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November 25, 2015

black friday alternatives

 ^photo credit to pinterest^ 
The end of this week marks one of the heaviest shopping days of the year in this country. This week on Thursday night or Friday morning, stores will fill, credit cards will swipe, and Christmas shopping will be underway. Oddly enough, I don’t have a huge problem with Black Friday shopping.  I believe people can have a great time being off work, spending the day with loved ones, getting gifts for one another, and finding great deals doing it.  There is a lot of fun in the tradition of gift giving.  What is bothersome to me is the unnecessary spending, the violence that occurs when there are too many people going after a small amount of products, and the attitude of buying new just because it may be a good deal.  With that said, I want to offer alternative suggestions to you for your Black Friday and holiday shopping.
1.       Small Business Saturday.
This is fantastic! To follow the day of the big box store deals, this Saturday has turned in “small business Saturday” for the 6th year running (thanks for heading this up Amex)! If we can support our local businesses and industries, studies show that “with every $100 that is spent at a local retailer, $68 will return to the community in taxes and payroll”.  See more here. Some retailers even have a lot of incentives and deals going on as well.  Get out there and support the local economy!
 ^photo credit to pinterest^
2.       Secondhand, secondhand, secondhand.
Writing a blog about living secondhand and having/wearing used, I cannot encourage this enough.  I know that there are times when shopping secondhand is unpredictable, inconvenient, and you certainly don’t always know what you will find. But, it never hurts to look and see if there is the perfect gift to be thrifted of upcycled.  Disclaimer: this one is tough sometimes with giving a gift- see my thoughts on that more here 
3.       Serrv or other Fair Trade products
 Serrv is a company that sells all fair trade products from around the world. Their products range from jewelry to home decorations, and they feature a lot of products made by women, encouraging further education and sustainable income for their families and communities.  Check them out at
 4.       Etsy
Etsy is a huge resource for finding products made by small businesses around the world. This website offers links to a wide variety of products for almost anything you are searching for.  Check out for more.
5.       Heifer Project International
For a super alternative gift (but so meaningful to the world), try donating an animal in a loved one’s name. This company connects communities that need sustainable income or food with animals donated! I feel especially attached to this cause because my Grandfather helped work with this company when it started after WWII, delivering horses to help repair a destroyed Europe.
6.       Pura Vida Bracelets
 This past year, I came across PVB online and ended up buying a bracelet with some birthday money from my sisters. I can’t say enough about how fun it is to have colorful bracelets on my wrists that remind me that our world is small and I am a part of it.  This company sells bracelets that help support the economy in Costa Rica.  Many of their charity bracelets also give procedes to a specific cause.  Or check out Woman at Risk International that helps raise money to stop human trafficking and support women who have survived.  check them out here: or
7.         Make something!
Lastly, but certainly not least, try making something.  I know homemade isn’t always loved by everyone, but if time and your creativity allow, try it. Some of my favorite gifts in the world are homemade.  You may find you have more skill than you thought too! Another idea is thinking about an experience you can gift someone, such as tickets to a show, a day out at an amusement park, lessons of an activity they want to try, etc.
In the meantime, Happy Thanksgiving to you all!


November 1, 2015

being a working out of the house mama

I recently had an expectant friend ask me about what it is like to work full time and be a mom, as she is deliberating her options of work and soon-to-be motherhood.  I had a hard time answering her on the spot and articulating my thoughts, let alone turning anything into advice worth listening to. So, over the past several weeks, I thought hard about working full time as a mom and, in a cathartic way, have compiled a bit of advice that I follow to maybe make the expectations manageable and balance easier. And I want to stress that I think being a mom, whether working or staying at home requires an impossible amount of love, hard work, and organization. And one of my sisters is days away from returning to work after her beautiful son was born, and I also was thinking of her and any thoughts I’d have to offer her.

1. Make time with your child a priority during the evening hours.
One of the first steps I took to finding any type of balance in my work and home life was to make evening time with Beatrice an absolute priority. When I leave work at the end of the day, I leave work mentally. Once I’m home, I make no plans or huge ambitions other than to be with Beatrice. I try not to plan many activities, or more importantly, expect a lot of tasks to get done during that time, even if that means dust bunnies hang out longer than they should.  That is time to spend intentionally with her.  Some days we go for a walk or run, sometimes it’s prepping dinner, or other days we just hang out and play.  I want her to know that I value that time with her and want to spend time learning about what she learned that day, helping her develop new skills, and just enjoying her.

2. Have something for yourself- make it a priority.
I definitely struggle to find time make time to do something just for me, as many of us do. There are 101 other tasks to do before I spend time doing something fun for me, but when I don’t get time for myself, I have a hard time feeling like I have anything to offer the world, especially my family. When I'm an empty cup, what kind of mom does that make me?  Whether it’s working out, reading, doing something crafty, spending time with friends, do it. Make time for yourself, even if it happens only once a week and the only opportunity to be alone is at 5:00 am when the house is quiet and the coffee is fresh.

3. Sleep.
We’ve all read about the importance of getting sleep, so this is a no-brainer. Every single day is go-go-go from 5:30 am to about 10 or 11 pm. If I don’t sleep at least 6-7 hours a night, I turn into an angry bear. I am not willing to be a bear on a daily basis- it's not fair to my family- so I choose to sleep. Sometimes this looks like a good 8-9 hour night of sleep one night, and a shorter night of sleep another night to do some other things (see #2).

4. Be flexible, willing to compromise some expectations you may have had for yourself.
I had grand ambitions before I had Beatrice of making all of her food and using cloth diapers exclusively.  But as I went back to work and started to juggle it all, I felt unable to keep up and had to compromise. I beat myself up (see #5), feeling like I wasn't doing enough (see #6).  It helps to just recognize I can’t do it all, and go easy on myself for this, even if it means giving up on some expectations I may have had before going back to work.  Be realistic and stick to what is most important to you and what works for your family.

5. Talk to yourself as you would a good friend.
Cue Chris Farley in SNL’s skit when he interviews Paul McCartney, “Idiot”!  I heard a podcast recently on the ramifications of negative self- talk. Without sounding like a self-help book here, let me just say the advice given to combat negative self-talk is to speak to yourself as you would a very good friend.  I would never tell one of my sisters that because they didn't have time to workout, they are disgusting and lazy, so why in the world would I say that to myself?

6. Reassure yourself the grass may not be greener on the other side.
Lastly, I must say that almost every day I wish I could stay home with Beatrice.  Almost every day I feel a bit jealous of stay at home moms. But I need to remind myself that being a nurse is a big part of who I am. I get to be with people all day and continue to practice my nursing skills.  I am challenged intellectually.  The job gives me routine each day and helps shape who I am, so I can’t help but recognize I may be a different person if I were home every day.  To help me get in the car and drive to work every day, I remind myself that Beatrice is in a great situation with her caretaker and the other kids she watches. She is experiencing a lot of great things that I probably wouldn’t expose her to if I were home.  And she wouldn’t have the socialization that she has now.  I had a good friend remind me of that the day I started back to work and it is advice that has helped me EVERY day since.

I also want to recognize my husband in this parenting adventure we are on. He is incredibly hands-on and supportive of me as a working mom, from driving Beatrice to and from "school", to making dinner most evenings while I bathe and put Bea to bed.  I couldn't do this life or role without him, and want to recognize and thank him for that. 

Well, I know this has nothing to do with living or buying secondhand and being resourceful, but writing this has been really helpful to me these past few weeks and maybe can help someone else. 

Happy November!