This month, my blog turns two years old. I can hardly believe it! When I started blogging, I had this idea in my head. I wanted to share all the great information that I had come across in the short time I had been a mom. I never thought that it would lead to some great opportunities and help me form some awesome relationships.
Truth be told, I needed to do something to figuratively get out of the walls of my house. Raising my children is something I wouldn't trade for anything in the world, but it is not without its hardships. I'm sure I've said this before, but being a stay-at-home mom can be lonely. You spend the majority of your days interacting with children who can barely speak, much less hold a real conversation with you. Some days, the most adult interaction you get is saying hi to the postal worker, and on a good day, you may get to chat with other mommies at Mommy & Me. While I hoped that starting the blog would help me to not feel so lonely, I never imagined how well my audience would respond to what I was putting out there.
Sometimes it's hard, and it would be easier to say, "Forget it," and throw in the towel. A lot of work and effort goes into keeping this going, and while there are many bloggers out there who do this to make a living, I do not make money off of the blog. Sure, sometimes I get cool products and I pass them along to you, but I never suggest products that don't make sense to me, my lifestyle, or that I'm not 100% willing to endorse for you. I never want you, my audience, to think that I'm just promoting something because I am making a quick buck.
I do love how the blog has evolved. At first, I thought I would focus mostly on parenting. But it turns out, I'm no expert in that! As a matter of fact, I'm not an expert in anything, so there's that. The evolution of the blog from a parenting blog to one with a focus on motherhood and womanhood is one that I'm really pleased with. It seemed to happen naturally, and I really do think it serves a better purpose than just focusing on parenting. I love sharing my style and beauty tips with you all. I love encouraging you to love yourself and take care of yourself so you can take better care of those around you.
But you know what I love most? Is hearing from you, interacting with you, and getting to know you. When I first started blogging, I was focused on numbers. "Blogging is a numbers game," "You need a higher follower count," "Companies won't want to work with you if you have fewer than 10k followers." I'm not sure at which point I decided that the numbers just didn't matter. Because I was receiving messages from you all on a daily basis, saying how a particular post I wrote had helped you, or how something I said really spoke to you. And you know what? That's better than any follower count could ever be. And so my dear friends, I do this because YOU keep me going. I hope to keep going with this blog for as long as it's fun for all of us, but I want to make a few promises to you!
I truly hope you will stick around for the rest of the ride! And for sticking around this far, I have a little gift for one lucky reader! I've been loving The Magic of Motherhood by Ashlee Gadd. The book contains essays on motherhood, and it really is a special collection of stories by moms new and experienced. Follow the instructions below to enter, and share with your friends!
I've been tagged to do this post numerous times, and I have never gotten around to it. But I finally sat down and gathered up some facts you might not know about me!
10 Things You Didn't Know About Me
There you have it! Now you know some more about me hehe.
What's something that most people don't know about you?
A special thank you to Mixto Food & Drink for hosting us! And thank you to Jessica Marinello for most of these photos since I was a scatterbrain and didn't take any photos with my camera!
A few weeks ago I hosted my first brunch for local mom bloggers at Mixto Food & Drink in Miami Springs. It was an intimate affair where we got to chat about motherhood, family life, and balancing real life with being a blogger. It was a nice change of pace to be able to chat with other moms who are going through the same things as I am in multiple ways.
The brunch was an idea Gina, who owns the restaurant along with her husband Ernie, brought to me a few months ago, and after a postponement due to Hurricane Irma, we finally made it happen. I was excited to host brunch in a new spot with great meals, and Mixto did not disappoint!
First, can we talk about their decor? I love the black and gold decor and the amazing chandelier that you see when you walk in. The second floor is set up like a mini library with a few tables as well. I also love the communal table in the center of the restaurant. One of my favorite things however? The tables, which are decoupaged with pages from some of Gina's favorite books! She and her daughters did those all themselves. Such a cool idea!
But I know what you really want to know about is the food, right? They kicked off their brunch just a few weeks before we went, and the brunch menu made me want to try one of everything. I was between the Croquette Benedict and the Tater Tot Waffle, but I settled on the Croquette Benedict because, well, Eggs Benedict. Honestly, it was so good that I would have licked my plate had it not been for the fact that I was in the company of really wonderful ladies whom I did not want to gross out!
I followed up my breakfast with a cup of decaf hibiscus tea, which was delicious. And we decided to split a slice of guava cheesecake, which was spectacular.
And the amazing ladies who joined me, you should definitely go check them out! They are all amazing mommas and have some incredible talents and focuses that they show off on their blogs!
Angie at The Real Food Mama
Jessica at A Mother Adventure
Saray at Saray & Co.
Yarlenis at Her Inspired Guide
Nicole at Nico the Adventurista
We got to chat about blogging goals, motherhood goals, and shared tips and tricks for everything under the sun.
So go check out these mommas, and if you're in the area, go check out MiXto - I promise they won't disappoint!
P.S. If you're in the area on October 28th, MiXto is participating in a community trick-or-treat party, which is free to the community. It will take place from 5:30 - 8:30, so go check them out!
This week, the blog turns ONE! Even though the archives show posts back as far as February 2015, I didn't officially publish and promote the blog until I had enough content up and was making it a point to publish entries. But anyway, I can hardly believe it. I set about on this fun little endeavor thinking that I'd probably have a few close friends and family reading it. I don't get millions of hits to the site, but I get way more than I ever imagined.
First of all, I want to thank YOU! Yes, you! Thank you for reading and commenting and reposting and coming back to read my thoughts! You are the reason why I continue to put the effort into this little corner of the world. There have been days when I've thought about giving up, and I'll get a message from one of you, or someone will mention to somebody I know that they have been reading my posts and something resonated with them.
Know that in this age of algorithms and popularity-based views on social media networks, every like, share, and comment is so meaningful. I am eternally grateful to those of you who follow along and support all these posts that come from my heart!
I also want to take a minute to thank my husband, Eddie, and Caleb, the little guy who inspired me to start this blog. They are my number one fans, and are always putting up with me taking pictures and saying stuff like, "I can probably use this for the blog." Creating content regularly is no easy feat, and they never complain about my shenanigans.
And two two more friends I want to thank, Cary over at Cary Diaz Photography for capturing these awesome first birthday themed photos for me, and Kristi at Habit Boutique for dressing me perfectly for the occasion! The dress and blouse I am wearing in these photos were provided by her boutique. The colors are perfect and the quality of them is excellent! If you've never been, check it out in the heart of Coral Gables - she has beautiful pieces!
I've learned a lot about myself and about others over the past year of blogging. Some of it good, and some of it bad. But there are three things in particular that I want to share with you, whether you are blogging, working someone else's business, running your own business, or running your family.
1. Believe in yourself. You have to be ready to put in the work, but you also have to know that whatever vision you have for yourself, it can be done. I've learned that my mind is the most powerful tool I have, and vision plus hard work equals results.
2. Stop comparing yourself. I've had to tell myself countless times to stop comparing myself to so-and-so because they have 10k or 100k followers. I haven't been at this that long, and it's a saturated market. I have a unique perspective to offer, and comparing myself to what everyone else has or doesn't have is going to take my eyes off of my end goal. Just be 100% you.
3. There is an amazing world of kindness out there, you just have to be open to the opportunity. Early in my journey, a girl named Bessy (check her blog out here) reached out to me. She invited me into a group of blogger friends that she had made and they were all so kind and supportive. It was incredible to see how they embraced me so quickly. And like those women, I have found so many who are kind and helpful. Women who have helped me to be lifted when I was down about something. Women who told me to brush off negative comments or imitators (yes, I had someone copy my blog name ::insert eye roll here::). Women who empower other women and want to see nothing more than for them to succeed. Had I not responded to Bessy's initial message, I would have missed out on this amazing group of women. I've also made some amazing virtual BFFs, who I hope to highlight for you in the coming months.
But birthdays mean presents, right?! I'm not asking you for presents, but I AM giving some goodies away! I was going to give one bigger gift, but I thought it would be more fun to have multiple winners. So each week this month, I'm going to be giving something away! I'll be giving away products I LOVE and use often so that you can benefit from them, too! So check back weekly in the month of April to see what I have for you. The giveaway will open Monday morning and will close Thursday evening. I'll announce the winner Friday morning. And I'll be doing this for four weeks!
Thanks for all the love, friends!
Giveaway #1: Fueled by Caffeine & Jesus (grubby toddler hand not included)
When I was about 6 months into this stay-at-home mom gig, I still hadn't adjusted. I was feeling like I had to do everything at home perfectly and like I had to get everything right all the time. I'm not even sure how I came across it, but I somehow happened upon The Super Mom Myth by Becky Kopitzke. Her book pointed out so many things that I was doing and stressing over that I didn't need to be! It really changed my outlook on being a mom and a wife. And I want you to experience that, so included in my first giveaway is this book, along with this adorable one of a kind mug, complete with my handwriting, made by my friends at Creative Sparkles, and a sleeve of Nespresso coffee pods. Follow the directions below to enter and win!
I received no compensation for any of these products. Clothing was provided by Habit Boutique free of charge in exchange for my honest opinion.
I received a discount on merchandise for my honest review. All the opinions contained in this post are mine.
After our trip to Colorado, I decided that I couldn't manage a purse and a toddler anymore. I have been reluctant to give up my purse for a long time. You see, I love my designer bags. And I also don't switch out bags very often. I buy a purse and wear it until that purse's cost is pennies on each wear (Ex: I bought a Louis Vuitton Neverfull when I graduated from grad school as a gift to myself. I used that bag daily for nearly SEVEN years. At $700, that purse cost me $0.27 a day). But I digress. A couple weeks after our trip, after a particularly exhausting day of errands, I decided I had no choice but to switch to a hands free bag. I figured a backpack would be the best option and I started my research.
I had a few requirements:
I asked in one of my mommy groups and had a couple of great recommendations. But none of them was really what I was looking for. Lo and behold, I find that this company, Vauva, started following me on Instagram, and I check out their page. Of course, they would have exactly what I was looking for, because, duh, it was started by two parents. I reached out and they were willing to work with me, which made me so so excited.
So I ordered my bag and it actually arrived in the middle of Caleb's birthday party. But the following day I was so excited to open it and fill it with all of mine and Caleb's belongings. The bag certainly met all of my requirements. And I hadn't realized how free I would feel when I didn't have to worry about a bag in my hand or on my shoulders!
Now, about the bag. It's a synthetic leather (which means it's low maintenance and super easy to keep clean). The inside is polyester - also easy to clean! It looks chic and sleek. It isn't bulky or cumbersome. It's also the most gorgeous red color inside. It has two pockets on the sides, for things like cell phone, keys, and chapstick. It has a zippered compartment on the front of the bag - I keep antibacterial wipes, sanitary products, and my lipgloss or powder if I need it in there. There is also a zippered pocket on the back of the bag where I keep my wallet and my Kindle (for when he falls asleep in the car and I don't want to mess with him), along with anything else that is valuable and I want to make sure can't be pickpocketed.
The inside of the bag has four pockets, one insulated for keeping drinks hot or cold. The other three are of varying sizes and are great for keeping pacifiers, toys, crayons, and other small items. There is also a zippered compartment, and I've been putting his snacks in there.
The bag comes with a changing pad and a wet/dry bag. I keep his diapers, a disposable changing table cover, and a garbage baggie for poopy diapers in there and then tuck it into the changing pad. When he needs a diaper change, everything is in one place and I don't have to go rummaging through the bag. I keep that in the large compartment along with Caleb's Kindle (the bulky cover makes it hard to fit into the back pocket), a little notebook for coloring, my glasses, and anything else that might be too large for one of the pockets.
Above is pictured everything I keep in the bag on a regular basis. This is all stuff that will get me through a day out on the street with Caleb. We are headed to Disney soon, and this is probably what the bag will have inside, minus the two Kindles, for about 5 or 6 hours at the park (we don't typically spend an entire day there). If you're trying to fit everything but the kitchen sink in your bag, it's probably not the one for you. But if you want to streamline your stuff and feel like you have it all together, then this is definitely the perfect bag for you.
LOOK MA, NO HANDS!
I love that I can load Caleb in the car, put away the stroller, and get in my car, all without having to stop to put my purse in the front seat because it's in my way. And while we're out, I can hold his hand, carry him, push the stroller, or whatever it is I have to do, and not worry that my bag is isn my way.
I love how classy and simple the bag is. It looks put together enough that I can rock it with my workout clothes like I did here or with a cute outfit to spend the day out and about with my family. It's also completely functional and comfortable. The straps are like school backpack straps and help the weight of the bag stay evenly distributed on your back, without digging into your shoulders.
Last but not least, is price. When I saw that this bag was under $100, I couldn't believe it, especially when a lot of other bags I looked at were half as functional and double the price. Even better, though, is that from now until the end of February, Vauva is giving YOU, my beloved readers, a special hookup for 25% off! Use the code "TOPKNOT" at checkout, and save yourself some money on this bag. Or show your hubby this post and drop some major hints for Valentine's Day! ;)
I can't wait to see all you super mamas rocking this bag and simplifying your life while you do it. When you do, post your pics, hashtag them #vauvamama and send them to me! I'd love to hear how much you love your Vauva pack!
I'm off to order the beige one, friends!
This is not a sponsored post.
Before you start reading, this isn't going to be one of those funny breakdowns of my day where I tell you I had to reheat my coffee three times and I still drank it cold (I actually drink my coffee hot most mornings thanks in part to Disney Junior and a good breakfast for Caleb). But anyway, read on to see what I mean.
If you follow me on Instagram and check out my stories, you might have seen me post this list yesterday. I was cleaning out my nightstand, and tucked into an old notebook I found this list. What is this list, you might ask? Well, apparently, I had very lofty (and quite delusional) goals when we decided I would be a stay-at-home mom. I also clearly did not have a child at that point or realize how much of my day would be consumed by a tiny tyrant. I mean, look at that list. I had photo shoots on Mondays, but never once accounted for the hours I put into editing. I had a field trip one day a week. Get out of the house ONE day a week? That's it? I would have lost my damn mind.
When I showed this list to Eddie last night, we had a good laugh, and he said, "So how's that working out?" When I responded that I must have been delusional, he said, "It's okay - you're doing a damn good job of keeping this house together, regardless of whether or not you have stuck to a schedule." Hey, I'll take that!
So I'm going to break down for you how my typical chores get done. It's not super organized and it isn't fullproof, but it works for me and I typically get most of the stuff I need to get done, done - without being a slave to my home or chores.
Cleaning - I'm going to be totally honest, I have a cleaning lady who comes every other Friday and does the cleaning in my house. So I can't give you a deep cleaning schedule. But I do maintain the house in between her visits. That means that about two or three times a week I clean my floors (they are the most unforgiving floors aside from white floors so I always feel like they are dirty - and I can't vaccuum because Bella goes nuts). My kitchen gets wiped down on a daily basis, because I basically wipe down all the countertops and clean the sink every time I cook. Bathrooms get the wipe down when they look like they need it, or when people are coming over (we have a half bath for guests and we almost never use that, so it's always pretty clean). I use a wet dust rag once a week to wipe down the other furniture surfaces, and that's about it! Floors are the biggie for me.
Food - Okay so I suck at meal planning. I have tried it. I typically have an idea of what I will make in the week, and I don't usually do anything super complicated. I may write a rough outline in my planner of what meals I'll make for the night, but its usually meals with few ingredients that are easy to put together - typically a protein and a veggie, sometimes a starch of some kind will be thrown in there. If it's too complicated, I won't do it, so KISS (keep it simple, stupid) is my motto. I try to get to the grocery store early in the morning, early in the week. If later in the week I realize I have run out of something, I use Shipt and have it delivered (follow that link and get $10 in free groceries and two weeks free). It gets rid of the temptation of stuff I don't need and I don't spend extra money.
Laundry - This is my biggest hurdle. I don't mind sorting, washing, or even folding. I hate hate hate putting laundry away. Sometimes it will sit on the couch in our room for over a week before it gets put away (whoops). But it's clean, right?! I usually spread laundry out over the course of the week. Caleb's clothes on Monday and one load of ours (usually darks since this is what we wear the most). Tuesday I'll do the rest of our clothes. Wednesday is towels and bath rugs. Thursdays is bed linens. I'm also guilty of having to wash clothes a second time because it never got transferred to the dryer. Hey, just putting it all out there.
Ironing - I don't do this anymore unless I have Caleb out of the house for an extended period of time. It's just too dangerous. Anything that needs to be ironed just goes to the drycleaner.
Picking up - I try to pick up as much as possible in the evenings. Once Caleb has gone to sleep is the easiest time to get it done. When I do this it also makes for a smoother morning because I don't feel like I'm walking through a war zone first thing in the morning.
Bills/E-Mail/Editing/Blogging - These usually get done first thing in the morning, while I'm having coffee and Caleb is having breakfast. Whatever I don't get to gets done during naptime and during any downtime we may have throughout the day.
A great tool I have found to help me keep track of chores is Any.Do. It's an app that syncs up with my calendar, lets me know what tasks I have to complete, and since I love to check things off, it's a really helpful visual tool for me. Sometimes the weeks blur together and I don't remember if I have washed the towels, but this app helps me keep track of what I have and haven't done. I can put tasks on a weekly reminder so I don't have to enter them all the time. It's really convenient, and can be installed across several devices!
So there you have it. My fantasies versus my reality. I wouldn't have it any other way, but it is certainly not what I pictured! I hope this helps you if you are still struggling with being a "perfect" stay-at-home mom (newsflash: there's no such thing! You're amazing!).
Have any more tips on how to get your household duties done? Leave them in the comments below!
The end of a year always brings on reflection of the past 365 days. This was a year filled with adventure and growth. We traveled more than I ever thought we would - it felt like every month I was packing for something or other. I wouldn't trade the adventures we have had as a couple or as a family for anything in the world.
It was also a year of growth in many ways. We grew in wisdom as parents. I no longer feel like I am so reliant upon the opinions of others. I know my son and we as his parents know what is best for him. This also means we grew in confidence when it comes to Caleb and our parenting decisions.
I grew my photography business, even though I didn't have plans to do so. It ended the year on a really high note.
Finally, I started this little labor of love and it has been a far greater and more fulfilling endeavor than I ever thought. I started it thinking that not very many people would be reading it, but knowing that I wanted to write about motherhood and life in general. I never imagined the feedback I would get and the number of people who would tell me that they loved reading my blog. I have had moms of toddlers, women younger than me who don't have kids yet, and women of my mom's generation alike tell me that they love reading what I'm writing. It's been so much fun and it's been incredible to hear that kind of praise for something that truly comes from the heart. So thank you, dear reader. Thank you for your shares, your likes, your comments, and for sticking around and hearing about my journey through motherhood!
My goal in the new year is to post more consistently, but also to maintain great content. It's important to me to keep this blog true to how I started it, maintaining authenticity and quality content and writing.
I'm looking forward to all the incredible things 2017 will bring our way. May the next year be filled with peace, love, and prosperity for each and every one of you!
This is the busiest time of the year, right? So I'm crazy for telling you to stop, breathe, and enjoy the moment. But I'm not. As a matter of fact, even though I have things to do, I felt compelled to sit down and tap this out for you. Because if I don't tell you, will anyone?
Last week, I was like you... make lists and checking them twice. Finishing Christmas shopping, wrapping gifts, editing photo sessions, preparing for a vacation with two legs on opposite sides of the country. Forgetting. Forgetting what Christmas is all about. I was being swallowed up by Christmas. I was bickering and I was not spending enough time with my son and my husband.
And then God, in his infinite wisdom, sent me a sign that said, "SLOW DOWN." What might that sign be, you ask? Caleb and I both got sick. The most convenient way of slowing down? Definitely not. But it gave me a chance to pause. It gave me a chance to think about what I was giving importance to this season. And I wasn't giving importance to the right things.
But getting sick made me stop. It made me spend time with Caleb. Real, quality time that I had been neglecting. As much as it pains me to say it, I had been letting him run amok and then freaking out because I had to pick up after him a thousand times a day and correct his behavior BECAUSE I WASN'T PAYING ATTENTION TO HIM.
So I napped with him. We sat on the couch and colored together (relax, they were Ultra Washable markers). I watched Frozen with him and we made commentary on the movie together (yes, Frozen fever is currently happening in my house). I sat and ate lunch with him and talked to him through the meal.
And while he still had a few moments of toddler rambunctiousness (if that's even a word), overall, his behavior was so much better, even though he was sick. And I realized, I've been a terrible mom lately. I've been so busy and I allowed the busyness of the season to catch up with me.
Last night, after nearly coughing up my lung, I decided to take a steamy bath, and while I was sitting in there, I realized that getting sick had been my biggest blessing in disguise this Christmas season. So I prayed, and I gave thanks, and this morning I woke up with a renewed sense of thankfulness and joy. Joy to last me through Christmas and far beyond. Because really, while we pile all these unnecessary things on ourselves, we are forgetting the meaning of Christmas. And whether that meaning for you is the birth of a Savior, or the closeness of family and loved ones, I'm pretty sure it's not about being busy. And let's be real - I still have a to-do list. But I'm a lot less stressed about getting it done. Because at the end of the day, it always gets done - because you're pretty amazing.
So in the next few days, mama, take a break. Enjoy your kids. Make a mess with them. Take a bubble bath. Snuggle up on the couch with your significant other. Watch your favorite Christmas movie - together, without thinking of the 75,000 things on your to-do list. There will be time to check things off your list tomorrow. And if the gifts don't get wrapped? Tell them Santa ran out of wrapping paper. ;)
So about a month ago, I was on vacation, and I got a message from Shannon of Working Mom Memoirs, letting me know that she had nominated me for the Liebster Award. I was so honored! And I can't believe that I let over a month go by without responding to this amazing honor!
Before I go on, I'm sure you're wondering what exactly this is.
The Liebster Award is a chain of awards that help people to discover new blogs. In this chain, the award is given to a number of nominees, who then pass the award on to other new bloggers, and the chain goes on. The rules for receiving the award are simple:
About this Mom
A Miami wife and mom documenting her days with her toddler and all that comes along with it.