how to holiday with the best of 'em

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Danone and JM Smucker. The opinions and text are all mine.

“How to holiday with the best of ‘em” just felt like the most appropriate title for the season we're currently in. Haha! The two months following Halloween are quite possibly my most favorite months of the entire year — full of warmth and cheer and general happiness. Of course, there’s always the hustle and bustle of buying presents and dealing with crazy uncles at family gatherings and all that... but those things all pale in comparison to the joy we feel at Christmas!! Am I right or am I right??

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There ARE, however, a few things you can do to make the holiday season an even smoother one, so I thought I’d share my favorite little hosting tips here for ya!

1) Load up on the coffee. Offer it to everyone around you haha! Listen, this season is tiring, Y'all. Exciting but tiring. The kids are usually all messed up from daylight savings still, THEY’RE excited about presents and wake up every morning, asking if it’s Christmas yet, there are parties to attend, lights to put up, decor to put out, gifts to wrap, all of it. Now, don’t get me wrong.. those are some of my VERY favorite parts of Christmas!! Haha!! But caffeinating before tackling those things — that’s just some sound advice ;) don’t forget to throw in your favorite holiday creamer to make it extra special. We just discovered 1850™ brand coffee at Target in the Pioneer Blend - Roast and HOLY SMOKES, it’s delicious. Strong, robust flavor, super smooth. I paired it with my fave So Delicious Dairy-Free coconut creamer in French vanilla and it’s basically perfection! I love that they use organic, non-GMO coconuts and have no soy or carrageenan in them!! Huge win. Plus, you can always add a candy cane in for a little extra cheer, too ;)

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2) Keep it simple. Decor, presents, your schedule. I tend to want to do ALL THE HOLIDAY THINGS, but then the season passes by so quickly and I look back and I’m not sure I even really got to fully enjoy any of those things. Don’t be so busy and schedule SO many things that you miss out on the entire point of spending quality time together as a family! 

3) Speaking of presents, maybe this is the year you try out the 4-gift rule! We’ve done it this way since the kids were born (so this will be our 5th Christmas doing it, plus birthdays) and absolutely swear by it. We buy 4 gifts for each kiddo — something they want, something they need, something to wear, something to read. That’s it. It’s super flexible, super open-ended and SO MUCH FUN!! You can actually really play around with the gifts you choose in those categories and it doesn’t feel like you’re limited at all! Plus, this way every kid gets the same NUMBER of presents (even if the gifts inside vary based on where they are in life) and honestly, it keeps us from over-buying! We have to really stop and think about each gift we’re giving and we aim for stuff that encourages imagination and play (instead of toys that are used once and then discarded).  Give it a try (and then tell me if you do)!!

4) Open your home. There are a lot of people out there who don’t have family nearby or don’t have anywhere to go for the holidays.  Be aware of who they are — identify them and reach out! I love family traditions and having that special time with JUST us (and we should have some of that, for sure!!) but I also don’t want to be so tied down to the expectations that I miss opportunities to invite people into our homes and lives. You never know what a small gesture of kindness can do for someone’s heart. 

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5) Keep electronics out! Make a basket for everyone to put their phones in. Encourage people to talk. Play some Christmas music in the background. Set out a game to keep hands’ busy. Make sure YOU set an example and aren’t constantly scrolling when people are around (preachin’ to myself here haha)!! These moments are over so quickly, this time with family and friends and our babies.. let’s not waste it on social media. Take your pictures, post your well wishes and then put it away and engage <3

6) Let people contribute. This is a hard one for me — I’m a LITTLE BIT of a control freak haha! And I really do like things to be/look a certain way. BUT doing it all myself is not only incredibly stressful, but it also takes away from someone else’s joy in helping! Talk about a lose-lose, y'all. Holidays don’t have to be perfect (again, preaching to myself haha) — it really, truly is about being together. It’s about people. Investing in others’ lives. Community. Those are the things that stand long after we leave this earth... those are the things that matter. Let’s not miss the main point in the midst of the busy. People. People matter most.

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I’m so excited for this Christmas season. I’m excited to put some of these things into practice in my own life and really take time to stop and slow down and adjust my focus. I cannot wait to see how these small changes make such a huge difference in “how we holiday” this year and I hope they help you, too! Also!! Don’t forget to download the Cartwheel app and save up to 20% on participating coffee and creamers from 11/11-12/22. You’re gonna need it ;)

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Love,

B

cleaning with kids -- three tips to getting it all done (and staying sane)

This post is sponsored by Bona; however, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

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Friends! Especially friends with kids! Let’s talk cleaning. Because if you’re a mom, you know that cleaning with kids is basically an oxymoron. You clean, they destroy. You clean, they mess up. You clean, they pour everything out, and so the cycle continues haha. I keep telling myself that one day, the house WILL be clean and quiet and I’m going to hate it, so I just keep trying to soak in the sound of little feet running around.

BUT that doesn’t mean I stop cleaning haha! Cleaning is actually super therapeutic for me.. I don’t love it and it’s hard to get started but once I do, I’m here for it. Cleaning, purging, decluttering, it’s all just so good. Walking out to a dirty kitchen in the morning or crumbs that stick to my bare feet as I stumble around making coffee or sticky spots that remind me I have mopped in a week or so… those things increase my anxiety like you wouldn’t believe. They cause me actual physical stress haha!

So here are a few things I’ve found helpful while trying to keep a house with young children:

1) Don’t be afraid to ask for help. We found a great deal a few months back and hired a maid service to come 2x/month and clean the entire house… and it is GLORIOUS. I still have to clean on the in-between weeks, but honestly, the maid service has take a huge load off my shoulders. It just helps to make sure the house never gets unmanageable. You know what I mean — when it’s so far gone that you’d rather just burn the whole thing down because you don’t even know where to start?? Yeah, that. It doesn’t happen anymore! Having the service just keeps everything on a schedule and makes it easier for me to keep up with my own cleaning. My husband is in real estate and works long hours, I have two toddlers, a blogging business, we host a bible study at our home once a week, we’re very involved with our local church, etc. We’re BUSY (and I’m sure you are, too) so if you can swing it, I highly recommend hiring help. It doesn’t mean you can’t do it all, it just means you’re choosing to use your time more effectively! Also, PS: our maid services uses our Bona mop when they’re here to do the floors haha! That’s how good it is!

2) Get the kids involved! I get it, sometimes that’s more stressful than just doing it yourself. Especially when they’re THIS young. Trust me, I can’t wait until my kids hit 7-8 and can really take over some of the big chores like loading/unloading the dishwasher, bathrooms, etc. haha! BUT they’ll never learn (and probably won’t WANT to do chores when they’re older) if we don’t start now. I’m terrible at this sometimes — it just goes SO much faster if I do it myself. However, I’m trying to get better at finding small things, little responsibilities I can give them throughout the day. We are a family and that means EVERYONE needs to contribute! So far, these are the things I’ve found that work best with ages 2-4:

  • transferring laundry from washer to dryer (they stand there and I hand them the wet clothes)

  • cleaning up their toys (sorted into the right containers and put away in the toy closet)

  • mopping the floors (Silas LOVES this one — especially because he can pull the handle to spray the cleaner out! We have been using the Bona mop for about 6 months now and absolute love it — it’s gets the floors cleaner than any other brand we’ve tried AND it’s safe for kids and pets, which is huge for us [the kid part].)

  • vacuuming (we have a cordless vacuum, so Silas can actually operate it and does a great job! Another fave of his)

  • unloading silverware from the dishwasher (both kids do this one — they’re not quite old enough to do the cups/plates but getting them started on small stuff hopefully preps them for the big stuff)

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3) If having the kids help is just too much right now, set a timer and do it at night.If you’re anything like me, coming out to a dirty house in the morning just starts the day off on the wrong foot. I would much rather set a 15 min timer right after the kids go to bed, do a quick clean, declutter, pickup and then relax the rest of the night. What Matt and I do during those 15 min: clean the kitchen from dinner, set the dishwasher to run during the night, pick up any stray toys, mail, and anything else that’s gotten piled on the dining room table, finish putting laundry away, place the throw pillows back on the couch, etc. It’s just a general tidy.. quick and easy and for whatever reason, the timer really helps. Little things like that really help control the chaos and keep it from getting so overwhelming. I’m much grumpier when I’m overwhelmed haha!

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I hope these tips were helpful, friends! I’m always so curious to see how other people run their households and cleaning schedules — I’d love to hear from you! Do the kids help? Do you do it yourself? Have you hired a service? Comment below with your answer!

Love,

B

be YOU!

This post is sponsored by Everywhere Agency on behalf of Osh Kosh B'gosh; however, all thoughts and opinions expressed are my own.

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Happy Tuesday, friends! Y'all, I just can't believe it's the middle of August and school is about to start (or has already started!) for everyone. Like, what?! I swear summer goes by faster and faster every year, so insane. 

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But I DO have to say this fall is extra special for us because it's the first year both kids will be attending the Mother's Day Out morning preschool program near our house! Silas will go 3 mornings a week, from 9am-1pm and Verity will go 2 mornings a week, also from 9am-1pm. I seriously don't know what I'm going to do with all the free time haha! I haven't been completely alone on a regular basis in almost 4 years, sooo... HELLOOO naps and coffee and quick errands and brunch with friends and and and and... need I go on?? ;)

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Of course, as grateful as I am to have some alone time this coming year, I am sooo gonna miss having these sweet babies around 24/7!! Like, I want to cry when I think about it haha. But that's motherhood though, right?? Desperately needing a break and then feeling super anxious to get back home and all be together again. It's such a wild ride haha.

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Needless to say, I've been running around like crazy, getting everything ready for the first day of school (x2). Backpacks, lunch boxes, lunch containers, new clothes, new shoes, the whole 9 yards, y'all! So I was super excited when Osh Kosh reached out about working together on their back-to-school campaign this month, because, hello, welcome to my life right now! Such perfect timing!! And I love the message behind the campaign: BE YOURSELF! I loveee helping Silas learn and realize that he was created so unique and so special and that he should never be anything other than himself!

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He's also really started to get into fashion and always wants to make sure his clothes "match". He seriously lays out his entire outfit the night before and then begs to get dressed first thing in the morning -- it's truly the cutest thing I've ever seen haha. We loved picking out some awesome pieces at Osh Kosh that can all mix and match (you know how I feel about capsule wardrobes!!) for both kids and, of course, the quality can't be beat!

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Okay, I know this is a long post but before I end this, a couple things to note:

- Osh Kosh is running a back to school sweepstakes from 8/22-9/5! Fans should share their BTS photos featuring Osh Kosh. You can enter by tagging you photo with
#firstdaysweepstakes to win school supplies for their school/classrooms. They will have 1
grand prize winner ($10K in school supplies and $500 OKB gift card) and 10 runner up prize
winners ($1K in school supplies and $100 OKB gift card)!

- I'm including a coupon at the end of this post -- take advantage of it while finishing up all your kiddos' clothes shopping! Yay for saving money!!

- If you don't know where your closest Osh Kosh is located, click here to find your nearest store:

https://www.oshkosh.com/find-a-store?cm_mmc=SocialMedia_OKBG-_-Blog-_-Ongoing-_-EA

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Here's the coupon, friends! And I want to hear from you! Are you done with all your back to school shopping??! If not, what's left on your list? 

Love,

B

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back-to-school lunch ideas

This post is sponsored by Sistema; however, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

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Happy Monday, friends! I can't tell you how excited I am for today's post!! We've used Sistema products for years so I was thrilled when I found out we'd be working together on this blog. If you know me, you know that two of my main hobbies in life are healthy eating and organization and well, this post encompasses both of those things haha! Happy lady over here.

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I recently started a new workout program and have found these particular lunch containers incredibly helpful in portioning out my food each day. The bento box fits my salad, a few sides, a container for yogurt or dressing AND room for a sandwich (on gluten-free bread, of course ;)).

The blue one pictured below is their salad container and it's GREAT for when I'm on the run -- mainly because it comes with everything you need! A fork, knife, dressing jar, the whole shebang. And still room for grilled chicken or a sandwich/ cut-up fruit on top. That's one of the biggest reasons I love Sistema -- just how versatile all of these pieces are!

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For the kids' lunches, I typically do a bento-box style meal! I've found that 1) it's the quickest way to get their lunches ready in the morning and 2) it's perfect for getting a variety of foods in their tummies. My kids are actually great eaters -- they each have a few foods that they flat out refuse every time but other than that, they will eat pretty much anything I put in front of them (thank God haha). 

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I actually have a little list of all the options that I use on a regular basis in their bento-boxes -- I typically choose one item from the protein section and then 2-4 other options from the list. It's a really fun, easy way to mix things up and ensure they each get new foods every day! I hope this is helpful for you mamas out there!

Main Protein:

  • Chicken hotdogs from Trader Joe's
  • Deli meat (torn up)
  • Leftover protein from dinner the night before
  • Hard-boiled eggs
  • Gluten-free corn dogs
  • Avocado toast

Add-in's:

  • Black beans
  • Avocado 
  • Sauerkraut 
  • Blueberries 
  • Raspberries
  • Strawberries
  • Cutie oranges
  • Sliced cheese
  • Apple slices
  • Banana
  • Tomatoes (cut-up with a sprinkle of salt)
  • Pirates booty
  • Freeze-dried strawberries 
  • Pretzel sticks with hummus
  • Olives
  • Cottage cheese
  • Kefir yogurt
  • Energy bites (oats, honey, PB, vanilla)

They're actually super sturdy and I love that there's a divider in the center, so I can separate and organize their food a little better. Small things like that make the perfectionist in me very, veryyyy happy. Haha!

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One of the best parts is that you can purchase Sistema directly on Amazon AND they're running back to school sales throughout the month of August, so definitely go check them out! What are some of your go-to lunch ideas? I'd love to hear from you!

Love,

B

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