littles

It’s Time to Ditch It + Switch2Pure!

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I’ll be honest, since this is my fourth baby, I slacked a bit on the preparations. Partly, it was because I was overwhelmed managing three boys under seven years old while I had preeclampsia (and all of the OB appointments that entailed!) It was also partly because I know that babies don’t really need nearly as much as I thought they did with my first child. And, I’ll admit that a part of it was that I’ve forgotten what they actually do need since it has been four years since I brought home a newborn. Hello, mom brain!

And so, I found myself ordering diapers from the hospital before we headed home. (Thank you, Amazon Prime!) And when we brought our little man home, I wanted to give him a bath and realized that I hadn’t bought any baby shampoo or body wash. Oops! Honestly, I was too tired and overwhelmed to bathe him, anyway, so I just made a mental note to order some soon.

And then, I got a special delivery from my sweet friend Estela Cockrell who started Switch2Pure. You may remember me telling you about her back in December after I was invited to a blogger event at her beautiful home. (If you missed that post, take a moment to hop over and check out the lovely photos. I’ll wait.) I fell in love with several of her products and have been using them faithfully ever since (and yes, most of them have lasted the past 6 months and I still haven’t run out – amazing!) Estela is a darling Houston girl with a passion for sharing well-curated, safe + pure products with people and making it easy (and beautiful!) to shop them. So, when she sent me a box of her favorite safe + pure products for our newborn baby, I was over the moon excited! Here’s the scoop on what she sent, with a link to each product on her website for you to read all about it. I haven’t yet gotten a chance to try all of these, but I will tonight with our next baby bath and promise to share my thoughts with you soon!

 

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Erbaviva Baby Butter
 a nourishing cream for the little ones

Erbaviva Diaper Cream
soothing and calming for baby’s sensitive skin

Erbaviva Baby Soap
cleanses baby’s skin without toxic chemicals

Erbaviva Organic Baby Oil
luxurious hand crafted mix of oils balances that nourishes and protects the skin

Erbaviva Baby Sunscreen
an amazingly smoothy and effective sunscreen that is natural and zinc derived

Baja Baby Creamsicle Bubble Bath
a gentle, mood uplifting bubble bath for the most precious ‘littles’ of the house

Baja Baby Shampoo and Body Wash
a fantastically subtle, calming and gentle cleanser

Meliora Soap Stick Stain Remover
a wonder stick that does the work without the harsh and irritating chemicals left on the skin

Organic Radius Ginger Citrus Toothpaste
this whitening tooth paste has many added benefits (coconut oil) and is yum yum tasty, so I can’t wait to try it!

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What a sweet friend, right?! I look forward to using all of these and sharing with you which ones are my favorites. They smell just divine! What are your favorite toxin-free baby products? Tell me in the comments below – this mama wants/needs to know!

 

I’ve been keeping a secret…

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…We are having a baby – that cute little bean in the photo above!! Honestly, I really didn’t mean for it to be a secret. That’s the funny thing about it all. It just sort of happened. And the longer it went that I hadn’t shared the news, the bigger of a deal it seemed. In the end I think what I’ve learned is that our society is seriously reliant on social media for information and connection. I mean, I think we all know that, but some days, it really feels like if it didn’t happen on social media, it didn’t happen at all. And I have very mixed feelings about that, but we’ll circle back to that in a minute. Recently, a couple of dear friends that I actually see quite often told me that they had no idea I was pregnant. And then a few people asked me why I hadn’t posted anything on Facebook or Instagram about the baby on the way and truth be told, I don’t have a great reason. But, then the question kept rumbling around in my head and I realized that it was really the combination of a lot of small reasons and one really big one that I’ve been wrestling with lately.

So, the fun news is that I’m pregnant with our fourth child! We couldn’t be more excited. We prayed for this child for quite some time and God is so gracious to bless us with this baby, our little caboose! Looking back, I think our time of waiting for this baby is partly what shaped my caution in telling people that we are expecting. The Lord did quite a work on my heart during that time – probably more than words can adequately describe in a blog post. Suffice it to say, my heart has been changed in many ways. Just one of those ways is my increased tenderness for those who struggle with infertility, delayed fertility, miscarriage and the loss of a child. That’s not to say I wasn’t sympathetic before, because those have always been struggles very close to my heart, but this is different in that, at the same time, I was also struggling with the role of social media in my own life.

In the past year, I’ve had more than one friend close to me who lost a baby past 20 weeks. I don’t even have words for losses like that or for miscarriages at any stage, for that matter. What I do know is that life is so, so precious and we are called to be sensitive to the struggles of those around us. I’m still working through what that looks like in many ways. I also have dear friends who have been struggling to get pregnant for the first time for many, many, many years. And I didn’t really feel like I could talk about our own waiting with people, for fear of sounding like I was trying to compare grief or struggles, which was certainly not my intent and also because we have already been blessed with three healthy, beautiful boys. Nonetheless, God allowed this waiting time in our lives to be a part of our story and has faithfully used it to shape us to be more like Him. He sees our struggles and meets us where we are in those and I am learning to do that better as well.

All of that is to say that somehow, when the time came to announce our news, I just couldn’t bring myself to write the post. I kept looking for my reason for posting and I didn’t find it for quite a while. I told our family the news first and then dear friends, since it’s awfully hard to hide the constant throwing up that I have for the first 6 months or so of my pregnancies! I certainly wasn’t hiding it from anyone on purpose, but something kept me from actively posting about it on Instagram or Facebook. Meanwhile, I’m watching plenty of other friends announce their pregnancies and post every day about their joys about being pregnant and every detail about their plans for the baby and many of those friends were due after me. And there was a pang in my heart at each one I read as I thought of my friends who were still struggling with various difficulties surrounding children and what they must feel reading these posts. Getting pregnant, staying pregnant, having safe birthing experiences, adjusting to newborns, raising children responsibly, struggling with health issues in our children and ultimately letting them go off into the world – it’s all hard. And the pangs of empathy just weren’t going away. So, for maybe the first time in my life, I stayed quiet. And still. And did nothing.

Since I couldn’t figure out how to announce it and still honor those in difficult places on their own walks, and since I couldn’t clearly define my “why” for posting about it, I just chose not to announce it at all on social media. And, honestly, there was something liberating about it! I had long since been struggling with the use of social media in my life. I love so much about Instagram and Facebook, namely staying connected to friends and family who are far away, learning from the unique perspectives of others and reading articles that friends think are important enough to share, especially since I am not a big consumer of news media in general. Not to mention the memes, funny videos and ensuing laughter. I have a lot of love for these platforms and find myself spending time on them maybe a bit too often. They are fun and pretty and offer a bit of an escape from what can feel like a life full of mundane tasks at times. However, there are struggles with each platform that cannot be denied. Study after study has shown that people are less content and even more depressed after using them for an extended period of time. We all know that these platforms are a highlight reel of people’s lives and yet, scrolling through those picture perfect feeds understandably still leads to discontent in our own lives. And I’ve been convicted about my own role in adding to that discontent for some time now, because I think it’s incredibly dangerous and is the opposite of what we are called to do. And so, for a few years now, each time I post, I’ve been asking myself, both in my personal and professional posts – what is my intention in posting this? I don’t want to be the person who just shamelessly self promotes and in doing so, leads others to feel discontent in their own lives. That’s not helpful. We all know people who do that constantly and while their feeds can be fun to look at for a while, in the end, the effect on our hearts isn’t what I hope my followers feel when looking at mine.

I’ll take this moment to quickly add that the fact that I have a jewelry business complicates my desire to be intentional with my posting. Social media platforms are a wonderful way to share my designs with the world and I am so, so grateful for that opportunity. However, I do feel strongly that we, as social media consumers, need some healthy boundaries where social media is concerned and I want to honor those myself when posting as a designer as well. So many people are making LOTS of money convincing people to buy things on these platforms. More often than not, this is the result of people with great tips and ideas sharing those with their faithful readers and friends. And I love that! I’ve learned about fabulous products and services and free downloads from some of my favorite Instagrammers, bloggers and Pinterest-posting friends and they are, more often than not, the first place I look when I need a recommendation for something! I have dear friends who are bloggers and I value the opinions they share greatly and love the items they post about. I’ve found some of my favorite shoes, beauty products and clothing that way and it is awesome! After all, who better to get recommendations from than your friends? However, with some others, the basis of their promotions can be contributing to the discontent we all feel at times by seeing such beautiful photos of picture perfect lives being led by the people who own XYZ (insert product for purchase here.) That’s the game of advertising and always has been, but the lines have been blurred since social media was invented and blogging became an incredibly high paying career in and of itself for a few people on the platforms. That’s partially why the Federal Trade Commission has stepped in and created guidelines requiring bloggers to more clearly disclose when they are being paid to promote something, but that’s another discussion for another day.

So, for me, I chose to celebrate within our own little family and with my close friends with whom we are walking through life. And truthfully, with the insane busyness of life with three boys aged seven years and under, I didn’t have all that much time to think or worry about it. School, carpools, homework, making lunches, sports schedules and life in general consumes most of my days and that’s before my jewelry business kicks in! Add in the sheer exhaustion and constant throwing up of my pregnancy days, and I feel like I have been dropping balls right and left for months now. And I’m slowly learning to be more okay with that.

Fast forward a little bit and more and even more friends were surprised when my belly finally REALLY popped out recently or when they heard from other friends – and then I felt sort of bad, even though all of them were totally understanding! And I realized that I have friends far and wide from so many different times and areas of life and social media is just a really efficient way to tell people what is going on in your life. And people want to know and celebrate with you. So, here we are.

We’re having a baby…and soon! Our precious 4th baby is due in just over a month now. Before you ask, we’ve chosen to be surprised on gender and it has been so much fun! Since we had our first three babies in three years, this is my first pregnancy when my older kids are really understanding what is happening and that has been really fun and sweet to watch as well. We are so grateful for the crazy journey of parenthood and can’t wait to share more about our new addition with you. So, why am I sharing now? In part it is because I have some other related big news to share very soon, but I’m going to save that for another post. This one is already way too long and If you’ve stuck with me this far, thank you for that.

Have a thought about all that I’ve shared here? Share it with me in the comments below. I would love to hear from you!

A PURE Breakfast Date

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I was recently invited to a fun blogger breakfast event at the gorgeous Tanglewood area home of Estela Cockrell, founder of Switch2Pure. It was so much fun catching up with other Houston blogger friends over delicious and healthy bites and tasty drinks in her house, which was beautifully decorated for the holidays – be sure to scroll through for photos of it, along with some of our favorite bloggers.We also got to preview some of her favorite items from her new website, Switch2Pure, which is well-curated website with the best clean and organic products.

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Estela started our time together telling us all about why she started this company. She and her children have battled various auto-immune issues for a long time and for a while, she was dealing with mysterious symptoms due to food allergies, immune disorders and Lyme disease, without really knowing what was causing them. Once she started doing more research, however, and figured out exactly what was causing them, she vowed to take a closer look at the products that she and her family were using every day. And she didn’t like what she found. She found complicated labels that made it hard to differentiate the good from the bad ingredients and she found “crunchy” healthy products that didn’t do what they promised. So, she decided to curate her own website of products that are safe, pure, clean, natural and nontoxic, yet effective and luxurious. Gotta love a woman who makes helping others simplify safe products her mission!

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After the talk and delicious gluten and dairy free treats, we got to head into her work area and sample some products. I was amazed at how luxurious they are for “safe” products. Estela pointed out to us which ones are her very favorites and I snagged a few things to bring home and try out. Here’s what I started with, along with a brief review of (and link to) each product…

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The Nurture Your Nest Natural Cleaning Non Toxic Kit – I have small children and I certainly do not want my cleaning products causing them harm. Enough said.

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Kaia Naturals Charcoal Deodorant – The idea of endocrine disruptors from the store shelf deodorants being placed so close to my lymph chains in my underarms every single day was enough to make me decide to make the switch immediately. So far, I’ve liked it. The brand tells you to expect a detox period when quitting regular antiperspirant, but so far, I haven’t noticed that. I think it comes a bit later on, though.

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InVitamin Charcoal Toothpaste – Same goes for what I put into my mouth. I definitely don’t want harmful toxins here! While the idea of black toothpaste makes me a little uneasy, Estela assured me that the lightly minted taste is good and that it also whitens teeth – bonus! So far, I’ve really liked it. It’s far less sudsy than normal toothpaste, but I don’t mind that at all. Just rinse any that you spit into the sink immediately and the black color comes off the porcelain super easily.

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Rare Elements Pure Natural Shampoo Hydrating Hair Bathe Shampoo – This one smells amazing and Estela promises that it does wonders for your hair. Yay for that! I’m super picky about what shampoos I use. I don’t like the ones from the grocery store that leave a wax buildup on your hair. I feel like I can also use less amounts of the more expensive ones, so it ends up being about the same amount of money investment-wise. So far, I LOVE this one and use only a dime-sized amount each time. And, I feel like it allows me to not have to wash my hair every single day. Yay for that!

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Rare Elements Essentials Daily Vegan Natural Masque Conditioner – There was a “lite” conditioner option as well, but I like a good mask-like conditioner, since I only put it on the ends of my hair (the ponytail area) which tends to get a little dry or get split ends between hair cuts. I like this one a lot so far. I put it on and wait about 3-5 minutes before rinsing it out. Like the other Rare Elements products, it smells amazing and lasts a really long time!

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Rare Elements Marula Cocktail Leave in Conditioner – I’m LOVING this one so far. It smells amazing (like the shampoo) and leaves my hair feeling so soft and hydrated. I only use two sprays per day and then come it through, to keep my hair from being oily.

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Kaia Juicy Bamboo Facial Cleansing Cloth – Estela told me that these are perfect for after you leave the gym, but have to go somewhere else before going home to shower and I agree. They are refreshing and smell great and are a good quick refresh after a sweaty lifting session at the gym. And heaven-knows I’m rarely headed home to shower after I work out, as much as I’d like to be. A mom’s life is rarely boring!

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Source Vital Free Micellar Water Cleanser – Estela swears by using this a “precleanser” before cleaning your face and so far, I have loved going the same thing. I feel like it gets my face extra clean, removing makeup and then washing my face for cleanliness. It has essential oils in it and leaves my face feeling clean, but not “stripped.”

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Honey Belle Organic Facial Soap – In all honesty, of all of the products I purchased, this is the only one that I might not rebuy. It’s not that I didn’t like it, I just didn’t LOVE it like I loved the others. On all of the other products, I am hooked! On this one, it’s good, but not something I’m obsessed with. I think maybe my skin is getting a bit drier as it gets older and I prefer something more hydrating for me. It does foam beautifully and smells great, however. I currently keep it in my shower, rather than using it every morning and night and it’s great for that! I love that it’s a clean and safe product, though, because your skin is definitely your largest organ, so its important not to put toxins on it!

After hearing Estela’s story, I was inspired that the switch to pure ingredients in the beauty, cleaning and food items we use every day really is getting easier every day, especially with websites like Switch2Pure. And the payoff is worth the investment of time to seek them out. In the case of the items at Switch2Pure, I was amazed by how low the prices on most items were. Usually, I feel like there is a pretty steep markup for “clean” items, but not here. There are well-priced items that are still organic and toxin-free.

Below are a few more photos from the party. It was such a fun event and I was so grateful to be included! Girl-time is such a rare treat these days and learning about safe products that I love at the same time made it all the more fun! Have you tried any of the products above or are you obsessed with any clean, non-toxic products that I should know about? Let me know in the comments below! I love sharing knowledge!

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A Cinco de Mayo Birthday Fiesta

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I’m still not sure how it happened. Somehow, my baby boy turned three this past week. Where the time went is absolutely beyond me, but here we are. . . and this occassion calls for a celebration! Since our little guy was born so close to Cinco de Mayo, we thought that would be a super fun birthday party theme and it was a huge success. Read on for all the scoop on how we pulled it off complete with loads of colorful photos, of course!

We decided to have the fiesta in our backyard and the Lord blessed us with amazing weather for the outdoor event. Houston in May is pretty hit or miss, but it was 70 degrees and sunny with very little humidity – a birthday miracle, for sure! To transform the space, we hung huge tissue paper flowers and paper fans (all found on Amazon) from the light strands that we strung over our patio last Fall. All of the color made for one festive fiesta! The fans were super easy to put together and even came with little white paperclips, which made hanging a breeze. The tissue paper flowers weren’t hard to put together, but were a bit more time consuming to fluff each one. They were totally worth it, but I recommend you buy yours in advance, rather than doing it the day of the party, like I did. Also, if you want to vary the height on them, you’ll need to buy your own coordinating color ribbon for them and using paperclips to attach them would have been SO much easier than tying each one, so toss some white ones in your Amazon cart as well.

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At the party entrance, we set out some flower hair clips for the ladies and self-adhesive mustaches for the gents, both found at Party City. For added flair, we set out some small piñatas and two blow up cacti (both borrowed from a dear friend) and a few bottles of Jarritos, embellished with a few of the sticky mustaches. I also potted some succulents in El Pato bean cans, which I bought at Fiesta. (If you don’t have a Fiesta near you, you can snag them on Amazon as well.) Those were an idea that I found on Pinterest and I love the way they turned out! They were easy, inexpensive and super cute. And now I have the goods to create a little potted succulent garden!

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For refreshments, we set out ice water and beer ‘ritas (recipe on the blog here) in these cute glass drink dispensers that we bought online at Pottery Barn about a year ago. They were a great investment. They’re really cute and we’ve used them a ton! Ours are the large size and we bought pretty silver stands for them to go on as well, which raises the spout and makes the dispenser useable even when it’s not on the edge of the counter, but we didn’t need them at this party. At first, I was leaning towards the acrylic version of the container, but in the end, I’ve really loved the real glass ones we bought. We also had wine and beer out and, of course, Jarritos and Topo Chico as well – what Mexican fiesta would be complete without those?! We tossed those, along with some juice and lemonade pouches for the littles into a cute galvanized metal tub on a stand that we bought on Amazon before our oldest son’s birthday party last Fall. It has come in quite handy at parties for a little extra counter space. We set out some fun striped paper straws and some bright green napkins along with some paper flowers on stems for a little extra pop of color.

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I tossed together a few brightly-colored flowers for a centerpiece on the gifts table, mostly because I’ll take any excuse to have fresh flowers in my house!

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We had El Tiempo Cantina cater a beef and chicken fajita dinner with chips and queso. The server was super nice and the food was delicious! And we had them bring tres leches for the adult dessert – yum!

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For entertainment, we set up lots of lawn games, just like we did for our oldest boy’s birthday Southern Lawn Party event. It was such a huge success and definitely a great investment on those games. We play them as a family all the time! Our boys particularly love ladder ball and corn hole and, of course, launching balls on our giant Angry Birds slingshot that my husband built.

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I LOVE the child-sized sombrero that I bought for the birthday boy and he loved it as well! It was well worth the $7.50, as it is quite well made and made for some really cute photos – highly recommend!

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All of our boys wore their monogrammed guayaberas, which they love. They’re comfortable and cool and super cute, especially with seersucker pants! I bought the two younger boys’ at The Monogram Shop here in Houston last Summer before a wedding, but they didn’t have one big enough for our six year old. (And, heads up, these things run small!) Thankfully, I found some online here and got one that matched exactly for him. Daddy wore his favorite one that we bought from my friend at San Cristobal Guayaberas. Theirs are gorgeous and I cannot wait until they start carrying kid sizes this Fall!

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The birthday boy playing ladder ball. People ask me about these adorable shoes all the time. They’re made by Native, but we bought them last Summer and they don’t seem to make them anymore. I’m just sick about it, as they’re my boys’ favorite shoes – and mine as well, because they work at church or on the beach! When they get dirty, I just hose them off in the sink. Seriously some of our favorite and most-often complimented shoes. Please bring them back, Native! In the meantime, these are the closest that I’ve found from them.

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“Flowers for you, mama!” Is my darling boy just the sweetest?

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I found this adorable paper flower crown (and the paper flowers on the table here) at Houston’s cutest party shop, Emerson Sloan. I was surprised how many people who asked me haven’t heard of it! It’s located in Rice Village and run by my friend Kim, who is so much fun. They’ve got upscale party decor, great gift items and fun gag-type gift items and hilarious cards as well. Get over there and check it out or shop online! (Also, my top is by Johnny Was. I’ve had it for a few years and I love it. It’s cool and comfortable and I always get compliments on it!)

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I snagged this sparkling number 3 at Emerson Sloan as well. I was amazed at what a huge hit it was! My boys thought it was the coolest thing ever. And we got some super cute photos with it as well (see the birthday boy’s face below!) I highly recommend it for your next shindig! We also picked up a golden number 3 balloon while we were there and from what I’m told – that thing will last months!

The cupcakes were from Moeller’s Bakery in Bellaire. We absolutely love this place. Their prices are super reasonable, their turnaround time is very quick (in case you’re forgetful like me and order the day before – oops!) and the taste is out of this world. I definitely recommend them for cakes, cupcakes and other treats.

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After the cupcakes, we remembered the piñata! (#oops again) and the kids had SO much fun smashing it with a baseball bat!

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All in all, it was a very successful party! All of the adults had fun, the kids had a blast and the next morning – the birthday boy was STILL talking about it. That’s the biggest win in my book!

A Southern Lawn Party

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For our son’s birthday party this year, we wanted to do something a little different. I really like including the entire family (siblings as well) when we can, because it’s always so much more fun when you don’t have to split up your family on the weekends to attend birthday parties. Of course, not every venue works for that, so we decided to have this one at home.

What we ended up deciding on is a Southern Lawn Party theme. We set out tons of lawn games and had classic Southern fare and cocktails outside while the kids played and ran in the grass. We had corn hole, bocce ball, croquet, ladder ball, giant Jenga and a huge game of Connect Four. We even made a life-sized Angry Birds game, which was the hit of the party. Thank goodness for my sweet husband who is always up for the task of making my crazy ideas come to life! To pull this off, he made a giant slingshot using this launcher and attached it to steel pipe he purchased at Home Depot. I hand-painted red and yellow kickballs to look like Angry Birds and used these green balloons to make little piggies that the kids could knock down from the boxes we had saved (from ordering all of those supplies on Amazon!) which we spray painted to look more like bricks holding the pigs.

I’d been praying for good weather since we sent the invitations and man, did God show off! This week, the temps in Houston dipped and the humidity as well. It was absolutely gorgeous. Demeris catered the food and brought their always-amazing BBQ, chicken and sausage along with delicious potato salad and beans with chicken fingers and mac n’ cheese for the littles. We ordered our birthday cake from Moeller’s Bakery, which is our go-to for a cake that’s both beautiful and delicious. My sweet friend Anne Letzerich owns Muddy’s Garden and did the flowers for me. Are they not just exquisite? She heard my vision for an outdoor event with Southern elegance and ran with it!

Below are a few pics from our big celebration. I would love to hear your thoughts. Have any questions about where we got something? Let me know in the comments below and I’ll gladly answer!

 

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Table decorations (I love these striped napkins! Got them here.

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Demeris Catering did not disappoint!

 

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Gorgeous flowers by Muddy’s Garden

 

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How adorable is our cake from Moeller’s Bakery? Yum!

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Who doesn’t love a game of corn hole?

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Connect Four is even more fun when it is giant!

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I hand-painted kickballs to look like Angry Birds!

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And we made pigs to knock down out of green balloons…

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…and saved up shipping boxes for a month to make the bricks holding the pigs.

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The life-sized Angry Birds game was a huge hit!

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Giant Jenga was also a blast



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Toys with wheels never disappoint!



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All in all, it was one fun party!

See Me

See Me

This year, our children’s school has committed to being a part of +Works (pronounced Positive Thinking Works). I went to a meeting introducing it a few weeks ago and I was blown away. In fact, I’m still processing much of what was said. There are several schools that are joining in this movement and I couldn’t be more excited that our school is among them. The women who started this initiative are two experienced moms (and friends) Sarah Fisher and Trish Morille. As I listened to Sarah speak, I realized how desperately our society needs this thinking. In tumultuous times like this, we need so much more of this and the very best place to start is with the current generation of children. As we learn alongside them and strive to model this type of life for them, our world cannot help but be changed for the better.

Today, our school sent out the following poem from +Works. It struck me to my core as I read it. Tears filled my eyes and my heart was deeply convicted by these words. I thought you might be as well, so I wanted to share them with you. We all need to read this. Multiple times.

Again, these words are not my own, but I did want to share them with you because they are so important. For more resources like this, which I have found very helpful in my parenting journey!) or for information on their movement, please visit their website here or follow them on Facebook or Twitter.

SEE ME
I am your child.
I am your student.
I am your husband.
I am your wife.
I am your brother, your sister.
Your mother, your father.
Your friend.
Your neighbor.
I am a human being doing my best.
And I need you to see me as I am.

I need you to SEE me as I AM.

I need you to allow me to be myself with you.
I want to tell you my truth.
Can you hear me?
I am screaming at you with my eyes wide and my mouth shut.
I need you to give me the gift that comes in a simple card that reads:
You are not me.
You are you.
And I love you.
As you are.

I need you to tell me this to my face:
I love you even when and especially when you don’t agree with me because we have so much to learn from each other on this journey.

What is that so hard?
What are you afraid of?
Why do you tell me not to feel what I’m felling when I’m feeling it?
Why do you tell me to believe what you believe when I am still searching?
Why do you dream for me when I have my own dreams?
Why do you think you get to choose whom I will become?

Please know this.
Just because you are older or smarter or richer or poorer or ____er does not make you wiser.
I have seen wisdom spring from unexpected people and unexpected places.
Like youth.
And inexperience.
And silence.
Especially when that silence is imposed.

Please. It is awful not to feel loved.
Hear my voice.
See my face.
Feel my pain.
Set me free.

Our Favorite Shoes

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As a boy mom, I spend far too much time (and money!) on shoes. These boys grow so fast! We’ve gone through so many different brands and styles and have loved some and hated others (and loved a few styles, but hated the quality of them.) I think we’ve finally found our favorite shoes – and we get TONS of compliments on them!

They’re made by Native Shoes and they are absolutely adorable. They look like boat shoes, but are completely made of rubber, which means they hose down easily after a day at the beach, or digging in the dirt. And they come in so many cute colors! Each of my boys has several pair in various colors, because we wear them so often. They look just as good at the beach as they do in pajamas (see below) or going to church! They’re comfortable, breathable and easy to clean (which is key for a boy mom.)

Every time my boys wear them, we get compliments on them and I’m constantly telling people where to get them, since we mamas need to help one another out. And who has time to research cute kids’ shoes all the time? Not me! We’ve bought some on Zappos, which is my go-to for my kids’ shoe shopping, since they’re returns are SO easy and you have 365 days to do it. Shout out to them for such amazing customer service! You can also get them on the Native Shoes website if you’d like different color/size options.

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They look awesome with Christmas pajamas, right? Shown here on our recent trip to Lost Pines Resort. Read more about our fun trip here.

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And they’re even precious with dressy clothes on, making them super versatile!

Comfy + Cute = Fav Kicks

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As a blogger, I’ve made an implied promise to you to share when I find things that I absolutely LOVE. I find that I tend to like things that my friends like and in this cluttered world of constant noise, I rely even more heavily on recommendations for my friends. It saves me time and money to learn from others. And since I consider you a friend if you’re reading my blog, I want to share things that might help you as well. If you want to read more of my recommendations, look no further than the Things We Love tab (under the yellow heart) in my blog header.

Today, I want to share with you these shoes that are both crazy cute and crazy comfy!  I saw them on someone running out and about in Houston recently and at first glance, I just knew they were Cole Haans. I’ve loved the Cole Haan/Nike Air collaboration for a long time now and I figured that’s what these were. As it turns out, they’re actually a new line by Cole Haan called ZeroGrand, but the premise is the same. Super cushiony comfort combined with the quality and style we all love from Cole Haan. As a mama of three boys aged five and under who owns her own business, I’m pretty much always on the go, so this combination is key for me. I’m certain you can relate!

I debated over the silver and coral pair or the python ones and ultimately kept the python because I felt like they would go with more. When I returned the silver ones to the Cole Haan store, I saw that they also come in black. If they were a little less expensive, I would have two pair in a heartbeat, so I’ll just have to stalk them for a sale!

I’ve been wearing these for a few weeks now and am in love with them. They’re cushiony and comfortable and look equally good  with jeans and a top heading to dinner or with workout gear as we walk to the little league fields. And I just love the asymmetrical slant on the tops of them. It’s very flattering. All in all, I highly recommend you try them out! They’re not inexpensive, but from a price per wear perspective, they’re definitely a good purchase for me. Oh, and I wear a size 9 and I find these run true to size, in case that helps you in ordering.

What are your favorite shoes that are super comfortable but polished enough to go beyond yoga pants? I’m always looking and would love to know, so tell us in the comments below…

 

Lost Pines Vacation

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We visited Hyatt Regency Lost Pines Resort and Spa for a long weekend over Spring Break this year and had the best time! Seriously, this was the first vacation since we had kids over five years ago, after which I actually felt rested and refreshed. HUGE win, friends! Since this place is such an absolute treasure, I wanted to share a bit with y’all about our time there, in case you’re looking for a family-friendly destination in Texas. Lost Pines has everything you’d expect in a resort – from golf to tennis and swimming and a basketball court to a fabulous spa. But, they also have some unique things, like bicycles that you can use all over the property, a game room for the kids and even fishing! There’s something for everyone, so it makes for a great place to travel with other families as well. We went with some dear friends who have two boys close in age to our own crew, which literally quadrupled the fun!

Lost Pines is located in Bastrop, Texas, just about 30 minutes South of Austin on Highway 71. From the moment you walk in, you realize how family friendly the place is. They offer valet (for a fee) or self-park (free) options and are so helpful in getting you unloaded and installed in your room. The rooms are a great size and we were able to put all three boys on the floor in their super cozy sleeping bags and still have the King-sized bed for us (another huge win!) We also chose a first floor room with a patio, which turned out to be one of our best ideas yet. The patio opened onto a large grassy field with sidewalk paths, so the boys were able to play in the grass and scooter on the paths while we sat on the porch sipping coffees or were inside packing up to leave, etc. It was amazing for us and they had a blast having a water gun fight in their pajamas one morning!

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While the accommodations are fantastic – clean, comfortable and lovely – it’s really the activities that shine at this resort. There is just so much to do at Lost Pines! It’s a little like being at an upscale family camp. There are activities for all ages. Our boys are pretty young (all five and under) but the resort would be great for older kids as well, since they offer archery, trap shooting, trail rides, sunset kayaking, rock walls and zip lines and more for the “big kids.” Its easy to give kids a little autonomy in a pretty safe space here, which is always nice.

When we first arrived, we immediately hit the pool area. There’s a lazy river that was great with our little ones who aren’t all strong swimmers just yet, since they could float in the tubes with a bottom on them and feel like they were on little boats. There was also a pool with a huge shallow area that was awesome for them as well and, of course, there are deeper sections with basketball goals and waterslides, etc. It’s like a fun waterpark, but in a size that is manageable for the parents watching their little ones. That night we had cocktails by the fireplace inside during a crazy big thunderstorm that rolled through (and cooled things off for the rest of the weekend – yay!) and then had a delicious dinner and headed to bed.

On the first morning, we went to meet some of the livestock on the property. We watched the staff do a lasso demonstration on some cattle, saw some sweet ponies and heard cool facts about the animals. We also got to see the big horses and pet them. The boys loved it. Later, they had a spot where the boys could climb up on a horse or a longhorn for a photo opportunity. So cute!
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Later in the afternoon, we went over to the Plantation Lawn to check out the family olympics going on. There were tons of fun physical activities for kids of all ages and it made for a great hang out spot where the parents could relax on the lawn while the kids ran around playing. There are games of Capture the Flag, lessons on juggling, giant human hamster balls, sack races, frisbee, wiffle ball and more.

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The resort also has fun craft activities each day, which our boys loved. One day they made puzzles and another they got to create their own bumper stickers. It offered a little creative outlet under the shade of their large, beautiful trees and kept our boys entertained for at least thirty minutes!

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Another fab feature of this place is the playground. It is great for little ones and you can see it from the porch at one of the restaurants, so we were able to let the bigger boys get some wiggles out while we finished our lunch and enjoyed a cocktail. Yay for some adult time on vacation!  {P.S. How cute is this little posse?}

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There are a few fabulous outdoor fire pits that are great for relaxing with a cocktail or cup of coffee. And they have s’mores there in the evenings, which is super fun for the kids (and the adults, too!)

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The property is absolutely gorgeous and its a wonderful place to hike with kids. There’s a cool little pond you can walk to and check out the various creatures who live in it. You can also walk down to the Colorado River, which runs through the property and there are lots of trails around for an easy hike with little ones or a solo run for mom or dad. The entire place is filled with nature and left our boys feeling like adventure explorers!

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Every place you look, Texas-style beauty abounds, making this a fabulous spot for a relaxing vacation in nature. The property is also dotted with darling little vignettes for just sitting still and relaxing in rocking chairs or on cozy benches. One such spot has a giant chess board and outdoor games like horseshoes and washers, which kept our three boys entertained for HOURS!

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The food at Lost Pines is also delicious! There were several options, including a great coffee shop and ice cream place that also has a general market and grab-and-go foods, which made for a great breakfast on our porch one morning while the boys played out on the lawn. There’s also a delicious BBQ spot down by the pool called Old Buck’s Place that really hits the spot after a day of swimming. The Firewheel Cafe had wonderful buffet options at breakfast, lunch and dinner and kids under four are free, so that was fantastic for us! There’s a bar with food and a fancier restaurant option as well, so there are plenty of places to choose from on the property and the food was great! After dinner, we went to the family movie night. Usually, they hold this on the amazing grass lawn amphitheater, but it was really cold and windy while we were there, so they moved it into a ballroom. There was a popcorn machine and everything and it made for a fantastic evening activity!


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There’s also a lovely spa and fitness center. Getting time in those is a huge luxury on a trip for me as a mama of three littles, but I vowed to do both next time we go!

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I just couldn’t get enough of the beautiful flowers and spots for taking a break and relaxing a bit while my boys soaked up the sun with their friends and enjoyed the ranch-feeling of this fabulous resort. There is truly something for everyone here! We cannot WAIT to go back as soon as possible!

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Have you been to Lost Pines Resort & Spa? If so, what were your favorite things there? What other spots in Texas do you visit for a drivable kid-friendly vacation spot? Tell us in the comments below. We love to hear from you!

Happy First Birthday!

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I’ve been designing and making jewelry for fifteen years now. There are both good and bad sides to being a creative. One of the good things is that a lack of ideas is never a problem. I literally have creative ideas all day long. When I sit down to design a collection, having enough ideas has yet to be an issue. One of the bad sides of being creative, however, is that a lack of ideas is never a problem. And that can be incredibly exhausting. It can also be frustrating when you don’t have the time, energy or resources to pursue every idea. And therein lies the crucial challenge of running a creative business – being able to weed through the clutter to the very best.

My sweet little baby boy is one year old today. I’m having a really hard time believing it, since I’m fairly certain that I brought him home from the hospital as a newborn just yesterday, but alas, he’s walking (along furniture) and talking (mama is still his favorite word, thankfully!) and even attempting to ride his big brothers’ scooters (unsuccessfully, thank goodness!)

When a creative mama who adores her little one sits down to plan his first birthday party, craziness ensues. I had so many ideas that had a really hard time reigning it in. (See above note about creative problems.) We decided on a family birthday party for him since he’s just one and we’ve got two “big boy” birthday parties coming up in the next few months. I’ve been doing quite a few jewelry shows lately, so I really needed to keep it simple. (Well, simple by my standards, anyway…)

I decided on a “mustache bash” for our little man’s big celebration and it was really fun. We did a Sunday brunch (which is, by far, my favorite meal) and it was wonderful having a smaller celebration with family. And the birthday boy had an absolute ball, which was the best part. When we started singing to him, he grinned from ear to ear, and by the end of the event, he (and his seersucker birthday outfit) were completely covered in chocolate, so I consider that a huge success!

I wanted to share a few of the photos from the event with you, in case you’re looking for ideas for an upcoming little boy’s birthday party (or a cute baby shower theme.) I’m all about sharing the creativity! Have questions about any of the items you see below? Let us know in the comments. If you’d like to know more about any of the DIY decorations, let us know that, too. We love sharing ideas. And please share your birthday party ideas, too – you can never have too many in the queue for the future!

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How adorable is this mustache balloon?  And the giant “one” is bigger than the birthday boy!

 

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Baby Mum-Mums are a must at any one year old party! Our children have always loved them. They’re an easy way to entertain babies who are too little to eat with you at a restaurant, but also don’t want to feel left out – or to give to a baby as you’re fixing dinner when they’re unhappy with slow service!  I buy them on Amazon Prime in bulk here.

 

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I love to bake (which may be because I enjoy the fruits of my labor!) so making a birthday cake is really fun for me. This is the “smash cake” that I made for our little man. I used the recipe from the Magnolia Bakery Cookbook, which is one of my absolute favorites and a must-own for anyone who loves to bake. I’ve been going to Magnolia Bakery in New York since the West Village was the only location and they’re cupcakes are still my very favorites – not to mention how adorable the place is!

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Pink peonies are my absolute favorite flower and I recently found some at the grocery store down the street – yay! I’m also a huge fan of hydrangea and think that the two together are really lovely. I made a similar arrangement for a jewelry show that I had last week and got lots of compliments on it.

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For the main centerpiece, I put hydrangeas and roses (always a classic combination) with snapdragons for a little pop!

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I’m a big fan of puffs for the same reasons as Mum-Mums – their high entertainment value. Plus, what they lack in nutritional value, they make up for in hand-eye coordination training, right? I like this brand, which I also order on Amazon Prime because they bring it right to my doorstep with no shipping charge – which is crazy helpful for this busy mama. (If you haven’t yet tried Amazon Prime, they’re offering a free 30-day trial of the service and I’m pretty sure you’ll be hooked after that! Just click on the graphic at the bottom of this post to claim your trial.

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 This is the “big cake” I baked.  (And it was SO yummy!)

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 Yay for first birthday gifts

 

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 Party favors. (Note the cute furry mustache stickers on the boys’ bags!)

 

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 I made these mustache milk bottle vases for table decorations, which
doubled as adult party favors!

 

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I made these place holders using my new embossing tools that I found at Paper Source. After the sweet (and clearly rather smart) sales associate there made a bookmark for my oldest son when he asked what the embossing tool was as we were browsing in the store, I was hooked.  I mean, how fun are these?!

 

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The big boys using the multi-colored marbled heart-shaped crayons that I made for kids to play with during the party. (We also sent a few home in the party favor bags, too!)

 
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 One really cannot have too many flowers, right?

 

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The table

 

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 Chocolate-covered = success in my book!

 

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 The birthday boy!