Thursday, September 22, 2016

8 Easy & Affordable FALL-tastic Decorations


Come cool weather or not (more so on the not), when Labor Day weekend hits....it is time to decorate for Fall. I dare say I enjoy decorating for Fall more than Christmas sometimes. I mean it gets to stay up way longer and it is waaayyy less involved. Plus, after a long Spring and Summer getting back into the decorating spirit is a welcomed activity!

Here are my eight favorite and super affordable ways to sing Fall-a-lejua all throughout the house!

1. Assorted Colored Stones of Sorts. Whether marbles or jewels, big or small, anything in Fall colors will do. I have had these assorted autumn cuties for years and love that I can reuse them each season. On a platter, in a jar, sprinkled on a mantle...the list goes on! 


2. Fabric. Also something I acquired long ago, but have been so grateful to have stored away! In brown, bronze and orange, shiny and matte these signature pieces are perfect for "shwagging" any and all surfaces. With so many choices and coupons to use at the fabric store, make the tiny investment this season and you won't be disappointed when you use them again and again!



3. Sparkly Pumpkins.  When I found these minis at the Dollar Tree I snapped them up with the quickness. Something about pumpkins and glitter just really gets me going. My big guy was a 50% steal at Michael's with an additional 40% off!! I mean it was practically free which makes me love it all that much more.



4. Go-To Collection of Mini Pumpkins & Gourds. I again, have had these same supplies for years and always look forward to their annual debut. Did I also mention how incredibly easy and gorgeously green all this reusing is? With a simple sprinkle here and thought- out placement there, every surface in your house transforms making it oh so Fall-tastic!




5. Throw Pillows. These are the pillows I use year round. They are well made and have lasted a very long time. I add a vintage pillow cases in the "off season", but when Fall/Winter set in they are naked and in full force! I love their shiny burgundy color and that one side is silky smooth while the other has gold accents...they are perfect in their true form from September to December!


6. Leaves. While I personally am not a fake plant/silk flower girl, I have NO problem busting out some silk leaves in the Fall. Once you buy your first bag (or bunch depending on where you go) you will NEVER need leaves again! Also, there is no "real" leaf collecting, no "real" leaf mess and when your kids help you decorate (as mine did) there are no "real" leaves to crunch!



7. Thriving Art. This addition to my "Fall collection" is by far my favorite...and the most cost effective. Since the boys and I do art sessions pretty regularly it is easy to throw in some seasonal projects. This year, using my favorite non-toxic, water based finger paint (which was a phenom investment at Target for $10) we used fall colors to do some hand prints and smears. Once they hung to dry I simply cut them out in the shape of an autumn leaf and boom! Perfect art to add to the gallery!



8. Fall Candle. My Thriving Mommy and I have yet to get around to making an Autumn collection of our DIY candles, so I head to Target for their soy candles in my favorite scents. I can honestly tell you I burn these nonstop and am obsessed with how they make my entire home smell amazing! These are a must have when you do your Fall-fromation for sure!


With my house in "FALL" swing (ha, get it), I am starting to prepare for our big October - Outdoor Only - Halloween decorating party! The inside stays Fall-tastic all the way until we swap it out for Christmas...which I know will be here before I know it!

What are your favorite Fall accents to add to your home?

Strive to thrive, 
Em

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Family Fun on the Farm


As the seasons (finally start to) change, I am always excited for what our next adventure will be. Obviously, Fall is an easy one...Pumpkins Patches!

Granted, living in the country is not for everyone. But for this mommy, it is absolutely amazing. Especially when there are local farms everywhere just begging to be explored by me and my little men. One of our favorite adventures was visiting Kenny's Strawberry Farm where we were able to walk the grounds picking the sweetest, freshest strawberries to take home and enjoy.



We arrived right when the opened (my suggestion if you have little ones, get there early before it gets too crowded...and hot) and were the first to enter this field of juicy dreams.


We grabbed baskets...and of course, each of my children needed their own wagon...



We headed into the rows of strawberries and started picking...of course following all of Kenny's rules! The boys did a great job of making sure to get the best ruby red berries they could reach.



It seemed like we picked for only ten minutes before our baskets were full and the boys were covered in dirt...as boys should be!





We loaded the boys in the wagon (thankfully they were ready for a ride), and decided to see what else this little farm had to offer.


 We passed the inviting picnic area and headed to see the watermelons and tomatoes!




Paying for what you picked at Kenny's might have been my favorite part as you step into the most Thriving of little cottages to purchase your goods. Of course we had to get some jam and T-shirts to take home too!




With our new gear, pounds and pounds of berries and some jams to try we were ready to leave the farm and get home to the pool! In only an hour and a half we had picked, played and paid at Kenny's. Which I assure you was the perfect amount of time for two toddlers. But before leaving, of course we had to check out the big tractors...


Looking forward to Kenny's opening up again for pumpkin season as well as checking out the many other farms in our area. I love getting the boys out, exploring our country surroundings and buying local!

Are you a farm lover too? What is your favorite season for some family fun on the farm?

Strive to thrive, 
Em

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Baby Mac - 36 Weeks and Counting!


It is hard to believe that I am already 36 weeks along in my second pregnancy. The fact that we will be welcoming our third little boy in less than a month never ceases to blow my mommy mind.

This pregnancy has been totally different from my first...and for good reason...I am not having twins! While this pregnancy is not nearly as filled with rest and relaxation, it has still been pretty amazing. Granted I wish that I had known that NO MOTHER should potty train or embark on any other major milestone while pregnant (these activities REQUIRE large amounts of WINE), I have made the best of every second, especially those which involve spending as much quality time as possible with my little dudes.


  

So...here is the latest info as we head towards the finish line..
  • Estimated Due Date: October 12th. While I had said before I wanted to keep him in there a bit longer, I have changed my tune. The week of October 3rd sounds great!
  • Symptoms: Last time around I could barely walk due to my feet being in such pain from carrying around 75 extra pounds. Thankfully, I am not experiencing that nightmare, but I have been dealing with some leg pain. The lactic acid is pretty intense and I have to stretch quite frequently as well as take Epsom salt baths to keep the aching under control.  I have also started to experience some pretty painful reflux, but with my trusty Organic Apple Cider Vinegar on hand it doesn't stand a chance! But hey, if that is as bad as it is going to get, then I am stoked!
  • Weigh In: Along with the cute 10-15 pounds I gain from IVF I have packed on additional 20 pounds. Looking forward to that falling riiiggghhhhttt off after birth!
  • Fitness Program: Throughout this last trimester I have slowed down a bit with my actual "fitness regiment" and just continued to stay active...which is to be expected with two toddlers. I hit my target of 12,000 steps a day and feel pretty good about it. I have been trying to add more stretching into my routine (to help with the legs) but other than that, I am just waiting until I pop this guy out and can get crazy with cardio again!
  • Birth Plan: I have taken all the classes possible to prepare for my unmedicated VBAC and as I mentioned to my beloved doula Nic, I am ready to stop thinking so much about it and just SEE it happening the way I want it to. My birth plan has been printed, placenta preparation paperwork turned in and I am all ready to go at the hospital in San Diego.
  • Preparation: With the boys moved into their "big brother room" for over a month now, their old nursery has been "refreshed" and prepped for another little man to join the family. Since I LOVED their Little Golden Book nursery so much I just couldn't bare not to do it again. We are waiting to figure out the crib situation depending on what is going on with the boys moving into toddler beds and it won't matter for the first few months anyway as Mac will be sleeping with his mommy! My hospital bag is packed, pumping supplies organized, car seat installed and we are as ready as ready can be!
While Baby Mac continues to get bigger inside my belly, I am using him as an excuse to snuggle with my boys as much as humanly possible. I swear, sometime I consider crawling into their cribs while they are sleeping just to take in a few more hours of them. 

I try not to focus too much on how their little worlds will change or how their routine will be affected when mommy is tied to another baby, because it just makes me sick with anxiety. I know it will all be fine and we will fall into a new rhythm of three in no time.


So here we go.....the final countdown!
Strive to thrive, 
Em

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Thriving Routine for Twins


Last week I promised to share a typical day in the life of twin-mommyhood. Granted, this routine is soon going to be rocked to its core with the introduction of a new baby brother...but there is nothing I can do about that but keep on keepin' on.

Over the two years my boys have been alive I have taken my love of routine/schedules and applied it to raising them. As I mentioned before it isn't realistic to think you can schedule a baby, but as the child grows and falls into natural sleep/eat patterns, this method becomes easier to implement.

My guys wake up around the same time everyday making our routine easy to follow. Granted, there are always those random days where they are up early or sleep in late (bless those sleep in days), but those are far and few between. For the most part they, like their mommy, are creatures of habit...and I love it!

So here is a little sample of our day. While I reference the major changes when Daddy is home (remember a firefighter's wife is often alone) my own Thriving Mommy, the great and powerful Maj is nearly always available to help me as needed. Of course a HUGE thank you to both of them who do their best to stick to the routine...especially rest and bedtime!

**Please note, the times listed below are simply markers. Not everyday is the same nor do we always get things done in a timely fashion. These are only mentioned as they are what I use on a regular basis to guide the day.**

**Only two mandatory potty times are listed as part of our current routine, but should they request to go, we drop everything and run into the bathroom.**

**Also, snuggling is not listed as it is done throughout the day and is never cut off due to time**





WHEW! Seems like a lot right? Well, let me tell you, the day FLIES by! They are so good at knowing what to do I am often amazed at what my two year olds are capable of. I won't pretend that every transition is a smooth one or that they don't get great pleasure from escaping the bathroom and running around naked, but overall, they know what is going on and THRIVE!

As for what to do each day, here is a little "menu" of activities that I rotate through. A lot depends on how we all are feeling (obvi, big preggo mommy isn't super full of her usual energy wrangling two little boys), who is home to help (Daddy or Maj) and what needs to get done (ie, grocery shopping, returns, ect).


What does your day look like? Are you a lucky stroller pushin' suburban mommy with a plan or a carefree "seat of your pants" kind of gal? Please share your go-to activities to add to our menu!

Strive to thrive, 
Em

Thursday, September 8, 2016

BLAZE - Fitness & Fashion Collide

I adore Fitbit. I loved their products long before I actually had one and fell only deeper in love after I purchased my first Charge. Then I upgraded to the Surge. Only to finally found utter obsession in my Fitbit Blaze.

While my Surge had it all for monitoring my fitness goals when it came to running, cycling and other cardio training...it wasn't all that cute...like at all.  I wore it religiously and just accepted that it was not the accessory I would have chosen for every look. I can even recall wearing to a wedding and having a friend balk at my decision to have my fashionable ensemble take a turn for the worst at the wrist. I was committed.

When my non-bio sister enlightened me on the newest Blaze over mani/pedis one day, I nearly died. Let me get this straight...it did pretty much everything a Surge did, but didn't LOOK like a Surge? Wait, wait...and it was CHEAPER?! Awwwwww yyyyeeaaahhhhh.


I did some research of my own to try and make sense of my new found knowledge. I found a great article at wareable.com that explained the main similarities and differences.  Much to my delight, aside from the Blaze lacking a GPS feature when running there wasn't too much to be missed. I was comfortable with a slight tracking variance when exercising as I have come to accept that nothing is perfect.  As long as I have a close estimate of exercise, calories and steps, I one happy mommy! I have done a few tests of my own and have never been disappointed with any of my Fitbit products.

Just to make sure I fully understood the what it would mean to trade down my Surge (I was still slightly worried there was something magical I would lose out on), I contacted Fitbit customer service. After a short online chat sesh with a representative I felt very comfortable with my decision...trade in time!

So long Surge, Hello Blaze. Finally, all my fitness and fashion needs could be met in one place!

The friends who Blaze together stay together...LOVE my new band to match my new van...thanks E!
The Blaze comes with what I refer to as my "workout band" in the usual blue black or plum. Fitbit offers a sassy line of accessories but I found them to be a bit on the pricier side. As always, Amazon did not leave me high and dry.  There are almost too many bands to choose from and I LOVE IT!!!

I was able to order a rose gold band that completed my non-working out look. Now I could finally get back to my arm candy obsession and load on my jewelry!


With so many bands to choose from you really can dress your wrist to match your every mood.  If you are ready to have fitness meet fashion and invest $200 in the Blaze, I assure you, you will NOT be disappointed!

Strive to thrive, 
Em

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

The Great Debate: Schedules vs. Routines


I am notorious for being a creature of habit. I love routines and thrive off of knowing what is coming next. I delight in plotting how to best execute upcoming tasks. I often refer to my brain as the 'New York Stock Exchange' in that it is constantly changing, reshuffling and reorganizing to be as effective as possible.

Over the ten years I have been a classroom teacher I have found that my students also seem to thrive under routines and knowing what is expected of them.  It should come as no surprise to anyone that I would also run my home and apply these skills to my own litter of babies.

While some of you may be thinking, "booorrrinnnngg", I am curious do you have a morning routine? Do you wake up, stumble to the coffee maker and then start getting ready for work? What were to happen if said coffee maker was missing? Would you start throwing coffee cups against the wall? Perhaps not, but I have an inclining your entire day would be slightly...off.  So, while you may not be one to embrace a routine that consumes your entire day, I hope you can at least see where I am coming from.

One debatable topic I have come across in the mommy-hood world is the whole schedule vs routine. Let me clear that up.....


Now any of you Thriving Mommies out there know that it is absolutely unrealistic to "schedule" a baby. It would be rather sick to deny a newborn a feeding simply because they just ate an hour ago and that wasn't in the "schedule". So, while those first months are a blur of boob and bottles, there are still ways to introduce routines. 

My intense desire for routine was very necessary when I had the twins. From the moment they were born I got them in the habit of always eating together...even if it meant waking one up to offer more milk. I never wandered from my commitment and sure enough they were the most perfect eating/sleeping little angels a mommy could have ever asked for.  We had daily routines of eating/sleeping/playing..eating/sleeping/going on a walk...eating/sleeping/going on an outing.  Seeing a pattern?

Once they got a older, I was able to start using times to mark parts of our routines (everything revolved around their napping times) and apply intervals to our menu of activities. This becomes even easier as your kids get older and have a predictable wake up/go to bed time to play off of. 

I personally believe, they, like my students, appreciate the predictability of their day. They know what to do and when to do it. They understand they don't leave a room until it is cleaned up and run to their seats at the table when it is time for them to eat (which seems like it is 100x/day). I truly feel this is why they are such great sleepers (going 10-12 hours/night), eaters and are the happiest little guys I know.

They love their morning "movie" time where mommy cleans up and gets ready to start the day!
While I do understand the need to be flexible, it wasn't easy for me at first. But I will say,  I have gotten a lot better as they have gotten older. When they were teeny-tiny I felt so much guilt messing up their day over something. I was riddled with anxiety that we were headed for a slippery slope of fussiness. These days while I still try to plan events around when their daily nap, I have learned to embrace the excitement of "going with the flow". Whether a road trip to see family or the fun of a quick trip to LegoLand, I these random days are not the end of the world and they will be juuuuuuust fine.

So what do you think? Are you a routine lovin' mommy or you prefer to just see where the day takes you?

Either way, stay tuned next week when I share our daily routine and our go-to menu of activities. 

Strive to thrive, 
Em