Thursday, February 19, 2015

Gimme 5 Series: 5 Ways for Busy Moms to Get a Workout In


I am so excited to have my dear friend (and unofficial personal trainer) Mandy Haag guest blogging today on a topic that seems to be an issue for so many mamas! Take it away, Mandy......

1. Put Yourself on the Calendar
We are the LAST person to get scheduled into the week’s events. Every weekend sit down and set times to workout through the week. Pre-planning gives you time to make adjustments and make it work! Make it known to yourself and to your family that these times are non-negotiable!
 
2. Pre-Plan Your Workouts
Now that you have your workout times blocked off on the calendar, get a little more detailed in your own personal planner. You can cut quite a bit of time and mental energy from your overall workout if you know before you even lace up the shoes what workout you’re about to do. I find this particularly helpful for early morning workouts. When I know that I’m going to be getting up before the sun to fit in my workout, because that’s the only time in the day that was available, the job is much easier when I pick out my clothes AND my workout the night before. Then all I have to do is stumble out of bed, pick those clothes up off the floor and press PLAY. No thinking required! So after you’ve blocked off your time on the family calendar, sit down and specifically write out which workouts you want to do on each day. And as you accomplish them….CROSS THEM OFF!! (Ahh yes.)

 3. Play Dates for Kids = Workout Dates for Moms
Kids love having time to play with their friends, and your workouts can be both more fun and more effective with a partner. It’s a win-win! Kids can be much less needy when they have some friends to play with, especially if they have this opportunity somewhat consistently. So pick someone’s house and a workout DVD or a park, the track, a stadium, pack up the kids and the toys and gett'er done.

 
 4. Think of it as Interval Training
As a mom we know that we don’t live in a perfect world. Because there, in that perfect world, every workout would be uninterrupted. Babies would get in their full naps as anticipated and the other children would play peacefully together and wouldn’t need help reaching their toys and drinks of water and to go to the bathroom during our workouts. But since we don’t live in that perfect world, we have to be mentally prepared for those interruptions. It doesn’t do anyone any good to get all huffy and frustrated when we’re needed. We are mom, after all. So think of it as interval training….high intensity/low intensity within the workout. The moments when the kids are content and the baby’s still sound asleep go at it pale male….all out. You truly don’t know how long that’s going to last. Then when someone needs their Cinderella dress zipped and the play-doh cup opened, you can take it down a notch and jog in place as you play mom for a second, secretly relieved for the chance to bring your heart rate back down. When you work out at home, know that these interruptions will happen. If we accept them ahead of time, we all win.

5. Know that part of taking care of them is taking care of YOU
No guilt. It’s hard as a mom to take time for ourselves. You have the most important job in the whole world. But if mom isn’t feeling well, doesn’t have enough energy, isn’t happy with herself, she can’t be the best possible mom and wife. You have to make your health and fitness a priority, it’s non-negotiable. And there isn’t room for any guilt in that.


Thank you, Mandy...and Macy & Molly too!
Yes, she is pregnant! She is 8 months pregnant and fit as can be, not letting anything slow her down! Such an inspiration!

For more fitness inspiration from a mom who KNOWS how it is, follow Mandy Haag: Health & Fitness on Facebook. 

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Stitch Fix Review #1

I have been seeing other blogger's Stitch Fix reports for a couple years now and reading them with a longing....a longing to have my own. *Sigh* I've lost some weight this past year and have been packing away some of my "too big" clothes! {HOORAY!} In January, I decided to treat myself to a Stitch Fix Subscription. 

Do you know about Stitch Fix? 
Stitch Fix is a personal styling service that assigns you a personal stylist and has you fill out a style profile, asking you lots of questions and having you give your opinion on different outfits. They do this to get a feel for what you like and don't like, your preferred price range, what your day is like (what you dress for,) and the type of fashion that appeals to you. You pay a $20 styling fee each month and then 5 custom selected items are mailed to you. You can try them on in the comfort of your own home and see how they work with pieces you already own. You then send back what you don't want and the $20 styling fee comes off from what you do want to keep. 


I was SO excited to have my first box arrive!


Your stylist sends you a little note with your package. As you can see in the photo below, the note from my stylist includes fashion tips for the items that she sent. One of the COOLEST things about Stitch Fix is that you can send your stylist the link to your Pinterest Fashion board or even create an exclusive Stitch Fix board on Pinterest. Your stylist can then look around your board and get a feel for what you like. As you can see in the letter, my stylist mentions my Pinterest board and even sent me an exact item I had pinned! (Which I loved and kept - see below.)


The stylist also includes style cards which show different ways to wear each item that is included in your box.


So do you want to see what I got?  Here we go...



This striped shirt was so comfortable. It had dolman style sleeves which I love! The fabric was so cozy too. I did not keep this one for two reasons:  1) I don't feel comfortable in horizontal stripes and 2) While it was comfy, it was a bit long and I felt a tad sloppy in it. It wasn't an item I really needed either so....it went back.


The Patrick Chino Pants fit like a glove and the fabric! Oh, the fabric was heavenly! They were so soft! I LOVED how they felt! The downfall though, the color wasn't real appealing to me and they were $100. (My most expensive item in the box.) I looked through my tops to see what I had that would go well with them but nothing really clicked for me. For $100 I wanted to love them and need them. They were sent back. 



This polka dot tab sleeve blouse by Pomelo was something I had pinned on my Pinterest Fashion Board. (See HERE.) I was so impressed that my stylist had noticed it on my board and had made a point to include it in my fix. I tried it on and loved it! Love, love, love it! I needed some tops that could be dressed up a bit and this was perfect! It was a keeper (and I've worn it every week since I received it!)

I also LOVED this shirt. It is casual but has that extra bit of lace on the bottom which adds interest and femininity. I didn't keep it though because I have a shirt just like it! I was actually wearing it the day I opened this box! 


When my daughter Claire (6) first saw this cardigan by Mak B she said, "Oh, Mom! That is totally you!" It really is me! This cardigan is soft, lightweight but cozy. It is cream colored and really goes with so much! I kept it and have worn it a lot - with skinny jeans and boots, with tunics and leggings, and once even with my pajamas in the evening because I needed some extra warmth! It is a great staple for my wardrobe. Claire's comment about it being "totally me" is really representative of the whole first box I received from Stitch Fix. I am so impressed with how well my stylist did choosing items based on the information I provided her with. She did good!

So, all in all I kept 2 out of the 3 items. Had I chosen to keep all 5, I would have received a 25% discount! Another bonus to Stitch Fix! My fashion goals right now are to weed out my existing wardrobe by getting rid of things that no longer fit or that I just no longer wear. The other goal is to focus on quality, not quantity. In the past I may have purchased something because it was a good deal only to have it unravel or fade sooner that I'd hoped. I have also been guilty of purchasing items that are a good deal and then allowing them to just sit in my closet. I intend to make purchases that compliment and supplement my current wardrobe and, as previously stated, focus on quality, not quantity. 

Soooo...here's what you do with the items you don't want to keep...a prepaid, addressed envelope is included in every box so you can easily return what you decide you're not purchasing. Easy Peasy!



I knew what I was getting into by signing up for Stitch Fix. What I did not realize was how beneficial it is to have these items shipped right to your home where you can try them on with items you already own. I knew that was a perk to this service but to actually experience it was a real eye-opener. Also, I could try them on and pair them with other items ON MY OWN TIME. I could do it after the kids went to bed. SO much better than having little people in a dressing room with me in a department store. It also amazed me that EVERYTHING FIT! When does that happen?! It was amazing to slide each item on and ta-da! It was all good! 

The closest mall (or Kohls) is an hour drive for me. We live in the middle of nowhere! In December I went shopping and picked up a couple items for myself that I needed for Christmas festivities. When I got home (remember an hour away!) I found that the ink security tag had not been taken off my new blouse. I had intended to wear it two days later. I work full time and am busy with 3 little kids. I DID NOT HAVE TIME TO GO BACK! In that situation, I was blessed to have a friend who was headed that way and took it back for me. With Stitch Fix, I don't have those worries - no long drive (saves gas $ too!), no searching in different stores for what I'm looking for, no children with me in a dressing room, and no frustration with items that don't fit right. Plus, I get a fun package delivered to me each month and who doesn't love getting things in the mail?!

Click HERE to get your own Fix!

Stitch Fix

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Gimme 5 Series - 5 Tips on Balancing Work & Family

It is a constant struggle - trying to balance work and family life. I'm not sure there is ever really a "balance." Definitely a juggling act though! For this Gimme 5, I am giving you 5 tips to help you work toward that balance...

Image via HERE

1. Make Connections During the Day - My children attend the school that I work at so I feel I do have the best of both worlds. The "connections" I make during the day include: notes in my child's lunchbox or planner, a phone call to the teacher to check on him or her, an email to my husband. Once in a while I make arrangements to have lunch with one of the kids. We either pack lunches or I get us something from one of the local restaurants. We don't have much time, but just a few minutes of sitting together, facing each other, talking about our day, and giving him/her my undivided attention really seems to mean a lot - to them and to me. I also try to make a lunch for my husband each day. He does not expect this and on the days that I can't, he assures me it's not a problem.  However, I feel good providing him with a mid-day meal that I know is healthy and made with love.



2. Make Moments Count - The time you DO have with your children or spouse - make it count! Make eye contact, really listen to them, snuggle, read stories, sing and dance together, ask about their day, sit down and eat dinner together. Go through the papers that come home in your child's backpack WITH your child. Talk about it. Talk on the way to school/work. Talk on the way home. In the evenings when my little ones take baths, I sit in the bathroom with them and read to them or we just visit. And with your spouse too, talk about your day, ask about theirs, hold hands and kiss every day, and go to bed at the same time.



3. Plan Ahead - I am CONSTANTLY thinking about what I am preparing for the next meal. A couple weeks ago I shared the planner I use - see HERE. This helps me to plan ahead and be prepared. I use the crockpot several times a week for our dinners. Our breakfasts vary from yogurt, fruit, and cereal to scrambled eggs and sausage with occasional McDonald's breakfasts before school once every week or two. I also make muffins or smoothies sometimes. On the weekends, I do more: pancakes, breakfast casseroles, steak and eggs. I try to always have a loaf of bread, string cheese, peanut butter, fresh fruit, cut up veggies, granola bars, hummus, applesauce, and lunch meat (I use Hormel Natural Choice lunch meats) so I can always throw together a quick lunch.


I often send my husband an email on Monday mornings that just reminds him what we have going on throughout the week. We have always discussed it ahead of time but an email helps us both remember. I have 3 calendars: my awesome planner, a family calendar hanging in our kitchen, and a large calendar by my desk at work. I use them all daily and make sure they all match at all times. I also take our school calendar and stick all those important dates in my planner, work calendar, and family calendar as soon as I receive it. That helps when we look ahead to plan for vacations or days that the children don't have school but we teachers do!



4. Make Mornings Manageable - One of my favorite resources as a working mom is Kristen Brown from Happy Hour Effect. She has practical advice for handling stress and chaos we face each day. I have her Morning Prep Checklist taped to my bathroom mirror. This checklist is to be done the night before to help you sleep better (not laying awake thinking about it) and have a more peaceful morning.


1. Set our your clothing for the next day (including accessories, undergarments, and shoes.)
2. Pack your lunch and snacks.
3. Gather your bag, keys, purse, phone, etc. into one spot.
4. Double check your to-do list for the next day.
5. Prepare kids' stuff (clothes, lunch, homework, backpacks.)
6. Prepare breakfast.
7. Load the car with needed items. 


See more Happy Hour Effect and Stress Turnaround Tips at HappyHourEffect.com.



5. Accept Help - This is a hard one. Before I had kids, I was the kind of person that if someone said, "Call me if you need anything" my response would be to smile, nod and thank them with no intention of ever asking for any help. Then I had kids. That changed everything. Three difficult pregnancies and three premature births made me realize that I am a better mom if I am willing to accept  help. I have also learned that PEOPLE REALLY WANT TO HELP! I know if a friend, colleague, or family member is in need I am always anxious to know what I can do for them. 

My husband and I are both teachers. We have the same work hours. We drive the same distance to work. We have the same work schedule. I need his help and he sees that. He is great about helping with laundry, dishes, helping with homework, grocery shopping, and he makes several meals each week which helps out tremendously! We are also blessed with 4 grandparents who don't live too far away. When one child has a classroom party or field trip that I can't attend, often a grandparent is happy to step in! I am also so thankful for amazing coworkers that I also call friends. They step in to help out if I get sick and need to leave work early. They offer to give my children rides home from school. The message, "It takes a village..." is so true! Accept help. Ask for help if you need to.










Tuesday, February 3, 2015

An Elegant Little Lady Tea Party


This past summer my daughter Claire had "have a tea party" on her summer bucket list. In August, her grandma and I made that wish come true! We invited some of her best friends to our backyard for a lovely lady tea party! It was so fun!



All the girls came dressed up and looked so darling!


Grandma and I served them a variety of tiny sandwiches, carrot sticks, cherry tomatoes, blueberries, strawberries, grapes, and cheese and crackers. The dessert was pink and blue cake balls and chocolate dipped strawberry marshmallows. Each table had little pastel chevron cups out that held colorful little candies too. The "tea" was pink lemonade, per Claire's request! 



We set little tables with tablecloths, mini vases of bright colored flowers (bouquets from Walmart) and little tea sets. We used Claire's china tea sets (she has a couple different sets) and we used mine and grandma's too from when we were both little girls. Each guest used their own little teapot to pour their tea. Grandma and I made sure each teapot stayed full! 



This is one of my favorite pictures of all! Love it!




The girls were all so lady-like! They all were polite and proper and drank their tea with their pinkies up! It was all very elegant!


Our dear family friend, Miss Shannon came to do face painting for the girls! This was SO exciting for each little lady! Miss Shannon is quite an artist and came prepared with lots of popular options for the girls to choose from! Having Miss Shannon there made the party extra special!









 






Our craft project was to make lovely lady bonnets. We used a paper bowl hot glued to a paper plate and then decorated with buttons, tulle, ribbon, washi tape, flowers, and stickers! 




Lovely, huh?!


Grandma Beth has always had special tea parties with her girls. Having Grandma Beth there meant so much to Claire! It was also very special to use her special pretty tea sets! 


It was quite the event! I know it was a special day that Claire (and her mama here too!) will never forget! A perfect summer day filled with giggles, squeals of delight, and exquisite elegance! Lovely indeed.


Friday, January 30, 2015

Gimme 5 Series - 5 Housekeeping Tips for Working Moms

We are beginning a Gimme 5 Series here on Sister-Dipity!
Every Friday for the next 5 weeks, we will feature 5 tips to help busy moms!




I am NO expert at keeping a house clean. I LOVE having a clean house but with three kids and working full time....not always doable. I have figured out a few little tips though that I thought I'd share with you.




1. Have a Landing Pad - Have a place for each child to "drop" their stuff when they get home each day. We have baskets at our house. Each basket has a name on it. That is the spot they know to put their hat, gloves, backpack, folder, gym shoes, etc. each day after school. The tower of baskets is right next to the coat tree to hang up their coat. No excuses. There's a place for everything.
This is our landing pad....




Click HERE to see the post where I shared our landing pad!




2. 10 Things - Before bedtime (yours and the kids) and right before you leave in the morning, have everybody pick up 10 things. Kids who are about 3 or 4 on up are able to count to 10 as they pick up 10 items! And 10 does not seem too overwhelming. Also, I've found that even for myself, if I'm looking at a huge pile of laundry I can tell myself - "Just fold and put away 10 items." It is quick, doable and puts a dent in the mess. The little bit of progress often motivates me to keep going too!



3. Connective Cleaning - This "connective cleaning" is my own self-created term. The "connected" part is sort of a "one thing leads to another" idea. So for example, I might find a hairbrush on the kitchen counter. I pick it up, carry it to the bathroom to put it away. In the bathroom I find a towel on the floor. I pick it up to carry to the laundry room. When I get to the laundry room, I find a pair of shoes left by the door. I put them in the kids' shoe basket. Laying next to the shoe basket might be a truck that belongs in the toy box in the living room. I take it to the living room and put it away. Then find a empty glass that should be taken to the kitchen....and so on. I set the timer and may do it in 15 minute increments. Again, doable. A little gets cleaned up in each room. A little eventually leads to a lot! I'm moving quickly throughout the house so I get in a little workout too - win/win!!



4. A Load of Laundry Every Morning - I've heard it said from lots of moms, organizing experts, and top-notch homemakers that doing a load of laundry every day makes it more manageable. I know some might prefer to have a set laundry day scheduled each week but for me, making sure I put in a load every morning works.


5. Be Specific - Children need simple, specific directions. If you tell a 5 year old, "Put your shoes away, take care of your coat, brush your teeth, and turn off the TV" all they will hear is "Turn off the TV" - the last thing you said. It's too much for little heads to take in - heck, it is too much for big heads to take in! Be simple. Be specific. Say, "Please put your shoes in the closet." When that is done say, "Hang up your coat." When that is done have them brush their teeth. One thing at a time with clear directions seems to be the trick to get things done!






Good luck!!

Thursday, January 29, 2015

10 Valentine Gift Ideas for Your Guy

Valentine's Day is quickly approaching. I am a hopeless romantic and often shower my hubby with lovey dovey, sometimes cheesy, often cliche gifts. He always seems to appreciate what I get for him. But after 20 years together, what do I get him?! I needed some fresh ideas! I found some unique gifts that I thought I'd share with you. 
Here are 10 of my favorites! 


Sweet, clever message and really rather subtle (probably you and him will be the only one who knows his socks say that!) Very affordable at $7.46 a pair!


I love these monogrammed tie cuff links and tie tacks from Michelleriesboutique priced from $9.50 up to $23.00. Very classy and very affordable. 


The Lumberjack Beard Kit is perfect for your bearded outdoorsman. It includes the following products: beard oil, a beard shampoo bar, and wax all made with essential oils that will leave him smelling outdoorsy yet lovely! This kit is $31.00 at WhiskeyInkandLace.


This handmade wooden caddy would be a fun gift for a beer or glass soda pop lover. The end of it has a bottle opener attached. $34.96 from WoodChipDesigns on Etsy.



How about Amazon Fire TV?  It is a little box you connect to your HDTV. You can then get Hulu, Netflix, Pandora, and so much more! Amazon is currently running a special for $84.00. 


This men's leather messenger laptop bag is a steal at $55.00 from Amazon!



Does your guy like to grill or cook? This Himalayan salt rock tile is great for creating gourmet meals of fish, meat, and veggies. (I know. My hubby has one and loves it!) $29.99 on Amazon.


The Bacon Man Crate from  www.mancrates.com is priced at $59.99. 
A scrumptious surprise for the bacon lover! 

Here's a sweet handmade gift...


52 Reasons I Love You can be made using a deck of cards and your own sentiments! Click HERE to see how they are made! Cost  - maybe $1.00 if you pick up a deck at the dollar store!

And then there's this...


Obviously, every husband should have this in his closet!
$12.95 from ebollo.

What is your man getting for Valentine's Day? I'd love for you to share your ideas!