Basic Invite

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Can you believe that it’s already time to start thinking about your fall family photos? I’m no where near ready for fall but I love any opportunity to pick out new outfits for the kiddos. Sadly, school will be back in session before we know it! Summer is so bittersweet.

I’m at that stage in my life where every weekend there’s a baby shower scheduled or a first birthday. Holiday cards are always sent. Fall family photos are always taken. I’m constantly on the hunt for the perfect card whether it be for my daughter’s birthday party or Christmas cards to send to my family so I was really excited to discover Basic Invite.

What sets Basic Invite apart from other online stationary companies is that they are one of the few websites that allows customers almost unlimited color options with instant previews online. Once you select a design you can change the color of each element on the card to over 180 different color options so you can make sure the card is exactly how you want it down to the littlest detail. You can choose from over 40 different colors of envelopes so that you can make your invitation stand out even before it is opened. And ALL of their envelopes are peel and seal so the envelopes can be quickly and securely closed. #momwin!

My favorite feature is that Basic Invite is one of the few websites that allows customers the ability to order a printed sample of their actual invitation so you can see exactly how it will print, as well as the paper quality, before you ever have to place your final order.

I know it is early to start thinking about holiday cards BUT Basic Invite offers an address capturing service that allows customers to simply share a link on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or any other form of social media to request their friends and family’s addresses which will be stored in the customer’s account and can then be selected during the design process. Basic Invite offers recipient address printing at no cost on all Christmas card orders. Get those fall family photos booked ASAP!

Right now Basic Invite is offering 15% off with coupon code: 15FF51

Some my favorites are their baby shower invites – gender neutral baby shower invitations and owl themed baby shower invitations, and of course, their holiday cards.

I hope you enjoy Basic Invite as much as I do!

XO,

Sara

In Collaboration with Basic Invite. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

 

 

Blue Apron Review

I realize that I am a little late to the Blue Apron Game but really, who has time to cook these days? I was reluctant to try it because my kids barely allow me time to cook taco meet. I had no idea how I was going to spend 45 minutes cooking a meal. But alas, I was sent a box, so I decided to give it a try.

I thought, “I’ll cook it on Sunday night when Dean is home so that way he can keep the kids busy.” Well, lets be honest here, those kids never leave my side. I’m pretty sure Dean was sound asleep in the basement (insert your choice of emoji here) for most of the time I was cooking and disciplining. So I had two little helpers. The pictures below were right before I banished them to the bar stools.

I successfully got everything prepped with minimal damage from the kids. They did squish the butter, and almost spilled the Apple Cider Vinegar on the floor but most of the food came out of the prep unharmed. It didn’t take nearly as long as I thought it would, so that was a big plus.

I was really excited about the choice of vegetables. The kids and I always love a good, fresh vegetable. Of course, they wouldn’t touch these (keep reading).

 

Give me all the cauliflower!

Pros:

I must say, I thought the dinner was delicious and very fresh. Dean even ate a few of the vegetables. And it wasn’t nearly as complicated as I thought it would be. We tried new vegetables that I never would have thought of buying. There were also no leftovers. Dean did say that it tasted like something from a restaurant. It’s hard to please Dean’s palate so that’s a BIG pro.

Cons:

There were no leftovers. The portion sizes are small! I picked the meal for a family of four which I thought would be more then enough food since two toddlers can’t possibly eat that much, and honestly, they didn’t eat that much. There is no way that this meal could have fed four adults. I could also easily recreate this meal for about half the cost of what Blue Apron charges. Sorry Blue Apron!

I loved grilled vegetables but my kids don’t so they wouldn’t eat the vegetables even though they normally gobble them up. I ended up making a separate veggie for them entirely. That’s not really a Blue Apron “con” more of just a general life “con”.

So all in all, I would try Blue Apron again but there is no way that I could do it after a long day of work, before Dean is home, while the kids are crabby. I do think it would be a great replacement for all of the ordering out we do on the weekends.

Do you Blue Apron?

XO,

Sara

 

Activities To Do With Your Kids This Holiday Season

Let me preface this by saying – I love my kids more than anything in the world. They are my reason for being. My sun in the sky. Spending time with them gives me more joy than anything in the world.

Buuuttt…

I am kind of dreading the 10 straight days I will be spending with my kids this holiday season. Does anyone else feel this way? No, I am the only horrible mother? I mean, being a mom is really, really hard. It’s not bad in the summer because we can spend the day outside at the park or pool, but in the winter…I mean, what in the world am I going to do to keep them busy for ten days??? And yes, #momlifeisthebestlife 😉 but it is still really, really hard.

I am also a huge germaphobe, and I can’t do crowded indoor places. I can literally see the germs just flying around everywhere. Gross, right? Yes, I am nuts. 😉 But that rules out indoor play places for me.

So I’ve come up with a few activities to do with your kids to help you keep your sanity.

  1. Go to the zoo. Yes, that’s right, go to the zoo in the winter. And I’m not talking Zoo Lights either. Go during the day, in the middle of the week when it is cold and snowing. NO one else will be there! It’s amazing. It’s probably the only time you won’t find the zoo crowded. You can use the animal houses to warm up. So grab some hot chocolate and enjoy the zoo all to your self. 🙂
  2. Have a staycation. We booked a night for the Wednesday after Christmas at a hotel about five minutes from our house that has suites and an indoor pool. We are going to swim, eat, watch movies. Hopefully, the kids will have fun. If nothing else, it will be a change of pace.
  3. Find some Christmas lights. My kids, especially my little guy, are obsessed with Christmas lights. So drive around, find some towns that go all out, bring some treats, take some pictures.
  4. Crafts. We love Hobby Lobby up in ‘her. Maybe it’s because I am a Kindergarten teacher? Well Hobby Lobby is a great place to grab holiday crafts on the cheap. This year we’ve made a Christmas tree Advent Calendar, a tree skirt, a manger, a styrofoam snowman, and a few random other odds and ends.
  5. Bake cookies to decorate. My kids don’t particularly like the “baking” part of cooking but they do love the decorating. So pull out a tube of sugar cookie dough, grab some frosting and sprinkles, and let the kids go a little crazy.
  6. Take a train ride. Just for kicks. You don’t even have to go anywhere special. Just ride it! Or get off at a nearby town and grab some food.
  7. Your local library. They have tons of activities but I caution you: there will be germs.
  8. Indoor play zones. See above: GERMS. But you’re probably not nuts like me so go for it. We like SkyZone, Gymnastics places (usually will have open gym time), The Ball Factory, and Westmont Yard.
  9. Go get cookies at a bakery. Or Donuts. Or Cupcakes. There is a place by us that serves Baby Donuts, and we love to go there for a snack. Go at an off time to avoid the crowds.
  10. Run around the mall. Ride elevators. Find some candy stores. Get some hot chocolate. Build a Bear.

What will you be doing to keep your kids busy this holiday season?

Photo by Melissa Zimmer Photography

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10 Ways to Make Mom Life Easier

For almost four years, I have been a mom. More than that really, since my whole life and priorities shifted as soon as Chloe started cooking in my belly. I would like to think that by now, I’d have it all figured out. But I don’t. And I am by no means an expert.

BUT here are some things that I do that I THINK have made my life a tiny bit easier.

  1. Pick out clothes the night before. For as long as I can remember, I have laid out my clothes for the next day the night before even if I have no where to be. Picking out my daughters clothes the night before has saved us so much time and arguing in the morning. My son is easy because he will wear whatever I put on him but I still pick his clothes out before I put him to bed. Then I am not searching for anything in the morning. Sometimes, I’ll even lay out my husbands clothes for him. 🙂
  2. Have a strict morning schedule. My husband needs to be at work early. He works for a freight brokerage company and things get started at the crack of dawn. So I am solo most mornings with the kids. Keeping a strict morning schedule ensures that we are out of the house by 7:15.
    • I wake around 5:50 am (5:00 if I am working out), shower, get dressed, eat breakfast, and pack up the car.
    • At 6:45, I wake my daughter. She gets dressed, we brush her teeth, comb hair, and go potty. I make her a quick breakfast, and she eats while I get Ryan up.
    • At 7:00, I wake up Ryan, get him dressed, and give him something he can eat in the car – apple, banana, or yogurt pouch.
    • At 7:15 it’s shoes and coats.
    • At 7:20, we are in the car on the way to daycare.
  3. Ask your family for help. We all need our sanity. Enlisting family to help out on occasion can give you so much relief. Most likely, they will be happy to spend time with your children. They also probably won’t charge you anything to watch them. We are lucky enough to live 5 minutes from my parents, and the kid’s daycare is three blocks from my parent’s house. While I still always feel guilty, my mom will help out and pick the kids up from daycare some days so I can work out, see friends, etc. She’ll also drop by and bring dinner if I’m solo parenting, or if she found something at Costco that I “must have”. Funny how you need your mom more the older you get. (Love you, Mom!)
  4. Daycare vs. Nanny. We went back and forth – Daycare or Nanny? Daycare or Nanny? In the end, we chose Daycare for many reasons. My main reason was safety. I like knowing that if, God forbid, something horrible happened like someone chokes or gets injured, there is an entire team of people who would know what to do. But I also love that daycare is always open. I can send the kids to school even if I have a day off work. Maybe I won’t send them the entire time (well maybe I do) but enough that I can workout, run errands, be in the house all by MYSELF. It’s a nice perk. Have you ever tried to get stuff done while a babysitter is there? It does not work!
  5. Find an 18 year old to babysit. It took a while for me to feel comfortable with someone besides family watching my children. One night, I gave in and decided to try the 18 year old who lives across the street. It was a game changer! She is so willing and eager to babysit. The amount of date nights we have had recently has increased by 200%.
  6. Have a laundry schedule. This sounds so silly but trust me, it helps. Whites get washed on Friday, kids clothes and towels get washed on Saturday, darks and sheets get washed on Sunday. In the summer, I may throw in an additional load of the kids stuff during the week because they go through so much but we can usually get by with just once a week.
  7. Make lunches the night before. For some reason, having to make a lunch for work/school is my most dreaded task. I would love a job where I could actually leave and go out to eat. But alas, sadly, I do not. Packing lunches the night before saves me precious time in the morning.
  8. Exercise. Find time to do this! It does not have to be everyday. Even just a few times each week will help you to feel less stressed, and ready to tackle those mommy duties.
  9. Plan your meals for the week. I know, annoying. I don’t make anything fancy though. I’ll pick up things like chicken, ground beef, flank steak, and fresh pasta, and then worry about what exactly I’m making later. I always make sure to have taco seasoning around and Roa’s Marinara. I’ll also just pick up tons of fruits and veggies that we can mix and match with each meal, and some type of starch. We love the Seeds of Change rice, and I’ll always stock up on that. I keep it simple. It’s impossible to cook anything with kids running around anyway.
  10. Hire a cleaning lady. If you have the means, this is the best money I spend all year. If I’m putting myself on a budget, I will gladly forgo a new pair of jeans to keep the cleaning lady coming. Ours comes every other week, and deep cleans our home with organic products. Yes, I still need to wipe counters and vacuum occasionally but she does all the deep cleaning that I do not have time for. She does a better job cleaning than I could ever do!

What do you do to make mom life a little easier? I’d love to hear!

 

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Pretty Pintastic Party

Our Holiday Cards

Yes, it’s that time of year again where I completely cover my kitchen cabinets in holiday cards and leave them up ’til June. 😉 Anyone else? No, just me? This year, I chose to order my cards through Paper Culture, and I am so happy that I did! I was very excited to receive these as I always love a clean, simple holiday card. This one caught my eye right away. It is a little more modern than the traditional cards out here, and different than all the others I was looking at. Another great thing about Paper Culture? They plant a tree for each order, and you get to dedicate the tree to someone special. They are offering 50% off right now through Thursday, so if you have not ordered your holiday cards yet you still have time! Paper Culture’s prices are amazing for the quality of their paper.

Picking the photos

I had a really hard time narrowing down which photos I wanted to use for our holiday card because we had so many good ones from our fall photo shoot. In the end, I chose two that embodied our family dynamic  – Ryan being wild, and Chloe being a princess. I mean, how adorable is Ryan’s crazy hair? And Chloe’s little curls? I couldn’t be happier with how the cards turned out.

Are you sending holiday cards this year?

XO,

Sara

Nobody Said Having Kids Would Be Easy

It’s 4:00 pm on a rainy Saturday, the “witching hour”, as us moms have come to know and dread. You have been up since 6:00 am. You have played with every toy in the house and then some, you have painted, you’ve made obstacle courses, you’ve built a fort, watched tv, eaten all the snacks, and there is still four more hours until the blissful freedom of bedtime.

The kids are now fighting. They have had enough sharing for one day. Your son performs one of his signature wrestling moves on your daughter. She bites him. Crying ensues. You are arguing with your husband about anything and everything from why the kids can’t behave to what to eat for dinner. Your house is in a complete state of chaos. Toys cover every square inch of your home.

You struggle through preparing dinner while your kids hang all over you, pull at your clothes, whine, and rub boogers on your jeans. You somehow manage to get dinner on the table only to watch your son throw all of his ketchup covered food on the floor.

It is now 8:00 pm. You survived the bedtime routine. The kids are finally asleep! Kudos to you. Dishes and laundry can now commence. By the time the house is cleaned up and the chores are done, you are too tired to even start a movie. You sip a glass of wine and attempt to watch Netflix without making lists in your head while your husband snores on the couch next to you.

Nobody ever said having two kids would be easy. It still boggles my mind how one kid feels like one kid, while two kids feels like 10 kids. I follow so many moms on Instagram and wonder what I am doing wrong. How are they making it look so easy while I can barely find the time to brush my teeth? I can count on one hand the number of times I have actually blowdried and curled my hair since my daughter was born in 2014. I don’t paint my nails anymore, I paint a three year olds instead. The only time I am ever able to get showered and dressed is if I wake before my children which means getting up between 5:00 and 6:00 am.

Evenings are even harder. There’s wrangling two kids into the bathtub, and then trying to keep them there long enough to wash them but not so long enough that they start trying to drown one another. There is crying and yelling, ultimatums, and empty threats. At the end of it all, the battlefield that is bedtime leaves you battered and scarred, and you have no energy left for anything but internet surfing and Facebook stalking.

But no matter how tough it gets, and man will it get tough, I wouldn’t change a second of it. Because for every tough second, there are 1000 sticky kisses and “Momma up’s” and sweaty hugs that make it all worth it. And boy, is it worth it.

That’s the funny thing about motherhood.

Read a previous post about motherhood truths, here.

Get To Know Us

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On Sara: Boots // Jeans // Top

On Chloe: Boots

On Ryan: Shoes // Top

For those of you new to the blog, I’m Sara, and I am a Nutritionist turned Kindergarten teacher. I have a passion for health and fitness but I am only human. French fries are my vice, and “no fry left behind” is my motto. I’m such a nerd. Seriously, such a nerd.

I live in a Western suburb of chicago with my husband and our two kids, Chloe (3 1/2) and Ryan (1 1/2). They are both January babies, and almost exactly two years apart. We also have a cat that I despise.

My husband is Dean, and he works in Chicago for a Freight Brokerage Company. We have known each other for almost 11 years, and I still have no clue what he does all day. All I know is that sometimes he has to travel, and I get to be a solo parent.

Dean and I met looong ago at a bar called Schoolyard in Chicago on a random Sunday. It was a time in my life when I was still fun. 😉 Dean is the funniest person you will ever meet, has 134,568,971 friends, and is always the life of the party. BUT it took a little while for me to warm up to him. Fun Fact – I thought Dean was incredibly obnoxious when I first met him. Haha.

Anywho, our relationship has been pretty text book – we dated for about four years, were engaged for one, and have been married for five. Dean is still the person that I want to talk to at the end of each day, makes me laugh harder than anyone else, and is my best friend. But yes, he drives me crazy sometimes. 😉

I got pregnant with Chloe one year after we had been married. She entered this world fast and furious. Literally, labor with her was about two hours. When we got to the hospital after my water broke, I was eight centimeters dialated and having NO contractions. But in true Chloe fashion, she decided she wanted out, feet first, so I was rushed into a very quick c-section. And of course, she was the “sassiest” baby in the hospital, or so we were told. Chloe is now the definition of “threenager”. She loves to lock herself in her room with her iPad, and frequently tells me to “leave her alone”. I am absolutely dreading the teenage years. But, full disclaimer, I couldn’t love her more!

Ryan came exactly two years later. I actually wrote a previous post about Ryan’s birth. He quickly became my little bubba. He is my love and my heart, and the snuggliest boy there ever was. He is such a momma’s boy, always asking for more kisses. He is also the wildest thing there ever was. He has no qualms about throwing himself off the top of the staircase or summersaulting off the couch. My boy, you keep my anxiety levels high and the Xanax flowing.

Dean and I have been very blessed in the in-law department. We are very fortunate that our families get along so well. It makes holidays just that much more fun, and immensely less stressful. No driving from house to house, we just simply celebrate together.

Currently, we are working each day to make the best lives for our kids. We are taking it day by day because, as you know if you have children, life can get pretty complicated.  We have our sights set on our dream home, and we hope to be in it by the time Chloe starts Kindergarten. Upon doing so, I will also promptly get a Golden Retriever.

I hope this post helped you to get to know my family and I a little better. Any questions? I’d love to hear them!

What To Wear For Fall Family Photos

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On Ryan: top / denim / New Balance

On Chloe: dress (runs BIG) / shoes

On Sara: sweater / skirt / booties

On Dean: shirt / denim / shoes

 

I am not a big fan of posed photos, and neither are my children, so I was really happy that Melissa Zimmer Photography captured the essence of my wild and crazy family so perfectly.

We pumped the kids full of snacks for our 6pm photo shoot. I was a little worried about the timing since we normally eat dinner around 5:45, and my Type A self hates to break routine, but I was willing to make the sacrifice for the beautiful light I knew we would get.

I am not a fan of posed photos so we let the kids run around for the majority of the time, bribing them to smile with pizza afterwards.

I chose outfits based on what my very opinionated threenager picked out to wear. You should have seen her trying on dress after dress, twirling in the mirror, in the fitting rooms at Gap. I didn’t want us to be matchy-matchy but since Chloe chose a bright pink dress, I tried to pick more muted/neutral colors for the rest of us. My outfit was a last minute choice since the top I had originally picked to wear ended up being pretty see through in the afternoon light. Dean’s shirt is old but it complemented Ryan’s well. Ryan’s Hudsons are old, and run huge (they are 12mo) that his skinny self finally fits into them.

Our photos ended up being quick and painless. I recommended keeping any family shoots to 30 minutes or less. My kids were done after about 20 minutes.

I hope you enjoy some of my favorites as much as I do!

XO,

Sara

photos by Melissa Zimmer Photography