August 2017 | Olive and Tate

Preschool Prep

This post is sponsored by Amazon and the Fire HD 8 Kids Tablet and is a part of a series I will be writing over the coming school year. All opinions, thoughts and experiences are my own and based on our hands on use of the Fire HD.

Mom Confession: I have officially let the Baby's colic get the best of us over the past few weeks. At first, I was really on top of it - I didn't let the crying overwhelm me or fray my nerves, but as August wore on, the days seemed to get longer and the crying seemed to get louder. My big boy was home from Summer Camp, vacations and school and was trapped in our house right along with me. While I worked hard to schedule play dates and activities, there were many days where just getting out of the house to grab drive through coffee was as much as we could handle. I started to worry that with most of my attention on the baby and trying to find ways to soothe her, I wasn't prepping Gray enough for the upcoming school year. 

While Gray has attended Mother's Morning Out for the past two years, preschool is technically his first year of structured education. I had grand plans of spending the month of August talking about some of the topics on his school year syllabus (yes, he has a syllabus!) so that he was familiar with the subjects before school started - but my Mom Plans and high expectations had to take a back seat to our real life chaos. Despite it all, I still really wanted him to get back into school mode so when Amazon reached out to see if we might be interested in trying the educational apps, stories and programming on the Fire HD 8 Kid's Edition I couldn't say yes fast enough. And, true to form, it's taken me an entire week to write this post because I haven't been able to form coherent sentences with a crying baby girl in my arms, so my big boy is now officially a preschooler! I know, without a doubt, that the Fire HD 8 Kids Edition has helped him as he transitioned into his new classroom and has helped him ways that I didn't anticipate, like social skills.

Currently, he's rocking Daniel Tiger most often, which I love because it's teaching him about his community and other's feelings, something any three year old needs to work on. He's also super into puzzles and he's chosen a few apps that puzzle shapes and letters and I'm always impressed that he can figure them out (sometimes, I can't...).

Every Fire HD 8 Kids Edition comes loaded with a free year long subscription to Amazon FreeTime Unlimited which allows you to download the content that you deem age appropriate for your babes. And the parental controls are a major bonus - there is a separate parent dashboard that you can access to monitor screen time, set content restrictions and even establish what type of media your kiddo plays and for how long. You can crank up the minutes they are allowed to access books and limit the time they can play in the app section or even set a bedtime that automatically locks the tablet at a certain time. I'm crazy into the bedtime feature because I let Gray take his tableg to quiet rest for a few minutes and set it to shut off after he's had some down time. After that, it's snooze city and we all rest easy. 

And for my fellow boy moms, this tablet can take a beating but does come with a two year warranty - and I know from experience that the warranty process is easy and worth it. We've cracked a screen or two in our day and knowing we don't have to go sit at a kiosk in the mall to rescue our tablet is a plus in my book. 

You can read more about the Fire HD 8 Kids Tablet here and I am excited to share the apps, books and programs that we are loving as the preschool year progresses! 

Crib Time with HALO SnoozyPod

How is my sweet girl twelve weeks old already? In some ways, I feel like she was born a second ago and then there are the moments where I know, for certain, that she has been in my arms for exactly 84 days - and those moments are always in the middle of the night. Georgia has my whole heart but, man, do I wish this babe would start sleeping through the night. I've mentioned before that she has colic and a newly diagnosed milk protein allergy, so her days have been a bit rough since she joined us Earthside. I hate that she's spent even a second uncomfortable and fussy and hate even more that she has struggled to get a good stretch of nighttime rest. So, when HALO asked me if I was interested in trying their brand new product, the SnoozyPod, geared to help a babe transition successfully to their crib for a good night's sleep, I said "uh, absolutely!". It's not often that I do straight product reviews but if there is a shot that I can help another mama sneak in a good night's sleep, I'm all about it sharing the goods! 

This post was written in partnership with HALOSleep but all opinions are my own and based on our experience with the SnoozyPod.

We've been using the SnoozyPod for a week and since we've been using it, the baby has transitioned to sleeping only in her crib and is pulling much longer sleep stretches! I was really worried about removing it, but we are no longer using any type of crib dock and I am positive that the vibration of the SnoozyPod made that a smooth process. 

Ok, so what is the SnoozyPod? It's honestly really cool - it's a device that is placed under the crib (or toddler bed!) mattress that creates vibration, sounds and light to soothe a babe to sleep. It plays white noise, womb sounds and has a nightlight, which was one of my absolute favorite features of the HALO Bassinest. Being able to turn on the night light right at crib level means I can retrieve a paci or peek at the baby without turning on lights or shining my phone in her face. 

Fun fact, the nightlight projects amber light which has been proven to not interrupt circadian rhythms (who knew?!).  We are big on white noise around here and having a built in white noise player right next to the baby has proven to be crucial with a three year old boy running around. 

The SnoozyPod is equipped with Bluetooth and can be controlled from an app, and while the app is very new, I really did enjoy having the option to turn the vibration on when the baby fussed in her sleep. I'm a firm believer that staying out of her room as much as possible helps her learn to settle herself and doesn't wake her further - if I hear her fussing, I turn on the vibration and let it calm her back into a deep sleep.

The SnoozyPod can also be used for toddlers as they transition out of their crib and into their big beds - the amber nightlight projects the sweetest stars and the vibration can be set to a higher level to soothe a bigger babe. Take a peek at this video to see the SnoozyPod in action! 

I would highly recommend the SnoozyPod if you're having a tough time moving a babe from a bassinet or sleeper to the crib, if your babe wakes in the night and has a tough time falling back to sleep or if your baby is used to/loves sleeping with motion/vibration. I also think it really has helped with our transition to sleeping solely on a crib mattress - and I'll admit to being really worried about that particular change, but it's been painless! 

You can shop the SnoozyPod here (it's $80!) and learn more about it here

Sweet dreams, mamas! 

On The Hunt For Fall Denim

Anyone interested in a little round up of my latest denim wins and losses? 
I hope someone said "hell yes!" because we're doing it, baby!

this post contains affiliate links 

I partnered with Old Navy on the outfit above as a little Welcome, Fall look and while I was there, I took advantage of my child free dressing room time to try on 4 pairs of denim: classic dark skinnies, jeggings, heavily distressed and (the one I was most skeptical to try) a light wash with a step hem. So while Old Navy did sponsor the above look, they had nothing to do with the below fitting room shenanigans, so you can rest easy knowing that I'm telling the whole denim truth and nothing but the truth, so help me in the name of Spanx. 

For reference, I'm 5'9" and wear sizes 10-12 or 30 in bottoms aaaaand I had a baby 11 weeks ago.

I featured the jeggings on my Instagram stories a few days ago because I was just too excited to keep them to myself, but I wanted to share a few more details on the fit, details and pricing, so let's start there:

wearing size 10

First and foremost, if you see a pair of Old Navy anything that is available with the built in sculpt, go ahead and get it. I don't know what they've done but that sculpt is magical. I'm also a huge fan of the "Mid-Rise" because, in my opinion, the rise is more of a high-rise and I like to tuck my tummy into my pants. The waist line hits right at my belly button which is flattering and comfy. Tall girls, I thought the length of these was right on point but they do make a tall (and a petite!). I'm wearing a 10 and while the fit was a bit snug, I wanted them to be tight so they would stay up, so I would not size up if between sizes. 

Here was my one concern with the Jeggings - I thought the lack of zipper/button detail plus the higher rise potentially accentuated the, uh, fupa area. If that is an area that you really struggle with, then these might not be for you. But it is worth remembering that with a jegging you won't be wearing a crop top (let's be real, I never wear a crop top) and your shirt length will be long enough to cover your fly region.

 I absolutely thought they were crazy comfy, very flattering, had just the right amount of stretch and I brought them home with me. 

wearing size 10

Go ahead and get you a pair of these. 

They are the classic jean and make your legs look so lean and long. Not a single whisker to draw attention to your thighs, ankle length slim fit and the to the belly button rise make these puppy a big win. I don't have a single bad thing to say about them and I love, love, love the Jackson wash because the stitching blends into the wash. If you're between sizes, size down as Old Navy jeans tend to stretch with wear. 

Wearing size 12

I'm a big fan of distressed denim and often have a hard time finding jeans that are distressed but in a darker wash (which I prefer because it tends to be more slimming) so I wanted to give these a go. I thought the fit was friendly to my figure (again, with the same rise) but the distressing around the ankles paired with the extra distressed knees just didn't work for me. I'm also not in love with the whiskering on the thigh area. I do think they flatter your rear and tummy area, so if you're into the super distressed look, this would be an awesome pair - plus, my fashion blogger friends tell me this Fall is all about the ankle detail so if you want to give that trend a spin without spending a ton of cash, then I'm a fan of this pair for sure. 

showing that mom belly to emphasize how high the rise is - sorry if my white tummy skin burned your retinas!

I sized up in this pair in the hopes that would make them more kind to my thighs - I'm not sure that it made a difference. 

Wearing Size 12

Ok, I am here to admit that I was not sure that I could pull off the step hem trend but I love this pair of jeans! When I don't think a trend will last more than a year or two, I always grab it at a low price point and Old Navy did not disappoint with this pair. They are a light wash but the wash is uniform so I think it's flattering. 

I did size up to a 12 because, honestly, anything called "super skinny" scares me. I don't want to be the person who has to ask the sales associate to help her out of the jeans she trapped herself in, so I went for the 12. The rise is to the belly button and the fit is really, really comfy (these jeans are soft!). I'm not rocking my step hem denim to fashion week but do think they fit nicely into my regular wardrobe when paired with classic cuts and basic tees. I'm honestly wearing them right now with a flowy tank and am in love. 

Aaaand, if you're wondering if I/we can really pull the step hem off, take a gander at this little ensemble that I tossed on and forced my husband to photograph in our driveway (and, uh, this entire outfit, head to toe, is currently less than $100). 

Well, mamas, I hope you enjoyed those fitting room selfies, fupa talk and flash of pasty skin - I am always happy to take one for the collective mom team and try on that denim so that you don't have to! No go forth and rock those skinny jeans! 

Many thanks to Ailee for editing my Instagram husband's pics - I owe you one! 

An Open Letter to Dinnertime

snapped tonight, post dinner, and yes, that is what my manicure currently looks like. 

Dear Dinnertime,

Don't take this the wrong way, but I legitimately loathe you. 

I get it, trust me, I do - Family Dinner is important for the stability of my family unit, instils confidence in my offspring and shows off my domestic prowess and all that, but honestly, I just can't with you any more. So tonight, while my family was slowly but surely refusing to eat every bite of the meal I lovingly slaved over, I came up with a list of why you suck so hard. So, without further ado, here are the top 4 reasons Dinnertime can go eff itself: 

1. The Time. 
How is it that Dinner shows up at the worst part of our day, every day? Right smack in the middle of the newborn's Witching Hour and my pre-schooler's nightly meltdown over his socks being too tight, Dinner presents itself in the form of an empty fridge and a hungry family. And just for the record, even if the fridge wasn't empty, there would still be "nothing to eat". I nightly praise the Gods Of All Things Processed for microwavable mac + cheese cups and yogurt in a tube. 

2. The Forethought. 
Somehow, while wearing a screaming baby and finding the Everest episode of Paw Patrol on the DVR, I'm supposed to scheme up, organize and prep a beautiful meal, all while fighting the urge to lie down and mainline boxed wine. Oh, wait. Was I supposed to have taken my two wild beasts to the actual grocery store with a list and a prayer in order to pull this whole Dinner thing off? Yeah, thanks but no thanks. 

3. The Process. 
Let me be clear here, it's not just the actual meal prep that fuels my hate fire. It's the process of dragging everyone to the table, ideally with pants on, requesting that everyone use their napkin and that no one wipe their boogers on anyone else that really wears me down. I mean, how many times can one woman say "we don't put our feet on the table!" before losing her mind? Hint: the answer is infinity. 

4. The Aftermath. 
And then. Then, after all of that effort and Pinteresting, Dinner is over in two minutes flat, barely consumed and discarded for yours truly to clean up. So many dishes, so little cares to give. The only silver lining to the endless cycle that is kitchen clean up is everyone manages to vanish the second the dishes hit the sink... which means mama can scrape plates in peace. And honestly, with all of the dishwasher steam and scented dish soap bubbles, I can close my eyes and almost feel the spa vibes. Almost. 

It's no wonder my three year old can give accurate directions to Dominos. 


The Mom Who Just Made Scrambled Eggs For Dinner


33 Things

I turned thirty three years old on Saturday so I thought I would celebrate by spilling thirty three things about me that you probably don't know!

1. My toenails are always painted red. Always.

2. I have a degree in Corporate Communications from Elon University

3. Santorini is my absolute fave global destination

4. But the most beautiful landscape I've ever laid eyes on was on the train from London to Edinburgh

5. Justin and I just started watching Game Of Thrones and it honest to God stresses me out so much that I have to watch an episode of Big Bang Theory after so I can fall asleep at night. And drink wine while we're watching it. 

6. I am jealous of my son's eye color - it's just the most stunning shade of blue

7. I am horrible at math

8. and finances

9. My first job out of college was fundraising and event planning for a non-profit that worked with sexually abused children

10. I can still remember the face of the first child I ever met while working there

11. I didn't try avocado (including guacamole) until I was in my twenties. Avocado toast is currently one of my fave foods.

12. I have seven email accounts on my phone

13. I am an introvert and only really recharge when I'm alone

14. But I can be really outgoing so most people are surprised to know that

15. I love public speaking

16. But hate playing team spots because I'm always afraid I'll let everyone down

17. My kids always have clean underwear....I have been known to purchase myself clean underwear on our grocery runs to Target.

18. I have a tattoo on my lower back

19. it has no meaning and I forget that it's there

20. I've seen every single episode of Big Bang Theory and can quote most of them - I would say all of them but I don't want to sound cocky! 

21. Quality time is my love language

22. Everyone is a little surprised at how well I've handled the transition to two children but I'm the most surprised of all

23. I knew I would marry Justin the first time I met him

24. All of our moves have honestly been positive experiences and we are still open to moving again - both in Greenville and outside of it

25. I wish they would have let me take out more walls in our current house but I was outvoted 2 to 1 by Justin and our contractor

26. I met my best friend online and my husband through mutual friends, which feels sort of flip flopped to me! 

27. I haaaate the process of getting ready, which means I get ready super fast 

28. I drink hot coffee in the summer

29. and red wine no matter what the entree is 

30. I could eat an entire bag of Doritos in one sitting, as long as it was a freshly opened bag

31. I am a little ashamed but mostly thrilled to admit that I haven't worn heels for more than an hour since we moved to Maine (so, three plus years)

32. I changed both of my children's names from our chosen boy and girl names when I found out each of their genders. They both still have family names but they are very different names than we originally picked for them.

33. I spent my thirty third birthday with both of my babies asleep in their beds, a really great bottle of red wine poured into my non-plastic glass, eating left over Oreo cake in my pajamas and eye gels, with my husband, on our sofa watching Game Of Thrones, and I have never felt so grateful. 

Camp Grandma with Mouse + Magpie

This post is in partnership with Mouse + Magpie and The Motherhood.

You guys.

My baby boy has been away at Camp Grandma for 5 whole days. 

I was so looking forward to one on one time with the baby, getting so many things checked off of my to do list and maybe even sneaking in a date night with my husband that I really didn't prep myself for how much I would miss my wild animal - and I miss him like crazy. Literally, it brings tears to my eyes when I walk by his room at night and his door is open and his bed is empty. Hormones, much?

Thankfully, I know he is having the time of his life at my parent's house in Virginia. My mom sends me pictures of all of their adventures and the kid is undoubtably going to come home spoiled rotten. They've gone to every slide within a thirty mile radius, had bacon for breakfast every day and I'm fairly certain they've visited children's museums in two different cities. He hasn't asked for us once and I'm a teensy bit concerned that he is going to be displeased when he realizes that he has to come home.

Knowing how happy he is, I've tried to really take the opportunity to get some things done around here that are tough to accomplish with a toddler under foot (so, everything). And to welcome him home, I thought it was high time I got his room together, complete with a few surprises for my big boy.

So, Gray's room is the prefect example of what happens when you move at 35 weeks pregnant and then deliver a baby just two weeks later. While all of the furniture was in place, everything else was kinda just tossed into his room and that was that. To add insult to injury, the closet system in his room collapsed on move in weekend and we just didn't have the time or energy to have it repaired until a few weeks ago. Without a closet for storage, I gave up on that room completely and let it, um, do it's own thing for a while. 

Wanna see?

Uh, yeah, it was definitely time to get that room together.

I did't want to totally rock his world and make major changes, but I did want to add in a few new things as little surprises for him. His interests change on the daily but he's currently into sharks, boats, dinos and numbers so I did my best to work all of that boy crazy into hit little room. I found the cutest pirate and sea creature themed decor from Mouse + Magpie and thought the pops of red went perfectly with the decor we were already working with. After that, I pulled out some of his favorite toys, boots and lovies and got to work! 

How cute is that octopus pirate pillow? It belongs to the Mouse + Magpie Pirate Fox and His Crew collection designed by Alexandra Ball. For those who haven't met them yet, Mouse + Magpie is a child inspired, adult curated collection of delightfully designed products and furnishings created specifically for little people with big imaginations. By collaborating with artists from all over the world, Mouse + Magpie is able to provide one of a kind pieces that you an shop either as a collection or individually. The collections totally got me because once I spotted the pillow, I immediately snagged the coordinating sherpa blanket (which is insanely soft) and a matching lamp for his dresser. The collection also includes a clock (which I may regret not getting for him!) and framed art. Go check them out here and on their Instagram page (and girl mamas, while you're there, be sure to check out the space my friend @snapshotsandmythoughts created using the Mouse + Magpie Summer Treehouse collection!)

Mouse + Magpie is also offering my readers 25% off of your purchase, through August 5th, when you use the code WHIMSY so go shop! 

I'm loving the sweet little additions to his room and know he will, too! It feels so good to finally whip his room into shape - just in time to start scheming for his big boy room!

Postpartum, The Second Time

After I had my first baby, I wrote often about my postpartum journey. I documented my body issues, the good stuff, the bad stuff and laid it all out there in the hopes that anyone feeling like I did would be able to relate to my experiences. Since then, I've really cut back on the super personal motherhood content on my blog but I think sharing my second postpartum journey is worth shaking things up a bit.

Without a doubt, my second post baby experience has been wildly different from my first and it's oh, so clear to me that the difference is a direct result of how I view myself and nothing at all to do with my babies.

When I had Gray, I lost myself. 

I had only one priority: keep him alive. 

I unintentionally neglected everything that made me happy and fulfilled, thinking I was doing the best for my son. I wanted to do it all "right" for his sake, to make sure that I was giving him every single thing that I thought he deserved from his mother and in doing that, I gradually left nothing for myself. Looking back, I was as happy and as grateful as I could have been and his newborn days are very precious to me but it took many, many months (and writing this blog) for me to reclaim myself as a person. 

This time, I wasn't having it.

When Georgia came into this world, I made a point, for the first time in my entire life, to extend myself some grace. Grace and crap ton of patience. She is loved, protected and nurtured and all of that is possible even though I make it a priority to take a shower and check my emails in the morning. 

My body is, of course, different than it was 12 months ago but instead of lamenting it or focusing on the new bumps and lumps, I ran out a few days after giving birth to snag a few items that fit the body I was currently rocking. I still wear my side panel maternity shorts all of the time (they are so damn comfy) and haven't bothered with anything but granny panties in 8 weeks, but it's all good. I have no expectations for myself this time and I honestly feel better about my body than I have in years. 

I've decided to only focus on what I think is best for my family and have tried my very hardest to shut out the pressure of what I think motherhood should look like. If carving out some alone time is what is best for me then that is what I need to do, even if that goes against what I once imagined motherhood to look like. 

And, as it turns out, allowing myself the room to fail, flounder, be a hot mess, shower, drink wine, make frozen pizza for dinner, grant unlimited screen time, throw away the blow out onesies, be one thousand weeks late on thank you notes, sometimes cry when the baby cries, curl my hair, forget to brush my teeth, never pull out my big girl camera and ask for help has given me an experience I didn't have the first time: to truly fall in love with my daughter during all of the craziness of her newborn days. 

I'm dead tired, never on time and am constantly negotiating with a three year old while holding a fussy baby but I am ultimately so thankful that this round of newborn weeks has been so different than my last.