Tullemoss Launch Weekend!

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Tullemoss6 If you recall from a couple of posts back, I have been helping one of my favorite local boutiques, Tullemoss, promote the launch of their new website and e-commerce site. The store owner and my business contact there have been working tirelessly to photograph, inventory and stock up the new site for shopping, and I can’t wait to see the launch come to life this weekend!
Tullemoss4 A couple of weeks back I had the pleasure of attending a trunk show at their store, featuring Siwy Denim, and gorgeous new jackets designed by the store owner herself. While there, she asked me to try on a couple of pieces and take photos in them. I fell in love with this form fitting black jacket, and so did just about every client that night. It nearly sold out, but for the website launch this weekend, I hear they have put several sizes aside.

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Tullemoss8 If you visit the website right now, make sure to subscribe to their email list and you will be sent a 15% off discount code to be used online, this weekend only! I hope you’ll visit their site so you can see firsthand why I’ve been a customer for so many years. Happy shopping!  Tullemoss3 Tullemoss2

 



31 Healthy School Lunches in the Planetbox

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lunch-cover I’ve been meaning to put this post together for some time now, and quite frankly my original goal was to get it up as a “back to school” post, but better late than never is my motto. We’ve now been living with my in-laws for close to 5 months, and packing these daily lunches for the kids has been a nice source of regularity in an otherwise irregular situation. I thought by now Taylor would be nagging to buy her own lunch, being the cool 5th grader that she is, but she still seems to enjoy the daily variety and sense of home I guess. They’re still eating most of the contents that I pack for them each day, of course some days are better than others, and they have now started playing a more active role in packing the lunches for themselves. All in all, I’m still plenty happy with our Planetbox purchase and foresee using them for several more years.  I don’t have a single regret, and I wholeheartedly recommend them to anyone committed to packing healthier lunches for themselves or their kids.

I’ve partnered with Planetbox to offer my readers a very rare discount of 15%, using code FORTHELOVEOF15. Planetbox never extends sales on their lunch box systems, save for the rare discount code like the one I’m offering here, so now is an excellent time to take advantage of the sale and save a bit of cash. We use the Rover system for the 2 older kids, and have been plenty happy with the amount it holds. I’ve even used it a few times to pack my own perfectly portioned lunches, especially during a cleanse, and I’m thinking I may buy us a 3rd Rover during this discount, to use exclusively for myself. The discount code is for US residents only, and is only valid for 48 hours, thru Tuesday November 3rd at 11:59 PST. If you have questions about how the Planetbox works, how much it holds, etc., you can visit my Most Commonly Asked Q’s About the Planetbox post, and you can visit my end of school post, which answers whether the Planetbox is really worth the investment.

Please let me know if you have any questions I  may have failed to cover in the above posts, and thanks so much for getting so much enjoyment out of my daily lunch posts on Instagram. I love sharing the ideas, and love that so many of you find them useful. As you know, I strive for balance and try to weigh health, food waste and childhood preferences in somewhat equal measure when I pack their lunches on a daily basis. In other words, I do my best to strive for a good variety of healthy foods, in a balanced combo of protein/carbs/healthy fats, but I also try to offer a daily “treat” as well as keep their likes and dislikes in mind, as to not waste food. I detest throwing away half eaten lunches, so with that in mind, I often pack what feels like the same items over and over, just because I’d rather my kids eat a good meal than perfect the most appealing lunch photo for Instagram. So some may say, “hey, these are kinda boring” or “hey, these aren’t totally healthy” and to that I say, “I do my best, deal with it!” At any rate, I know many of you enjoy my posts and I enjoy going back to revisit old ideas. You can seek over 160 daily lunch posts under the Instagram hashtag #howekids eat, and of course follow along on Instagram so you don’t miss a daily lunch post. For now though, here’s a month worth of ideas and options, and at the very end I’ve categorized several lunch ideas into gluten free, vegetarian and nut free options. Enjoy!
IMG_8417 Above – canned chicken, spinach salad, celery, apples & pears, Ocho peanut butter bar//Below – grilled chicken, pretzel sticks, veggies, watermelon, cinnamon twist, dark chocolate covered almonds IMG_7964 IMG_6887 Above – rice cake with almond butter & blueberries, graham crackers, grapes, veggies and dark chocolate covered almonds // Below – graham crackers with almond butter, apples, grapes & berries, rainbow carrots, mixed nuts and a Justin’s dark chocolate peanut butter cup IMG_6783 IMG_3240 Above – turkey sandwich on whole wheat, blood oranges & mangoes, snappea crisps, carrots and a Newman’s organic cookie sandwich // Below – tuna salad, crackers, snappeas, pineapple & tangerine and dried cranberries
IMG_9998 IMG_6669 Above – mac & cheese, shredded chicken, grapes & apples, rainbow carrots & tomatoes, dye free gummies // Below – turkey sandwich on sourdough, carrots & tomatoes, Bare Naked apple chips, Roam pork stick and Justin’s pb cup IMG_6313 IMG_6292 Above – almond butter & honey on whole wheat raisin bread, carrots & tomatoes, cheddar bunnies, Bare Naked apple chips, back to nature chocolate chip cookies and fruit salad // Below – hazelnut spread wrap, fresh broccoli and snappeas, hard boiled egg, pears, apples & berries, chocolate covered almonds IMG_6113 IMG_6051 Above – hazelnut spread sandwich on sourdough, back to nature chocolate stripe cookies, peaches & strawberries, rice crackers, rainbow carrots // Below – turkey sandwich on sourdough, babybel cheese, rainbow carrots & snappeas, apple straws, grapes & plums, trail mix IMG_5944 IMG_4124 Above – homemade chicken nuggets, grapes & oranges, rice crackers, celery & carrots and babybel cheese // Below – turkey sandwich meat, graham crackers, babybel cheese, dark chocolate chips, fruit salad and snap peas
IMG_0161 Vegetarian Lunch Options: vegetarian-options Nut-Free Lunch Options: nut-free-options Gluten Free Lunch Options: Gluten-free-options Don’t forget the code to receive 15% off any Planetbox purchase is FORTHELOVEOF15 and is valid for US residents only, through Tuesday November 3rd at 11:59 PST



Daily Style – Classy Hi-Tops

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“Thanks to VSP Direct for sponsoring this post. I am part of the Mom It Forward Blogger Network”
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Brown Leather Booties – Nine West; Fashion Frames – Nine West; Ankle Skinny Jeans – Paige Denim; Cardigan – Loft; Striped T-Shirt – Nordstrom (2 other really cute options here & here); Moto Bag – Rebecca Minkoff

I’ve been wearing glasses since I was in third grade. One of the first pairs of specs that I can clearly remember was an oversize frame in hunter green by Nine West. It was seventh grade and I had a crush on an eight grader named Jason. It was the time of The Cure, The Smiths and Morrissey, with oversize cardigans and Doc Martens, and I was smitten with his long “skater” bangs and thrift store cardigans. Flash forward nearly 20 years, and not much has changed. I still need corrective lenses, and the thrift store oversized cardigans are back in style.  944525_0289-15-VCCM_IPStyleCampaign_NineWest_Pinterest_3_2 It’s strange to think that I’ve also been seeing the same optometrist this entire time, and for the last few years he’s been suggesting I get Lasiks to correct my vision that is so bad I am pretty much considered legally blind. I’ve been holding off though because for all these years, contacts and glasses have been my companion and they have served me well. After years of paying out of pocket for eye exams and lenses, our credit union recently started offering all members VSP Direct™plans at an incredibly affordable rate, so we jumped on board

If you’re not familiar with VSP Direct™, it is an individual vision insurance plan that offers all around vision care, including eye exams and stylish frames for those of us without employee plans, or who are self-employed. Our particular plan covers the whole family for less than the weekly grocery bill, and includes exams for all of us, and the choice of either designer frames or contact lenses. Syd recently had to join the glasses club, so his frames were covered, and a years worth of contact lenses were covered for me. Art will soon be due for a new pair of glasses, and Taylor is lucky enough to so far have perfect vision. It’s nice to know though that if we need it, VSP is there.

VSP Direct is currently holding a “Frame Your Fall Look” Sweepstakes through November 7th, where you can pin your favorite fall look for a chance to win a $150 Nine West gift card, a Nine West must-have fall accessories package, and free VSP Direct Insurance for one year.
IMG_6365 We had a brief taste of Fall last week, and so I assembled my go-to Fall look that I will be sporting all season long. The standard outfit for me this fall will be my new ankle length skinny jeans, a comfy striped tee that can stand on its own if the weather turns warm, as it so often does in SoCal, a cardigan so when the weather turns on a dime as it so often does, I’m prepared, and of course some comfortable shoes. High-tops, as pictured here, are a great choice, as are flat comfortable booties that can take you anywhere. For transporting all your possessions around, the cross-body can’t be beat.

Feminine, yet still plenty functional and comfortable, this is my standard go-to look on a day to day basis. Adding on designer frames can help complete your personal look with affordable, on-trend glasses, like Nine West frames.
IMG_6356 In addition to the “Frame Your Fall Look” Sweepstakes, I’m also excited to be giving away an individual VSP Direct 1 year plan for one of my readers. Just leave a comment below telling me about your favorite Fall look, and you’ll be entered to win. I’l choose a winner next week on Sunday 10/25. Open to US residents only, giveaway closes at 11:59 pm PST. Good luck, and happy Fall!



Shopbop Annual Friends and Family Sale

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At midnight the Shopbop 25% off Friends & Family event began, and I logged in at 12:01 to buy myself a pair of wide leg denim jeans I’ve been drooling over for weeks. High waisted and super elongating, these jeans are a welcome new silhouette to add to my closet after year after year of skinnies and boyfriend styles. This morning I woke up to browse more of the sale, and came across quite a few things I’d like to add to my wishlist. Here are a few of my favorites, curated for your window shopping pleasure. Use code INTHEFAM25. fandfsale Plaid Flannel Shirt by Rails – $138 on sale for $103.50 (other Rails super soft flannels found here)

Wide Leg High Waisted Jeans by Siwy – $218 on sale for $163.50 (more budget friendly pair of wide leg denim by Free People on sale for $58)

Rebecca Minkoff Ball Threader Earrings – $58 on sale for $43.50

Nixon Bullet Leather Watch – $200 on sale for $150

Wildfox Sunglasses – $169 on sale for $126.75

Rebecca Minkoff Small Monroe Tote Bag in Forest Green – $245 on sale for $183.75

Rebecca Minkoff Charm Ring Set – $48 on sale for $36

Kate Spade Tracee Bow Booties – $350 on sale for $262.50

Tabbetha Cardigan by BB Dakota – $145 on sale for $108.75

Paige Denim Ankle Skinny Jean – $185 on sale for $138.75

A few other drool worthy pieces include this dress from Free People and these fringe booties by See Chloe. Now is also a good time to start thinking of your Christmas list. A Kate Spade planner or their classic oversized neon square stud earrings are a great gift for your girlfriend or sister.



Daily Style – Silk and Fringe

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IMG_6280 Silk Dress & Fringe Boots – c/0 Tullemoss Boutique; Bag – Rebecca Minkoff; Bodysuit – Free People; Ankle Jeans – Paige Denim; Bracelets – Tullemoss & Joyful Jewelry Box

Last weekend I spent 3 nights in Ojai with Beautycounter. I earned the trip by hitting a sales goal for the months of June and July, which surprised me more than anyone. Although I signed on to be a consultant back in February, I didn’t really start selling the products through socials and one-on-one appointments until June, so to achieve this trip in my first 2 months starting out, was pretty spectacular. They wined and dined us, as well as provided a couple of comprehensive training sessions, and I left there feeling inspired and even more convinced I made the right decision to sign on. I’ve been really blessed by this opportunity, as it’s enabled me to help get better products into the hands of a lot more of my friends, family and acquaintances, as well as been able to provide a more steady stream of income than blogging alone could provide. A win-win all around.  IMG_6285 If you follow me on Instagram, you may recognize this outfit from Tullemoss. I’ve been shopping at this local boutique for years now (see here and here and here), since back in the day when I would take Taylor and Syd to the Gymboree just a couple of doors down. I’d stop in after class, when the days at home with a couple of toddlers were long, and the few minutes of adult conversation with the shop owner, along with a purchase here and there, were just enough to help make it through dinner time.

The store has expanded and grown, adding in different labels and styles, but I still love going in there just as much, all these years later. I was jazzed to learn that they’d soon be opening up an e-commerce site, a huge undertaking and step that will help expand a local Long Beach boutique to reach a much wider audience across the country.

The online shop launches the weekend of November 7th, and Tullemoss is offering readers a 15% off code for the website’s launch weekend. Just visit their site and enter your email address for your code.
IMG_6298 IMG_6307 Because I’m tall, the dress on me is a bit on the short side, just because of the side slits, so to remedy this situation I simply wore my favorite Free People bodysuit underneath it. It’s the same one I wore under this look, and works perfectly for shorter type dresses, just to help provide an extra layer of coverage. For those who are a little less daring, the dress works super cute as a long tunic over jeans too. That’s how I wore it recently to Hayden’s preschool back to school night.
IMG_6325 IMG_6328 It feels good to break my blogging silence and get back here for a new post. Now that Hayden has started preschool, I definitely have a few more hours in the week, but between extra commitments at the big kid’s school and the house remodel, it seems like those hours pretty much evaporate into thin air. He truly loves going to school though and literally yells “YAY!!!!” when he learns it’s a school day. It has us thinking we may enroll him one extra day after the winter break. We’ll see how it goes, but for now we’re both pretty excited to see him so happy, and to finally have a child who we don’t have to tear away from our legs to go into the school yard.

Hoping you all are good and well, and have a wonderful rest of the week! Don’t forget to visit Tullemoss to get your discount code!
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Top 5 Favorite Beautycounter Items & Labor Day Promo

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IMG_4508 I joined Beautycounter as a consultant because I loved the premise of the company; beautiful products that performed, and were made safe. I started actively selling Beautycounter though, through “socials” and one-on-one appointments, because I was blown away by how well the products actually worked. But while I’ve been impressed with just about the whole line of products, I still have a few favorites that I wholeheartedly believe in and personally feel are the best I’ve ever used. This Labor Day weekend Beautycounter is giving away a full size jar of our Nourishing Cleansing Balm with every $150 purchase, so if you’ve been thinking of making a purchase and trying out this line for yourself, now’s the time. If you need help with where to start, here are my recommendations.

Note that I have color treated hair and overall dry skin, so these products work especially well for me. If you have concerns or questions though about my recommendations working for you, let me know and I’ll do my best to answer.

Clean Everyday Shampoo: I’ve sang this product’s praises before, and I’ll continue to do so until all my friends try this stuff out. The best I’ve ever used, it manages to clean my oily hair without drying it out or leaving it feeling stripped and lifeless, making it hard to style. Made with pure plant botanicals and zero sulfates, which can irritate the skin and contain known carcinogen 1, 4 dioxane, this shampoo instead uses ingredients derived from coconut oil and amino acids. beautycounter-clean-shampoo-1534x1168

Tint Skin: I’ve written about this foundation being wonderfully lightweight and yet still able to provide exceptional coverage, but I failed to mention the active skincare ingredients it contains, including hyaluronic acid, a natural moisture magnet which promotes smoother-looking skin and reduces the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. It can go on with your fingers, but goes on even smoother with the retractable complexion coverage brush. beautycounter_tint-skin-complexion-coverage_porcelain_1534x1168_view1

Soothing Face Wash: I’m always impressed with any face wash which can remove my Tarte mascara, which is usually a bitch to take off, and this stuff does just that, safely. Gentle yet highly effective at countering the signs of aging, with plant based ingredients including apricot kernel oil and camellia leaf extract, which work to provide the skin with moisture and a heady does of antioxidants. I have fairly sensitive skin, but this face wash truly works wonders for my skin. beautycounter_countertime-soothing-face-wash_main_1534x1168

Every Day Hydrating Cream: Super lightweight and non-greasy, this lotion is the perfect primer for my makeup, and leaves my face feeling great when I’m having a makeup free day. I recommend this to most women who are not seeking an active anti-aging regimen, because it’s gentle yet effective, and works for any skin type, be it super dry to oily and troubled. And like all of our products, paraben free, which is a preservative that mimics estrogen and is linked to endocrine disruption. I mix my cream with a drop or two of Lustro Face Oil #1 if I’m feeling particularly dry that day. beautycounter-every_day-hydrating_cream-1534x1168

Nourishing Cleansing Balm: If I feel like my skin needs some deep cleaning, I use this before my Soothing Face Wash, but mainly I just use it as a night time mask, once every couple of weeks. It also works wonders on dry elbows, knees and cracked heels. Part of our anti-aging line, it can be extremely powerful if used everyday, so because of my sensitive skin, I use it sparingly when I feel I need a good dose of hydration. Either way you use it though, be it every night or once a month, a little goes a long way and you will get months and months of use out of it. Raspberry Seed Oil and Cranberry Seed Oil hydrate and revitalize the skin, while Vitamin C brightens skin tone. This is the item you get for free by the way, when you make a purchase of $150 or more this weekend.  beautycounter_countertime-nourishing-cleansing-balm_main_1534x1168

Bottom line guys, I’m so happy and proud to be repping this line. I love the product, and even more so, I love the company and their mission. A few of the reasons why I chose to sell Beautycounter over another line? Here are a few bullet points that I like to rattle off if someone asks.

  • Beautycounter only uses ingredients with a proven safety record. Most commonly used ingredients in personal care products have never been tested for safety and therefore have no safety data. They have one of the strictest ingredient screening processes in the industry though, and will only use an ingredient they know to be safe. This eliminates the all too common scenario of swapping one bad ingredient for another.
  • Beautycounter respects nature and science. I always emphasize that Beautycounter is not an all natural company because we do use some synthetic ingredients, but as I mentioned above, only those with a proven safety record. It’s this beautiful combination of nature and science that helps the products work so dang well.
  • With science, safety and performance in mind, Beautycounter has assembled a kick-ass team. Gregg Renfrew, our founder, is a wonderful businesswoman who believes in the entrepreneurial power of women, which is part of the reason she chose a direct retail business model (the other reason was to help get the proper education put forth through consultants like myself). Christy Coleman, as a renowned makeup artist, ensures that our products actually perform. Mia Davis, head of Health & Safety and one of the responsible parties for getting BPA removed from everyday plastic items, helps to uphold our strict ingredient screening process. And lastly, our new Science Director, Nicole Acevedo, will help us better understand the physiological component of endocrine disrupting chemicals, and she will work with the health and safety team to screen all potential ingredients for safety and to move forward ground-breaking research.

Let me know if you guys have any questions at all about the products mentioned above. Tomorrow, I hope to share a few other great Labor Day promos going on with some of my favorite companies. Hopefully I’ll get around to it :) I don’t always like to feel like I’m encouraging shopping, even though this started out as a style blog. But the truth is, if I’m going to spend money I like to do so intentionally and especially during a promo time, and I figure most of you feel the same way too.



Potty Training the 3rd Time Around

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Potty-training We set out to get Hayden potty trained a couple of weeks ago, just several days shy of his 3rd birthday. In all honesty, had we not been required to have him fully trained for the start of preschool, I’m not sure I would’ve finally taken the plunge. He’s my 3rd and final baby, and I fully admit that by keeping him in diapers I was able to stay in the sheltered world of De-Nial, and keep him as my forever baby. But we all know that’s not the most functional form of parenting, so we took on the challenge gosh, 2 weeks ago now, and I’m happy to announce that we’ve conquered the loo and we now have our last kid out of diapers.

The basic run-down of the last couple of weeks goes like this. We began on a Wednesday by ditching the diapers completely and putting him in undies. For the first 3 days, we had him sit on the potty every hour during awake times. For naps we kept him in undies, but at night we put him in a diaper. For the first 3 days we had nothing but accidents and he didn’t use the potty a single time. By day 4 though, we had a very good idea of his “schedule” and could anticipate the times he was going to have to go, so on day 4 we backed off from having him sit down every hour. This is when the magic happened, and by the end of day 4 he went pee on the potty for the first time. He continued to have at least 1 accident a day for the next 3-4 days, and by day 8 he was telling us when he had to go potty, which is when you know you’re really making progress. It was also at this time that he asked to wear undies to go to bed, so we swapped the diaper for the undies and he’s continued to wake up dry (last night he even woke up Taylor and told her he had to go potty, and went!). He’s now routinely telling us when he has to go, and as of yesterday, is comfortably going when out in public. We have yet to nail down the pooping situation, but since we are only 2 weeks in, and about a week since a urination accident, we’re not too concerned with pushing him. We have confidence that he’ll get it pretty soon.

A few thoughts on our pretty straightforward process, just because I’ve had some friends and readers ask.

  1. No Pull-Ups: We’ve subscribed to the no pull-ups at all routine with all 3 of our kids, and it has not failed us. I read somewhere many years ago when we were first starting to train Taylor, that putting them in pull-ups will only delay the process, because it prevents the child from feeling the whole bodily process of having to go, and then releasing. I double checked, and it seems that many “experts” still agree on this no pull-up method. For day time we kept him in undies all day, and at night, we put him in a diaper, which he eventually asked us to replace with his undies after about 6-7 days. *We are lucky in that we breed camels for children, and can count on one hand the amount of night time bed wettings we’ve had with all 3 kids. In fact, I don’t think any of them have ever wet their bed at night, so if you have a child who’s still waking up with wet diapers, consult  the “experts” because I don’t know what to do 😉
  2. In regards to signs of readiness: Hayden was displaying all the typical signs of readiness including waking up with dry diapers, asking us to change his dirty diaper after going potty, telling us he’s going potty, hiding in the corner to go poop, and showing an overall interest in the potty.
  3. In regards to “waiting until they’re ready”: Aside from the elimination communication form of potty training, most “experts” agree that a child is ready to be potty trained around the age of 2, and at maximum should be trained by 3. For all intents and purposes I’d agree, based off of my own experience with my 3.  Taylor literally trained herself in a couple of days when she was 22 months old, while Syd did take a bit longer and after he finally relinquished the idea of “control”, was trained in a weekend just after his 3rd birthday. Hayden quite honestly, with his easy going temperament, could have been trained even younger, but like I said, we sorta waited out of sheer laziness and denial that our little dude was growing up. With all that being said, I don’t agree that potty training should be one of those areas that we just let the children take control and lead the way. Kids need our guidance and structure with most everything they learn, and potty training should be no different. If you can make the process carefree and stress-free, it’s my personal belief that potty training should be led by the parents, when they are ready, not necessarily when the child is “ready.” I had a couple of people suggest to me that I should hold off and wait a few more months(!) just because I mentioned that Hayden was still having accidents on day 3. Had we not continued to stick with it and I instead let Hayden “lead the way” we wouldn’t have a very proud and happy little boy, going potty on the toilet just like his big brother. I think this topic is just a matter of parenting style, so please follow your gut and if you truly believe all parties involved are ready, then ignore the unsolicited advice from other parents telling you to back off.
  4. Getting them used to the potty: Nope, we didn’t do this either. We have 2 kinds of potty seats; one of the cushioned rings which fits over the big seat and keep downstairs, and one of the little toddler potties that they can sit on and you dump the pee, which we kept upstairs. When we decided to start, we brought both out and simply said, “This is where you go potty!” We didn’t leave it beforehand so he could “test it out”, so don’t feel like that bit of advice should be followed. I think, just like the pull-ups advice, is unnecessary and can even be confusing for the kids.
  5. Going naked: This method of letting them run around so they get the full sensation of the urge to go, and then release, is quite effective. But because we were living with my in-laws where she has lots of nice rugs all over the house and expensive hard wood flooring, I took the route of having him wear one of those Gerber padded undies underneath a pair of regular undies. Who knows, having him wear undies the whole time may have taken a few days longer, but in the end we were successful with this method, so don’t feel like the free and naked route is the only way to go.
  6. Being home-bound: This is another method which “experts” say make potty training easier and quicker, and that may very well be the case, but we did not stay home-bound the entire time. We got out plenty, and yes, we did have a few accidents, but nothing that wasn’t manageable. We always made sure to have a change of clothes with us, and we took the toddler potty with us so we could have him try to go before and after we went somewhere, but we didn’t have much luck in the beginning with this. But now, we can go out and he will tell us that he has to go, and actually go!
  7. Using a reward system: By the looks of my social media feeds, it seems the M&M reward system is pretty popular in getting kids potty trained. I can’t say whether it works or not since we’ve never tried it, but I can confirm that a more nonchalant system of congratulating for a job well done works great, and doesn’t get you stuck in a never-ending, demanding cycle of pee/candy/pee/candy. Every so often, after Hayden started actually going pee on the potty, we would go crazy with congratulations and high fives, and then say “Hey buddy, here’s a little treat!” We never really used it as a reward per se, or a bribe to get him to go, and now he’s going just find without prompting or cajoling, and he’s not expecting anything in return.
  8. Withholding poop: From my own personal experience and from speaking with countless friends and family members, not all kids train to go both pee and poop simultaneously. Because poop tends to be a little easier to control than pee, some kids may withhold going, either for control or because they’re just not getting how to make a bowel movement happen when sitting down on the potty. This happened with Taylor, was no problem with Syd, and is now happening with Hayden. He’s yet to make a bm on the potty, but as I said above, it’s really only been 2 weeks total, and because he mastered pee pretty easily and quickly, we’re not too concerned that poo will come next, and soon.

So that’s over 1500 words on the subject of potty training. I didn’t think I had that much to say, but I guess after 3 unique experiences with 3 kids, there’s a lot to be learned and discussed! Bottom line, my advice is to not make it into a huge production. I know it can seem overwhelming, especially with your first child, but take it seriously and be consistent, and after a few days you’ll see that it’s no big deal. My last big piece of advice that I didn’t really mention above, is to not get upset about accidents or scold and shame them. I’m not saying you have to be a happy patient saint every time there’s an accident (believe me, I let my frustration slip a bit here and there), but just stay consistent with the practice and offer plenty of reassurance that accidents are okay, but remind them where their pee and poo go; in the potty! And remind yourself that accidents are great learning experiences for you too, because you get a better idea of their schedule and can anticipate when they’ll have to go. This will avoid countless, unnecessary hours spent on the potty.

I hope this helps and isn’t too vague! Please let me know if you have any questions about any of this, I’d be happy to share any info I may have missed! I just love talking about poo and pee! 😉



My Latest Thrive Market Order

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Thrive Market Order I just received my latest Thrive Market order, and I figured I’d go through my purchases because I got several new things this time around, with a special emphasis on after-school and lunchbox snacks.

If you’re not familiar with Thrive Market, it’s an online market which focuses solely on health-conscious, natural and sustainable food items, at a discounted price. There is a yearly “membership” fee of $59.95, but your first month is free and your first order is 15% off, so you can order a couple of times and see how much you’ll save. For some, it’s worth the fee and can easily be recouped in just 1-2 orders, but I’m sure others have found it may not be worth it. Either way, you get a month to try it out, and shipping is fast and free on orders over $50. I usually get my orders within 2 days, and so far I’ve been really happy with everything I’ve purchased. Oh, and I love that Thrive gives one free membership for every paid membership, focusing on low-income families, so that everyone may have access to healthier food options.  Thrive-1

So let’s go through my latest order, shall we? Starting at the top and working left to right:

New Primal Grass-Fed Beef Jerky $5.70/bag: I sampled this jerky at Expo West, and was impressed with the flavor and the no-junk ingredient label. The beef comes from grass-fed cows, and the limited ingredients include gluten-free tamari, honey and less than 2% spices and seasonings, so that the flavor really comes through. I put a few small pieces in the kid’s lunch boxes and they love it.

Lundberg Brown Rice Cakes $2.35/package: The cheapest I usually find these for are $2.99 so I picked up a couple of packages since I was running low. I eat these quite often, topped with a couple of tbsp of guacamole or almond butter and berries. They make an excellent, low calorie gluten-free snack that fills that salty, crunchy craving I so often get.

Justin’s Mini PB Cups (milk & dark chocolate flavors) $4.95/4.7 ounce pouch: These are just delicious and a fun little something something to add to the kid’s school lunches for a treat. I got milk chocolate for the kiddos and dark for myself. Thrive-2

Crofter’s Jam $4.45/16 oz jar: We’re close to being out of jam, and so I would just order this while I was thinking about it. We’ve bought this jam before and it’s delicious, and pricey at Sprouts, the primary place I shop. I think it’s usually $5.99 a jar and rarely goes on sale.

Justin’s almond butter packs $11.95/10 packs: These are great for on-the go and I usually pair a pouch with some apple slices or a rice cake. I think my Sprouts usually has them for about the same price, so not a significant savings.

Peelu gum $6.95/100 pieces: This is the best “natural” gum I’ve tried. Tastes great, lasts a long time and is made with fibers from the Peelu tree, which help to give your teeth a little bit of a cleaning while you chew, and is sweetened with Xylitol, a 0 calorie natural sweetener.

Organic Ghee $10.95/13 oz jar: This is definitely the cheapest I’ve seen this ghee for. It will be my first time trying it out, and I hope I like it as much as Omghee.

Inka Plantain Chips $3.29/2 4 oz bags: Many stores have their own label of plantain chips including Trader Joe’s and Fresh and Easy, but I love the Inka brand the best. This is a great price, better than anywhere I’ve seen.

Roam Pork Sticks $34.95/24 sticks: These were a definite splurge purchase, but I’ve been wanting to get these for the kid’s lunches since seeing them at Expo West, and it saved me some $$ by purchasing in bulk. They’re pastured pork sticks and are sweetened with maple sugar and flavored with a simple list of spices.

Justin’s Hazelnut Butter $11.95/16 oz jar: I know that I can get this same jar for $10.95 when on sale at Sprouts, only problem is, it goes on sale intermittently, and we go through a jar of this stuff every few weeks. Still a significant savings off of regular price, and worth the extra $1 I’d normally pay when on sale at Sprouts, just for the convenience of not having to check the sale price at Sprouts. By the way, this spread has 1/3 the amount of sugar as Nutella so that it actually tastes like hazelnuts and not like frosting, and is made with ethically sourced palm oil.

Surf Sweets Jelly Beans $1.95/3 oz pouch: No artificial colors or flavors, these and the gummy bears are really good, and have been used in helping get Hayden potty trained. By the way, I’ll write more about potty training for the 3rd time, and we don’t do the usual candy for each potty try, but hand out as a casual, nonchalant way of saying “hey, good job on going potty” occasionally after using the toilet.

Thrive-3 And a special shout-out to the best bag of seeds I’ve ever had. These Go Raw sprouted pumpkin seeds are slightly salted and truly taste amazing. At $10.95/16 oz bag, they may feel like a major splurge, but the bag is huge and will last you several weeks if not months. They are tasty on their own, mixed with a trail mix, or topped on salads. Truly delicious and Thrive has them for a great price!

So is Thrive really that much cheaper than stores like Whole Foods and Sprouts? Well, it depends. I’d say all things considered, and when not comparing to grocery store sale items, they absolutely are, but when on sale, I’ve noticed that on many things, the prices are comparable. Considering this, Thrive is great for really busy people, or those who don’t have the interest or experience with seeking out sale items, reading grocery store circulars and maybe even clipping store coupons. They also carry many items that are really, really hard to find at most stores. The jerky, pork sticks, gum, pumpkin seeds and even the Inka brand of plantain chips aren’t even carried at my local Sprouts. I’d have to go to Whole Foods on the other side of town, and even then they may not carry everything.

Bottom line, I don’t use Thrive to do all my grocery shopping, but I do use it to stock up on hard-to-find items, buy items in bulk, or buy items I know for a fact are cheaper than what my store carries them for (the rice cakes for instance). You have to do what works for you and based off of prices in your area, but for Southern California, I’m finding that the membership is definitely worth it.

Let me know if you have any questions at all! I hope this post helps though. You can get 15% off your first order and a free 30 day trial membership by visiting this link here.

 



Thriving With Hashimoto’s – Self-Care & Supplements

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IMG_4164 It’s been almost 6 months since I last wrote about the treatment of my Hashimoto’s, and almost a year since my initial diagnosis. Because I’ve been asked lots of questions, and because I’m just pretty darn excited, I wanted to give you all an update on my health and what I’m currently doing to manage my thyroid condition. Note, that I’m managing my Hashi’s symptoms, I’m not curing myself. The good news is, I feel great, and I hope the next couple of posts will help answer questions and maybe even give some of you suffering through this, hope that it can get better. I’m splitting this into 2 posts just to keep them brief, and because there’s been two important components to managing my Hashis, which each deserve their own space; self care & supplements, and diet. Let’s start with the supplements and self-care portion.

So far, I’ve been very fortunate to not have to be treated with any medication, and I hope to preserve my thyroid for as long as possible, and delay the eventual thyroid burnout. You can read a refresher on my original diagnosis in this post, and my initial treatment protocol from my Integrative Doc, in this post. Quick recap though, my Anti-TPO levels, which is what they test to detect for the autoimmune disease Hashimoto’s, was at 136. These levels were still pretty low so that my endocrinologist didn’t feel the need to treat me with any thyroid meds. Her approach was to just sort of wait it out, until the autoimmune response eventually burnt out my thyroid, which we would then treat with a synthetic at that time. This approach didn’t seem to make sense, so I went to an Integrative Doc who put me on a treatment protocol. So far it’s working out great for me.

Daily Supplements I’m Currently Taking
Selenium – 1 capsule daily to support thyroid function.
A-Drenal – 2 capsules before breakfast to help build up the adrenal glands and support adrenal hormones.
Vitamin D – 1 capsule daily
Focus DL – 1-2 capsules before breakfast to help with brain fog and mental clarity.
Magnesium and a Simple single-strain Probiotic – 1 capsule each for gut health and to balance out bowel movements.
DoTerra Lifelong Vitality Daily Vitamins

Supplements I Only Take When Necessary
Calm PRT – 2-3 capsules before bedtime to help lower my cortisol levels.
Travacor – 1 capsule 30 minutes before bedtime to help build up the serotonin levels.
I initially took these 2 supplements for about 8 weeks and saw an immediate improvement in sleep. Literally overnight I was sleeping better. I forgot them on a trip, so didn’t take them for a few nights and I was still sleeping well, so I stopped taking them. My guess is they did help my body get into a healthy sleep cycle and I no longer needed them. I take them now on the rare occasion I have a couple of bad nights of sleep, and they help me get back on track.

*A note about supplements: I cannot say this enough, but do your own research when taking supplements! I know there is a lot of skepticism in regards to supplements, as well as quite a few worthless products out there. I detailed all this out just because I wanted to share with you my specific treatment protocol, but I am not endorsing this specific treatment for anyone else. To be honest, I cannot tell you all with 100% conviction that it was supplements, and supplements alone that helped get my health back on track. In all truthfulness, it was most likely the multi-thronged approach of the supplements, along with diet and self-care, that has me feeling better. A friend who was dealing with some health issues of her own, and was also taking supplements, concurred that these supplements may be having no other effect on us than that of a placebo, but having both been in a such a rough place, we agreed that placebo or not, something was working and that was good enough for us! With that being said, I have scaled back on my original doses and eventually will phase out of these all together, hopefully by the end of the year.

Self-Care
The main thing to emphasis here is that I’ve had to learn to  take much better care of myself than before. Sleep is absolutely without a doubt essential. I aim to get 7-8 hours nightly, whereas before I would skate by on 5-6 hours of sleep. And it needs to be quality sleep, so I go to bed between 10-11 pm, when I am naturally drowsy and can fall asleep easily, and stay asleep. I don’t do a sleep song and dance routine, but just the usual necessities, like making sure my face is washed, contacts out and teeth are brushed, so I can comfortably relax in bed either watching TV or reading. I essentially prime myself for sleep. And I really feel that using the 2 supplements above, in conjunction with a healthier approach to sleep, completely solved my insomnia issues. I was able to easily fall asleep, but could not stay asleep, and at least 4-5 days a week I started my day between 3-4 am. That’s enough to tire anyone out, no matter what medical condition they have. Bottom line, I cannot stress the importance of restful sleep enough! This includes the occasional, or even routine daytime nap.

Alcohol intake has been another area where I’ve had to become very calculated and controlled (not that I was out of control before, but you know what I mean), so that at times it’s not even that enjoyable to drink because I’m so concerned about how it will impact my sleep and health. Bottom line, my tolerance has had to become significantly lower than before, and I have to watch that I don’t drink too close to bed time either. When drinking, I must eat and drink plenty of water, and I can’t really go beyond 2 drinks before I start feeling the negative affects of it. Overall, I guess this isn’t a bad thing, and as long as I can still enjoy a glass of wine while I’m prepping dinner at the end of a long day, I’m good.

Dietary Guidelines
Like I said, the diet part will be discussed in the second post, but for the most part I’ve continued to maintain a 80/20 gluten free diet, and I try to eat as clean as possible, most of the time. If I eat well, I feel great, but like most people who eat an overall balanced and healthy diet, if I have a few days off the grid, I definitely notice it. I’ll get into the specifics of the eating plan that helped me feel best in Part 2.

I was talking with some friends a couple of weeks back, and overall, we all have to take much better care of ourselves than we did when we were younger, even in the beginning of our motherhood journey. We all have to get more rest, we all suffer from more sensitive stomachs, and we all wake up with a hangover if we drink one glass too many. Our stories are all so similar that it can be hard to tell when you’re truly sick, or you’re just suffering the effects of getting old.

All I can say is to listen to your gut, and really take the time to monitor your symptoms. For me, I knew something was wrong when I was continually getting sick, and I could never feel like I had recovered from an illness in terms of fatigue and feeling better. I was always exhausted, I was down in the dumps, I had no motivation or drive to do anything other than get the kids to school and survive until bedtime. That’s it; at the risk of sounding overly dramatic, I really felt like I was just working to survive the day. With some patience and attention to self-care though, I’m truly feeling like I’m thriving once again. Now, I’m just like any other busy women and mother in her late 30’s – easily tired and a cheap date. I’ll happily take it. Let me know if you have any questions, and I’ll update this post once I get the 2nd part published.



House Update – Bathroom & Kitchen Design

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house-remodel-1 We are slowly but surely making headway on our home renovation, and the completion date is looking to be somewhere around early November. To get a refresher on what we’re doing, you can visit my original home remodel post and you can follow along on Instagram and see my #howereno tag for real-time construction updates.

At this stage in the remodel we needed to have the shower and bath valves ready for the plumbing crew. I’m learning a lot through this process and so when our contractor said he needed our valves, he didn’t even mean he needed the entire tub and faucet handles, but just the back-end of the plumbing fixtures. Because they’re all different though, we still needed to get the overall design of the bathrooms (and subsequently the kitchen too) squared away so we could order the right valves that went with our faucets and shower heads. Make sense? Don’t worry if it doesn’t, minor details anyhow 😉

So when it comes to “designing” a kitchen and a couple of bathrooms from scratch, my fear of screwing it all up is way more prominent of an emotion than actual excitement. I had dreaded the moment that we would have to start getting down to picking finishes just because I didn’t want to choose wrong and I knew I’d get overwhelmed with it all. Sure I have specific tastes and wants/needs, but when I see a room I like on Pinterest, I don’t feel very sure of being able to design and execute the design in a way I’d love enough to live with for the next 20-30 years. I guess you could say I don’t lack confidence in my taste preferences, but I do lack confidence in my ability to execute my taste preferences. That, combined with the idea of running around to different stores to pick out tile and fixtures, just doesn’t sound all that fun to me. Maybe I’m in the minority here.

In the end, I decided to have my friend Shelly of Van Rozeboom Interiors help me out and steer me in a clearer design direction. I sort of have varied tastes, and while I definitely have strong opinions on what I like and don’t like, I knew I could trust her design aesthetic to get us to a place we’d be happy with, otherwise I was afraid I’d end up designing a house that was all over the place. Because she’s recently moved, she’s doing e-design for us, which is an affordable option for those who just need a little hand-holding through the design process. I wasn’t looking for someone to take me around and spend hours shopping with me, or even show up at the house and oversee product installs. I just needed someone to narrow down what seems to be endless options, and so far I’m so happy we made the decision to go this route. With e-design she basically creates a story board for inspiration and then helps us pick out all the fixtures, tile, counter-tops, lighting and other necessary accessories. Because we’re friends she’s a bit more flexible with how she helps us out, but for the most part I believe she provides a client with a story board and then provides a couple of different options in each category to choose from. She typically gathers info from a client questionnaire, and looks at your Pinterest board. Just from our conversations, knowing me personally and looking at my Pinterest boards, she gathered that I was going for a modern day Santa Barbara Spanish style design aesthetic. Sounds great to me! Here’s where we’re at so far.

Master-Bath In the master bath we’re going for a bold statement with the floor in a painted concrete tile, which is a much more affordable option than traditional painted ceramic tile. We’re waiting on samples to make sure they won’t be too slippery in the shower, but if it passes the slip test the tile will run through the shower as well, and that vertical rectangular tile will run along the shower walls. To offset the black and white flooring, we’re going for brushed gold fixtures and a reclaimed wood cabinet. The countertops will be some sort of quartz in a white/light gray color. Key words in here were warmth, cozy, graphic and modern. I’m really, really excited about this room. house-remodel-2 A couple of progress pictures of the master bedroom and bath. This used to be the boys room, so they are being transplanted to the front master bedroom, and we are added a new bathroom back here. You can see the fresh concrete is where we added about 3 ‘ to the existing bedroom, and then the 8’ bathroom addition. It was really important to us not to encroach too much on the backyard that we love so much, so with that in mind we’re going with the basics. No soaking tub, just a shower, and no walk-in closet. The build-out in the photo above, to the left of the window, is where my closet will be, with just a standard sliding door, nothing fancy.

And the photo above is the one design risk we did take with the remodel. Using this bathroom as design inspiration,  we went with a huge picture window that overlooks the backyard. The posts will be wrapped/stained to match the cabinetry, and the mirrors will hang right on the posts. We will install a very sleek linen shade up top that can roll down for privacy, but otherwise we will keep it open to let in light most of the time. I’m excited and nervous to see how it all comes out.
house-remodel-3

Taylor's-Bathroom Taylor’s bath is still a bit of a work in progress. Because this bathroom will primarily be used by a tween girl, but also serves as the guest bathroom, we wanted it to be fun and modern, but also sophisticated. I’m still deciding on the mirrors and for the flooring we are either going with a light blue color as shown, or maybe even an orange sherbet color. We definitely want some pops of color in here to offset the white. The cabinet will have louvered doors but in a more modern, sleek style than the one pictured, and the shower/bath tile is going to be a very basic white subway tile to keep costs in line. Counter top will most likely be the same or similar quartz that we use in our bathroom. I love the lights we chose, but like I said I’m still not sure about the mirror, and this is already the second option she’s thrown out. I may keep looking. Key words in this room were fresh, light, fun, modern and sophisticated.

Kitchen-Design Finally, the kitchen will be the main center-point of the house, since when you walk in the front door it will be staring right at you. The new house design will be a completely open concept, so while the first room of the house is technically the living room, you pretty much see the kitchen when you first walk in. I wanted the kitchen to be bright and warm at the same time, and not super duper white, which is why we’re going to paint the 10′ island deep navy blue, and go with an alternate counter-top for the island as well. For the rest of the counter-tops, we’ll continue with quartz since it is so durable and there are so many beautiful options these days. Those pendant lights are amazing and I want them so bad, they’re just a wee bit out of our budget, so we may hold off on them or keep looking.

The photo below is of my new and improved kitchen window, which measures close to 5 glorious feet and opens up nice and wide to let in lots of fresh air. Our old window was a small garden box which had 2 teeny tiny vented side windows that let in no air. I’m really so excited about this new window above the sink and can see myself happily doing dishes here for years to come.  house-remodel-4

While the design of the kitchen is of course important, the main beef of the room revolves all around the appliances. Shelly answered some general questions for us, but really in the end choosing the right appliances for our needs and budget was really left up to us. We have decided to go with a Thermador 6 burner counter-top range, a Bosch double oven, dishwasher and microwave, and a Samsung fridge. This past weekend I went to 3 different stores and spent lots of time researching online and scouring Consumer Reports. While I initially went in thinking we’d go for a Thermador package (buy a range and oven and get a dishwasher free), when push came to shove it just didn’t make financial sense, and we really wanted to stick with our budget. We’ve quickly found out that going over budget here and there quickly adds up, and with appliances things could easily get out of control. Bosch makes a great product that rates well and is very affordable compared with the other high-end appliances. Plus, Thermador now owns Bosch, and I would have went with Bosch for all the appliances but they don’t make a 6 burner range top, just a countertop stove.

Believe it or not, choosing the fridge took the most time. We originally designed a built-in fridge for the kitchen, but when we learned that built-ins start at $7,000 and don’t really give you all that much extra storage space, we scrapped that idea. Instead, we decided to go with a counter-depth fridge to get the same sort of look as a built-in but at a fraction of the cost. Yes, you sacrifice some storage space (about 5 cubic feet depending on the model), I figure a smaller fridge just helps me keep things more organized in there. I routinely clean out our fridge every week, so a little less storage shouldn’t be that big of an issue. Plus, we do have a back-up fridge in the garage. Bosch makes a nice counter-depth fridge, but in the end we went with Samsung because it had a couple of extra cubic feet as well as some extra features we were looking for, and was very energy efficient, so much so that SCE is giving us a $75 rebate!

Now that we’ve got the design thing figured out and we’ve chosen the appliances, I’m getting really really excited and very anxious for this to be done! I can’t wait to move past this bare-bones look and start seeing some more progress, like insulation and drywall hehe :) Thanks for your patience while we adjust to a new living situation and I find it a bit more challenging to share in this space. I can’t wait to be back and settled in and return to more regular posts here. Talk soon and keep in touch on IG!