Our new normal

Well, here we are. Five and a half weeks as a family of five. Dare I say… it’s actually been a smoother transition than I thought it would be. I really think for us – going from 0 to 1 child was harder than going from 1 to 3 children. I learned, with Brady, to trust my Mama instinct. I learned that our family thrives on structure and routine – flexible but solid. I definitely have days where I look at the clock and all the sudden it’s 5 o’clock and I have spit-up down the back of my shirt and my hair hasn’t been washed in days, but that’s ok. What I have this time more than I did the first time around is a deep sense of “these are the days.” It seems like just yesterday Brady was just a few pounds… my hungry little linebacker. Now that the twins are here and we know our family is complete… I’m savoring every moment, every snuggle, every bit of their slobbery baby goodness. It goes by so fast. Whoever said “the days are long and the years are short” was a wise soul. It’s so true.

I knew from Day One (before that, even) that if our family was going to be a family of five, we were going to have a lot of structure. It’s just who we are as people – Bryan, Brady and I… and knowing that has been really helpful for us. I’ll never forget when we first implemented a bedtime routine with Brady… it made all the difference in the world (for my child who didn’t sleep through the night until 18 months… yep).

So we took the hospitals routine / pediatricians routine and have adapted it as the babies have grown. They sleep a lot and are hungry little things. The most significant and, quite literally, life changing routine we’ve implemented was my Mom’s idea. I wake up every day at 6 o’clock. Yep, no sleeping in for me – even on the weekends. I don’t mind it, though, I really enjoy my time in the mornings and on Saturdays and Sundays I let Bryan sleep in (well, until like 8 when everyone is awake hahah). I get up and immediately take a hot shower. I put on REAL clothes (normally jeans and a tee or something), brush my hair (it’s up 99% of the time) and put on a little makeup and some earrings. Shower + getting ready takes me about 30 minutes. This is LIGHT YEARS from what I did with Brady. I let him wake me up, scrambled to feed him and never had time for myself. Just making myself get ready for the day has been game changing. I FEEL so much better when I do this. I don’t feel so disheveled. Then I make some coffee and start my “farm chores.” I gave them that name because I do them before the sun comes up so everything can run smoothly the rest of the day. Now, granted, these things won’t work for everyone – they work for me and for us because this is what works best for us… and we all feel better because of it.

I have a list taped to my fridge of my AM to-dos and my PM to-dos. Bryan has his own and so does Brady. In the morning, after I make some coffee, I take out all the trash in the whole house. I empty the dishwasher and I put all the babies dirty things (burp cloths, swaddle blankets, clothes, etc – from the day before) in the washer. I also wash a load of my clothes, Bryan’s clothes and Brady’s clothes from the day before. I fold them as soon as they’re ready and put them away. This sounds so small but let me tell you about MOUNT LAUNDRY we used to do every Sunday. Awful. This has changed things in a big way for us and I really feel like we’ve gotten a lot of our time back. I also straighten up the house (doesn’t ever really need much because I do this before bed out of habit too) and make the beds. Brady has learned how to put his own laundry away and make his bed too, so that’s a huge help. On my to-do list is also “Mama’s vitamins / Brady’s vitamins” and things like that because I’ll forget them if they’re not in front of my face. My PM list says things like “Pack Brady’s backpack” and “Put water in the Keurig” – just so our mornings run smoother.

One other thing I’ve found helpful is to keep my Simplified Planner, a notepad and a cup of pens on our bar in our kitchen. They’re easily accessible and give me a “home base” of sorts. I have three running lists too: to-do, groceries and schedule (our current daily schedule for the babies). Having all this in one place helps me keep my head on straight.

I realized that my brain has a tendency to think way to long term. When our routine is working I start thinking… Oh my gosh… I can take a shower in the mornings… HOW AM I GOING TO DO THIS WHEN THE TWINS ARE WALKING!? That’s just silly and it’s self-sabotage. I’m taking it one stage at a time. Right now we’re in a good groove. That could change tomorrow, but I’ll enjoy it for today.

I’d LOVE to know your tips too… your routines and how you got your family into a groove whether you have 0 children or 12! :)

xo,

Emily

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SIMPLICITY : Jennifer Goodwin

Simplicity_Goodwin-01Hi, I’m Jennifer! I live near Memphis, Tn, in a little suburb town that I lovingly refer to as The Ville (Collierville). I am a wife, a stay-at-home/homeschooling mom to four boys~ages 16, 15 and 12 year old twins. I am a lover of Jesus, my man, my boys, teenagers and homeschooling~the older I get, the more I love all of the above. I work with teenagers on Sunday mornings and nights, and the Lord made me fall in love with them so that I could invest into their lives~if I can make a difference for just one, it’ll all be worth it, to the glory of the Lord. I also love spending time with like-minded women, so I am really passionate about leading women around me, and the ones the Lord has placed in my Thursday morning Bible study.

How do you take care of yourself so that you’re physically and mentally prepared to be your best self for others?

The first thing I do when I get out of bed each morning is to offer up a thank you to the Lord for another day of life on this earth. I spend time with Him in His word before my day starts, then I spend time praying. Praying is not just offering up a “laundry list” of things I need or want~it’s spending time praising Him for who He is, thanking Him, asking forgiveness of things I’ve done or said, then just sitting and basking quietly in His presence. Sometimes I incorporate music into this time, and often times, He lays a worship song or an old hymn on my heart. After this time of quiet and rest, I journal about it and write out the verses I’ve read that might stick out to me.

In your house, how do the mundane parts of life get done?

We are a homeschooling family, so all of these mundane tasks get added into our daily routine. The boys love to help me plan meals, and I involve them in every aspect of that. They shop with me (and for me, sometimes!) and they help in the preparation of meal time. Laundry gets done first thing every morning~I try to start and finish one complete load a day. When I do this, it never overwhelms me. Shopping happens in the afternoon, usually right before it’s time to start getting dinner ready. I have found that when I make several small trips to the store each week, I spend less and enjoy this task so much more.

1What is one tradition or routine that’s really important to you? And why?

One tradition that we have had since we started our family is having dinner at the kitchen table each night. This is when we catch up on our day~my husband hears about school work they’ve loved or hated, they hear his funny tales from work, and we pray and laugh. This keeps us connected as a family, and it involves my husband in every detail of their lives. The older our kids get, the less time we have with them, so we try to be really intentional about how we spend our evenings. We are very selfish with our time, too, often saying no to certain sports or activities that might take away from this.

Your PICK SIX: What 6 products can you absolutely not live without?

Simplicity_BlogTemplate-011. My Bible: I am currently using a Women of Faith study Bible, in the NIV translation. It is purple leather and is much-loved and colorful on the inside. I write in my Bibles so that someday my boys will have them to look back on.

2. A good journal: I have used many kinds over the years, but my newest favorite is a pretty spiral-sized notebook. I love to write in them~I keep record of my quiet time, funny things that happened and a list of things I pray about.

3. Sharpie fine tip pens: I am a colorful pen addict. No other explanation is necessary.

4. Maybelline Instant Age Rewind Eraser: This little tube of magic erases dark circles (Can I get an amen, Mamas?!) and brightens the corners of my eyes.

5. OPI nailpolish: I have been guilty of buying bottles of polish for the names alone. My all time favorite color is Lincoln Park After Dark.

6. Yummy smelling candles: My current favorite is a kind that is sold at Walmart~they are very inexpensive and as yummy smelling as a more expensive kind. Right now I have a hazelnut scented one in my kitchen that inspires me to cook.

Anything else you think our readers would love to know? Any additional tips or systems that help you keep it all together?

I certainly do not have it all together, but I am a busy mom with several kids~and I am always, always around them. Something my husband and I have done over the years is to teach them the value of being a hard worker. They help out in every area of our home, and they are given areas that they are responsible for keeping clean. I do my part and my husband does his part, but we all work together as a family. Because of this, I am not overwhelmed with a cluttered, messy home. Each evening, we take about ten minutes and straighten things around the house. One thing that inspires me to do this is the thought of unexpected guests dropping by~I love having friends over and am more likely to say ‘yes’ to someone coming over if my house looks somewhat presentable (not perfect).

Follow along with Jennifer:

Instagram: @all4boys

Blog: http://all4boys.blogspot.com

 

The Simplicity Series features busy gals, in different stages of life, making what matters happen and tips and tricks they’ve found to be helpful. Simplicity is about building margin into your life and spending time on and with that which fuels your heart. While we love to share products and services that help us day to day, but simplicity is about HEART and intentionally choosing the thing that matters most (your TREASURE) more than anything money can buy. We wear many hats and we know you do too, so we’d love to hear your thoughts as well! For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Luke 12:34

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SIMPLICITY : Arianne Foulks

Simplicity_Arianne Foulks-01
Hello, I’m Arianne! I run Aeolidia, a design studio that helps your little business become a “big little” business. Oh and hi, we created the Emily Ley site and just love working with her! We have been working with creative businesses since 2004, helping them put their best foot forward online and off. I’ve never lost interest in building online homes for fascinating people. I have a great boss (me!) and I’m unafraid to play hooky to head out on an adventure. Some day I’ll tell you about the time when, as a marine biology student, a baby elephant seal bit me.

How do you take care of yourself so that you’re physically and mentally prepared to be your best self for others?

I get by on optimism and not taking myself too seriously. I heard a great mindset-changer at one point that keeps me from feeling overwhelmed: instead of saying to myself (and others), “I don’t have time to do XYZ,” instead I phrase it as, “XYZ is not a priority for me right now.” Whether XYZ is agreeing to a favor for someone or keeping up with laundry, it feels much better to have agency in my life. It helps me realize I’m making decisions, not being swept along by an out of control whirlwind of responsibilities.

In your house, how do the mundane parts of life get done?

They don’t always! Our kids are four and six and we’re working on teaching them to do their fair share around the house (I’m guilty of doing their work myself sometimes because it’s just so much easier, but I know this will come back to bite me in the long run). When things get out of balance, I can bring them back in order by using the Pomodoro Method when I work (which is essentially setting blocks of time with an actual timer, and trading off Aeolidia work with housework throughout the day, so I don’t get absorbed in one or the other). Sometimes I will let the housework slide when I have something important happening in my business, or I will take time with my family and gratefully let our project coordinator, Sam, pick up the slack.

arianne-houseWhat is one tradition or routine that’s really important to you? And why?

I don’t have one particular routine that’s important – can I pick all of them? Even when it’s a hassle getting out of the house, I like walking my 1st grader to his school bus stop, then strolling back with his little brother (smelling flowers, walking on low walls, and finding perfect sticks to brandish). I like cuddling in my bed with whichever boy wakes up first, and hearing about their dreams. I like our family meals around the table, where everyone is becoming responsible for their own tasks (filling the pitcher, chopping vegetables, gathering forks). I love that the disappointment of hearing that it’s bedtime is instantly soothed by finding out how many books they each get to pick that night, and clambering to the shelves to pull out a big pile of favorites. Some Sunday mornings I cook crepes, and the sweet buttery smell, sprinkle of cinnamon sugar, and fun of rolling them up and cutting them, “by myself, Mama!” is a joy.

Your PICK SIX: What 6 products can you absolutely not live without?

Simplicity_Foulks_6

MacBook Air / iPad / iPhone trifecta: I have to give these top billing. I manage all my work tasks by going back and forth between these three. I’ve always had a PC, and switching to a MacBook this year was the best thing I’ve done for my work life! Now everything connects nearly seamlessly, even when I’m out and about.

Feedly: I use Feedly to keep track of blog posts I want to read, whether they’re for work or play. I can flip through the info I want to share on social media and follow along with blogs that I enjoy.

Evernote: Everything goes into Evernote – it’s like a corner of my brain. Anything digital that needs saving is tagged and categorized in Evernote. I use it to save travel info, start blog posts, track client info, store recipes, and make plans.

iRobot Roomba: Our little robot vacuum is placed down, and after 45 minutes of bumbling inefficiently around, the dust bunnies are up without me having to chase them around myself. My dad gave me my first one many years ago. I thought it was going to be a fun but impractical toy, but it is so nice to have around.

An inexpensive cotton tablecloth from IKEA: Two, actually. Once it has too many crumbs or spills on it, I snatch it up, shake it out and throw it in the wash, replacing it with the clean one from the drawer. With two little kids, it makes cleanup easy and takes away one annoying part of meal prep. I felt like I’d revolutionized dinner when I started using a tablecloth!

Dropbox: I use Dropbox to save all the files on my computer, and share all our work files with my team. With the mobile app, I can access files on my computer from anywhere, and it’s all backed up safely.

Anything else you think our readers would love to know? Any additional tips or systems that help you keep it all together?

Realizing that my business had grown so much that I couldn’t run it on my own was huge! I put off hiring help for longer than I should have, but it has been amazing to have someone capable, resourceful, and committed taking care of our clients every day. In this last year, I was able to go on what felt like my first real vacation since I started the business – one where I didn’t have to work each night or come back home to a huge landslide of emails. Bliss!

Similarly, accepting help from my family members and friends is important. Sometimes I feel like I know the “best way” to do something or other, and I try to remember that I can do everything all by myself the “best way,” or others can free up my time by helping me in their own (valid!) ways.

Follow along with Arianne:

Instagram: @aeolidia

Website: aeolidia.com

 

The Simplicity Series features busy gals, in different stages of life, making what matters happen and tips and tricks they’ve found to be helpful. Simplicity is about building margin into your life and spending time on and with that which fuels your heart. While we love to share products and services that help us day to day, but simplicity is about HEART and intentionally choosing the thing that matters most (your TREASURE) more than anything money can buy. We wear many hats and we know you do too, so we’d love to hear your thoughts as well! For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Luke 12:34

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SIMPLICITY : Sabrina Triola

 

Simplicity_Triola-01Hiya! I’m Sabrina, a Texas native who recently hopped across the pond to the United Kingdom to pursue my masters in Creative Writing. The past year and a half has had many valleys with the loss of my mom and my best friend but I’ve learned that the valley is fruitful and without it I wouldn’t be able to see the peaks.

How do you take care of yourself so that you’re physically and mentally prepared to be your best self for others?

Taking care of myself with rest has become a priority as I’m going through grief. When I’m truly rested, be it a good night’s sleep or time spent journaling, I’m then able to be my best self as I’m not only well rested but centered and refocused.

IMG_0808In your house, how do the mundane parts of life get done?

Living abroad I’ve adopted the minimalist mindset and wardrobe which has surprisingly been so liberating, not to mention extremely helpful in terms of laundry! As I’ve only a select number of pieces to wear, doing my laundry has become less a chore and more of a bi-weekly ritual as the options for tomorrow’s outfit are limited!

What is one tradition or routine that’s really important to you? And why?

One routine that I hold dear to my heart is treating Sunday as the Sabbath. For me this means truly resting. After church in the mornings I love going for leisurely walks, doing a bit of reading and then later relaxing in a bath. The day’s activities can vary, as the important thing is to remember to rest!

Your PICK SIX: What 6 products can you absolutely not live without?

Simplicity_Triola_Pick6Six products that I absolutely can’t manage without are:

Burt’s Beeswax Chapstick - the weather can be so drying here and this chapstick is a life saver!

My Joules wells - with the English rain they are a necessity.

Moleskins journals - are the perfect size and nice quality for taking notes in class.

OPI Malga Wine nail polish - the perfect wine red color!

Laura Casey Make it Happen note pad - everything written on here gets done!

Scunci clear elastic hair ties - hidden perfect for any hairstyle!

Anything else you think our readers would love to know? Any additional tips or systems that help you keep it all together?

Though the past year and a half has been life changing and harder to bear than words can say, I’m reminded each day that every cloud has a silver lining.

 

Follow along with Sabrina:

Instagram: @Sabrina_Triola

Blog: http://www.capturingjoyblog.com

The Simplicity Series features busy gals, in different stages of life, making what matters happen and tips and tricks they’ve found to be helpful. Simplicity is about building margin into your life and spending time on and with that which fuels your heart. While we love to share products and services that help us day to day, but simplicity is about HEART and intentionally choosing the thing that matters most (your TREASURE) more than anything money can buy. We wear many hats and we know you do too, so we’d love to hear your thoughts as well! For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Luke 12:34

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SIMPLICITY: Amanda Paret


Simplicity_Amanda Paret-01 Hey there! I’m Amanda. I’m a proud Baylor alum, an interior designer, and owner of amanda k. jewelry, my own line of fine, handmade statement pieces. I’m based in Dallas, Texas, but can often be found in other cities or on an airplane en route somewhere. I love traveling, and am embracing this busy season of life as a chance to explore, learn, and be inspired. Each place I visit provides insight and inspiration that translates into my designs. I’m constantly gathering and storing information on the go, which requires lots of organization!

How do you take care of yourself so that you’re physically and mentally prepared to be your best self for others?

I am the classic introvert. I need quality time on my own to rest and reset. Even though I work from home and spend most of the day by myself, it is often behind a computer screen or on the phone interacting with vendors or clients. It is not truly restful alone time. I try to make it a priority to start the day reading God’s Word and praying over the day. I am absolutely not perfect, but I know that when this routine falls by the wayside, my day (and those around me!) will suffer. I also thrive on the moments where I have space to think and be creative. I usually carve out time each week to just create or design something. It refreshes me mentally, and helps fuel me for all of the social interactions throughout the week.

Physically, I make it a priority to dress well. While this sounds superficial, I believe the effects it has on ourselves and those around us is crucial. I’m not talking about always looking fancy, but simply taking pride in my appearance, and understanding the impact it has on my own attitude, and the ability to draw others in as a result. I have a passion for women’s hearts and inviting them into the deeply rooted belief that they are beautiful, created, worthy daughters of the King. Based on the women I have encountered through my business, both friends and strangers, and the conversations we have had, I believe God can use something as simple as jewelry to spark conversations and build confidence in women to be whom he created them to be, and live it out.

In your house, how do the mundane parts of life get done?

Truth be told, I’m not much of a housekeeper. I keep things neat and tidy, but I don’t clean. I realized that it would be a better use of my time (and skills!) to put in a little extra work each week to be able to afford a housekeeper once a month. She comes in and deep cleans everything, which makes me so happy, and it keeps things manageable until the next month.

Living and Dining SpaceWhat is one tradition or routine that’s really important to you? And why?

My family loves football. Baylor football, to be exact. (It’s the South, who doesn’t love football?) During the fall, my parents, sister, and I make our way to the stadium to cheer our Bears on for every home game. Even though my sister and I live in different cities from our parents now, this has become one of our favorite traditions as a family, a time to reunite, spend time together, and relax. We also have a lot of friends who do the same, so each week is like a mini reunion, where we can catch up on our lives, hug a neck, and share laughs. No matter where we have all been during the week, we can always look forward to our time together on the weekend. And of course after football season comes basketball season… :)

Your PICK SIX: What 6 products can you absolutely not live without?

Whether I am traveling or at home, each of these six things are not far from reach.
Simplicity_Pick 6_Paret-01
1. DevaCurl Hair products – hands down, the best hair products and philosophy out there on how to care for curls of any type. I went from using a cabinet full of products to just 2-3 total, and managed to cut my daily hair routine in half. Talk about simplicity!

2. iPhone – Let’s be honest, there aren’t many things you CAN’T do on your phone anymore. I tend to be very technology friendly, and love being able to manage emails, lists, recipes, and meeting notes, (Evernote, anyone?), my online shop, social media accounts, take photos, and map my latest coffee shop find all from the same device, while on the go.

3. One of my statement necklaces – Whether I am on an airplane, meeting with a client, or just headed to the grocery store, throwing one of these pieces on instantly brightens my mood and makes me feel like a million bucks. They have also become proven marketing pieces for my business… people always stop and ask where I got whatever I am wearing. (Read: Opportunity to hand out business cards!)

4. Good Coffee! I’m honestly no good until I’ve had my coffee in the morning, and I can usually be found with an iced latte in the afternoons.

5. Jackery portable extra battery – Being a designer, I am constantly pulling my phone out to take pictures or document something. Also, refer back to Must Have #2, above. Hence the need for battery back-up. This little thing charges my iPhone about 2-3 times before needing to re-juice. I don’t go anywhere without it.

6. Clickable Sharpie pens – I love these pens! I am pretty sure that one can be found in every bag I own, and as I type this right now, there is one sitting out on my desk by a pad of paper. They write so smoothly, come in several colors, and they’re permanent! Who needs boring old ball point pens, when you can have awesome Sharpie pens!

Anything else you think our readers would love to know? Any additional tips or systems that help you keep it all together?

Being on the go and traveling a lot requires that I have my stuff together at a moment’s notice. I have a couple little zipper pouches (colorful and cute ones, of course!) that are already packed with the essentials and ready to be tossed in. One is for makeup, one is for medicines/Tide To Go, band-aids, mints, tissues, and a few other essentials, and one of those is my “electronics” bag. Though tiny, (only about 3×5!) it contains all my necessary iPhone/iPad chargers and wall adapters, headphones, my Jackery battery, and an auxiliary cord (so I can play my own music in rental cars!) This life saver bag is almost always in my purse, so I am always charged up.

 

Follow along with Amanda:

Instagram: @amandaparet

Shop: http://www.amandakjewelry.com

The Simplicity Series features busy gals, in different stages of life, making what matters happen and tips and tricks they’ve found to be helpful. Simplicity is about building margin into your life and spending time on and with that which fuels your heart. While we love to share products and services that help us day to day, but simplicity is about HEART and intentionally choosing the thing that matters most (your TREASURE) more than anything money can buy. We wear many hats and we know you do too, so we’d love to hear your thoughts as well! For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Luke 12:34

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SIMPLICITY : Kelly Zugay


Simplicity_Kelly-01
My name is Kelly! I am Co-Founder and Brand Stylist at With Grace & Gold, a design and branding boutique. I live in the Greater Minneapolis/St. Paul Area with my husband – and college sweetheart – Ben. My business launched in October 2014, so I am still acclimating to life as a new business owner! It involves a 
lot of coffee – but it is also my greatest pride and joy so far!

How do you take care of yourself so that you’re physically and mentally prepared to be your best self for others?

I believe in finding balance!  It can be tough to do, but I do my best through exercising every morning, eating a balanced diet (and recently became gluten-free and dairy-free), and getting enough sleep, too! I am also learning to prioritize, so I can give extra attention to family, friendship, and the service of others.

In your house, how do the mundane parts of life get done?

My husband and I do our best to share every responsibility.  We both have our preferred chores; I love organizing, and he loves cleaning.  We also set aside time to do the bigger projects together. My husband is a big goofball – so he is great at making everything fun… even laundry!

HomeWhat is one tradition or routine that’s really important to you? And why?

One tradition that I love is our tradition of making everything a celebration. Whether we’re celebrating a great day or a big promotion, we always make a point to celebrate by slow dancing in our living room. It fills my heart right up! In addition to our celebration tradition, we try to go on a coffee date every Saturday morning. We use the coffee date to catch up; we talk about everything – how work is going, what we saw in the news, how we’re growing in our faith. That tradition is meaningful to me, because, in a world that is busy and fast-paced, it helps us to slow down and feel connected.

Your PICK SIX: What 6 products can you absolutely not live without?

Simplicity_Kelly.Pick 6-01

1. Acure Organics Facial Scrub: I have always had tricky skin – but this facial scrub has been magic for my skin! It will leave your skin feeling super soft and clean – with a little glow, too!

2. Canon Rebel T3i: My husband gifted me with this camera, and I have been hooked ever since! I’m enrolled in a photography class, and am enjoying pursuing a hobby that is helping me to slow down and appreciate the beauty in everything. This camera is a great investment and has a ton of great features!

3. “Brave” by Moriah Peters: This album is perfection! Not only does Moriah Peters have a beautiful voice, but every word of every song is filled with so much meaning. Her songs speak to my heart!

4. Caribou Coffee: Caribou Coffee is the unofficial With Grace & Gold “office.” Not only is their coffee super delicious – but their customer service is the best! When my husband and I moved to our new city, their kindness helped me to feel right at home.

5. My Nook: All of my books are on my Nook. It is a great little gadget, and I can’t travel without it!

6. Asana.com: This website is designed for project management. I use it for my personal Editorial Calendar at KellyZugay.com – as well as the With Grace & Gold Editorial Calendar and Client Projects. It is a perfect way to stay organized and on schedule!

Anything else you think our readers would love to know? Any additional tips or systems that help you keep it all together?

Have faith in yourself, be kind to yourself, and be true to yourself.  You have the power to design the life you’ve always imagined… Strive for progress, not perfection – and embrace your unique journey.  God has an amazing plan and purpose just for you!

 

Follow along with Kelly:

Instagram: @kellyzugay

The Simplicity Series features busy gals, in different stages of life, making what matters happen and tips and tricks they’ve found to be helpful. Simplicity is about building margin into your life and spending time on and with that which fuels your heart. While we love to share products and services that help us day to day, but simplicity is about HEART and intentionally choosing the thing that matters most (your TREASURE) more than anything money can buy. We wear many hats and we know you do too, so we’d love to hear your thoughts as well! For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Luke 12:34

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Simple Favorites: After the baby(ies)

SimpleFavorites_Postpartum-01 Thank you, friends, for all the love and prayers sent for Caroline and Tyler (and big brother, Brady!) They are all doing wonderfully. Now that we’re 12 days in as a family of five (and twelve days recovering from a twin c-section) I wanted to share some real-deal favorites for after the baby (or babies) are born – not the cute and fluffy bows and hats and outfits that we love (though there are a lot of those we’ll share later) but the REAL things that make life easier (yea, like these underwear [that’s right, I just posted about underwear on my blog – but seriously, post delivery of a child or two… do yourself a favor…] breast pumps and things like that!) My biggest piece of advice though – get help, accept help, enjoy help. My Mom has been here for almost three weeks and I’m pretty sure I would have died without her. She’s helped me create routines, schedules and organized my house in a way to support our new life with two newborns and a preschooler. Essentially – at our doctor’s recommendation – we have the babies on a loose three hour “routine”  through the day and night. Having that schedule written down (and alarms in my phone) and on our fridge is so helpful. I know what I need to take care of in the morning, when Brady needs to be places (and his bedtime), etc. Now here are a few things that have made life simpler and easier (more room for snuggles and less room for stress) since January 28. :)

1. Baby Jogger 2014 City Select Stroller with Second Seat - I looked high and low for a great stroller and after debating the side-by-side vs the in-line for what felt like forever, we decided to go with this one. So far we love it. We haven’t left the house a ton to use it but its great for walks around the neighborhood so far. All you need with this stroller are the two “buckets” (that’s what we call infant car seats) and these adapters. (I had to call City Select to get the adapters right after purchasing the wrong ones at first – these are for the Graco Click Connect seats we have).

2. Graco SnugRide Click Connect 35 Car Seats - I LOVE these. They have excellent safety ratings, are really durable and are super light. They fit the stroller above with these adapters.

3. Born Free Nighty Night Nursing Light - My friend Gina Zeidler told me about this and I think its awesome. I sleep with it clipped to the strap of my shirt (or sleepy-time nursing bra) and click it on whenever we need to feed or change or check on them. We also realized (last night) that Caroline really loves the light and it calms her down. It has a setting where it will turn off after 5, 10, 15 or 20 minutes – so last night I clipped it to their bassinet and let Caroline look at it for a while to calm down. She was out in no time.

4. Bravado Body Silk Seamless Nursing Bra –  I wear this all day every day and wash it at night. It’s so comfortable and has removable pads. Easy when pumping or nursing. I wear this one at night.

5. Walk In Love Tees - I’m so excited to finally be able to wear my favorite tee shirts again. I adore Walk in Love and what they stand for and their shirts are the comfiest around. I have their “Faith, Hope & Love” shirt on today and am purchasing some new ones this afternoon. I probably wear these five days a week with jeans or leggings.

6. Canon Rebel SLR Camera - I really don’t know anything about anything when it comes to photography (other than what I like) but this camera is super easy. I was really glad I had it in the hospital. I had my own little mini shoot of the babies one afternoon in the window light. It’s easy to use and makes great photos.

7. Medela Pump in Style Advanced Breast Pump Backpack - This thing is awesome. With Brady we rented from the hospital and bought our own parts and pieces. This time I borrowed this pump from a friend and bought our own parts and pieces. It’s super strong and easy. And this hands free bra to wear while you’re pumping makes it a breeze (if pumping can be a breeze).

8. Aden + Anais Swaddle Blankets - These muslin blankets are so soft and great for babies. We swaddle ours in them at night and use them at the doctor’s office as blankets, etc.

9. Amazon Mom Membership - Ok, so many people know about Amazon Prime (I couldn’t survive without it) but Amazon Mom gives you an extra discount on diapers. We signed up for the subscribe and save with diapers and wipes. So great and easy – they just show up at our door! xo, Emily

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Caroline & Tyler: A Beautiful Birth Story

IMG_5771I want to write the story of Caroline and Tyler’s birth while the memories of that special day are still fresh on my heart. I’m four days postpartum and our precious miracle babies are sleeping soundly together in the bassinet next to me. Caroline has the hiccups. :)

For years we dreamed of you, sweet babies, and to finally see your sweet faces and TASTE the completion of our journey from a party of two to a family of five… well, it was one of the best moments of my life. (Read our infertility story here and Brady’s birth story here).

IMG_5768After a very long pregnancy with six weeks of bed rest and pre-term labor at 31 weeks, we finally started to see the end in site after Christmas. We set goals to make it to 28 weeks… then 32 weeks… then 34 and finally 36. In our hearts we knew if we made it to 36 weeks we’d really have made it to a very safe and wonderful milestone. When 36 weeks rolled around on January 27 and I visited our high risk doctor for a bio physical ultrasound, I thought for sure the doctor would take one look at my enormous belly (and 48 extra lbs on my normally small frame) and request that my c-section date be moved up from 38 weeks. But he didn’t. Instead he told me that when the babies were ready, they’d make their appearance. I cried in the parking lot for thirty minutes. I was just so ready to meet them and so ready for them to be OUT instead of IN.

The next day, I went to a routine check-up. I’d been moved to weekly check-ups to check my progression and keep an eye on the babies. All the nurses laughed and patted me on the back and told me their birthday was near. My doctor checked my progression and sent me off to triage at 5cm and in active labor. I was in SHOCK. I called Bryan and he headed straight home to meet me there. Luckily Brady was at school. My Mom started heading our way from our hometown. I went home and took a shower and gathered the last few items for my hospital bag. I couldn’t believe it was THE DAY. Still I took my time and waited on Bryan to get home. We packed our bags into the car and as I was turning to get into the car, the first really painful contraction hit me. I laughed at all the times I “thought” I was in labor and got into the car. On the way to the hospital my contractions got tighter and more intense and it was clear I WAS in active labor.

Because the babies were breech (Tyler, Baby A) and transverse (Caroline, Baby B) we knew we’d have a repeat c-section. I was so surprised and thrilled to find out that my doctor – who’d delivered Brady – was on call and would be delivering Caroline and Tyler with another favorite doctor of mine from her practice. Everything from this point forward is so vivid to me. I knew this would be my last labor and my last delivery so I tried to soak in every little detail. We spent a few minutes in triage before lots of nurses rushed in to put a cap on my hair, get me into my gown, gather all the information and roll me into the operating room. Here is where I started to get nervous. Surgery is so very OUT of your control. I started to worry for the babies, for myself and for the things I’d miss by having to have a c-section again. With a few deep breaths, a successful spinal and a prayer as I laid down onto the operating table I felt my heart and my mind get focused.

Bryan took his spot next to my head and started talking to me about the babies’ hair, how long it’d taken us to get here and how proud he was that we’d made it. I knew he was trying to distract me from my fears and I was so grateful for it. Our nurse anesthesis was incredible. She called each baby by name (rather than Baby A and Baby B – which I really appreciated). She explained every step of what was happening.

I felt a couple of tugs at my hips, saw Bryan’s eyes get a little bigger as he watched for an update from the anesthesis and finally heard sweet Tyler’s little cry. My heart grew by about ten times in that moment and tears fell down my face. My sweet boy was here. They brought Tyler around the curtain for us to see him and got him cleaned up. “He’s beautiful and healthy,” said our doctor as she prepared for Caroline to be born next. I felt someone put a ton of weight on my ribcage as she’d scooted further up my belly during Tyler’s birth. And three minutes later, I heard sweet Caroline’s cry.

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What happened next was my favorite memory of the day. I’d been a little sad that I wouldn’t be allowed to have skin-on-skin time with our babies immediately after their birth because we were having a c-section. But the nurses brought both babies to me, still laying on the operating table being sewn up, and laid them on my chest – releasing my hands so that I could hold them. It was one of the most incredible moments of my life. I saw their sweet faces, told them how much they were loved and held their little 6lb, 6oz  (T) and 5lb, 11oz (C) bodies next to mine. It was beautiful. I’m forever grateful to have been given those moments with them.

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The rest of the afternoon was a blur being wheeled into recovery and having some time to heal while Tyler and Caroline were taken to the nursery to get their blood sugar regulated. Once their blood sugar was high enough they brought them to me to immediate begin nursing. I’d resigned myself to the idea that nursing two babies was going to be very difficult. I told myself that if I couldn’t do it, for whatever reason, despite my best attempts, that I wouldn’t be hard on myself. Instead, my body took over and those babies nursed like CHAMPS. I still can’t believe the three of us are able to do it. As hard as it was with Brady, somehow my body knew exactly what to do this time.

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The entire experience was beautiful. Just 48 hours after giving birth I was headed home with our babies. My Mom made it down that evening and Brady met his new brother and sister the next day. He wasn’t quite sure what to think at first and is still getting used to them, but he’s doing such a great job as a big brother. As much as I tried to PLAN out their birthday, God knew their birthday long before I even knew who they were… and He orchestrated it beautifully.

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Now, we’re just getting used to our new normal and spending time soaking up these precious first days. Thank you, so much, for your prayers and well wishes. I still can’t believe this is real life. :)

xo,

Emily

(All images by Captured In His Image – with the exception of the operating room photo :))

 

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Simplified: A Beauty Regimen

I remember a time in my life when I had endless amounts of time to primp and get ready for my day every day. Not so much anymore. But when I completely forget to take care of myself I notice that I just feel bad – sluggish and yuck. Bed rest has put me in that slump a few times. Being a busy mom has put me in that slump MORE than a few times. So a few days ago, after Brady went to bed, I decided to take a little while to myself to take a good hot shower, wash, dry and do my hair, shave my legs (a sight to see when you’re 35 weeks pregnant with twins) and take care of my skin. I felt like a NEW WOMAN. These products below are things I used to use daily and / or weekly and I plan to work into my routine now and continue after the twins arrive – even if it means two minutes in the morning to make sure I wash my face. EmilyLey_BeautyRegimen-01 I didn’t include makeup in this (even though I do have a few favorites I’d love to share one day) because lets be honest – on 99.9% of days, aint nobody got time for that. :)

  1. Clarisonic MIA 2 Facial Cleansing System – Love to use this occasionally to remove dead skin and give my skin an all-over smooth finish. The kit comes with a gel cleanser – but I just use my regular Neutrogena Naturals cleanser with it now.
  2. Fresh Lotus Youth Preserve Face Cream – This was recommended by Kate Bryan over at The Small Things Blog and I LOVE IT. It smells fresh, isn’t greasy and is great to use twice a day (morning and night). I wear it under makeup or (in most cases) by itself.
  3. EOS Lip Balm – I have about four of these floating between my bathroom, my bedside table, my car and my purse. Sweet mint is my favorite. I’ve always had an aversion to lipstick or lipgloss so this is my go-to.
  4. Redkin Smooth Lock Serum – I LOVE this stuff. I put two pumps in my hands after towel drying my hair and run my fingers through my hair from middle to ends then blow-dry. I have fine hair, but I have a ton of it – so its deceiving. This keeps the ends sleek and not super frizzy.
  5. Big Sexy Hair “What a Tease” Styler – This stuff is magic. I love the Big Sexy Hair line but this is a recent find. When I want some extra lift (my hair naturally lays pretty flat because its so fine) I spray a tiny bit of this underneath a section (careful because it is FIRM and has SUPER DUPER HOLD almost like hairspray) and scrunch my hair around until it looks like I’ve gotten some lift. I’m terrible at back-combing, so I love this right at the crown for a cute pony tail (most days) or down for date night.
  6. Fekkai Brilliant Glossing Creme – Again, I’m not a big beauty product person. And I tend to be pretty brand loyal. But I have used this stuff for probably 10 years. It’s made with olive oil but its not greasy at all. I have only gone through two bottles in 10 years – that’s how little you use. Once my hair is dry, I rub a tiny bit of this on the ends for a bit of polish. It’s amazing. Go buy some. It will change your life. You will come back to this post and thank me. I’m serious. :)
  7. Aveda Wooden Paddle Brush – I get my hair cut at an Aveda salon and I bought this to use for quick blow-dries. Bryan loves it and now Brady does too. So we each have one. :) It’s pricey brush but totally worth it. I can dry my hair with this and my cheap blow dryer in about 10 minutes. I flip my head upside down and viola!
  8. One Love Organics Brand New Day Microderma Scrub & Masque – I’ve used this since One Love Organics came onto the market. It lasts forever and is a great natural scrub for your face. I use this every night just to take off any impurities after washing my face with my regular Neutrogena face wash.

Washing my face and drying my hair probably takes me about fifteen minutes total. I typically throw my hair up in a messy pony tail, grab the closest pair of yoga pants and a Walk in Love tee and a pair of earrings and go. Earrings make me feel put together. :) Taking just a few minutes to feel like I’ve pulled myself together a bit goes a LONG way. xo, Emily

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SIMPLICITY : McKenzie Fussell (Our Shop Assistant!)


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Hi there! I’m McKenzie, the lady that responds to all of your sweet Emily Ley emails! It’s so nice to finally pop in and introduce myself to ya’ll! I wear a lot of hats these days- wife, friend, letterer, shop assistant here at EL, student, and I also run my own little shop full of hand-lettered goodies. My sweet husband and I are Amelia Island natives but are currently living here in Tampa trying to navigate what I call the “big city”.  We said “I do” last May and I sobbed like a baby and could barely get my vows out (if you know me- you’re not shocked). I love a well placed monogram, Jesus talks with friends, decorating our home, books (excluding textbooks), extra large glasses of sweet tea, attempting to cook, and anything creative!

How do you take care of yourself so that you’re physically and mentally prepared to be your best self for others?

For starters- I pray. I pray a LOT. I ask others to pray for me as well and I give my burdens to God. I also take a lot of “me” time. I make it a priority to rest. That may sound silly but I am a bit of a go-getter and have a difficult time doing unproductive things, so rest must be scheduled. Pearce and I have started using essential oils, making healthier food choices, and incorporating exercise into our time together so that we physically feel great!

In your house, how do the mundane parts of life get done?

First of all, if it’s not in my planner, it doesn’t get done. I write EVERYTHING down and it helps me stay focused on my priorities for the day. I’ve tried my best not to abuse the to-do list column in my planner by adding things in just because there’s a free line. I write down what I truly believe I can get done and I make that happen. Working from home has made it a bit easier for me to get things done around the house. I try to wake up and get chores and errands done before I start my work day so that I won’t be distracted by huge piles of laundry or floating dust bunnies. I’ve also found that getting my meal planning and grocery shopping done during the weekend helps our busy weeknights run much smoother. I pack my grocery list in my Lilly Pulitzer market tote (to make the event a bit more colorful) and make a quick trip to Aldi, Trader Joes, or Publix.

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What is one tradition or routine that’s really important to you? And why?

Jesus time & Date nights! Grabbing a cup of coffee and digging into the word is the best daily routine a gal can have! Date nights have also become pretty important here in the Fussell house with our busy schedules. We love trying new restaurants and attempting to find good movies on Netflix! We used to play monopoly but that got a little too competitive!

Your PICK SIX: What 6 products can you absolutely not live without?

Simplicity_Pick6_FussellSimplified Journal:  This is one of my all time favorite products. Each night before I go to sleep I try to write down everything on my mind and get it off my chest. This nightly “brain dump” helps me clear my head so I can sleep better. A little lavender oil on my feet and a few minutes spent writing in my journal seems to be the best sleep aid.

Crockpots: I’m all about easy meals that taste delicious. We have crockpot dinners as much as possible around here. I even purchased a mini travel sized crockpot for Pearce to take to work with him. It’s the coolest little gadget and he’s told me everyday after work how yummy his food was (new wives love to hear that).

Longchamp Bag: I’ve had this bag for years but just can’t seem to part ways with it. It’s huge! I fit my macbook, my planner, my schoolbooks, a thousand pens, 2 chargers, a bulky wallet, my water bottle and a trillion other “necessities” in there. When I’m not using the bag it folds up into a tiny square that can easily fit in a small drawer which is perfect for apartment living.

NutriBullet: This bad boy was one of my favorite wedding gifts and we didn’t even register for it. I make delicious fruit smoothies with doTERRA Terra Greens supplement mix and get all of my veggies for the day! It’s so quick and easy to clean! I’ve got my routine down to a science now and I can both make my smoothie and clean up my blender in under 3 minutes!

Jesus Calling Devotional CDI’ve read through the Jesus Calling devotionals by Sarah Young a few times now and they’re always so relevant and encouraging. I found a CD version of the devotional awhile back and LOVE listening to it in my car each day.

Glass Water Bottles: I’m a big believer in essential oils. For the oils to work properly they can’t be mixed in plastic water bottles- so we buy glass. My favorites are lemon and peppermint water!

Anything else you think our readers would love to know? Any additional tips or systems that help you keep it all together?

One of my favorite quotes on simplicity is this one from Hans Hoffman: “The ability to simplify means to eliminate the unnecessary so that the necessary may speak.” Through the process of simplifying I’ve been able to find so much more joy in my days and truly focus on what matters to me!

 

Follow along with McKenzie:

Instagram: @mckenziefussell

The Simplicity Series features busy gals, in different stages of life, making what matters happen and tips and tricks they’ve found to be helpful. Simplicity is about building margin into your life and spending time on and with that which fuels your heart. While we love to share products and services that help us day to day, but simplicity is about HEART and intentionally choosing the thing that matters most (your TREASURE) more than anything money can buy. We wear many hats and we know you do too, so we’d love to hear your thoughts as well! For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Luke 12:34

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