Blogger BBQ in Elk Grove, CA

*full disclosure: the goods and services provided for this BBQ were gifted. All opinions and views are my own. Read more about my disclosures here.)

The Blogger BBQ in Elk Grove, CA

Last Sunday, my family and I attended a family friendly Blogger BBQ in Elk Grove, CA hosted by the wonderful Laura @probablyattarget and Ashley @ashleynewell.me .

I was fortunate enough to meet these ladies through Instagram earlier this year, and am so thankful to be able to call them my friends! It’s truly fulfilling to meet up with other Northern California mom bloggers with the same goals, in the same stage of life. Some might even call it magical! (Me…It’s me. I call it magical.)

@kimilove, @ashleynewell.me, @probablyattarget

The potluck style Blogger BBQ started at noon, and was held in Laura’s beautiful backyard in Elk Grove, CA!

The Blogger BBQ Decor

An adorable Lemonade stand courtesy of Nicole @fancyfixdecor & Rod Works home decor was set up with the absolute cutest country lemon decor and perfectly sweet and refreshing lemonade. I love all things lemon ( our wedding cake was lemon raspberry!) so I was all heart eyes for this beautiful set up. I loved the little striped paper straws too!

Also provided by Nicole & Rod works were the flowers and decor for the centerpiece. Nicole mixed faux flowers with real greenery to add some life and freshness to the arrangements! Such a beautiful touch, and I will definitely be trying this technique!

photo by : Nicole @fancyfixdecor

You know us bloggers love a good photo op! The stunning black and white photo backdrop was created and provided by Dani & Kayla Events .

photo by Tammy @playspaceowner
photo by Tammy @playspaceowner

The Kids

My kids zeroed in on the massive bounce house provided by Astro Jump of Sacramento! They kicked of their shoes, ran right in, and stayed in there most of the afternoon, bouncing around with their new friends and having so much fun! They also loved Laura’s tree swing and play house. Their backyard is perfect for kids!

The Food & Bev

There was a table set up for appetizers and sides. The BBQ was potluck style, so we provided a veggie tray.

Later added to the food table was watermelon, various green salads, and the star of the show: the meat, which was provided by local ranch, Western Grass Fed .

Photo by Tammy @playspaceowner

Beer and wine were provided by local vendors, Flatland Brewing & Rippey Family Vineyards .

photo by Tammy @playspaceowner

photo by Tammy @playspaceowner

Sweets & Treats

We ended the Blogger BBQ with a raffle, including prizes from local vendors, and a super sweet dessert table, complete with Ice Cream Sundaes from Leatherby’s Family Creamery & Fika Buns from Joe Boy Bakes!

photo by Tammy @playspaceowner

Raffle Prize Sponsors:

Rod Works
Amazing Lash Studio
Farmhouse Closet
Maverick
Imagine Play Elk Grove
photo by Tammy @playspaceowner

Swag Bags:

In addition to getting to chat, network, and relax with some likeminded women entrepreneurs, we also were gifted some swag bags to take home with us! These bags included all kinds of treasures from more local sponsors. If you’re local to Northern California (or even if you’re not!) check out all of the awesome vendors and bloggers I mentioned!

Photo by Tammy @playspaceowner

Swag Bag Sponsors:

@surfside_kids

@randomolive

@newsongsmusic

@popcornopolis

Alison Traverse Warren Realtor

@loveyouthewholeworld

@twocountrydivas

@mythriftysister

@my3blka7

In Conclusion:

It was a wonderful time spent with local bloggers and their families! If you’re in the blogging community, I highly suggest getting plugged in to a local blogger group, or starting one of your own! It is always a joy to spend time with these ladies and meeting their families was a special treat. Thank you again to Ashley, Laura, and all the sponsors that made this event possible!

More Photos from the Blogger BBQ:

photo by Erica @eraeholland

pictured: @thismomsadreamer, @kimilove, @tomorrowsmom, @probablyattarget

with @eraeholland
with @blogaboutitall

with @thismomsadreamer

(l to r top) : @kimilove, @ashleynewell.me, @savvygreystyles, @eraeholland, @tomorrowsmom

(l to r bottom): @probablyattarget, @fancyfixdecor, @thismomsadreamer, @blogaboutitall

Mom N’ Tot Box Review + Discount Code

It’s no secret that my family and I LOVE our subscription boxes! Whether for adults, kids, or pets, there really is something out there for everyone. But what if there was a box for adults AND kids?…. Well, there IS, and it’s pretty dang cool.

*this is a sponsored post, all opinions are my own*

Mom ‘N Tot Boxes are a monthly subscription box for kids AND moms curated by owner/creator and mother of two, Rana Longworth. Rana is passionate about spreading the small-biz love, and that’s why she hand selects each item of the month from various small businesses that will be fun and exciting for the kids, plus a little something extra for Mom. There are several different subscription options to chose from including monthly, three month, and a sibling box (which is what we received).

The kids were thrilled when we received their box! It was like Christmas came early this year! Our box included two matching donut tees from Kinderfolk, two wooden dragons from U.S. Wood Toys , Washable Bath Crayons from Messy Play Kits, two wooden peg doll unicorns from Wahoozle Hut Toys, and two stuffed felt donuts from Muffin Bub Dolls for the twins. On top of the treats for the kids, the box also had the most adorable pair of green women’s fashion socks from Lisa B. for me. Plus the socks are my favorite color, so these babies are going to get LOTS of wear!

Everything we received is such wonderful quality, from the wooden peg dolls, to the t-shirts (which we did receive two of, and Harrison decided to get messy before we took these pics 😆) and everything in between. We couldn’t be more pleased with these new toys that I’m sure will last us for years to come! The peg dolls and dragons have already made it out of the house with us on several occasions. They are perfect for keeping in the diaper bag for imaginative play on-the-go!

<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<
a Mom N’ Tot box for yourself, or to gift to friends and family ( Christmas is just around the corner!), click here, and follow these easy steps:

1. Choose Your Plan

2. Tell them about you and your child(ren) – Age, Gender and Clothing size. Include this information in the notes section with your payment.

3. Order by the 15th of each of month to be sent out by the 1st of the following month.

4. Get your Mom ‘N Tox box in the mail.

PLUS, Rana has been so generous to share an exclusive discount code with you! Use code subscribe10 for $10 off your first subscription!

It’s that easy!…

< strong>Overall, we had a wonderful experience with Mom N’ Tot box. Rana is so friendly and thoughtful, not only are the products she hand selects wonderful quality, but I love that she believes so strongly in shopping small! These boxes are a perfect treat for you and your kids!

Handwritten Revival


Musings from the bottom of my cup: I think I’ll write some snail mail today. I have a couple of notes the kids made that I need to send out, and I think I’ll write some more.

As a professional letterer, I have a deep fondness of hand written. It can be a challenge some days to sit down and write out sentiments, and to remember to mail them off….but it’s so much more meaningful (to me at least) than a typed out email. Am I right?

So today, I’m going to MAKE time for it. It’s that important. I think my address book is in storage somewhere…but that’s okay…I know most from memory, and the others, I can get.

While I’m at it, if you want to swap notes and doodles 📝, shoot me an email or comment and I’ll put one in the mail for you too. Let’s start a #handwrittenrevival ! ❤️

How to be Present as a Work at Home Mom

 


It’s been about 2 1/2 years since “officially” leaving my previous 9-5 employer of 8 years. I was put on bed rest during my twin pregnancy in January ’15, welcomed my little preemies to the world that March, and resigned that July.  Staying home to raise our kids was the best decision my husband and I have ever made for our family, but it has no doubt been a challenge…and, I say that with total gratitude and in the best way possible.

Anyone with kids understands that being a parent is totally a thankless job. It’s kind of just part of the gig. It’s what we sign up for. And whether you work out of the home, stay at home, or work from home, I believe it’s indeed the single most important position we as parents will hold in our lifetimes.

I have been on all sides of the above (as far as working situations go) in my short 4 and something years as a mother, and all have their ups and downs, and one is no more or less acceptable or okay than the other. We’re all just trying to do the best we can for our kids, and I love that.

Now, I just have to say that I won’t try to pretend that I have it all together, because truth is- most days I flounder about & fail five times times before I succeed. But that’s all part of personal growth, and part of teaching my kids that it’s okay make mistakes, as long as we try (and try and try..) to do better. Hey, I’m human …and unless there’s some new crazy robotics technology that I’m not aware of, I’m pretty sure you are too.

So here is my experience, for whatever it’s worth.

Transitioning from a consistent paycheck, deadlines, and even appreciations for a job well done to 24/7 selflessness and perpetual sleep deprivation is a heavy transition.
Over the past 2.5 years I’ve been consumed with guilt for not “working” (in the traditional sense of course), and overwhelmed with gratitude & humility at the opportunity that has been presented to me to stay home and raise my children- my lifelong dream. I know that none of this would be possible without having to face the hard challenges that we did, and without the help of my incredibly supportive family. I am forever grateful for the opportunity and know that in this day and age it is so much harder to come by. I don’t want to take that for granted.

This lifestyle has no doubt  taken much sacrifice of not only the life we once lived, but of self, and of expectations.
Most days, I try to fill the time between naps with my odd jobs- lettering and design work, social media consulting, and this blog. And once my husband gets home, my nights are filled with my actual job, doing photography and imaging for a top jewelry retailer, a job I absolutely love.

Doing these things definitely helps with the guilt trips I put on myself, but I have learned that there is definitely an art to balancing the hustle with the little ones still in tow.

It’s hard work to try to do it all. When this work life balance is off kilter, enter the anxiety and the mommy guilt for not feeling present or spending enough time on the house and with the kids.

I put together a simple list of things I do to remind myself to be present while working at home, keeping the balance. Please keep in mind that I am in no way an expert on this topic (an expert at changing diapers maybe, but a life coach I am not!). I am just sharing the things that have worked for me. I hope these tips help you in your work at home journey!:

1. Set work hours:
Give yourself designated hours to work (I know, it’s ALL work when you’re an at home parent…here, I’m talking about your income producing tasks) and stick to them. Whether this means waking up before the kids to check your emails and reply to clients, or going full on after their bed time, do what works for you! It helps you get into that routine again, and the kids know that your work hours are for helping the family. They may still tug on your shirt and want you to play, and that’s okay too. Just get back to it when you can, or start over the next day. It’s a process to adjust to, but it has definitely helped me! I have 3 under 5- an almost 5 year old and 2 year old twins, and they constantly want to play (which I LOVE), so I set my hours for nap time and after bed time so I can be as present as possible while they’re awake.

2.Unplug:
…depending on the type of work you do, of course. For me, this is a no brainer…but sometimes it’s easier said then done. Let family time be family time. When you aren’t working, leave your devices in another room. (Especially during meals and story time!)

3. Get on their level:
It really helps me to sit down on the floor at my kids’ level. I experience the world through their eyes, and am reminded what a precious fleeting season of life this is! While it’s important for you to have something for you (part of why I personally choose to work from home), it’s also extremely important for your kids to know they are your priority. Mine get so excited when I’m down on the ground playing with them, plus I win “cool points”, and as a mom, I can never really get enough of those from my kids…I wonder if I can stockpile a surplus of them for the teenage years to come….is that how that works?

4. Keep a daily schedule:
I started doing this again maybe a week or so ago, and boy- I wish I had done it sooner. This totally streamlines my day! I made a schedule with times, and three different columns (mommy, Jude, and twins- can be edited depending on your kids’ ages to mommy, baby, toddler, etc.) I write out per hour or so what we normally do in each time, and find the slots where I can get my work done while the kids are occupied with other things. This will surely vary based on your situation, and can seem sort of extreme, but for a crazy multitasker with anxiety like myself- it has SO helped. This is not all to say that you have to stick strictly to the schedule (because we ALL know, when a child refuses to nap, all bets are off…), but helps serve as a guide to a productive work day AND a productive parenting day, while still allowing your kids to do their thing. (I will upload a free printable template if there is a desire for it!)

5. Let them “help” you work:
Whenever there are tasks that I can have my almost 5 year old help me with, he jumps on them! Whether it’s stamping or sealing envelopes, picking out designs, offering color suggestions, grabbing me a certain pen or paintbrush- he eats it up! Get them involved and let them know that you value their help and “expertise”.

6. Eat together: 
This is SO important for our family. Even though we moved halfway across the country, are living with family, and have crazy schedules, we have and will always make it a point to sit down and have dinner together. Some nights, my husband may work and it’s just me and the kids, but I so treasure this time with them. My 3 year old and I talk about our day (while I also negotiate with him over taking 5 more bites of his food lol), talk about our feelings, plan exciting and fun things to do for the next day. We are totally in eachothers company, and totally present. It is definitely my favorite part of the day.

7. Breathe & give yourself some grace!: 
I’m going to be real with you. All of these things are awesome, IF you can remember to do them everyday. I am the QUEEN of beating myself up…no really. I am constantly fudging up, giving myself guilt trips and telling myself I’m no good at what I’m doing. I feel guilty for not working, but would feel even more guilty for leaving. I have good days and bad days. But you know what, I have a feeling that THAT’S MOTHERHOOD! Some days are amazing and I am present, and happy, and the kids are happy, and everything flows. Other days, I feel like crying and I want to stay in my sweats all day and binge watch OUAT with a 5 Lb bag of Jelly Bellys (don’t judge me, sister)! If you are still learning this balancing act, which I think, for me at least, is going to be a life long thing- take a step back, take a deep breath, give yourself some grace, and go love on those kids. Remember, you’re doing the best you can. They just want YOU, your love and your attention. They are the reason we do this, after all.

 

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*Thanks for taking the time and reading! Please, say hello! I’d love to hear your thoughts and feedback! Please keep it friendly, this is a community based on support and encouragement ❤️.

Choosing Joy

Getting caught up in the raging rapids of a hectic day is so easy to do. Trust me, I know all too well. It’s so easy to have a day start off on the wrong note…and then to straight up milk it the rest of the day. You woke up twenty minutes late, ugh. You ran out of milk for your coffee, ugh. Your hair is all friggin’ wonky and you just.cant.get your eyeliner to flick out evenly on both sides, UGH. Nothing is going right. You’re irritated as hell, and nothing can change it. So, you carry this nasty chip on your shoulder the rest of the day. You’re mad at the car who waited too long to go when the light turned green, or irritated when you ask a question and don’t get the answer you wanted, or upset that your spouse just.doesnt.get it, or, or, or.
You’re tired. You’re frustrated…..

Let me tell you something; you don’t have to be.

Those moments when you have nothing left to give. When the kids are whining and rolling their little bodies all over the ground in exhaustion. When the dogs are being crazy and won’t stop barking. When the house is a mess and laundry’s unfolded and you’re thinking of all the million things you couldn’t get done. Stop. Take a deep breath, and find the things to smile about. The kids are exhausted from a full day of playing. The dogs are barking because they love you and want to protect you. The house is a mess and things are undone, but you have shelter, and clothes. There is always a bright side when you stop to look for one.

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I know all too well how easy it is to turn a bad moment into a bad day. Choose joy instead. It’s easy to let that feeling of self pity take over and run the show. Don’t let it. Choose joy instead. CHOOSE to wake up and let both feet hit the floor ready for a new adventure. Choose to let the little stuff be just what it is- little. Tell yourself, first thing in the morning, that the day is going to be beautiful, that life is a gift, and that you are going to make the best of WHATEVER comes your way, that it’s a brand.new.day with so much potential. I know that everyone’s walk is different. Some of you may be having the most amazing day of your lives, while others are dealing with things I can’t even begin to imagine….but you’re here, you’re alive. And that… is a beautiful thing. There is SO much beauty in that alone. Do you know how amazing the human body is? Like, really, truly amazing!  What a gift! Isn’t that enough to smile about!? Whatever your circumstance is, I challenge you to choose joy. It’s much harder to stop and intentionally choose, but it’s so worth it. There’s so much good. Stop. Breathe. Find it. Live it.

A Walking Contradiction

Okay, I’m going to be honest here for a minute. I have no idea what I’m doing. I’m 28 and still figuring things out… and that’s okay! Some of you may say “Oh, you’re only 28, you’ve got your whole life to figure it out!” And others, “WOW LADY!!! 28? And you STILL don’t know? I feel sorry for you!…” I get that…probably all too well, because these are the things I tell myself constantly. Here’s the thing, when you have anxiety- your whole day is talking yourself into and out of the random thoughts that pop in your head. You know better, but you can’t help it. It’s exhausting, but I’m worth it.

On a physical level – I’m struggling to lose my baby weight from the twins (born March 2015). I am currently on week 3 of the CIZE program by Shaun T. Most days i’m like YEAH, i’m totally kicking this extra weights @$$, and others, like today I’m at the other end..”you’ve ONLY lost 7 lbs. It’s been 3 weeks. Just give up, it’s not worth it.” See? A walking contradiction…and that’s okay. I will keep going, because I find myself more motivated by the lack of progress than I do discouraged. I will keep feeding my body whole foods and nutrient packed supplements and limit the artificial junk that was never supposed to be made into “food” in the first place. It’s exhausting, but I’m worth it.

On an intellectual level- I find myself torn in two directions when I hear debates on certain topics. Some “hot button” which we won’t get into (this is not the time or place for that), some minuscule and irrelevant. When you’re younger you think you have it all figured out…you’re SO SURE of the things you know…but then…life happens…you SEE things, you experience things…you get married, or buy a house, or start a family…or there’s a traumatic event that happens, or a death…and these things that you thought you knew all of a sudden don’t make any sense. You look back at things you did, or said, and you can’t even stand your old self. “Who WAS that?” you think. You shy away from certain conversations because you don’t know HOW you feel anymore. It’s not so black and white. You see both sides of the story. Maybe I’m not supposed to know? It has affected my confidence in ways I’ve not experienced before…but I’m working on getting it back. I do know that my position on many topics is one of empathy. I do know that LOVE and EQUALITY and JUSTICE will ALWAYS be my heart’s deciding factors. I do know that where there is an injustice, I will be the first person to stand up and say something. I may not KNOW things, but I FEEL, and maybe that should be enough, and maybe I should learn to appreciate that about myself… that I feel deeply. It’s exhausting, but it’s worth it.

I DO know that I was fearfully and wonderfully made, that I was a lost and lonely sinner and by some amazing miracle I was saved by grace, by Love Himself.  I was created to pour that love & light into the world around me. That I’m sure of. I know that I am undeserving and broken, but through His love I am made whole. My heart knows, my soul knows. And in these moments of anxiety, I will let that be enough. il_fullxfull.559429966_bk2m

Make Yourself at Home

lincolndrive copy

I am starting this blog to share my journey as a work at home mama of 3, an illustrative designer and letter, wife, believer, celiac, and California girl living in Texas, and living with anxiety. I am a wearer of many hats, as I believe a lot of women are, and I would love to build a community of readers who support and encourage each other. My hope is to not only share with you bits of my life, but that I would get a peek into yours as well, growing friendships, learning new things, and adding value to each other’s lives! Join me on this crazy adventure; of a creative soul, saved by Grace and fueled by coffee!