Monday, August 31, 2015

Pregnancy Style : Ruched Dresses


Dress : Target  //  Purse : thrifted  //  Necklace : gift  //  Earrings : Walmart brand (sale)  //  Bangle : thrifted

Total Cost : $15

The ruched dress is a pregnancy staple. And this one from Target is so soft and comfy. The neutral color goes with most anything, the neckline is great and the length is perfect. I had originally planned to wear a cool leopard print scarf that matched my flats. But, one step outside and I knew that wasn't going to work. One thing I dislike about pregnancy is that I am hot all. The. Time. So, 82 degree weather and a scarf just wouldn't mix for me. My only complaint about this dress (if you could even call it that) would be that's it's not quite as fitted as I would like at this stage in my pregnancy. I'm wearing an extra small and it still doesn't hug me quite right. We're nearly 33 weeks and cruising right along but, I am swiftly approaching the phase that you start to feel like you're carrying around a watermelon. Like, really.

Baby boy is growing up a storm in there and I am so very thankful. But, goodness I just feel big these days! Not to mention any negative thoughts I've had about my prego legs. Even with pilates and pretty regular workouts, it seems like my lower half has been the most effected this time around. I guess it's like they say, each pregnancy is different and so it will effect your body differently. I only know that I'm ready to get back into a workout routine and start running again. Okay, so I wasn't an avid runner pre pregnancy but, I did occasionally and I loved it. A few months before we found out about baby number four I was getting the hang of how to breath when running. I was loving going out for a morning/evening run (weather permitting) and I was finally starting to see the results in muscle definition in my legs and thighs. Something I've never really had. My legs are just something I've always been self conscious about and, I'm sure, with my body changing even more during pregnancy it's just more noticeable to me.

We are our own worst critic after all. But, with the insecurities also comes the joy in what my body has been able to accomplish so far. Growing three perfectly healthy baby boys and bouncing back without much to complain about. I am thankful. A little nervous about recovering this time around, I'll admit. But, so thankful with all that I've gained through the experience of pregnancy. It is such an amazingly beautiful thing. Something some women only dream of and I will never, ever take that for granted. Push on mamas! You can do hard things!

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Dressing up a casual ruched dress



Dress : Old Navy (thrifted)  //  Blazer : ?  //  Shoes : Kenneth Cole  //  Purse : thrifted  //  Necklace : ?

Total Cost to me : $14

One of the most important things to me when it comes to pregnancy style is comfort. And, this simple ruched dress is the epitome of that. I've blogged it before in a more casual outfit but it works just as perfectly here. Just by adding a simple blazer, heels and a little jewelry it can be taken from a day with the family to any semi formal occasion. 

Then there's this super soft blazer. It was gifted to me and there's no tag to identify where it's from so, sorry can't share that. But, the fit is perfect and the fabric is cool enough that I didn't get over heated wearing it on a summer evening out with my family. These shoes are also gifted, and a little fancier than I tend to wear, but I love them to dress up an otherwise plain outfit. Neither the dress nor the blazer have much detail to them so even after adding the ruffled heels and a little sparkle from my necklace, I didn't feel over dressed. And, as I've blogged this purse many times before, it goes well with everything. The neutral color makes it very versatile while the studs add just a little something extra. I really love this color palette, as I'm sure you can tell by now, and I look for ways to wear it through every season.

We've hit the 32 week mark with this sweet babe and I can hardly believe it. Only 8 more weeks to go? What?! I feel like the time has just flown by yet there is still so much to do, I'm not even sure where to start. The nesting can kick in any time now!

Also, look for a post coming soon all about dressing the basic black shirt dress up or down. This has been a closet staple for me this summer and will continue to be throughout the fall months, while sporting the baby bump and I'm sure while transitioning back to normal as it's so very forgiving. Definitely a basic to invest in non maternity as well. 

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Fall Outfit Inspo

I'm getting really anxious for autumn to arrive. I can't wait to wear some of my favorite fall staples and some new to me, basic pieces I've picked up thrifting. Plus, I'll be able to carry my sweet baby on the outside of my tummy so, dressing will be considerably easier.

Fall Outfit Insp

I love a white tunic paired with some distressed jeans, cuffed at the bottom for a little extra something. Throw on a simple black and white scarf and some booties and it just screams fall. Then, of course I would add some simple gold earrings and a bangle to dress it up just a tad. This is going to be on major repeat for me in the coming months.

Fall Outfit Ispo

I love being able to wear dark, rich colors in the cooler months. So, I'm excited about pairing pretty colored sweaters with some black skinnies. I'll probably add in my western ankle booties just to give it a little twist, not to mention, they're super comfortable! And then my favorite black studded bag along with some simple jewelry. Goodness knows I'll need to keep my accessories as simple as I can with a newborn and three other boys to chase. 

Fall Maternity Style Insp

Since I won't be quite done with this pregnancy when fall arrives, I'll be taking full advantage of the bump while I can. I love this maternity dress I picked up on sale at Target a few months ago and it will pair great with these basics that I already own. A simple denim jacket, ankle boots, a camel colored scarf, my favorite leather backpack and some pretty studs. Perfect for a fall day of pumpkin patches and festivals with my family. I could always switch the booties out for riding boots and, if the weather warms up a bit, ditch the jacket and still have a great, comfortable outfit.

Fall Maternity Style Inspo

And, here's one more maternity look I know I'll be sporting this fall. I already love pairing my black old navy maternity dress with my military jacket. For the cooler temps, I'll simply add some riding boots (I seriously need to invest in a new pair!), my leather bag and some pretty gold statement jewelry. This will be the perfect go to outfit that I can change up just by switching out the jacket and jewelry or adding in a scarf. I am so ready!

What trends are you loving this fall? Will you be using pieces you already own or shopping the sales? I'm sure I'll be doing a bit of both. Especially after baby comes and I need some help transitioning back to my pre-pregnancy wardrobe. Because, let's get real, this is baby number four people. 

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Sunday Style : A glimpse of Fall

Dress : Motherhood Maternity (thrifted)  //  Boots : Tommy Hilfiger last season (similarsimilar) //  
Earrings : Walmart brand (sale)  //  Necklace : thrifted  //  Purse : thrifted 

Total Cost to me : $10

I could not believe it when we got up this morning and it felt like fall. My favorite time of year. Of course it was short lived because when we got out of church it was already getting warm. Then again, that's Missouri weather for you. Still, this morning was beautiful and I jumped at the chance to wear this dollar rack sweater dress and my favorite booties. Although I love summer and all that it brings, I cannot wait for fall. The pumpkins, the cinnamon scent everywhere you go, the festive feeling in the air, the perfect temperatures and the beautiful colors of nature. It is my absolute favorite season of the year. Christmas time is a very close second (as long as we get lots of snow instead of muddy slushy stuff), then follows spring and finally summer. Only because the hot temps are my least favorite. I love being able to be outside enjoying the weather without sweating through my clothes (because I always wear layers) and wishing I was back in the air conditioning. Fall and spring are the perfect seasons for that reason. Cool, brisk weather and a fresh feeling lingering in the air. Winter I love because I can wear my favorite cozy sweaters while holding a cup of hot cocoa and snuggling my boys and hubby. Still, I know that summer isn't quite over yet so, I'll try to enjoy it while it lasts. 

Yesterday was hair washing day so that meant retouching my curls and some dry shampoo to kick the little bit of oil on my scalp this morning. I love it and there isn't much I can complain about. After a few days of use I begin to notice a little build up. Really though, that's the only downfall for me. The upsides? It has a great scent, makes my hair more manageable and cuts way down on my "getting ready" time. Which is awesome, especially when we have to be somewhere earlier than normal. I gain extra time with my family and spend less time primping, which the hubby loves I'm sure. And, with a price tag of less then $3, it's way worth all that I save on shampoo and conditioner.

Have you tried dry shampoo? Any favorite brands or tips for use? 

Saturday, August 22, 2015

How we Homeschool

We planned to start our schoolwork this past Monday. We had friends coming over for a play date and then we were going to jump in after lunch. Our conversation was flowing and the kids were so engulfed in playing that everyone stayed until about two o'clock that afternoon. Needless to say, we didn't have the energy to get started once everyone made their way home. I love our play dates though. It's the perfect escape for my boys and the most effective therapy for me! I always come away feeling so encouraged and thankful for the incredible women God has placed in my life. They lift me up when I'm at my lowest and ground me when I am floating too high. They're the best and I am so blessed to call them friends and sisters in Christ.

If you follow along here, you already know we had a day trip to the MO State Fair planned for Tuesday so it was a given that we wouldn't get any book work in that day. We did, however learn lots about farming, agriculture, interacting with others, staying safe and having fun so, I count that as a big win (and you bet I was able to log some hours!).

Bright and early Wednesday morning (okay more like nine thirtyish Wednesday morning) we all met in the schoolroom ready to begin our year fresh and new. Last year we began with a lesson from our Bible Study. This year, however, I didn't get a specific study to do with the boys. I plan on instead doing some Bible readers, stories and activities throughout the week. I still feel like this is a very important part of schooling, especially at home. So, before we began book work, we all sat down and took turns praying. I started us out and then each of the boys chimed in with their own. It was a really great way to start our school day. They loved it and I really feel like it got us off on the right foot.

So, I'm quickly learning that schooling one child is completely different than schooling two. I anticipated this when we began planning for our year and it gave me quite a bit of stress for a while. But, after our first three days, and completing a week's worth of lessons, I feel much better about my plans for the coming months. Before I dive into what really went down this week, I'd like to give you a little overview of the schedule we followed last year. When I was "schooling" one child daily and doing only beginner skills with Lucas.

Here's the plan I started out with //

8:45 am   : Bible
9:00 am   : Phonics & Reading
9:30 am   : History
10:00 am : Math
11:00 am : Science
11:30 am : Penmanship/Spelling (alternating days)
12:00 pm : Lunch Break
1:00 pm   : Free Reading/Play time
2:30 pm   : Art/Music

8:45 am   : Bible
9:00 am   : Letters
9:15 am   : Colors
9:30 am   : Free Play
10:00 am : Numbers
10:15 am : Free Play
11:00 am : Science
11:30 am : Creative Time
12:00 pm : Lunch Break
1:00 pm   : Free Reading/Play time
2:30 pm   : Art/Music

This looks pretty formal at first glance, huh? Keep in mind, this is the schedule I wrote out before we began doing any work. I had the subjects I wanted to do, I felt well organized and this was what I thought we should be able to accomplish in a day of schooling. I planned to fit Lucas' beginner lessons in when I knew JD would need minimal help (i.e. reading, phonics - he's always loved that). I planned out every minute so there wouldn't be any surprises after we began. Then, I got a wake up call. That's just not how it works. The awesome thing about homeschooling is having the freedom to go at the pace that works for your schedule and the way your kiddos learn. Did we follow this schedule for the first couple of weeks? We sure tried. Was it easy to fit into our everyday routine while not feeling like we were confined to the house (and school room!) eight hours of the day and getting completely stressed out? To be perfectly honest, no. It didn't work at all.

That's when I began reading blogs, researching, asking other home school moms questions and evaluating what I wanted us to get out of homeschooling. One thing I knew, I didn't want it to go the way it was. So, after gathering lots of info and tips, I reworked our plan and this is more of what it looked like for us from them on.

9ish am : Bible with both boys
9:15       : JD - P& R / Lucas - Letters/Numbers (I would usually do one of each a day)
10 am    : History with both boys
10:30     : JD - Math / Lucas - Colors/Shapes/Puzzles
11:15     : JD - Penmanship/Spelling (alternating days)
12 pm    : Lunch Break
12:30     : Free play/Outside time
1:30       : Lucas - Nap / JD - Reading/Quiet time
2ish       : Art/Music (if we weren't busy or had other plans)

That is a much more realistic schedule of how our year went. I quickly realized that they were not at all interested in Science. Most of the topics and lessons included in the curriculum I purchased was too advanced, too messy or just plain boring. We would occasionally work a fun experiment or discussion into something we were already doing but, it was very rare for me to break out the curriculum after those first couple of weeks. Thankfully, I hadn't spent much on the teacher guide and student book that I purchased so it wasn't a major loss.

We would start our day whenever we finished breakfast, which was usually around 9am and finish up all of the important things before I began preparing lunch. By important I mean, the things I knew I wanted to take the time to do. The things that they needed to learn and get a strong foundation in because, not only would they be tested on them at the end of each year, but they would base all future learning off of those things.

By following that, more casual, schedule, we were able to do more than just schoolwork. We were able to do life. And I think that is equally as important as book learning. We had play dates, took shopping trips (yes I almost always take my boys grocery shopping and they love it!), enjoyed the nice weather, made many trips to the Library and took the occasional day to visit Daddy for lunch. We had a really great year learning and gaining many new experiences. And I know it made a big impact on my boys and how much they love learning because they were all too excited when we began talking of plans to start again this year. We also had the freedom to join Shared Learning with our local home school group for another year. They get together for classes twice a month for six months out of the year and it such a great thing to be a part of. My boys love making new friends and being around kids their own age while doing fun and engaging activities. I, of course, opt to sign them up for the classes that will play well into what we're already learning (this year, you can bet those are core subjects) but, the boys just love the socialization and always have a great time.

Jumping back to real time, let's get into our "schedule" for this year and what I've decided to do a bit differently. Because of my personality, I have to have a plan. So, I got the same brand of home school planner that I purchased last year and loved so much to begin laying out this year's lessons. This is what I've got written down for us to follow this year. Keep in mind that I'm schooling JD in 2nd grade and we have to log our hours this year because he turned 7 over the summer. I'm also starting Lucas in Kindergarten, which we'll take two years to complete. That worked out so well for JD and, with the new baby coming in a few short weeks, I want everyone to have plenty of time to adjust to all the changes. So, I'll be doing two days a week for schoolwork with Lucas and one day of little activity books to keep him progressing and interested. We'll begin our Shared Learning classes again this September and all three of JD's classes will qualify for logging hours. Yay!

8:30     : JD - Language Arts
9:30     : JD - Math / Lucas - Phonics & Reading
10:30   : Social Studies/Science (alternating) / Lucas - Math
12 pm   : Lunch Break
1 pm    : Gym (either outside, in the play room or somewhere else)
2 pm    : Assigned Reading (can include Bible, Science Magazines, Specific Books, etc of my choice)
2:30     : Art/Music
3 pm    : Free Reading (they get to choose what they read/look at)
3:30     : Free Play

This has worked out really well for us. Even with two full days at the beginning of the week, we've been able to complete everything I had planned to get done so we are right on track to start Monday morning with a new week of lessons. It's going well for me to fit Lucas' lessons in when JD is busy completing book work. They only take a few minutes normally and he is so excited to learn that he breezes right through what I ask him to do. It's been such a big blessing to see how everything has come together with so much less stress than I had anticipated. Of course, we may end up tweaking this a bit but that's just another great thing about schooling for yourself to fit your needs.

I also like to let Blake do mini lessons along with Lucas. He loves feeling like he's involved yet I don't have to set out a schedule specifically for him. For example, Lucas' math lesson today included placing colored bears on a page covering an entire row of bears they had drawn for him. Then he had to choose the color of crayon that matched the bear he chose and color in the bear drawing below it. Blake wanted to do it too so he got a coloring book, picked out a few bears and colored patches on his book. He didn't get the point of choosing the same color crayon as his bear, but he still enjoyed using the learning supplies and being a part of that lesson. It was really sweet.

If I had to give one piece of advice to any home school parent, I would say to ask questions. Don't compare yourself and the way or pace that your kiddos learn to another family but don't be afraid to get advice when you need it. Beating yourself up over not being "good enough" will never help you grow in your homeschooling journey. If anything, it will bring you down and give you more stress than you need. Ask other moms for help, tips, their experiences with curriculum or co-ops. Helping each other be successful is one of the main reasons why I love homeschooling. Of course there's the one on one time with our children, the comfort and assurance of knowing what they're learning and how it's being taught, the knowledge that they are safe at home (or with you) and not in danger of something unplanned occurring and being able to watch them grow and progress with the confidence that you played a huge part in that. But, the encouragement and camaraderie that I've been able to witness, and feel myself, since becoming a part of my local home school group is so, so amazing.

God truly does have a plan for your family. Whether it be through public school, private school or home school, trust him with your decisions and he will never lead you somewhere you won't succeed as long as you make him a part of it. I know this was an extra long post, but, if you read my previous home schooling post, I'm sure you sort of expected this one to be lengthy as well. Lol

I pray you all have a very blessed weekend and you are able to lay your cares on the Lord. He knows our every circumstance and has exactly what we need to not only make it through but, to do so with flying colors. Have a great weekend and happy homeschooling!

Friday, August 21, 2015

Skincare for the Ages

Can we talk for just a minute about skincare? Do you have a regimen you use that is tried and true? Are you still searching for something that works? I've never committed to using just one product line. Usually, I try whatever is on sale or something someone recommends to me, as long as it's pretty inexpensive and doesn't require a lot of steps. With every product I've tried though, I've never found anything that really works at keeping my skin clear, healthy, soft and break out free. It may do the job for a few days or weeks but, long term, nothing has lasted. Then I found out about the Enfuselle line of Shaklee skincare. I absolutely love it!

It all started a few months ago when I began to notice my skin was aging. It was dry, acne prone and difficult to keep that clean, fresh feeling. I decided that maybe it was time to find a regimen that would be gentle on my skin and still do an impeccable job at oil control and managing break outs. This skincare has gone up and beyond that. It is amazing!

Since the day I started using it I have had nothing but great results. Less than one week into the regimen, I noticed that my skin was clearer, softer, less oily and easier to care for. The break outs I had were muted in color and disappearing and I wasn't having any issues controlling oil throughout the day. I was stunned. Mostly because I never thought I would find something affordable that not only worked, but used natural ingredients to really care for and improve my skin.

I use three products from the Enfuselle line. They work wonderfully together without any harsh side effects and are completely natural and safe to use (even during pregnancy and nursing!).  There are three simple steps that I follow and it keeps my skin clear and glowing.  ((Please note that I am not a doctor nor a dermatologist. Nothing I write here is scientific, it is simply my experience and opinion of the product and how it has worked for me.))  Also, I always brush, floss and rinse my teeth before I begin cleansing my face so as not to leave any residue after cleansing.

Step 1 //  Hydrating Cleansing Lotion  //

I love this. It doesn't take much, just a dab slightly smaller than a cocoa puff (great example huh!) on the tip of your finger. First, wet your entire face and neck. Smooth the cleansing lotion all over your skin while massaging with your fingertips and being sure to avoid the eye area. (I use Dove soap and a sea sponge on my eyes to gently remove any makeup or oils that may be there before I use my cleanser) Rinse your skin clean with warm water and pat dry (rubbing your face while drying it can irritate the skin and lead to more break outs).

Step 2 //  Hydrating Toner  //

Moisten a cotton ball with a small amount of toner and gently wipe it across your entire face and neck (again avoiding the eye area). This is so refreshing and invigorating for the skin. It really feels like it's working and tightening the skin without over drying and I love that.

Step 3 //  Hydrating Moisturizer  //

This is the final step in my routine and it makes a world of difference. I always let my face air dry after applying the toner and before using the moisturizer. I use just enough to cover the tip of my finger and gently rub it all over my face and neck. Be sure to rub it all in but, do not be too hard on your skin. After all, your trying to avoid wrinkles, not give yourself more by stretching it out.

And that's it! It takes me less than twenty minutes from start to finish (beginning with brushing my teeth) and, when I'm done, I really feel so much better. Glen's grandmother is the one who recommended this skincare to me. She is a Shaklee distributor and we have ordered all of our household soaps and cleaning supplies from her since we were married. They are all biodegradable and safe for families. I love how highly concentrated they are, that they really last and do an incredible job cleaning anything from laundry to dishes to floors. She began using their skincare around 40 years ago when she became a distributor for them and she has never looked back. I have always thought that she looks at least 20 years younger than she is so, when she told me her secret, I knew this was what I was looking for. I mean, 40 years later and she is STILL using the same products?! Talk about tried and true!

I recently recommended this regimen to a friend and thought maybe someone else may gain something from learning about Shaklee and all that they have to offer. Have a blessed week and look for a post about our first week of school coming soon!!

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Summer Traditions

Something Glen's family has loved to do since he was a child is go to the Missouri State Fair in Sedalia, MO. When he was young, they lived in Sedalia and were able to enjoy nightly visits the entire length of the fair. Since moving back to Lebanon, though, they take a day trip every year and it's one of the many traditions I love being a part of. We all pile into my in-laws fifteen passenger van and make the drive. It's quite the site! We usually eat one meal at one of the many restaurants inside the fair (which is always amazing!!) and pack another for the road where we'll find a park to eat at. And, afterward, the kiddos can play a while before hitting the road home. It is always such fun and this year was no different.

 We left bright and early to avoid the summer heat as best we could and, as it turned out, there was a pretty good chance of rain so it didn't get hot at all. The temperature was perfect and we only had to duck into a building twice throughout the entire day so, I'd call that a win. Over the course of the day we were able to view lots of displays, both artsy and informative, learn about bees and livestock, pet rabbits, "drive a firetruck, see fish and learn about the MO Department of Conservation, and they had a great building with all sorts of indoor activities for the kids. They got to play and interact with other littles while fishing, camping, cooking, building, planting and digging up crops, shopping, and lots more. They loved it so much we made two different stops inside to take a break from walking. Which, lets face it, was much needed with this 31 week bump.

I picked up some double chocolate fudge from one of the vendor booths and I have to say, it's a miracle that I have any left! It was sooo good. But, being prego drives you to make many sometimes crazy decisions. Including not gorging yourself on the most delicious fudge you've ever had so your blood sugar doesn't spike and you get in lots of trouble with your midwife. Haha. However, on the upside, savoring it has allowed me to enjoy a little each day and it has lasted much longer than it would have on previous trips. Seriously, it's just that good.

We were even able to sneak in a good nap for Blake, which was a lifesaver. I know it's hard to believe but he can be a bit of a bear if he doesn't get his beauty rest ; )


 The park we stopped at in Warsaw, MO was just so beautiful. I told Glen if we lived nearby it would've made an amazing place for portrait sessions. It was located right by a river which was framed on either side by large rocks. There was a paved trail along that and lots of nicely trimmed trees dotted the landscape. It was just so pretty we had to snap a family shot or two and we took the opportunity to get some outfit photos as well.

I actually started out the morning with two side braids and most of my hair hanging in loose waves, as requested by the hubby. But, upon loading up the van, I quickly decided that dealing with it clinging to my neck and face all day was not going to work for me. So, I threw it into this quick side dutch braid and it made for a much more manageable outdoor style. (This is one of those times where I wish I had a sort of pixie cut so I could fix it just the way I like and not have to worry about it the rest of the day. Like Glen would ever go for that though!)

I chose this maxi for a day that I knew we'd be walking constantly. It kept me nice and cool even with a button up tied up around my bump. I went with white to avoid any heat issues while still keeping covered up. I opted for this little cross body bag that I picked up at a garage sale last year instead of my usual, stuffed to the brim purse. This way, I was able to fit only the necessities in and it was lightweight so it worked well to carry with me throughout the day. I chose to wear minimal accessories so I wouldn't worry about losing anything and this bangle is always a go to for me. It's wider than some of my others so it gives the impression of wearing more than one but fits comfortable so it doesn't get old wearing it. Add in some sunnies, sandals and simple studs and I was all set for enjoying a day outside with the family.

Can't you tell we had such a great day?! I can't wait to go again next year with my newest little guy wrapped up all snug on the outside of my tummy. Until then, I'll do my best to savor this time as a mom of three little crazies and one big one agging them on.