July 31, 2016

Slowing down...

I felt it was extremely important for me to break my no-weekend-blogging rule tonight.
As I rushed around this weekend cleaning our house, going to cookouts and family parties, I moaned and groaned about how stressed I was for my wedding, and how frustrating it was to be alone all weekend with my son while Tim is at work. I spent the morning exhausted and praying Cooper would go back to sleep for just one more hour until I could open my eyes a bit more.

Late this afternoon, while I rushed to scarf down a slice of left over pizza before Cooper started whining of boredom, I had a quick minute to scroll through my Instagram feed only to find some heartbreaking news.

A fellow blogger, Tori Marocco of EXPLORATORI FASHION said her final goodbye last night to her almost 2 year old son, Jax as he lost his fight to a rare genetic disease.
After letting what I just read sink in for a moment, I looked at my son and began to weep. I felt awful in so many ways.

Now, I do not know Tori personally and in fact only recently started to follow her story. But my heart instantly began to ache for her and her husband. This loving family has just lost a piece of them. The glue of a family that makes you whole. That feeling in the pit of your stomach that just won't ever go away.

This family, is laying their angel to rest...and I'm sitting here complaining my son won't take a nap. I took a long look into my son's eyes and just cried. How could I be so selfish?

In that moment, I didn't want to let him go. I wanted to lay on our chair and snuggle and I wanted to be by his side forever. It was time to put down the duster, put away my cell phone and be there in the moment with Cooper. To cherish that belly laugh he has when you play Itsy Bitsy Spider with him. Laugh with him at the stinky diapers I have to change. Let him play in the tub a few minutes longer. I needed to rock him just a few moments longer once he falls asleep before putting him down to bed. It was my wake up call.

Suddenly I didn't care about my wedding. I didn't care about the mess or the fact that I haven't gotten to brush my hair yet since my 3 minute shower. I'm vowing today to take the time to enjoy the lazy moments home with Cooper, with my husband. Because while they seem small sometime, they are the most important and meaningful. They are why I wanted to be a mother. Tori, I pray for you and your family during this immensely tough time in your lives. There is no possible way I or anyone else could comprehend what you and your husband are going through. Jax is an angel and this is Heaven's gain. Your family is an inspiration and extremely humbling. <3

July 29, 2016

A Letter to 16 Year-Old Me

High school is a really confusing time for everyone. It housed some of the best and worst moments of my life. It’s a fun, crazy, yet cruel and twisted bubble that we live in for four years, and usually stays with us early into our college years. It’s where we find who we are, we give people labels, separate into social groups and cliques. It’s where you find your firsts. First loves, first forever friends, first heartbreaks. If I could have had a letter like what I’m about to share in high school, I sometimes wonder if things would have gone differently.


A Letter to my 16 Year-Old Self

Hey girl,
This has been a tough year for us. You’re just starting to figure out who we are and the fact that we have trust issues to start really doesn’t help. So, I decided to fill you in on some things you should know before senior year starts.

2016-07-29 12_23_05-Edit Post ‹ Top Knots &amp; Sweatpants — WordPress.com

Your friends – This past year has really changed. You started hanging out with some new, and awesome friends. Best friends. Friends you feel like you’ve been missing for a while. You’ve all been inseparable. Unfortunately, that could change as you guys grow up and hit new stages in the future. Don’t be hurt by this. That’s just life. But what you should do is try to be more understanding and sensitive. Make a better effort to spend time with them. Don’t let your boyfriends get in the way of what’s really important. Because otherwise there is going to come a time when they won’t be around for you anymore. And for a while you will blame them for it and say they were terrible friends, but deep down you’re going to miss it. The girls nights, the car rides, the parties in the woods. Even the goofing off in public and not caring what anyone things. You feel free and happy right now. Hang on to that. Be good to your friends and value them.

You’re a good person and a good friend. You’re just young and confused.
With that being said, you will come across some of your friends that you thought would be in your life forever that are honestly just plain selfish. You’ll cut the fat out of your life. And it will be really hard and sad. It still is some days. It’s hard to think of how such long and strong friendships can just end like that. But remember, the people who love you will always be there no matter what.

The boys – Oh boy, oh boy. You are one seriously boy-crazy 16 year old. Slow down! And get real about things. The 21 year-old pizza delivery boy probably doesn’t have the best intentions and doesn’t like you for you. Which will be extremely apparent by the fact that you only hang out when no one else is around. Listen to Mom (who won’t let you hang out with him) and let it go.

I know you were really hurt by Mason (and Mase, if you’re reading this…sorry, we were young). He was your first love and you gave him everything. Whatever you do, please try not to take it personally. Just try to remember that he is young, too. Eventually you will both grow up and you’ll stay good friends. Just know in the end, you’re extremely happy for each other, you’ll always want the best for one another and he’s a good person…even if he seems like a total d-bag now.

Stay away from the guys your friends like. That’s not fair. Even if you ask if it’s OK, it’s never okay. And you really hurt their feelings. And guess what…it doesn’t last! So don’t even bother. You’ll end up destroying your entire group of friend’s dynamic and losing a couple great friends in the process. This was a tough one for me, so I really don’t want you to go through it too.

Don’t skip your senior prom. I almost did. And I’m so happy I didn’t now. Also, go stag. The person we took to senior prom you ended up dating and ruining the friendship you both had. Not worth it. Don’t date him and stay friends. You’ll thank me later.

Continue making fun of Tim and do exactly what you think it right in regards to your friendship with him. Don’t change a thing or you might risk the future for us.

Your family – Things are rough. They have been. Mom and Dad are fighting a lot and there are a lot of rumors circulating. Ignore the rumors for now, because they will bring you too much pain. There is a reason Mom is acting like what you think to be crazy right now. Just remember that. It’s not all what it appears to be. Go see a counselor. You need to talk about it. Don’t let it bottle up and pretend there is no issue. It gets better, sort of.

You’re going to come to a point in your life where you need to confront Dad. Do it. We are tired of the secrets and lies. And it may help salvage your relationship with him.

Be nice to Ariana. She is your saving grace now. You two will end up best friends, so remember she is still young when you get frustrated with her. She is an amazing aunt and sister-wife (hehe)
Attend all of those family parties you keep missing. Your extended family has been so supportive over the years. Give them back the support they deserve.

The future – You have a lot of great opportunities coming to you. Take them all! Even the ones I said no to. Every opportunity is a chance for you to grow and learn more about life and love. Take more risks and go on adventures. We played it too safe. Don’t transfer colleges after a year, don’t give up on your dreams. You have a ton of potential I never got to tap into.

And girl, you need to travel! Don’t purchase that handbag you don’t need, purchase a plane ticket. You need to get out. Because there will come a time when it’s not as easy to pack up and go.

Most importantly, trust your gut. You are smarter than you give yourself credit for. And please, whatever you do in life, remember that you ARE worth it. You deserve love. You are a true and loyal friend, you just need to always put yourself in someone else’s shoes. Be a role model to your sisters, respect your body and mind. Don’t get that tattoo…any of them that you got. When your mom says “what about when you have a wedding”…you’ll understand later when the time comes. They are beautiful and fun, but that tattoo just isn’t you. And it’s a bitch to cover up at work.

If you are even feeling down and feeling like things won’t go your way…if you feel like you can never catch a break, remember you are strong. You work hard, you are respectable, and you WILL come out on top. You are a fighter. You are going to get everything you wanted. Except winning the lottery. You can’t win because of your job. Boo.

Love always and see you soon,

Yourself

circa 2016

July 18, 2016

Before & After: My new obsession with spray tans

Inspiration for today's before and after came from a post I found from The Thrifty Pineapple about being a spray tan newbie. Angela battled with a splotchy fading tan from her experience unfortunately, but I've never had this experience!

I am also a spray tan newbie. I recently became a fan of spray tans a couple months ago when a friend convinced me to try it for her wedding. I was the maid of honor and after just having a baby, I desperately needed some glowing skin to make me feel more confident walking down the aisle. I had feared getting another spray tan after the orange episode I had my freshman year of college before spring break. I looked like a traffic cone. I swore off spray tan booths forever after that.



In came Glistening Goddesses, a local business doing professional spray tans. No booths! I walked in to the Johnston location to a tanning salon that made me feel uber girly. Bright pink walls, and hanging photos and quotes dressed the walls. The double 'G' crown logo made me feel like a princess.
Cassandra, the woman who did my spray tan, was FIERCE. This girl was no joke. She knew what she was doing and made you feel totally comfortable. I decided to spray tan in just undies, but really it's all based on preference. My color choice was the Level 3 Dark.

So basically you go in the room, do all sorts of weird dance moves and poses that make you feel Egyptian, and then stand in front of a fan to dry off. And like that, you're beautiful and tan. Sort of. The worst part is after. Waiting to rinse is serious uncomfortable. And it does stink a little bit. But luckily, I opted for the "Express" option where I could rinse off in 2-6 hours as opposed to the 8+ hours with the regular option. Score!

Here is my ghost skin prior to my spray tan.



And after my Level 3 tan, next day!! So pretty!



I had read all of the care tips over and over prior to going for my tan, so I was definitely able to make my tan last. I felt so pretty! And mine faded really nicely. I never saw any blotchy spots or anything.
Even my second time around for my bridal shower...

Three weeks later, back to my pasty self.



After, next day! Wooooo! Who is that babe?!

 



If you are nervous about getting a spray tan, don't be! If you have a bad experience, try it again! Or try another salon. It could just be the product they are using. I love it and am totally hooked. Unfortunately, I'm too cheap to do it regularly, but for $40 for an Express tan, I will totally be doing this for all my special occasions!

Thanks, Glistening Goddesses for my beautiful tans!

July 13, 2016

5 Ways to Keep the Spark Alive

For anyone who has children, you know it’s hard to find time alone with your significant other. Everything becomes all about the kids, and your relationship tends to be pushed to the side for when you have time. It’s so important to try to resist the instinct to focus all your attention on the kids and just assume your relationship will stay exactly the same. It doesn’t. That’s why it is super important to make every effort to keep that spark between you and your partner after kids.



I am not blind to the fact that this isn’t always so easy. Since my son has been born (5 months), I think Tim and I have had a total of two dates alone. It’s just not always easy to find a sitter, and sometimes you just don’t want to go through with the hassle of bundling the baby up to go out. However, to make up for the times you can’t be available to pick up and go, try a few of these fun tricks to keep that connection strong between you and your bae.

Check out a comedy show.

When your parents offer to watch the baby, you TAKE that opportunity and make the most of it. One of my favorite dates is going to a comedy club. It’s such a fun and relaxing way to blow off steam with your hubby. A lot of comics tend to touch on family-life humor as well, which helps you not feel so crazy. Having a good laugh with my husband always puts us in a better mood, and makes us feel like we are still courting. In fact, we went to a comedy club as one of our first dates!

Dinner & errands without rushing

Tim and I unfortunately don’t get to do this often because we work opposite schedules, but if you have too much to get done and can’t swing a night out to relax, try having someone watch your kids while you and your partner run errands together. Sometimes I find doing mundane tasks with Tim gives us time to unwind and just be with each other. I know there are some late nights where Tim and I just chat while washing and drying dishes together. Or trips to Home Depot where we wander down the aisles chatting about all the cool reno-ideas we have for our house. If you are out together running errands, grab a bite to eat together on the way home. Any alone time is time to connect.

Just kick back!

Some of my favorite moments with my husband are spent doing absolutely nothing. When we were house hunting, we both were insistent on finding a place with a great front porch. We love sitting outside on a cool summer night, after Cooper is in bed, with a beer and just talking about our day, things going on in our life, and how cute our son is. Alternatively, I usually will hang out in our bedroom with him when he gets home from work and needs to change and clean up. It is only five minutes together, but they are super helpful in just giving us time to really talk to each other.

Pretend to be strangers on vacation.

This is a really funny one. We go away for a night to Block Island, RI once a year. One time when we were out for the evening at BI, we decided to pretend to be strangers and Tim would hit on me at the bar. I sent him to sit on the opposite side of the bar as me, and give me the eyes. When I got impatient, I texted him to come give me a pick up line. Tim even went as far as to ask the person sitting on the side of me if I was his girlfriend. It was so much fun to feel like we were in the butterfly honeymoon stage of our relationship again. We still laugh about it today.

Disconnect in the evenings and create rituals.

This is a big one that we are trying to get better at. Shut off your phones, computer, tablets at night! I can’t tell you how many times Tim and I are speaking to each other with our faces buried in our iPhones. It’s so sad and pathetic really. Institute a no phones policy after a certain time in your home. Instead, opt for a weekly ritual that you both do together, like cooking dinner together, working in the garden (this one may be harder to do with the kids awake), or just catching a tv show together every week. Tim and I like to watch the Bachelorette together every week. Before that, we would binge watch One Tree Hill after the baby was in bed.

What are some rituals you and your partner have to stay connected with each other?

July 5, 2016

The Reality of the Mom-Bod

Body image is always a hot topic to talk about. And no one person is privy to it. I won’t sugar coat this or pretend I’ve always been self-conscious about my body. Because I haven’t. I was proud of my body for a long time. Going through college and shortly after, I looked the best I ever did. I was naturally super thin, never had to work out. I had curves in all the right places (expect my boobs. I never had boobs.) However, the fact of the matter is the older we get, our bodies change. I started getting mom-hips even before I became a mom. And then when I got pregnant, I was fully prepared to blow up like a tick everywhere.

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I clearly thought I was hot shit doing photo shoots, circa 2011. (photo by Derek Soter)

But I didn’t. I ended up being all belly. In fact, 3 months into my pregnancy and I weighed less than I did before getting pregnant (thank you, morning sickness!) Regardless, there is still something that makes you feel not like yourself when you are pregnant. I started feeling lazy and gross. I felt like I looked like a slob. And while I knew deep down I certainly did not look the way I felt, it didn’t help any. I began getting super lazy, a little down on myself, and my sex drive plummeted (sorry, Tim!)   After having my son, I felt great! I kept getting so many compliments with how people couldn’t believe I just had a baby a few days ago. It made me feel awesome. While what was underneath the clothing didn’t look great, I still felt like myself again. And breast feeding…it’s the ultimate workout! I felt so pretty. Skinny and my boobs were huge! When I decided to stop breast feeding after a few months is when I felt the effects of being a mom. I gained about 15-20 lbs within weeks. All of my pre-pregnancy jeans that I was so proud to fit into after the baby no longer fit me. All my dress pants for work were too tight. Bathing suit season was just around the corner and I didn’t even have time to eat dinner most nights, let alone join a gym.   This weekend at all the Fourth of July cookouts we went to, I couldn’t help but look at the girls wearing bikinis, some of which who had a child a year ago and looked the best she had in her life. I didn’t understand why I couldn’t get myself there. The thought of eating well and going to gym seemed exhausting, but I wanted to feel good like I did before Cooper.   It was then my husband reminded me of something. I just had a baby! All this pressure I was feeling to look perfect, and like I had never had children…and I JUST had a baby. Five months ago, to be exact. It started to make me think. We read these tabloids about the freak of nature Kardashian sisters who have baby after baby and look like a swimsuit model two weeks later. We think there is something wrong with us. No! The Kardashians are not reality! They are surgically modified and medicated to look that way.   I then remembered an Instagram post I saw from Jessie James Decker last year, and it's why I believe she is a role model to young girls and women. In October 2015, Jessie posted a photo on Instagram of her post-partum belly after having her second child, with this message. 

"I appreciate all of the sweet comments about how tiny I look after baby! But I don't want to mislead any mommy's who just had babies and are stressing! I gained 55 pounds with my daughter and only 27 this time! I gained so much with her because I threw up every day for five months and of course was starving after so I would shove anything in my mouth to make that hunger feeling go away. This time I ate very normal and would take occasional walks. I am still 15 pounds away from what I was originally before I got pregnant with Vivianne. I take occasional walks but haven't done anything yet to try and lose weight and am in no rush! Nursing mamas should def not try and do any severe diets or milk supply will run low! My tummy is still swollen and you can see my c-section scar and pooch! I had another due to my 9lb baby and petite frame. So no rushing and no stressing about losing weight! Wanted to make sure y'all saw what my tummy looks like under the tank top and blazer...I do wear a belly waist train thingy a few hours here n there which helps c section mamas and swelling to go down. I am so glad we all can support each other. Being a mommy is so rewarding but hard work so we need to stick together and help each other out. I'm not perfect but I do my best. That's what it's all about. So never be hard on yourself. I'm going to try and do more posts like this. So feel free to ask anything below and will try and incorporate it in another mommy post! <3 y'all”

JJD Post 

Even one of the most beautiful women ever had a mom-pooch. Just like me. So why am I so worried about it? We read about all these celebs and “how they got their body back” so quickly. But did they really? Or did a plastic surgeon give it back to them? And maybe they did do it naturally, but my guess is they have eight nannies helping to raise their child in the meantime. Because honestly, I can’t understand how it’s possible otherwise.   I am not trying to discredit any woman who truly works their butt off to get their body back to where it was quickly. If you can do that naturally, I praise you! But it sucks. Hollywood has made us feel like we should be ashamed if we don’t look perfect after having a child. The reality is I am tired. I work full time. I am home alone most nights due to me and my husband working opposite schedules (he works second shift). Most nights, I order take out. My house is a disaster. And I’m lucky if I get to brush my hair in the morning, let alone put on make-up. The only time I could possibly work out is during my lunch hour at work, and I’ll be honest…I’m starving at that point. Yes. I like to eat. A lot. So, I’m all done feeling sorry for myself and wishing I had the perfect body. I don’t. And I might not ever again. But I have a beautiful son, a husband that loves me for exactly what I am and I know I’m a good mom. That’s all that really matters. <3


If you don't already, you should totally follow Mrs. James Decker. She is honestly the realest, down to Earth celeb I've seen in a long time. She is always posting adorable photos of her kids, her gorgeous husband, and her cute fashion line, Kittenish.