4 // Phrases I’m Overusing Right Now

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Daniel Tiger helps me parent better. I mean, seriously, that is one genius preschool feline. Those little phrase/songs get stuck in your head, they’re repeated twenty times an episode, and before you know it, your two year old is telling her brother, “if you feel mad and you’re going to roar…” It does the work for me.

It is also a good reminder that having a succinct phrase to help reset or refocus can be very powerful. Phrases don’t have to be perfect, and they might not work forever, but a wellworn phrase at the right time can cut your work in half. They help us know what to expect and get us where we need to be efficiently.

Here are four phrases I’ve got in rotation:

1// “Kindergarten is full of surprises!”

Cruz came home from school with that one. He and I were chatting one day about how the class had missed a minute of break time (or something… it’s sometimes hard to tell) because they had a hard time getting quiet. “How did you feel about that?” I asked. “Well,” he nodded sagely, “kindergarten is full of surprises.” That Mrs. Solodon is a genius! I thought to myself for the one hundredth time since September. I’m going to use that. You can use this phrase any old way you want. Bedtime is full of surprises! Afternoons are full of surprises! Birthday parties are full of surprises! This is much more cheerful than my exasperated, “I have NO IDEA of who is going to be at the park… if the lion will be out at the zoo… if we have any cookies at home.” The park is full of surprises!

2// “Let’s experiment.”

I grabbed this one from Anne Bogel of Modern Mrs. Darcy. Like yours truly, she likes do things that she knows she’ll be good at. Ahem. Saying “let’s experiment” to myself takes the burden of success away. It’s just an experiment (and it’s full of surprises!): the only result needed is data. Was it good? Was it bad? I find out and then I know. As someone who does not like risks, I say this to myself a lot.

3// “If you have to go potty, stop and go right away.”

Of course we need a Daniel Tiger phrase! There is a child in this house who shall remain nameless that recently told me that their potty accident was caused by being “too busy.” Uh-uh. Too busy will not work. (And I sure hope I’m not overusing “I’m busy” but I think I am and I really hate that phrase) So we’ve busted out this magic phrase. Everyone knows it. Everyone uses it.

4// “Hey man, I’m just doing the best that I can!”

Stolen from… Brene Brown? Elizabeth Gilbert? I can’t remember where I first saw this, but it is a game changer. The other night I bought a pack of diapers. The checker (bless her heart) asked me if these diapers were for my current baby or my upcoming one. Uuugggghhhh. There is no one on earth that enjoys being mistaken for pregnant. I immediately felt embarrassed about my little tummy and took a mental inventory of whether or not I could fit in some extra runs or a new meal plan… shhhh. Hey man. I’m just doing the best that I can. End of story.

Those are my overused phrases right now. I can’t wait to hear your overused phrases below!

4 // Books We’re Loving

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The older I get, the pickier I am about books. If it doesn’t hold my attention or I can’t get sucked in, I don’t often have the patience to finish reading. I want to cradle these books in my arms and gently ask, “have you ever seen an editor?” The same goes for the kids’ books. I have a tendency to pull the same books out for them because… some kids books hold up and some do not.

Let’s celebrate the books that do! Reading is such a precious thing and we should read excellent books. Two for you and two for your kids, from our recent reads.

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Emma. Well, I will try my hardest not to be a cliche, but when I’ve found myself with too many unreadable books, I quickly switch back to Jane Austen. Like a palette cleanser for my mind. Emma cracks me up. (I’ve also read Pride and Prejudice this month, but that really would be cliche).

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Richard Scarry’s Best Storybook Ever. This collection of 82 stories, rhymes, pieces is kind of old fashioned bonkers. But as long as my kids keep asking to read “Polite Elephant” I will comply. The illustrations are a mix of the traditional Richard Scarry animals (think, Huckle Cat and Lowly Worm) and gorgeous illustrations of animals and flowers. We checked this out from the library and I would love to have it for our family.

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The Thirteenth Tale. This gothic mystery is perfect for fall and winter (presumably. At this point I firmly believe that we are in permanent summer). I like my books to have crackerjack storytelling, beautiful prose, and a juicy mystery. The Thirteenth Tale had plenty to keep me satisfied.

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Ladybug Girl. We love the Ladybug Girl books! I love that she’s powerful and girly and still sees the world as a child. The plot twists make sense and the illustrations are out of this world. I love reading these books over and over.

I’m also partway through The Rosie Effect and For the Love-both excellent choices so far. The kids have been listing to Encyclopedia Brown in the car, which has been enjoyable for them (and usually makes me chuckle because my-oh-my culture has changed. And lots of it for the better. So many problems were solved with punching back in Encyclopedia’s world. If you think I’m making this up, wait until you hear London holler, “I’ll bash you good and proper!”). Audio books have been an excellent way to start chapter books before my kids are ready to sit and listen to them at home (and a great way to practice listening!)

You can always find our favorite books here. What are you reading right now? What books are capturing your kids’ imaginations?

 

 

So… What’s In Your Bag?

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London is getting into a major purse stage. She likes to carry the bike helmet hanging upside down from her arm. “Isss my baaaag,” she tells me. She is also in that major two-year-old collector stage, so purses just make practical sense. She’s got stuff to carry and needs something to carry it all in.

But she also likes my purses and is constantly dumping my stuff out of my bags. I suppose I could put them away, but moving on. She dumped everything out the other day and all the seemingly random stuff in there was cracking me up. It’s so random, but so so necessary! And because I’m nosy, I’m hoping that if I show you what’s in my bag, you’ll tell me what’s in yours. It’s good to share like that!

Here’s what I’m carrying around these days…

+ Simplified Planner by Emily Ley. We have a shared family Google calendar as well, but this paper planner helps me actually feel organized and coordinated. Yes, it’s large, but I take it everywhere I go so that I can work from anywhere!

+ OptiFlow Pens. Did you buy some yet? I gave a student evaluation at my old job the other day and brought my own pen along. That’s normal… yes?

+ Greens. I know I’ve talked about Greens before, and this isn’t the last time you’ll hear about them. Some real talk about greens and health… ever since London was born, every month, about a week before my period started, I turned into a mess. I was prickly; my hackles were up all the time. I would rage (mostly inwardly), I would cry, I would get offended by the slightest thing. This would last for days and it was exhausting knowing that I wasn’t acting or feeling like myself, but also not really knowing how to fix it. I started drinking Greens to help with some of those hormonal imbalances (antioxidants, probiotics, magnesium), and I feel.the.difference. Greens help me to feel healthy and happy and like myself. They come with me everywhere!

+ Plastic Grapes. Can’t leave home without ’em (apparently).

+ Phone. Phone case from Paper Source.

+ Harmonica. Small BMW. Like you do.

+ Honest Travel Wipes

+ Mini van keys. How I wish I could gift one to each of you! The fact that I can open the van doors from inside our house? Bliss!

+ Wallet from my twice-a-year pilgrimage to Target. #sbprobz

+ Cruz’s preschool art project. I’ve accomplished things in my life, but there’s nothing that makes me more proud that walking out of preschool with a Cruz-project in my hands.

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Because he’s a great husband, when Tovi started noticing that my health had really suffered this spring and that hormonally I wasn’t feeling like myself, he encouraged me to do some research and to make my health a priority. I’ve been eating better, doing pilates most morning, and I am so glad that I found these greens and would love to help you get your hands on them too! You can check out my distributor page here and I would absolutely love to chat about plant-based wellness! This is not about being salesly (so so out of my comfort zone). I am just thrilled to find a product that makes me feel this good (and equally thrilled to add an additional way to our family while staying home with our kids). Let’s talk!

What Works {in April}

 

 

 

Life is short and precious. We should do stuff that works. Here’s what worked for our family in April!
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+ I think I’ve tried every pen out there, and OptiFlow is BY FAR my favorite. My handwriting is always my favorite with these pens. They are a Staples brand pen and not available on Amazon (please, please Amazon), but worth getting your hands on. I’ve used OptiFlow for years and have never been let down.

+ It’s spring. All of our allergies suck. Quick fix! Rub some Breathe Easy Rub across the bridge of your nose. Feel super glamorous. Start breathing again.

+ I’ve set a new goal for myself to drink Greens every afternoon. In an effort to take better care of myself and to deal with my monthly hormonal fluctuations (*ahem* putting it nicely), I’ve been drinking Greens, which, in addition to being awesomely good for me, has replaced my regular probiotic and magnesium supplement. Look. Today I took the kids on two separate fun outings, substituted at my old job, came home to work my other job, played with the kids, blog, clean the kitchen… cheerfully. Greens, you guys.

+ When it comes to my house, I’m more of a Mary than a Martha. At the same time, I realize that when my home is clean and uncluttered, I feel less stressed and more comfortable.  I started following Clean Mama on Instagram, and it’s been a good solution for the last few months. Every day she posts a different 15 minute cleaning task (Mondays are bathrooms, Tuesdays are for dusting, etc) and when I’m done with it, I get to double-tap the picture. I just do what she tells me and there’s a little reward. Clean Mama, you are awesome.

+ In the space of one week, London broke two of my favorite necklaces by pulling hard on their chains. Not again, sister! The Jones Market to the rescue! (The exact necklace I recently ordered is sold out, but isn’t this one gorgeous and wouldn’t it make a great Mothers Day /Birthday/Anniversary present??

+ My morning hour is so sacred to me. I get up at 5:30, do pilates, read my Bible, journal, and whatever else I can get done before Cruz and London wake up. I’ve been going back through Robin’s 28 Days of Pilates series and am loving how fast I’m feeling results. She’s got another Pilates Summer Series that started yesterday! Even if I’m easy going about the rest of my day, I notice a huge difference when I can be disciplined about the morning.

That’s what’s working for me… what’s working for you?

Want more things that work?

 

What Works {in January}

Life is short and precious. We should do stuff that works. Here’s what worked for our family in January.

Products and practices that make life simple and sweet

+ I had a gift certificate to Sephora to spend in December and I did a little crowdsourcing on Instagram to find out what I should try. Benefit was recommended almost universally, and I ended up taking home many, many of their products. My favorite is the Erase Paste under-eye concealer. I wear it religiously and have been told many times that I looked refreshed and well rested. I rarely feel that way, so Erase Paste must be the answer!

+ I watched this Dove video and it shot me straight through the heart. London’s curls are out of this world beautiful, and the idea that someday she might feel less beautiful because of her hair… not on my watch! So I’ve been wearing my hair curly more than ever and have been loving L’Oreal’s EverCurl line (I’m sure the Dove video is supposed to make me buy Dove products, but Target didn’t have any of their curly-haired line).

+ Now that both kids go to preschool/daycare, I pack two lunches, and was getting frustrated with the myriad containers and bags we had floating around. I could never find what I wanted or I would need two but only one was clean, nothing stacked… I will always take my friend Kelly’s advice, and she uses these Bento boxes for her kids. Here are my two big selling points: 1) they stack for easy storage and 2) the lid seals the individual containers so that nothing spills over.

+ Another product tip, courtesy of London… my sweet girl has got the world’s driest skin. I have tried everything to keep her skin comfortable and nothing has really seemed to work until we found the Honest Co’s Healing Balm. This stuff is magic for her skin! I usually use it at night.

+ If you read my post about thredUP, you got a pretty good idea that I love cleaning out my closet. Love it. To make it even easier to clean out and purge our belongings, I designated a box in our bedroom for all donations. I throw stuff in there constantly, and when it’s full, I just dump it all in a bag and take it to the thrift store. Easy peasy.

+ Here’s a shout out to Croc rain boots! (Me from four years ago is picking her jaw up off the ground) Easy to put on. Easy to clean. Our pair of Croc boots is onto the second child and they are as good as new. London’s yet to find an outfit that she can’t improve with rain boots.

Now it’s your turn! What’s working for you?

Want more things that work?

thredUP: I’m a little obsessed

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Thrifting or buying used really checks most of my life boxes. I love the thrill of finding a deal. I love having new clothes and hate spending a lot of money on them. And of course I love the idea of being an ethical and conscious consumer. But the reality of thrifting checks almost none of my boxes. I rarely have time during the day to shop (and thrifting can take some patience). Once we had a fairly free afternoon, decided to go thrift shop took Cruz in a stroller. Yes, I can hear you laughing from here. It was just as terrible idea an idea as you’re picturing.

So enter thredUP. thredUP.com lets you buy and sell quality used clothing. Cruz was about six months old when I first discovered thredUP and the site was basically a grab bag shopping experience (literally, you would pick a box of clothes based on written descriptions, size, and season). It was fine, and we tried it a few times before a horrifying denim Winnie-the-Pooh jacket forced me to stop. (For the love)

thredUP has grown up so much. It’s easy. It’s online. It’s really high quality. For about the last year I have shopped for myself almost exclusively on thredUP and because I’ve heard the comment “please tell me you didn’t get that shirt on thredUP” more than once, it’s finally time to let you in on my thredUP secrets.

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1. Get specific. For the most part, when I go to shop, I get really specific about the brands and sizes I want. I pick brands that I know fit me (Gap, LOFT, Olivia Moon, J. Crew, Madewell, the Anthropologie brands, Nordstrom brands), sizes, and what I’m looking for. Right now, I know that I want a new maxi dress this spring, so that helps me to narrow down my search.

2. Style shops. If you’re still feeling overwhelmed, head to the Style Shops and find collections that fit what you’re looking for. You can even check out mine! (Someone pretty please buy that green Vince cardigan and make my day by looking so cute)(Also that Splendid cardigan) I pulled together lots of different sizes and brands, but you know it’s going to be – say it with me – comfy.

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3. Send in your own clothes. This is really the secret of it all. Between referral credits and payouts from my own closet clean outs, I rarely pay for my clothes on thredUP. $80 jeans from Nordstrom? Free. Cute top from Anthro? $10. You know I like to clean out my closet regularly, and thredUP makes it incredibly easy. Order a clean out bag, adhere to their standards when choosing your clothes, drop off the bag at the Post Office. For free.

4. Be patient. There’s very little about the secondhand shopping experience that’s fast. But being able to shop patiently from your iPad? Much easier.

Still unconvinced? How does $10 off your first purchase sound? Click here and find something awesome for yourself!

What Works {in August}

Oh August. You have been hot. It’s been hot and dry and every time I think that we’re getting a little break in the heat, the five-day forecast reveals that we are not. I can’t even remember the last time that I wore long pants. [Edited to add: Today is gloriously cool and cloudy. Both kids are in preschool/daycare and I am working from Coffee Bean with a delicious fall-ish warm beverage. Bliss]

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+ Last month I told you about my sippy cup, and this month we found great new cups for the kids. These are Nalgene sippies, and we love them! They are sturdy, easy to clean, haven’t leaked yet, and aren’t obnoxiously covered in Disney characters. We bought ours at REI and you can also find them here.

Brain Quest! Because I was a nerdy kid (that turned into a nerdy adult), I had ALL the BrainQuest stacks. They also make packs for preschoolers, and Cruz is hooked on them. This is an excellent item to toss into your diaper bag and pull out while waiting somewhere. I love the questions, and it helps to reinforce Boehem concepts (over, under, to the left, above, etc), letters, sorting, and general, age-appropriate knowledge.

+ Now that London is fully eating kid food, I’ve been weeding out our mish-mash collection of kid plates and cup (see above) and narrowing it down to what actually works and what works together. This month I got rid of our random kid plates and stocked up on these plates from RePlay. Sturdy, stackable, made from recycled milk-jugs, and again, no obnoxious characters.

+ I’m going to let you in on a little secret of motherhood– have standing playdates. This is what I mean: meet up with the same moms and kids at the same park every week. I have a couple of standing playdates scattered throughout our week, and they are lifesavers. I always know that we can escape to Tucker’s Grove on Monday afternoon. Repetition leads to familiarity, and hanging out with the same moms and kids month after month and year after year has been a treasure.

J.Crew chino shorts. I’ve bought a lot of shorts this month. Maybe three pairs? I wear shorts every day right now, so it’s not as extravagant as it sounds. I love all the shorts I have (Old Navy, Gap, etc), but my favorite pair is from J.Crew. They are comfortable, flattering, and come in a couple of different lengths.

+ Emily Ley Planners. I have become so devoted to my planner from Emily Ley. Yup, it’s enormous, but it comes with me everywhere. Honestly, I have felt a lot more organized since using this planner. Her 2015 edition goes on sale on September 3rd! Go go go! They’ll definitely sell out. (And yes “order new planner” is written into my planner)

So how about you? What’s working for you these days? How are you all staying cool? xo.