I picked Evan up from preschool the other day his teacher was reading this to the class, and Ev was loving it so much he kept scooting closer and closer. Such a cute book!

Sixteen :: This rose scented thinking putty is great for helping kids relax and focus

Seventeen :: The heart shaped pocket is a sweet touch on this tee

Eighteen :: Perfect for the crafty kid

Nineteen :: Every lego lover needs this in their collection

Twenty :: Literally the sweetest little shoes

Twenty One :: Channel his inner cupid with this fun bow and arrow set

Twenty Two :: Your little one can love on their very own rescue pet

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How I Lost 20 Pounds (And Kept It Off)

For the 5th and final week of my wellness series, I wanted to talk about something that is always a pretty hot topic at the start of any year; and that is weight loss. And today I’m going to share how I lost 20 lbs of baby weight I was struggling to lose for several years – that I finally lost last year (and have kept off!).

When I had my first son almost 9 years ago, I admit I was really concerned about how my body would change and if I would be able to lose the baby weight. To my surprise, the weight really just melted off. And then some! I ended up being about 5-10lbs below my pre-pregnancy weight simply by running and nursing. It really was so easy I expected it to be the same with my 2nd. However, after having my youngest, I struggled with getting rid of the last of the baby weight. I would fluctuate about 10-20lbs above my pre-baby weight. Blame it on being older perhaps, but for the first time in my life I really felt I didn’t have control over my weight and wasn’t exactly sure how to get back on track.

I did keto for a period of time. I was able to lose 10lbs, but then I plateaued. I found myself obsessing over macros & the number of carbs I was eating in a day…and yet the scale wasn’t budging. I finally got burned out & I ended up going off keto. I did keep most of the weight I had lost off until last winter. We had a pretty cold & yucky winter last year & I just was feeling a bit of seasonal affective disorder. As a result, I wasn’t running & definitely splurged on treats over the holidays. I ended up gaining almost 10lbs back, and was determined to finally take control of my weight & be down to my pre-pregnancy weight for summer.

When we were living in California, a friend of mine had been struggling with losing her baby weight & started the Dukan Diet. (The diet was really popular at the time because supposedly Kate Middleton had done it for her wedding). My friend’s results were jaw dropping. She lost SO much weight and looked like a completely different person. I remembered her success with the diet and bought the book and cookbook – and I started right before Easter last year.

Within 3 1/2 months of being on Dukan, not only did I reach my weight loss goal of 20 lbs, I actually exceeded it and ultimately dropped 25 lbs and am back to my pre-pregnancy weight. And not only have I lost the weight, I have kept it off even through the holidays and having periods where I’ve definitely indulged (I just make sure to get back on track! This diet has been amazing for me, and today I wanted to share this secret to my weight loss success.

What is the Dukan Diet?

The Dukan diet was started by a French physician (Dr Dukan!) who wanted to come up with a plan to help his patients who were struggling to lose weight. This diet has four phases, with the first two being very strict. But once you obtain your goal weight (or “true weight”) you are able to slowly incorporate other foods back into your diet, and eventually go back to eating whatever you choose, but must follow a few simple rules for the rest of your life. This diet centers around lean protein and limits fats and carbohydrates. Because protein is so filling, you are able to consume small amounts of calories and feel incredibly full. (Although there is NO required calorie counting or limit to how much you can eat!) Protein is also harder to break down so your body burns more calories as well simply by digesting.

The length of time for each of the phases of the diet are individual to each person and how much they want to lose. You can go on their website and fill out a profile where they will tell you how long to do each phase for. They will also help you figure out what your “true weight” is – which I think is important so that you aren’t setting unrealistic and unhealthy weight loss goals for yourself.

Phase 1: Attack

This is the strictest, but also shortest phase of the diet. This can be anywhere from 1-7 days depending on how much weight you have to lose. I believe mine was originally recommended to be 3 days, but I actually ended up doing 5 simply because I wasn’t finding it to be too difficult. The attack phase is “pure protein” and you will eat nothing but lean protein from a list of approved foods during this time. However there is no restriction on how much you can eat. You are also required to eat oat bran daily for fiber and continue to do so through all stages of the diet.

Phase 2: Cruise

In this phase you can incorporate almost all vegetables back into your diet (with the exception of starchy, high carb things like corn, beans, potatoes, etc). However it is recommended for maximum weight loss to only eat vegetables every other day, or on a 5:2 plan (vegetables + protein 5 days a week, and 2 days of pure protein). This is entirely up to you to choose depending on what works for you and your weight loss goals. For the first few months I did 1:1 to really lose as much as possible. After the first few months I followed more of a 5:2 schedule. You are also allowed nonfat/low-fat dairy including milk, yogurt, and cheeses.

Phase 3: Consolidation

In this phase you are getting your body acclimated to accepting your true weight and are focused on maintaining. The length of this phase should be 5 days for every pound lost. (For me this was 125 days – a little over 4 months). You are allowed protein and vegetables every day (except 1 day a week should be a designated pure protein day), as well as 1 serving of fruit, 2 pieces of bread, and 1 serving of full fat cheese a day. You are also allowed 1 carb meal a week (e.g. pasta, beans, potatoes) and 1 cheat meal a week for the first half of this phase, and you can increase to 2 carb meals and 2 cheat meals a week in the 2nd half.

Phase 4: Stabilization

Now that you have reset to your new true weight – you are allowed to eat as you like! But you must continue to have one pure protein meal a week, oat bran daily, and get 20 minutes of exercise a day. (Dr Dukan recommends that you take the stairs instead of the elevator). Now…that said…I personally don’t think one can truly just go back to eating whatever and expect to maintain their weight. I think you must continue to practice portion control/moderation, and still choose to continue to eat healthy most of the time focusing on lean protein, veggies, and fruits. I typically stick with primarily lean protein and veggie options during the week, and will have healthy carbs on days I’m doing longer runs. I allow myself whatever I want on weekends and special occasions (in moderation!).

My Keys To Success:

I think the key to my success with the diet comes down to a few things. One – I really like the foods and like eating this way, so it doesn’t feel difficult to me. Although this way of eating has been great for me, I don’t believe in “one size fits all.” I think it is so important to find a plan that you are willing to commit to that works for your lifestyle. There are so many diets out there, and it will be very hard to be successful if you don’t feel that a particular diet is a good fit for you. If you are liking the foods you are eating – it certainly makes it a whole lot easier to stick to the plan! Also, I am someone who can definitely get “hangry” and really dislike feeling hungry and deprived – and this diet is so incredibly filling.

Although not required, I did choose to count my calories and track my foods for the first 3-4 months of the diet, simply so I could get a better handle on portion sizes and what my calorie intake needed to be to lose and maintain. This also helped me continue to be successful as I phased out of each phase of the diet. I have read many times, that people who track their intake, are typically much more successful in losing weight. I very much believe this to be true, as it helped keep me on track and accountable when I had to write everything down. I used the My Fitness Pal app to track and I also use a food scale to measure portions.

Incorporating intermittent fasting has also helped me tremendously. I have always been someone who hates eating in the morning & after hearing for years that it’s bad for you…I’m feeling a little validation that intermittent fasting is now being seen as a good thing! I don’t believe in forcing yourself to eat just because it’s “meal time” and prefer to just eat when I’m hungry. Most days I don’t want to eat until anywhere between 11am and 1pm. I also typically quit eating by 7pm so I shoot for around 16 hours of fasting. On the rare occasion I’m hungry, I don’t force myself to stick to this schedule, but most days I find this really easy to do.

Remember stalls or even slight weight gain is normal. Through the first few months of the diet, I had periods where my weight loss would stop for a week or more, or even go up a few pounds! In the very beginning it is easy to want to weigh daily and obsess over the scale. I really pushed myself to not get frustrated when this would happen, and stopped weighing even weekly. I now only weigh every 2 -3 weeks or so – as this gives a more accurate picture of what is really going on, rather than day to day fluctuations.

I continued to exercise but cut back during the strictest part of the diet. I completely stopped doing longer 7+ mile runs once I started the diet, and just did slow leisurely 3-4 mile runs 3-4 days a week (in addition to biking with the kids and other light activities). I switched my focus more to eating healthier and not looking at exercise as a way to burn calories – but as a way to further my health and overall well being. 

What I found most challenging:

There were a few things I have found challenging about the diet in the early phases. The biggest was dealing with going out to eat. Most restaurants do not offer low carb and low fat options, so eating out can be hard to stick with the diet. Your best bet is a breakfast place with a veggie omelette – or somewhere that has a salad with fish or grilled chicken, and a light dressing on the side. In a pinch I requested lettuce wrapped burgers or sandwiches as well – and most places will accommodate you. And when you end up someplace that nothing seems diet friendly…just do the best you can and get the healthiest option possible. Even if it’s not an ideal Dukan meal – one meal isn’t going to derail your progress!

Another thing to note – this diet requires a lot of planning and cooking. I do think this diet would be a challenge for someone who doesn’t like to cook as most restaurant food just will not be Dukan friendly. I don’t like eating the same things over and over, so I do like to experiment with new recipes periodically to ensure I don’t get bored. I also like to make sure I have Dukan friendly snacks on hand for when I get hungry, so I don’t reach for junk when I’m starving and haven’t properly planned.

Here’s a few helpful tools that helped me get started with Dukan!

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If you would like more information, be sure to check out the Dukan website linked here.

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Evan’s Minecraft 5th Birthday Party

This past week (January 20, 2020 to be exact!) my sweet little Evan turned five. FIVE. I still can’t really believe it. He still feels like my little baby and part of me really can’t handle it. But it is so fun seeing the little person he is becoming and I love his big personality and his very strong opinions. And this very strong willed kiddo really wanted a Minecraft themed birthday to celebrate this year…and what the birthday boy wants the birthday boy gets!

We had his birthday party at a local trampoline park and celebrated with a few of his favorite friends from school, along with some family friends. It was such a special day and so much fun was had by all. The kids especially loved the Minecraft themed candy bar, and they each got to fill up a little bag to take home with them as well.

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Party Supply Sources

Lunch Plates

Dessert Plates

Lunch Napkins

Beverage Napkins

Minecraft Birthday Banner

Minecraft Birthday Backdrop

Minecraft Party Favors and Axe Glow Wand

Party Bags (I drew the creeper image on with a sharpie!)

Cake Topper

Party Hats (similar)

Galvanized Tray

Candy Bar: Iron, Diamonds, Coal, Gold, Watermelon, Fish

Food Labels via Printabelle

Cake by Albertsons Bakery

This little guy is so many things…sweet and sassy, feisty and funny, imaginative, creative, and sensitive. Everything he does is BIG – yes he has a big temper, but the he also loves with such intensity and it completely melts me. He really is just something special and having him in our lives is such a blessing. Love you my little man!

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Wellness Items For Your Home

For week 4 of my wellness series, I thought I would share a few wellness item recommendations for your home! We actually own most of these items and they are all things that have some great health and wellness benefits.

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One :: We have a few oil diffusers around our house, and I especially love calming lavender oil

Two :: We have this air purifier and we leave it constantly running. It does a great job of purifying the air – even when we get fires in the area in the summer and the air is very smoky, it keeps our house smoke free inside

Three :: I cannot sleep without some kind of white noise, and this ensures I get a good night’s sleep

Four :: This massager is great for a sore back

Five :: Our cat likes to eat our plants, so unfortunately we can’t have live plants (I do bring home bouquets of flowers regularly but it’s not the same as potted plants!). Live plants really are just so wonderful though!

Six :: We have this scale, which also calculates body fat

Seven :: We’ve been fortunate to have a pretty mild winter thus far, but there are some winters where it gets brutally cold with weeks long inversions which makes it dark and gloomy. This lamp would be perfect for beating those winter blues.

Eight :: We recently bought weighted blankets for the whole family (even the kids!). They are great for anxiety reduction.

Nine :: We have a number of Himalayan salt lamps around our house and they are supposed to help with relaxation and mood. I like them as a nightlight as their soft light doesn’t disrupt sleep.

Ten :: This highly popular yoga mat is supposed to be really amazing

Eleven :: I’m a big believer in practicing gratitude daily, and this journal is a great way to get in the habit

Twelve :: I’ve read a number of self help/improvement books over the years, and this one remains my absolute favorite.Signature

Self Care For Busy Moms

For week 3 of my wellness series, I wanted to talk about something that I feel is so important for all moms – that we don’t focus on enough! While we are always busy taking care of everyone else, we often let our own self care go by the wayside. But just like we are told on an airplane – in order to help anyone else you really need to put your own oxygen mask on first. Today I wanted to discuss some tips for making sure you are prioritizing your own well being and giving yourself the care you need.

Make time for exercise

When I had my first son, I quickly realized that finding time to work out was a challenge. If I waited for my husband to get home from work, I was often too tired to go to the gym that late, and early morning workouts after being up with a baby felt impossible. I realized that finding exercise that I could incorporate into my schedule and include my baby made things a whole lot easier! I bought a jogging stroller and began going for runs during his nap time (he slept while I ran), and I also started doing mommy and me swim classes and yoga classes. Now that my kids are a bit older, we can do family bike rides, kick a soccer ball around together, or take a family walk or hike. With a little flexibility it is possible to find a way to make regular exercise happen.

Touch base regularly with friends

One thing that isn’t talked about enough, is how isolating motherhood can be. We can all easily get trapped in our own little bubble of family life, but it is really important to reach out for support and adult conversation. It can be hard to find time to talk on the phone, so mom friends and I will often connect by text and just share funny things or vent when needed. It makes it easier to keep in touch over text when you are juggling kids. And try to get out once in awhile too! Even a weekly coffee date/play date with the kids really can be that little break we all need.

Prioritize sleep

When my kids go to bed, I often feel really tired and ready to go to bed myself. But I love this little bit of time to myself so I often stay up way too late – and then of course pay for it the next day. (I think so many moms can relate to this struggle!) Getting adequate sleep is so crucial, and I think it’s important to set a structured bedtime for yourself and make it a priority to get the sleep you need.

Treat yourself to something new

I think it is so easy for moms to stop doing things for themselves and everything becomes about the kids. I know moms who say they haven’t bought themselves anything new in years! Motherhood is often a thankless job, and it’s important to reward yourself from time to time for a job well done. If you find it hard to go shopping for yourself, consider joining a subscription service for something you love (I personally love my Fab Fit Fun subscription!) so that you are forced to get a little treat every now and then. Even just buying yourself a pretty bouquet at the market or treating yourself to that latte at the coffee shop, can really brighten your day! And you deserve it!

Nourish your body

You know how you get busy preparing meals for the kids, and then you end up eating their leftover Mac and cheese when you realize hours later you haven’t fed yourself?! Yep. We’ve all been there. Make sure you are finding time to sit and eat meals (standing in the pantry shoving a few goldfish in your mouth doesn’t count) that are healthy. Have some easy staples on hand – things like overnight oats, egg/veggie casseroles, soups, whole grain bread with lunch meat, Greek yogurts – are all nutritious and can be whipped up into a quick meal in minutes.

Pamper yourself

It can be really easy to stop going to the hair salon or getting your nails done, but having this bit of time for yourself is so important! Even if you feel you absolutely can’t get away to the salon for a few hours, make it a habit to spend 20 minutes a day taking a relaxing bath or developing a nightly skincare routine.

Learn something new

I didn’t realize how much I would feel a loss of my personal identity after I had my first son. Overnight I became a stay at home mom and all of my career ambitions and personal goals really took a backseat. I really started to feel that I needed something for me…and so I took up a few hobbies that I still do to this day! One was running, and while I don’t do as many races as I once did, I still enjoy regularly running 3-4 days a week. And I always had an interest in photography, and finally bought a camera and took some classes. Photography is something I absolutely love and is a huge creative outlet for me.

Ask for help

Nobody, I repeat nobody, can do it all. We all need help from time to time and it truly takes a village. While I have never had a nanny or had any help with the kids from family, I did come to realize that I needed some help. Years ago we hired a housekeeper who comes once a week to help out and I can’t tell you how helpful this is for me. While it’s just a few hours of help for me each week, it really helps me stay on top of the housework the rest of the week and frees up hours of cleaning time so we can enjoy time as a family instead. Whether you hire some help or simply ask your partner, friends, or family for some help from time to time – make sure you get the help you need.

Avoid the comparison trap

With the rise of social media, I feel that this one has become even tricker. Also there is so much societal pressure on women to be able to do it all, and it can be so hard to be constantly seeing images of perfect appearing women appearing to be perfect mothers, wives, employees, etc. The truth is – we are only seeing the highlight reel of anyone else’s life. Even if you feel that everyone else seems to have it all figured out, I can promise you that everyone is struggling with something. I have a very difficult relationship with my family and have now been estranged from them for several years, and it is hard to constantly see women sharing their supportive relationships with their mothers and the grandparent relationships their kids have with their parents. I even admit to feeling envious of my own friends sometimes when their mothers are so involved and jumping to babysit and doting on their grandkids. I have found a few things that help me when I’m really struggling with this and really hurting. One is to practice gratitude. I know that I have SO much to be grateful for and while I may not have been blessed with loving and supportive parents, I am incredibly blessed to have built my own loving and supportive family. And the other thing that really helps – is to unplug when I have to. If I’m seeing something on social media that is a sensitive spot for me – it’s easy to unfollow. I especially avoid social media a lot around Mother’s Day as it’s a very bittersweet day for me. If something (or someone) is making you feel bad – it’s okay to disconnect.

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Healthy Habits To Start The New Year For The Whole Family

For week two of my wellness series, I wanted to talk about some wellness goals that are great for the whole family to take part in, many of which are personal goals I have with my own family this year! It’s never too early to start teaching healthy habits to the kids, plus you have some built in accountability partners when you are all doing these things together.

Drink more water

I am probably the worst offender in my entire family with not drinking enough water. Drinking sparkling water really helps me increase my intake, and I also want to get a good water bottle to take on the go with me.

Practice better sleep hygiene (and get plenty of sleep)

We often watch TV right up until the time we go to bed, and I’m guilty of reading on my phone once I get to bed. I know these things absolutely affect my sleep, and I think it also makes it a bit harder for the kids to fall asleep after watching TV. I would really love to get in the habit of turning off the TV and reading as a family for awhile before tucking in for the night! I tend to be a bit of a night owl as well and really savor my alone time when everyone else goes to bed, but it’s not the best habit as it drastically cuts down my sleep time. I want to start setting a firm 11:00 pm bedtime for myself to make sure I’m getting enough sleep.

Stick with a clean diet during the week

I’ve found that eating clean is easy…as long as I prepare with having plenty of healthy options on hand. And the even bigger key for me is not allowing myself to get hungry. I often get busy and forget to eat, and find myself reaching for junk around 2:00 in the afternoon because I’m starving at that point. Having a structured plan and regular mealtimes makes sticking with healthy choices so much easier. I also really limit the kid’s sugar consumption during the week.

Get active

Winter can be a bit of a struggle for me to find motivation to run when it’s cold out, and I admittedly haven’t been consistent the last few months. Our winter hasn’t even been too brutal so I really don’t have much of an excuse! But even if I don’t feel like running, taking the kids sledding or skiing is great exercise and something the whole family can do together.

Read more

This ties back in to my sleep goals above, but I also want to start reading more in my (limited) free time. I used to read constantly before having kids, and it can be hard to find the time. But even if I can just find a little time after the kids go to bed, or waiting at their Taekwondo classes, I want to make this more of a priority for myself.

Practice and teach gratitude

“It is not joy that makes us grateful, it is gratitude that makes us joyful.” This is one of my absolute favorite quotes and a mantra I try to live my life by. Every day when I pick my kids up from school, I ask them about the good things that happened at school that day. And when they have a bad day, we talk about the lessons we can learn from it to make us better people in the long run. Every day there is something to be grateful for (even if it is just getting through an awful day!), and trying to focus on the good things in our lives makes for a whole lot more happiness.

Try new things

I grew up in an extremely small town and was quite sheltered growing up, so it is really important to me to expose my kids to lots of different things. I really try to be pretty open minded to trying new things and having new experiences. Even something as simple as trying a new restaurant, community event, or taking a trip somewhere – there is always something new to be learned and experienced.

Eat dinner together

I think this is such an important habit to have, and something I really want to be better about. We have extra curricular activities almost nightly, so I often feed the kids right after school, and then my husband and I eat later. I would like to try to get in the habit of all sitting down together on nights that it’s feasible to do so.

Have device free time

We do have a rule that the kids aren’t allowed devices Monday – Thursday, and I’m thinking this would be a really great rule for myself as well. Every weeknight after the kids get home, I want to start putting my phone away and just be fully present and focused on the family. It’s so easy to get caught up with texting friends, checking notifications and email, and scrolling social media. But I think it would also be a good example to set for my kids to follow the same rule I have for them, and also important to be more focused when I’m with them.

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Ringing In The New Year

I always feel like it’s very easy to get in a bit of a funk in the days between Christmas and the end of Christmas break, so this year I tried to plan several fun activities to make the most of the last days of 2019 and the first days of the new year. Last weekend we headed out to Caldwell to spend some time enjoying their “Winter Wonderland” at Indian Creek Plaza. We went just before Christmas and had so much fun we decided we had to return over Christmas break. We met some friends for dinner and did a bit of ice skating which was an absolute blast.

We also went to go see Spies In Disguise one afternoon. We were bored and decided to go see a movie even though we hadn’t heard much about this one. We were all pleasantly surprised! It was a really cute movie and my kids absolutely loved it.

We typically stay home, but this year we actually went out for New Year’s Eve! We went to a family friendly event that was held downtown with food, games, and music. Boise has a tradition of dropping a giant potato at midnight (only in Idaho!) and you could see it from the rooftop balcony at the party which my kids got a kick out of. We were too tired to stay out real late, but we had fun spending a few hours out on the town before heading home to cozy up on the couch (and watch the potato on TV).

img_0551(If you look closely, you can see the potato hanging near the capital building!)img_0552img_0553Top | Skirt | Heels | Bag

 We spent an afternoon swimming…

And an afternoon sledding in the mountains…

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And we spent lots of evenings playing laser tag. Cole got these for Christmas and they were a HUGE hit.

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On our last day of break yesterday, we spent the afternoon catching up with some friends visiting from Australia! The kids used to go to school together before they moved back to Australia and their youngest was one of Cole’s first school friends when he started Pre-K here in Boise. It’s always so nice to see them when they come visit a few times a year.

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Us adults spent a long time talking about the fires there, and the situation is absolutely dire and devastating with no end in sight. If you would like to help, I wanted to share a list of a few organizations that who are working to help victims of the fire, firefighters, and wildlife:

Australian Red Cross

Salvation Army Australia

St Vincent de Paul Society

New South Wales Rural Fire Service

The County Fire Service in South Australia

WIRES (a wildlife rescue nonprofit)

World Wildlife Fund Australia

RSPCA New South Wales

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Make 2020 Your Most Organized Year Yet

Happy 2020!!! The very best thing about the new year is that feeling of starting fresh and setting new goals. And to get off on the right track I thought I would do a weekly wellness series for the month of January! Today I’m kicking off the series with talking about my personal organization tips that have been hugely helpful for me, as well as improvements I would like to make myself this year.

MEAL PLAN

Meal planning is probably the number area where I would like to make improvements this year. I tend not to plan meals beyond a few days at a time, so I’m constantly running back to the grocery store for more ingredients every few days. One thing I did invest in a few years ago was an instant pot, and if you don’t have one – get one. If you are like me and have a hard time planning meals ahead of time (and starting a meal at 8 am in the crockpot seems impossible) the instant pot is life changing. I want to keep my meal planning goal attainable for myself – so my goal for 2020 is to at least meal plan for Monday-Thursday each week. Just having those 4 days planned on Sunday would make for a much smoother running week!

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CALENDAR (SYSTEM FOR REMINDERS/LISTS)

I do keep my personal digital calendar up to date, but one thing I keep talking about doing (and still haven’t) is having a central monthly calendar hung up somewhere where everyone in the family can write on it and add activities. I also want to have an area next to the calendar where I can make notes and task reminders as things pop in my head. As any mom knows, when you have a million things to keep track of, you end up forgetting if you don’t write it down right that minute.

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DECLUTTER AND GIVE EVERYTHING A SPACE

When we moved last year we got rid of a ton of stuff. I did a full closet purge for the boys and myself and we donated tons of clothing and toys. I also set a goal for myself last year to overhaul my pantry and closets and make them organized spaces (you can see my pantry here). I’ve been planning on organizing my bathroom cupboards and closets for several months and still haven’t gotten around to it – so that’s at the top of my list this month. I also want to better organize my refrigerator with storage bins as well. Giving every single item in your home a space where it belongs, makes for a super organized and tidy home.

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PRACTICE MINIMALISM

Once you’ve purged, the key is not to refill your spaces with stuff! I’ve heard some people have a rule of one thing in, one thing out to keep a handle on items not getting out of control. I think being more mindful of what you buy is also hugely important. I am someone who is so easily tempted by a good deal, that sometimes I don’t take time to stop and ask myself if I really have a need or space for that item. Being more mindful and asking myself how practical and useful an item will really be for me, is great for keeping a clutter free home.

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STASH BACKUP ITEMS (NECESSITIES + GIFTS/SCHOOL SUPPLIES/CRAFTS)

Any parent knows that when you have kids – there are ALWAYS last minute things that come up. I can’t tell you how many last minute birthday party invites we’ve received, or times the teacher asks for something random for a craft or school project (last year a teacher needed a disposable tablecloth the next day!). I have a bin that I keep stored in a closet for just these emergencies. I keep leftover birthday party decorating supplies, wrapping paper/gift bags, birthday cards, a child’s gift or two (I’ve shared my boy and girl go-to’s below!), and craft supplies all stored in this bin. Also I have learned to keep a few necessities for the house tucked away (like paper towels, toilet paper, toothpaste, medications) for those times when you run out unexpectedly.

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STICK WITH A ROUTINE

This is something our family is pretty strict with during the week, and I can’t tell you how helpful it is for us. We have a very consistent after school and before school routine each day and it truly keeps us on track and helps us be prepared and on time every day. When the kids get home, backpacks and lunch boxes are immediately emptied. Shoes taken off and coats are hung up by the door so they are ready to go the next day. I clean out lunch boxes and start prepping them for the next day and Cole usually completes any home work right away, and then it goes back in his bag. We typically have a very early dinner (which means I need to be prepared & cook early!), and then we head out to extracurriculars. After extracurriculars we typically have baths and then the kids have free time until bedtime (which is consistently 8-8:30 pm). I always lay clothes out the night before, so our morning routine is super quick. We also use Amazon Alexa to set daily timers to keep us on schedule which is super helpful!

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HAVE THE KIDS CHIP IN

It is so important for kids to carry their own weight and help be responsible for their own things. My kids are old enough for simple tasks which they are responsible for, like putting their own laundry in the hamper and putting their own dishes in the dishwasher. They also need to clean up after themselves as they play, and for my older 9 year old – he helps out with cleaning up after the cat and needs to be responsible for putting his gizmo watch at the charging station after school, do his homework, and make sure it’s put back in his bag. Even if everyone just chips in a little and helps with their own items – it makes the whole household much more organized.

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STAY ON TOP OF HOUSEHOLD TASKS

This is one of my number one tip for keeping a tidy, organized home. Did you know that making your bed everyday is linked to general happiness?! I always start my day with making the beds and it really starts my day off on a positive note. And as the day goes on, it is ultimately so much easier to stay on top of small chores rather than trying to play catch up. It can be tempting to procrastinate and say you’ll do the laundry or the dishes tomorrow – but what typically happens is you just get behind and the mess piles up, and eventually it is overwhelming and takes forever to tidy everything. I make sure my sink is empty and dishes washed every night before I go to bed. I also try to do laundry almost every day, so I only have one small daily load to wash and fold and put away. (I really kick myself when I let the clean laundry pile up for days and it takes me hours to fold and put away!).  I also almost always tidy up every single night if there is anything left lying out. There is nothing better than the feeling of going to bed at night with everything done and starting each day fresh with a tidy home.

I hope you find some of these tips and tools helpful! Here’s to an organized 2020!

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Feeling Festive

It’s officially the most magical time of the year and holiday festivities have begun! Over the past few weeks we’ve attended a few local holiday events which were so fun and really got us into the Christmas spirit. Our first event was a holiday block party at one of our favorite Boise hangouts – Bown Crossing. It’s a cute little street filled with shops, restaurants, and our local library. The kids got to make ornaments, we listened to carolers, ate a great dinner at Boise Fry Company, and did a bit of shopping (while enjoying lots of hors d’oeuvres!)

My Sweater (J Crew, old – current style) | My Jeans | My Shoes (J Crew, old – similar) | Bag | Similar Earrings | Cole’s Sweater | Cole’s Shirt | Cole’s Jeans | Cole’s Shoes (Similar) | Evan’s Sweater | Evan’s Shirt | Evan’s Pants | Evan’s Shoes

This past week we went to another great local event at Scentsy Commons (the company is headquartered here). They have a beautiful Christmas light display every year, and on a few select nights they also have a live nativity, carolers, refreshments, and visits with Santa. It was a really lovely evening and so nice to pause and reflect a bit on the true reason for the season.

img_9643My Sweater | My Jeans | My Socks | Similar Sperry Boots | My Bag | Cole’s Sweater | Cole’s Jeans | Cole’s Boots | Evan’s Sweater | Evan’s Jeans | Evan’s Bootsimg_9573img_9583img_9593img_9853My Coat | Similar Gloves

Besides just talking with the kids about the reason for the season, it is so important to me that our family actually takes part in some type of service and giving back. Cole’s school partnered with another local school for a wonderful service project this holiday season that Cole got to take part in. Each class had a category of needed items, and Cole’s class was tasked with shopping for and donating school supplies for children at a local school that has 70% of the students living at or below the poverty level. The PTA president spent some time really talking to the kids about the harsh realities these children face (for example how these children are so poor that they all share a family toothbrush), and how much giving these things truly means to these children. Together our schools were able to fill 526 boxes of gifts and every child from pre-k through seniors in high school were able to receive a gift.

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Our family also spent this past Saturday afternoon driving around Boise and delivering some donations and Christmas cheer! Here are the causes we have decided to focus on this year, and if you are looking to make a donation this season these are all wonderful organizations!

Idaho Foodbank – They are in need of canned goods, pantry staples, and shelf stable milk. You can drop off donations at your local fire station from 8:00 am – 8:00 pm daily.

Boise Bicycle Project – They have received a record number of requests for children’s bikes this holiday season and they need gently used children’s bikes so they don’t have to turn anyone away! You can also make a financial contribution.

St Vincent De Paul – Each season they organize a no-cost Toy Store, where parents who cannot afford a gift for their child can go select a toy and stocking stuffers. Toys can be dropped off at their Toy Store located at 2160 S Broadway Ave Boise Monday – Saturday from 9:30 am – 5:00 pm

Save The Children – This organization supports and provides humanitarian aid to migrant children and families at the US-Mexico border

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Saturday evening we headed out to The Village at Meridian for dinner and some more holiday festivities. The Village really is so magical at Christmas with their beautiful decorations, ice skating rink, fire pits, water fountain show, and this year they added a really neat light show. We also tried a restaurant we’ve been wanting to try for a few months – The Donut + Dog. (Yep it is hot dogs & donuts!) It is a really fun casual place to take the kids!

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We’ve also started getting our Christmas gifts wrapped and ready to go for friends and teachers! Preparing and wrapping teacher gifts is something the kids and I spend an afternoon doing together. This year I put together a little holiday themed gift basket for Cole’s teacher, and for each of Evan’s five preschool teachers we gifted them a cute festive set of earrings.

img_9871Earringsimg_9878Honey Sampler | Candle | Kitchen Towel Set | Gift Basket

We also got our annual Christmas photos with Santa back! I so look forward to these sweet photos every year. If you are in the Boise area and interested in these photos next year (or are looking for a family photographer) I totally recommend Jenny Leigh Photography! She takes great photos and is wonderful to work with.

img_9115Kates_Santa_November16,2019-9703Kates_Santa_November16,2019-9727Kates_Santa_November16,2019-9687Boys Pajamas (Gap, sold out – similar)

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