Four-Month-Old Marina Grace

July 29, 2015

marina grace at four months // livelovesimple.com

marina grace at four months // livelovesimple.com

Marina Grace is four-months-old. She recently rolled over from her back to her belly. She’s been trying for awhile, but her arm always gets in the way. She hasn’t done it again since, but she’s getting close and growing stronger every day.

Her favorite thing is being carried and looking around. As long as she is being carried by someone who is moving and as long as there is something to look at, she’s a happy girl. On the flip side, this is literally the only thing that makes her happy for 90% of her waking hours, which is absolutely exhausting for her mama & her papa.

Her colic has not subsided and we are only able to put her down for about 45 minutes a day, total. She won’t hang out, or sit in her swing, or nap, or anything else. If she’s not being held, she screams. In her car seat, she screams. Occasionally, she will fall asleep in the car for twenty minutes, but as soon as you come to a traffic light or stop sign and the car stops moving, she wakes up, and screams.

It’s alarming how long she can scream for, and how loudly. I venture there’s a fair chance that she will grow up to be an opera singer or an endurance athlete, or some combination of the two.

The good news is that she’s actually quite healthy and happy. As long as she’s receiving constant attention, she’s all smiles. She really has the biggest, brightest smile. She really giggled for the first time recently. It was just the sweetest sound. She absolutely loves to get kisses on her cheeks and when she does, she just lights up.

She sleeps, still in my arms, from about 7 pm until about 6 am. During the day, she might take two or three twenty to forty-minute naps, if we’re lucky. These occur while she is being held, in her swing (rarely), or in her car seat. If I lay down with her, she will easily sleep for two hours. This indicates that she is actually tired, that she does actually need sleep, and that exhaustion is most likely the cause of her constant screaming.

She’s had lots of firsts since hitting four-months a week ago, including her first time at the beach, her first time in a baby, blow-up pool, and her first taste of ice cream. We also tried to give her a bit of rice cereal, but she mainly just swished it around in her mouth and then squished it out through her lips.

Other than this, she’s still exclusively breastfed. I got some really expensive, specialized baby formula from a friend about a month ago. We were all set to try it but then, I don’t know, I didn’t have the heart to. And then as the past few weeks have gone by, it’s just become increasingly obvious that there’s nothing really “wrong” with Marina and no real need to give her formula.

She’s just fussy and high-needs. I mean I have literally let her cry for twenty straight minutes and she will scream — blood-curdling, top of her lungs, drenched in sweat — and as soon as I pick her up, she’s happy as a pig in shit, all smiles. I’m not deliberately letting her cry, by the way. But sometimes I obviously have to put her down in order to take care of Roman, go to the bathroom, eat, drink, etc.

marina grace at four months // livelovesimple.com

marina grace at four months // livelovesimple.com

marina grace at four months // livelovesimple.com

marina grace at four months // livelovesimple.com

marina grace at four months // livelovesimple.com

marina grace at four months // livelovesimple.com

marina grace at four months // livelovesimple.com

marina grace at four months // livelovesimple.com

marina grace at four months // livelovesimple.com

marina grace at four months // livelovesimple.com

Once again, I wish I had some brighter news to share on the Marina-front, but here we are still. You know, I’m not a jealous person. In fact, I’m one of the least jealous people you’ll ever meet. I think that jealousy is a useless emotion. I’m quite confident in myself and I love my life passionately. However, I will say this: at this point in my life, I am deeply envious of those who have/had laid back, easygoing infants. I know that it is such a short and special period of life, having such a tiny baby, and it breaks my heart that I’ve (we’ve) had to endure such suffering through it.

I also know that in the grand scheme of things, I am incredibly blessed. I have so many blessings that I can’t begin to name them, and one of them right up in the top of the list, is my sweet & beautiful Marina Grace.

Everyone is always reminding me to enjoy these days because they will pass quickly. I appreciate the advice, but it’s information that I’m well aware of. Roman is two years and two months, and sometimes it honestly feels like I gave birth to him last week. Even though the hours and the days drag when life is hard, the months and the years still fly by.

This post is turning into a life philosophy post instead of a baby update. So I’ll end it here.

I’ve written this whole thing on my phone with my right hand while Marina sleeps nestled in my left arm. Time at my computer is extremely limited these days, so I hope that what I’ve written here is actually somewhat sensible. 😉

P.S. How adorable is she in her little, pink bikini!? I just can’t even.

By the Seashore

July 28, 2015

seashore // livelovesimple.com

seashore // livelovesimple.com

seashore // livelovesimple.com

Six months ago, when I booked this vacation, I knew that planning a trip with a two-year-old and a four-month-old in tow was a risky endeavor. In the end, it proved to be every bit as difficult as I’d anticipated… and then some. Gratefully there were lots of beautiful memories tucked in there that made it all worth it in the end.

Roman had a blast heading out to the boardwalk and riding the amusement rides. It was the first time that he was tall enough to ride. I simply can’t express the joy that I felt watching the smile on his face as he whizzed around in the warm July sunshine. He also went on his very first roller coaster ride with his Papa. I laughed so hard watching them that my stomach actually hurt. The people around me surely thought that I was a mad woman.

He played arcade & boardwalk games for the first time, too. The water guns were a favorite, as well as a “Play-’til-You-Win” crane game that gave out rubber duckies. We came home with five new, colorful rubber duckies that he is still loving at the moment.

One day, Matthew took Marina for a couple of hours while I took Roman to the water park. They have a fantastic toddler area. Roman had a ball running around, going down the slides, and splashing in the fountains. He is such a cautious boy. He gets that from me. I am constantly telling him to watch his step — and for good reason, he’s so clumsy. It was fascinating to watch him among so many other toddlers. They are all very different in their mannerisms, bravery, & maturity levels. After awhile, I took Roman over to the “Lazy River” where I placed him on my lap as we floated around the river, under bridges & waterfalls, beneath hanging wooden fish, and so on. It was the highlight of the trip for me. It was so special to have those hours of uninterrupted time with my little guy. Those moments are few & far between these days. I cherished it dearly and my heart was bursting with gratitude by the end of it.

My mom wheeled the kids around the boardwalk for a couple of evenings so that M. and I could have two childless dates — such a treat. We had our first dinner at the Mexican restaurant that is home to my favorite shrimp & lobster quesadillas. I had a massive & delicious raspberry margarita to go with my meal. We sat outside on the deck with a gorgeous view looking out over the beach. It was heavenly really.

It wasn’t all sunshine and smiles, though. Marina was a handful, as ever. And Roman had a lot of tantrums and grumpiness fueled by lack of quality sleep. All of that was to be expected. However, there was one epic disaster of a day that I could have never imagined in my wildest nightmares. It was the worst day that I have ever experienced as a mother and one of the worst days of my life as a whole.

Most days, we took the kids over to the pool at the motel where my aunt was staying. It was easier than trekking out to the beach every day. On the day that we finally decided to head to the beach it was extremely overcast and humid. We thought that would be a great thing — less sun and a good opportunity to cool down in the sea.

What we didn’t realize, however, was that it was also the perfect weather for biting beach flies. When we got to the beach, we quickly unpacked our things and set up our umbrella so that we had shade for Marina. I blew up Roman’s little pool and then started making trips with his play buckets to and from the ocean to fill it up. When I was about halfway through filling, the flies started biting. By the time I was finished, they were attacking. We knew that we had to do something, so I left Roman with M. and walked back up to the boardwalk to hunt for some bug spray. Typically we only use organic bug sprays, but desperate times call for desperate measures and we were desperate. When I got back to our spot on the beach, we all got a spray down with bug spray (except the baby). We tried to go about our business, but the flies were relentless. It was like the bug spray did nothing at all.

Within minutes after my return, the flies were literally swarming. There were hundreds, if not thousands, of them. Roman was covered. I saw that he was bleeding where they were biting him and that’s when I’d had enough. I screamed to M. that I had to get the babies off the beach. I picked up Marina and took Roman by the hand and we started running toward the boardwalk. The sand was so hot and Roman said his feet were burning, but there was nothing I could do. I couldn’t physically carry both babies. We had to keep going. The flies were still attacking us.

We finally made it up to the boardwalk. There was a girl selling beach passes. I frantically asked her to take the baby so that I could put Roman’s shoes on. She said that she’d never held a baby. The flies were still attacking! I yelled, please just take her and handed her off. As I was putting his sandals on, she explained that she and her colleagues were getting bitten too. I got Roman’s shoes on, took the baby back, and we took off toward our house. When we were halfway there, Roman fell in the middle of a parking lot and scraped open his arm. I was holding his hand but we were just moving too fast as the flies were still biting. When we finally got back to our beach house, I realized that we were locked out. There was nothing we could do except sit there and wait in the blistering heat, flies still biting, Roman’s arm bleeding.

I had just trekked to the beach, setup and filled a baby pool, trekked to the boardwalk for bug spray, trekked back off the beach, and finally made it home — all in the blistering heat. I was so physically and emotionally exhausted. I don’t know how much time passed before M. showed up carrying all of our things and the key to the house. When we finally got inside, I broke down. It was one of the worst moments of my life. I didn’t care at all about my pain, I was gutted by the fact that Roman had gotten bitten and I was helpless to save him.

That afternoon, I laid down for a nap with Marina. When I woke up, I felt horribly ill. Within hours, I was shivering violently and I had a full body ache. It felt like I had a horrible flu that came on very quickly. It was scary and we came very close to heading to an urgent care center. I still don’t know exactly what it was but I imagine it was my body going into some sort of shock as a result of the trauma of the day. Gratefully, I was able to sleep and felt much better in the morning. Roman was mostly unfazed. He had no marks from the bites and we fixed up his scrape with ointment and a band-aid. Marina didn’t get bitten, thank God!

It was an awful experience that put a damper on an already stressful trip. But, what can you do. Life happens. We braved the beach again a couple of days later (when it wasn’t overcast!) and we had a beautiful time. Overall, the trip was stressful, but we had fun and made a bunch of beautiful memories. I am sure that one day we will look back on “the terror of the flies” and laugh — that day, however, is a long time away from now!

I’m glad to report that I got lots of photos of the happy moments, so that’s what I want to focus on. Enjoy!

seashore // livelovesimple.com

seashore // livelovesimple.com

seashore // livelovesimple.com

seashore // livelovesimple.com

seashore // livelovesimple.com

seashore // livelovesimple.com

seashore // livelovesimple.com

seashore // livelovesimple.com

seashore // livelovesimple.com

seashore // livelovesimple.com

seashore // livelovesimple.com

seashore // livelovesimple.com

seashore // livelovesimple.com

seashore // livelovesimple.com

seashore // livelovesimple.com

seashore // livelovesimple.com

seashore // livelovesimple.com

seashore // livelovesimple.com

seashore // livelovesimple.com

seashore // livelovesimple.com

seashore // livelovesimple.com

seashore // livelovesimple.com

seashore // livelovesimple.com

seashore // livelovesimple.com

seashore // livelovesimple.com

seashore // livelovesimple.com

seashore // livelovesimple.com

seashore // livelovesimple.com

seashore // livelovesimple.com

seashore // livelovesimple.com

Just for fun, here is Roman’s first trip to the shore and his second trip to the shore. My goodness, how these years are flying. I’ll take a vacation from my “vacation” now, please. 😉 xo

in the garden // late july

July 27, 2015

in the garden // livelovesimple.com

in the garden // livelovesimple.com

Late July brings bounty & beauty to our garden. These are my favorite photographs from the garden yet. I could just sit and stare at them all day. They capture the plant life out there so beautifully. What I didn’t capture is the animal life! It’s constantly buzzing back there. Bees, butterflies, hummingbirds, and other birds (eating insects) are a constant presence. We deliberately cultivated the garden to be fauna-friendly, including plants that are especially attractive to our beautiful pollinators. Hooray for bees & butterflies!

When we returned from vacation over the weekend, there was so much deliciousness to be harvested. We are thrilled that our hopes for a bountiful season have panned out. It’s truly wonderful to eat these fresh, organic vegetables that we grew ourselves from seed!

At the moment, the flowers that are in bloom are zinnias, bee balm, black-eyed Susans, lavender, anise, hostas, and yarrow. We have some flowers that we hope will bloom soon, including one giant one that is seven-feet-tall!

The vegetables that we are currently harvesting are cherry tomatoes (red & gold), salad tomatoes, yellow zucchini, cucumbers, eggplant, bell peppers, cayenne peppers, and red cabbage. We’re bringing in lots of thyme & basil for cooking and there’s spearmint for garnishing drinks. We just harvested all of our carrots. Our sugar snap peas are finished for the season. We’ve got two big bags of them in the freezer. We have a crop of fall vegetables coming in strong, too; including pumpkins, broccoli, onions, beets, kale, Brussels sprouts, and winter squash. We’ll be seeding spinach shortly, as well.

in the garden // livelovesimple.com

in the garden // livelovesimple.com

in the garden // livelovesimple.com

in the garden // livelovesimple.com

in the garden // livelovesimple.com

in the garden // livelovesimple.com

in the garden // livelovesimple.com

in the garden // livelovesimple.com

in the garden // livelovesimple.com

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in the garden // livelovesimple.com

in the garden // livelovesimple.com

in the garden // livelovesimple.com

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in the garden // livelovesimple.com

in the garden // livelovesimple.com

in the garden // livelovesimple.com

in the garden // livelovesimple.com

in the garden // livelovesimple.com

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in the garden // livelovesimple.com

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in the garden // livelovesimple.com

in the garden // livelovesimple.com

in the garden // livelovesimple.com

in the garden // livelovesimple.com

in the garden // livelovesimple.com

in the garden // livelovesimple.com

in the garden // livelovesimple.com

We are very pleased with our garden. It’s been an incredible journey from seed to harvest. It means a lot to us that Roman has had a big role in the process. He helps with all of the watering and harvesting. We love being able to expose him to the labor & miracle of growing food.

Here are the previous phases of our garden this year:

I can’t wait to see what the rest of the season has in store for us. Also, you have no idea how excited we are that we are going to have our own little pumpkin patch this autumn. It’s a dream come true for this Halloween-obsessed lady right here! xo

Jilly Atlanta: Clothing for Childhood

July 21, 2015

Jilly Atlanta // livelovesimple.com

Jilly Atlanta // livelovesimple.com

It all started with wanting to see what her mom was doing. She was 6. She’d sit in back of her mother’s sewing machine and take out pins as she sewed away. Her mother said she really never ever taught her daughter; she learned from osmosis. But she taught her. And what she learned stayed with her.

She kept sewing throughout childhood, college, and after. Right when she got married, she began working for Ann Taylor Loft. That one place made a huge difference in her skill. It was really the jump start to sewing a different way. It was at this point she began altering patterns. She wasn’t happy with just a sewing pattern as it was. She wanted to create the kind of clothing that she was selling at the Loft. She wanted darts, pleats, gathers, and tucks. Lining was essential, and she found this all exhilarating. Her husband thought she should start making her own patterns. That was 15 years ago. So with her sketching and his help in graphics, they created Jilly patterns. She doesn’t want to ever stop making clothing, so she continues to sew garments. Custom made. She loves it.

Recently, Jilly Atlanta has made its way into a shop on the westside of Atlanta. It is called Crafted Westside. It is home to many local artists. They pride themselves in delivering quality handmade items from individuals around the Atlanta area. It is “shop local” at its finest. There you can see and touch Jilly’s ready-made garments (and a few other things) for yourself. If you are not in the Atlanta-area, you can check out Jilly’s incredible work in her shop, Jilly Atlanta, on Etsy.

The words above were written by Jilly herself and I changed them a bit to fit this post. I stumbled upon her gorgeous work a few months ago & fell completely in love. The beautiful bonnet that Marina is wearing in this post was handmade by Jilly.

Over the years, I’ve heard the phrase “heirloom-quality” used to describe certain things. I’ve never used the phrase myself and I really never gave it much thought. Then this bonnet arrived in the mail. As I held it in my hand and looked it over, I thought, “This is a piece that is so well-made, it will stay in our family for generations. This. This is heirloom-quality.” Jilly herself never used that phrase to describe her work. In my conversations with her, she has been nothing if not incredibly kind & humble. However, I am happy to report that her work is, in fact, heirloom-quality. I am grateful to be able to feature it here and I look forward to purchasing more pieces from Jilly’s shop as my children grow.

Jilly Atlanta // livelovesimple.com

Jilly Atlanta // livelovesimple.com

Jilly Atlanta // livelovesimple.com

Jilly Atlanta // livelovesimple.com

Jilly Atlanta // livelovesimple.com

Jilly Atlanta // livelovesimple.com

Jilly Atlanta // livelovesimple.com

Jilly Atlanta // livelovesimple.com

(Marina’s faces kill me!)

Many thanks to Jilly Atlanta for teaming up with me to bring this post to you. You can check the shop out on Facebook and on Instagram, too.

Coco Bebe Coconut Oil {Giveaway!}

July 15, 2015

tiny dreamer // livelovesimple.com

If I had to choose one beauty/self-care product that I could not live without, it would be coconut oil. Coconut oil is my addiction. I use it every single day. When I get out of the shower, I apply it to my entire body. I have naturally dry skin and until I put my coconut oil on post-shower, my skin feels so tight & uncomfortable. I used it through both of my pregnancies to mitigate stretch marks — I did end up with a few but I’m sure I would have ended up with many more if I hadn’t used it. I also use coconut oil to treat sunburn, to moisturize my lips, to add moisture to cosmetics that tend to dry my skin (like concealer), and for a bunch of other things.

I’ve been using coconut oil on my body for about six years now. Once my babies were born, I naturally started using it on them, too. That’s why I was so excited when Sindy from Coco Bebe reached out to me about trying her all-natural, organic coconut oil moisturizer.

Coco Bebe Organic Coconut Oil

Coco Bebe is great for baby and mom. It can be used daily after baths; as a bedtime massage moisturizer; to treat baby eczema, cradle cap, stretch marks; and so much more. I’ve tried a lot of different coconut oils and this one is my favorite. The best part is that it is based on Sindy’s mother’s old Trinidadian coconut recipe, which has been used to soothe & comfort babies for decades. How special is that?

Okay, are you ready for the most exciting part? Sindy has generously offered to give away a lovely gift basket to one lucky reader. The gift basket will contain Coco Bebe organic coconut oil, an organic baby towel, and an “I’m a Coco Bebe” onesie. Use the widget below to enter.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good luck!

If you just can’t wait to try it out for yourself, head on over to the website cocobebeorganics.com, where you can purchase a jar for yourself. Be sure to check out CocoBebe on Facebook, too. I really can’t recommend this coconut oil enough. Coco Bebe will be a staple in our home for a long time to come. xo

6 (Sneaky!) Ways to Get Your Kids to Eat Vegetables

July 13, 2015

6 Sneaky ways to Give Kids Vegetables // livelovesimple.com

// image sources: pasta / toast / smoothie / ice pops / pizza / fritters //

Pasta, toast, smoothies, ice pops, pizza, and fritters! It doesn’t exactly sound like the healthiest bunch of food, does it? However, one thing that all of these dishes have in common is that my toddler loves them. But, like most moms, it’s really important to me that my kid’s food is not only delicious, but also nutritious. From the time that Roman started eating solids until about 1.5 years, he was a great eater and he pretty much ate whatever we put in front of him. Sometime before he turned two, that all changed. All of a sudden we had a very picky eater on our hands. He turned his nose up at anything that resembled a vegetable. That’s when we knew we had to get creative!

Over the past few months, I’ve come up with several awesome ways to sneak vegetables into Roman’s snacks & meals. Here are six of my favorites.


1. Pasta — One thing that my kid will never say no to is pasta. It’s been his meal of choice for as long as I can remember. We’ve found lots of simple ways to make pasta more healthy. One thing I like to do is make kale pesto pasta. (Click here to check out that recipe.) Another thing I’ll do is boil vegetables — like broccoli, carrots, or beets — blend or mash them up, and add them to whatever sauce I’m serving over our pasta. Occasionally I will stir fry some veggies and add them to the mix, but my picky boy tends to find those and eat around them! So blending them into the sauce works better for us.

2. Toast — Another thing that Roman loves is a great piece of bread. (I mean who doesn’t, right?) Occasionally we’ll have a loaf of fresh rye from the bakery or a yummy loaf of sourdough. Roman loves toast and spreading on a thick layer of blended vegetables is a good way to add a lot of nutrition to the mix. If I don’t have time to mash up some veggies, I like to use Beech-Nut baby food as a spread. They recently launched their new organic line and Roman loves them all. The mango, carrot & orange is his favorite.

3. Smoothies — I’ve never seen anyone down a smoothie the way that Roman does. Honestly, it doesn’t even matter what we put in it. We give him a smoothie and a straw and it’s gone within minutes! It’s amazing. We typically use almond milk & a banana as a base and after that we add whatever we have on hand into the blender. Favorite additions are kale, apple, carrots, cashews, strawberries, blueberries, spinach, and peanut butter.

4. Ice Pops — Recently, I picked up a pair of ice pop molds in the grocery store. Whenever we have leftover smoothie from breakfast we just put it in the molds and then pop them in the freezer. It makes for the perfect, delicious, nutritious playtime or after-dinner snack.

5. Pizza — There are lots of fun ways to get creative with pizza. You can load it up with shredded or sliced veggies, cover with cheese, and bake. Or, you can add boiled, mashed vegetables into your pizza sauce. Either way, I’ve never met a kid who doesn’t love pizza! It’s a great way to sneak a bunch of nutrition into a kid-friendly meal.

6. Fritters — Fritters are one of my all-time favorites. The healthiest ones are the ones that we load up with vegetables. A few of Roman’s favorites include shredded carrots, zucchini, eggplant, or sweet potatoes. We love to make dipping sauces for our fritters, too. It’s another great place to add some more veggies. A delicious dip idea is Greek yogurt blended with kale & garlic. Yummy!


Okay, writing this post has got me all kinds of hungry. I’m off to the kitchen to whip something up. I hope I’ve inspired you to sneak more vegetables into your kids’ (and your own!) meals.

What are some of your favorite ways to be sure that your family is eating enough vegetables? I’d love to hear in the comments!

Toddler Preschool: Watercolors & Shapes // Homeschooling

July 10, 2015

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Over the past couple of years, we have been thinking a lot about public schools vs. private schools vs. homeschooling. I imagine that these thoughts cross all parents’ minds at some point. It’s a big decision and there are so many pros & cons on all sides. It will be a little while longer until Roman is ready for kindergarten and we will be forced to make a decision. For now, he’s only ready for preschool and we’re doing that at home for the time being.

Up until this past month, my homeschooling efforts have been totally unstructured. Roman is constantly learning & developing and I always sort of just went with the flow and followed his lead. Now, at two years and two months, I can tell that he’s craving more. His mind is such a sponge and it’s extraordinary to me how much he absorbs, retains, and learns. I know that this is all “typical” for a toddler, but since Roman is my first child, it totally blows my mind. It’s incredible to watch him interact with the world and to quench his thirst for learning.

Most of what Roman knows now, he has picked up naturally through listening to adult conversations, playing with toys & puzzles, and watching television shows & movies. He has a great grasp on so many concepts & his vocabulary is extensive. I couldn’t begin to explain them all, but some of the concepts that we’ve been focusing on lately are:

  • letters – he can identify 23 out of 26 letters
  • numbers & counting – we’re still working on this & he’s making progress
  • shapes – he can identify all of the basic shapes
  • colors – he can identify all of the basic colors

Another thing that we’ve been doing for awhile is “creating.” Coloring has long-been one of Roman’s favorite activities. He also loves to line things up. He creates “trains” out of everything. He loves to build towers and “birdhouses” with blocks, to gather flowers for bouquets, and simple things like this. Our next step in creating will be some more structured arts & crafts type projects.

Yesterday we went to the craft store and picked up some watercolor paints and a multimedia pad. We also got a tube of colorful, foam sticker shapes. Roman had so much fun learning how to dip his paintbrush into water and then into the watercolor paints. We talked a little bit about mixing primary colors to make secondary colors. It was a little over his head, but boy did he enjoy mixing colors together!

After painting, he added some foam shape stickers to his artwork. I peeled the white backs from each shape a little bit and allowed him to peel them the rest of the way before sticking them onto the paper. I also taught him to put the little white peels into a neat pile rather than throwing them all over the place.

When we were finished we cleaned up his workspace and washed the paintbrushes & water cup in the sink. Then we hung up his artwork using a piece of twine, some fabric tape, and miniature clothes pins. It was the first time we ever put a piece of his work up on display. He was beaming with pride and I felt like my mama heart was going to burst.

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I have so many ideas for more projects to do with him. I can’t wait. I get just as excited as he does. I’ll be sharing lots more of our preschool homeschooling adventures as we go along.

Things We Love and USE // 03

July 7, 2015

Throughout the year, bloggers (myself included) often share gift guides. I tend to like these guides because they give me ideas; introduce me to new brands & products; and frankly, I’m a voyeur — I love to see what other people are buying. However, gift guides often give me pause for a couple of reasons. First, does the blogger only want me to buy an item because she is going to make a commission off of the sale? And second, in the age of Pinterest & Etsy, just because a blogger “loves” an item doesn’t mean that she has ever actually used it or even seen it in-person.

That said, this is my series called, Things We Love (and USE). The emphasis being that these are things that we both love and actually use on a regular basis. Here are a few things that are currently making our lives a little bit easier, comfier, and more beautiful.


Things We Love and USE // livelovesimple.com

1. Not Your Mother’s Beach Babe Texturizing Sea Salt Spray — I’ve been wanting to try a sea salt spray on my hair for awhile. I love those beachy waves that seem to be all the rage, but I don’t have time to play with a curling iron these days. I’d read that sea salt hair sprays worked wonders and were simple to use and apply. I picked up this one after reading some positive reviews.

When I first started using it, I was applying it to my wet hair, straight out of the shower. That was a total flop. It didn’t do much of anything. Later I tried applying it to my dry hair with the notion that my hair would be more absorbent when dry. I’m so grateful I thought of it because then it worked like a charm. After my shower, I waited until my hair air dried. Then I evenly sprayed all sections of my hair with the salt spray and combed it through to take out tangles. Finally I scrunched my hair a bit with my hands to create the “waves.” When my hair dried it was soft and wavy, just like it is when I come from a dip in the ocean.

My favorite thing about this product is the scent. It’s a gorgeous vanilla smell and I can’t stop sniffing my hair when I’ve got it in. I will purchase this stuff again primarily for that reason. Also, back when Roman’s hair was still long, I’d give his hair a few sprays before combing his hair to the side. It helped to keep his bangs out his face and it’s more toddler-friendly than shampoo or gel. It’s not a super strong hold, but it did the trick.

2. Fisherman Sandals (Stride Rite) — When the weather got warm, I was eager to find Roman a good pair of summer shoes. I can’t be bothered with shoe laces and Roman can’t seem to keep flip flops on his little feet. I did a little digging and came across these sandals by Stride Rite. They’re perfect and I adore them. They look so cute on him and pair well with both casual and more dressed up looks. Best of all they are incredibly durable — we do lots of exploring, hiking, and camping. They keep his feet cool enough for hot weather, but they also do a good job at protecting them too. He pretty much wears them every day and I imagine that he’ll be wearing them straight through to autumn. I will most likely buy him another pair of these once he outgrows them.

3. Mrs. Meyer’s Dish Soap (Radish) — I am the biggest Mrs. Meyer’s fan. I’ve been using the Mrs. Meyer’s cleaning spray and hand soap for awhile now and recently decided to give the dish soap a try. Once again, I was impressed. It works well and smells fantastic. It’s easy on my hands, too, and like all Mrs. Meyer’s products it’s free from harsh chemicals and full of plant-derived ingredients. I’ve definitely found my new dish soap of choice.

4. Kids Wayfarer Glasses (Rubber!) — Another thing that we decided to get for Roman when the warm weather hit was a pair of sunglasses. We had looked in a couple of children’s stores but we couldn’t find anything that looked “sturdy” enough to hold up to the rough & tumble life of a two-year-old. I decided to look on Amazon and I found these great rubber, Wayfarer-style sunglasses. We ordered them and they are perfect. They’re adorable, the colors are bright & fun, and they’re durable. Roman even stepped on them one time. One of the arms came off, but Matthew was able to repair them easily with a little screwdriver.

Here’s a shot of Roman wearing them a few weeks ago. In that shot, you can also see what Roman’s hair looked like styled with the sea salt spray mentioned above.

5. Nursing Bra (Hot Milk) — I’ve talked about nursing bras on this blog before. What can I say — they’re so critical when you’re a breastfeeding mama! A good nursing bra makes all the difference in the world. I’ve had the Morning Dawn-style bra from Hot Milk in my rotation for a couple of month’s now and I love it. It’s really difficult to find a nursing bra that is functional, beautiful, and comfortable — but this one checks all three of those boxes. It’s lovely.


That’s all for this edition of Things We Love and USE. Click here to check out my past lists in this series.

What are a few of the things that you are using and loving right now? I’d love to hear!

Independence Day // 2015

July 6, 2015

4th of July // livelovesimple.com

4th of July // livelovesimple.com

We had a lot of back & forth over where we’d spend the 4th of July this year. There is always so much going on within our families. Despite a few invitations, we decided to stay home. Things with Marina have been so rough. The thought of taking a trip away from home in uncertain weather and with loud fireworks popping off throughout the day was just too much. At the last minute, we decided to stay home and we invited my parents and my sister’s family over for a small barbecue.

I kept the menu simple. We had cheeseburgers and hot dogs. I made my favorite summer dish — rainbow pasta salad. (Recipe: Tricolor pasta, red cherry tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, black olives, and basil. Best of all we added basil and golden cherry tomatoes fresh from our garden. Toss it together in your favorite balsamic vinaigrette dressing.) My mom brought along potato salad and coleslaw. For dessert, I made the easiest “strawberry shortcakes.” Slices of angel food cake, topped with whipped cream and fresh organic strawberries.

The day started off drizzly but the sun came out later. The boys had fun playing with glow sticks, sparklers, and driving Roman’s John Deere tractor around the yard. It was a nice day spent with family. Then we had yet another barbecue to head off to on Sunday.

Isn’t summertime just the best? Yes!

4th of July // livelovesimple.com

4th of July // livelovesimple.com

4th of July // livelovesimple.com

4th of July // livelovesimple.com

4th of July // livelovesimple.com

4th of July // livelovesimple.com

4th of July // livelovesimple.com

4th of July // livelovesimple.com

4th of July // livelovesimple.com

4th of July // livelovesimple.com

4th of July // livelovesimple.com

4th of July // livelovesimple.com

4th of July // livelovesimple.com

4th of July // livelovesimple.com

4th of July // livelovesimple.com

Before I close this post, how much do you love Marina’s 4th of July outfit? I’m obsessed. 😉 My favorite part was her sweet star-spangled headband. It’s a gorgeous, reversible piece from Little Owls By C.

The Little Owls boutique is run by Camilla who is inspired by her two beautiful children, Kole and Adalynn. As a mom, Camilla loves to create quality, affordable pieces for her babies to wear. From headbands to bows and more, Camilla creates perfect items for little ones and shares them in her shop. I’m in love with all of her lovely creations. Be sure to check out her shop next time you’re looking for a gift for a little one in your life. You can also follow Little Owls on Instagram, here, to see lots of cuties sporting Camilla’s creations.

I hope that you and yours had a beautiful Independence Day! Happy Monday. xo

in the garden // early summer

July 1, 2015

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Here are a few shots from around the garden. These are only a week old and everything has changed so much already. The only thing that grows more quickly than my children is my garden! We’ve had several delicious harvests thus far — beats, spinach, sugar snap peas, golden cherry tomatoes, romaine lettuce, and cucumber. It won’t be long until we’re bringing in squash, carrots, strawberries, and eggplant. We’ve also recently started some of the seedlings for the fall crop — winter squash and pumpkin.

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This time of year is just so good, isn’t it? xo

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