Ten Things I Am Thankful For

Since I’ve been a little down- today I wanted to shake things up and “just write”.

I don’t want to worry about SEO, blog focus or anything like that.

Now that I can order pumpkin drink, decorate my porch with pumpkins etc. it just seems like the right time to think about being thankful while it’s socially acceptable and encouraged.

So here are Ten Things I Am Thankful For.

1.) My healthy babies. I don’t take it lightly. I love their giggles and their vibrancy.Girls Change Playing in Pantry Oatmeal Smiles

2.) My husband. Can I get a fist pump or a “What? What?” or whatever it is cool people say or do? Because my husband rocks the husband job in a big way. He is in every way superior to me in intellect, kindness, gentleness and charm. I love him so much and am crazy thankful. Wedding Photo Oatmeal Smiles3.) Safety. Every night I tuck in Claire and her 3 year old little brain starts getting wired and she starts getting frantic about dragons or the Big Bad Wolf and if I’m going to go to some epic party without her the minute she’s snoozing (she is after all, my daughter in every way).

I calm her fears and tell her that dragons aren’t real and the Big Bad Wolf isn’t real and he couldn’t blow our house down anyway because it’s made of bricks. I tell her we are here to protect her. And in some small way, every night my heart breaks for the millions of people around the world who, for whatever reason, can’t tell their children that they will be safe that night.  I know.. Big crazy thoughts but such is the mind of an ENFP. You’ve been warned.

4.) Food. I love food and am thankful we have enough. We have clean water, we have snacks, we have so much. Again- awfully big picture but what can I say? I’m thankful for it!

5.) Rain. We’ve had little rain the past few years and the drought has gotten bad. Then all of the sudden, flash floods. I’m very grateful.

6.) Internet. I get to connect with you guys! We all know the feeling when you’re internet doesn’t work or your computer spazzes out and for a minute your heart freezes and you think, “What would I do without internet?!” Of course I lived over half of my life without a computer and or internet but still. I’m thankful for it.

7.) Surprised by Motherhood. I love a good read and enjoyed getting lost in it this weekend.

8.) The honor or watching as a brave and godly woman walks bravely through cancer. Kara reminds me every day to love big. We all have to say goodbye some day and Kara is in the midst of her long goodbye. It breaks my heart and builds it up. Love big. Every day. And I can’t wait to read her book. I preordered it and can’t wait.

9. ) Grace. God’s grace gives me hope and meaning in an otherwise hopeless world. I’m thankful I don’t have to stand on my own merit or strength. If age has taught me on thing it is that I have very little of either my own merit or my own strength. But I’ve learned that God’s grace is so so big.

10.) Autumn! It may seem small but it is so hot here in the summer and I really dislike being unable to go on a walk whenever we want to. Now that it’s cool out side I can go for walks with wild abandon!

What are you thankful for?

What were you afraid of as a child?

My daughter is simultaneously obsessed with the 3 little pigs and scared silly by the Big Bad Wolf.

Why Do I Feel Insignificant?

“Why do I feel insignificant?”…

Everything in your life may be fine and in place but significance feels… elusive.Why do I feel insignificant- Oatmeal Smiles

It has hit me like a ton of bricks in the past two weeks.

I’m safe and have so many things to be thankful for. But still, this feeling sometimes comes. Unwelcome and intrusive it steals my joy and tells me I’m not successful, meaningful or doing anything worth talking about.

So what do you do when you feel insignificant?

First, establish truth.

I know that my worth and significance are in the Lord.

Often, when my focus gets off and I am looking at the world’s value of success or comparing myself to others I can get down.

But that’s wrong!

We don’t live for ourselves or for selfish gain.

“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body I live by faith in the son of God who loved me and gave himself for me.” Galatians 2:20

Next, ignore your feelings.

Emotions are like shifting sand. They can’t be trusted.

The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?
 Jeremiah 17:9

When your emotions are leading you astray or being destructive, I find it helpful to just silence them and lean on truth I know is lasting.

Take some time to logically look past your own feelings and consider the facts. This is the stage I’m in right now. Ignoring the little cloud that’s been hanging over me.

Look at environmental causes. Lack of sleep, poor nutrition, relational or work stress.

For me it’s been lack of sleep and poor nutrition. I started cutting out full fat dairy and eating healthier overall (which is great) but I may have gone too far since I’m still nursing Sophie.

My body revolted. I got some iron and lots of calcium and actually started feeling better.

At the end of the day, sometimes we just feel lonely and insignificant. I’m normally a very upbeat and happy person but it just comes. If you feel this way too, know you’re not alone. The best thing you can do is to reach out for support from people- even if it means pushing past your comfort zone.

What do you do when you feel small and insignificant? 
Do you ever feel low and blue?
How do you dig out?

Behind the Scenes: Work at Home Moms- Melissa Espinosa {Coupon Code!}

Good morning friends!

Today I’m excited to not only have a Work At Home Mom to interview but Melissa is my husband’s best friend’s wife. Whew! That’s a mouthful!

Behind the Scenes Work at Home Moms SeriesMelissa has sent me a lovely gift with each of our babies and they are absolute keepsakes that I treasure- and I had been wanting to share them with you guys for some time.

Claire ArtYou can find Melissa’s Etsy shop here, and her facebook page here.

When did you become a “stay at home mom”?

I was an 2nd grade teacher in my “former life.” I always knew I wanted to be a stay at home mom, so when I had my oldest child in February 2007, I took my maternity leave and promptly submitted my letter of resignation. 

How many kids do you have and where do you live?Espinosa Family

I have two boys, Grant, age 7 and Collin, age 3. We live in Highlands Ranch, CO, a suburb about 12 miles south of Denver.

What is your “at home work” besides being a mom?

Besides being a homeschooling mommy, I also create custom pieces of art called Personalized Scripture Names. When you look at my art from far away, it just looks like a name (baby name, last name, etc).

HILBURN ME Designs But when you look up close, you will see that I hand write a scripture selection (or poem, song lyrics, wedding vows, etc.) of your choosing to create each letter of the name. All my pieces are handwritten and created by me. 

HILBURNS ME Designs Up Close

What does your business/work look like? How many hours a week do you put into it and when do you find the time to work?

MR_MRS ME DesignsI basically work in small pockets of time. I try to return emails and inquiries during our “quiet time” in the afternoon. I do my bookkeeping and creating in the evenings after my kids are in bed. I try to only work one hour in the evenings so that my husband and I can have some time together before going to bed. ME Designs ready to ship

During my busy season (usually October-December and again in April-June), I have to spend more than an hour each evening. I have a good friend who also homeschools and we often watch each other’s kids when needed. Sometimes I’ll get her to watch my boys after we’ve done our school for the day so I can get work done.

How did your business/at home work get started?

I made a Personalized Scripture Name as a baby gift for a friend. She hung it in her nursery and was asked by a few people where she got it. Word of mouth is my friend! I actually never meant to start a business, but because I had so much referral business, I needed to start one for tax purposes.

What do you think is a realistic work schedule for a Work At Home Mom?

Whatever works for you! My personality is such that I don’t like to have too much of a set schedule. I’m more of a spontaneous person. But, no matter how you function best, my advice is to never let your business get in the way of family time. There have been times I’ve worked late at night when everyone was in bed so that we could have a family movie night. My family comes before my business.

Where do you work? Do you have an office or a special desk just for you?

We have a loft upstairs in our house where I work. It’s a place I can spread out my things while I’m creating and if it doesn’t get cleaned up at the end of the night, it’s not a big deal.

What are the perks of working at home?

One of the biggest perks of working at home is that I get to do what I love. I get to be at home with my kids, and I get paid to craft! The money I’ve made in my business has enabled us to take some nice trips and do fun things that we would otherwise might not be able to do.

What advice do you have for other moms who are interested in working from home?

I would encourage moms to contact the Small Business Development Center in their area. It’s usually run by the Chamber of Commerce and it’s completely free. They offer mentors to council you through starting your business and have people who are experts in different fields with whom you can make appointments. Also, if they’ll be selling merchandise, I would encourage them to try and find a sales tax class to fully understand taxing procedures in their area.

What did I miss? Is there anything you would add?

Between keeping up with two boys, homeschooling, and owning a business, some things will not get done. For me, that has been housekeeping (which I was never really great at to begin with!). I’ve had to do a lot of trial-and-error with different systems (laundry, cleaning, etc.) to get things done. But I’m blessed with a supportive husband who helps out and shares the load.

And because Melissa is AWESOME she is offering a special Coupon CODE for all Oatmeal Smiles readers!

When you make a purchase of $10 or more before October 31 you will get 10% off!

The Code is: SMILE 10

A HUGE thanks to Melissa for being interviewed! I really love her work and am so glad to get to showcase it here.

This post is a part of an ongoing series where I get nosy and peek behind the scenes into Work At Home Moms and how they make it all work.

Want to read other interviews of Work At Home Moms? You can find them here.

I love that Melissa is able to make her craft and passion into a business!

Do you craft?
If you could do what you love and make money what would it be?

Beach Bums: Gulf Shores for Kids

Hi guys!

If you follow me on Instagram then you know that we just got back from a week at the beach and Oh. My. Word…

It was SO nice!

We went to Gulf Shores, Alabama and I had never equated Alabama with beaches. But as my husband said, “Best kept secret ever!”

With only a little more than 10,000 people Gulf Shores is a family friendly and has so many amenities you would never believe it’s that small.

Here’s what we did

I have a friend who I met at college (university for you guys overseas) and she has impacted my life so greatly! We’ve danced the streets of Prague, eaten awesome Thai food in Kentucky and kept up across 3 continents.

In the past decade it’s hard to believe that we’ve only met when one of us was in a wedding dress (what?!) and then, my friend, and I were pregnant together BOTH times! How cool is that?

So when she said she knew of an awesome condo our families could meet at it just made sense. Regardless of what I falsely expected from Alabama beaches. ;)

Kid Friendly Beaches at Gulf Shores Alabama Kid Friendly Beaches at Gulf Shores Alabama

We flew into Pensacola and met at the condo in Gulf Shores. Our balcony overlooked the beach and our kids hit it off in an instant. You can see more of our condo here.

Budget Friendly Condo with gorgeous view Gulf Shores AlabamaGulf Shores Alabama Condo- Great for a budget Gulf Shores Alabama Condo- Great for a budgetWe watched each others kids while we went on date nights (so cool!), and the guys watched the kids while we went for mani/pedi’s and sat in a coffee shop and talked for hours.. I felt like I was transported to college life and it felt good!

Date night selfie!

Date night beach dining Gulf Shores Alabama

Needless to say, we’ve returned after seven days totally relaxed.

If you EVER get the chance to go to Gulf Shores here is where you just HAVE to go. ;)

Gulf Shores for Kids

Gulf Coast Zoo

Gulf Shores Zoo, Alabama-Kid friendly!This zoo was tiny but just perfect for a day time break from the beach (it sounds crazy- but when two 1 year olds are involved.. a break from the beach IS in order).

Splash Park, Orange Beach

Splash Park Orange Beach AlabamaThis splash pad/splash park is perfect for the younger kids.

It’s located outside of this Surf Style store (it’s not on the website but I promise- it’s there!).

We drove by this splash park coming in from Pensacola and knew we had to go. It’s fenced in and safe for little bitty guys. It was a PERFECT break from the constant alert we were on at the pool and beach. We even went twice in three days! And… Wait for it.. It’s FREE!!! This splash park is attached to a surf shop so the moms may have slipped away to shop as well.

The Hang Out

The Hang Out Gulf Shores Alabama- Our little princess and pirate

We went to this beach side restaurant that has a princesses and pirates breakfast. It was an all you can eat breakfast along with pirates running around in full garb and a princess leading the little guys on treasure hunts. We sat on the patio and enjoyed the sound of the surf. The pirates did scare the tar out of our kids but we protected them. ;)

Other Kid Friendly Activities

Our kids were a little too small for this. But when they’re older, Gulf Shores has mini-golf (The Track, Pirate’s Island Mini-golf & Adventure Island Mini-golf) , water parks (Waterville), Ziplining and more. Seriously a great destination!

Relaxing on the beach- Gulf Shores Alabama Gulf Shores Alabama- Beach Chairs, Umbrella and Caddy Rentals

What we loved:

  • - sugar sand, white, soft and gorgeous
  • -clear water
  • -family friendly
  • -kid friendly
  • -super relaxing
  • -great food and entertainment
  • -Chocolate Corner- we highly recommend this! Great truffles!

Bonus! We didn’t have to bring ANY baby equipment with us! Read here to find out how!

Have you ever visited Gulf Shores or the Orange Beach are?
What is your favorite destination- beaches or mountains?

Behind the Scenes- WAHM Interview with Vicki Lesage

Happy middle of September to you!

I’m dreaming of pumpkins and all things fall. Autumn is quickly becoming my favorite season! How about you?

We’ve been loving the cool weather and rain. Lots of walks for this little fam.

I’ve been loving sharing this Work At Home Mom series. Learning how other mom’s make their day times work.

Today I have author and blogging friend Vicki Lesage on the blog.

Behind the Scenes Work at Home Moms SeriesVicki Lesage is an IT Director by day, writer by night. And a full-time nerd. She loves fondue, wine, math, and zombies. She lives in Paris with her French husband, rambunctious son, and charmante daughter. Her first book, Confessions of a Paris Party Girl, was released in January 2014, and her sequel, Confessions of a Paris Potty Trainer, was released in May 2014.

Confessions of a Paris Party Girl: http://www.amazon.com/dp/1494701529

Confessions of a Paris Potty Trainer: http://www.amazon.com/dp/1499276532

Blog: http://vickilesage.blogspot.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/vickilesagewriter

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/vickilesage

How many kids do you have and where do you live?Work At Hom Mom Interview with Author and Blogger Parisian Party Girl Vicki LesageI have a two-year-old and a three-month-old, and together with my French husband we live in Paris . All in a one-bedroom apartment. It’s crazy.

What is your “at home work” besides being a mom?

I’m an author and run a blog, along with other freelance writing gigs. Oh, and I have a full-time day job as an IT Director. If you’re wondering how I do it all, I’m kind of wondering the same thing myself!

What does your business/work look like? How many hours a week do you put into it and when do you find the time to work?

I work for my full-time job 39 hours per week, two days from home and three days in the office. I write wherever I can – lunch breaks, evenings after the kids go to bed, weekends – and do other writing-related activities, like reading and editing, on my commute to work (it’s an hour each way by public transport).

How did your business/at home work get started?Work At Hom Mom Interview with Author and Blogger Parisian Party Girl Vicki Lesage

My mom is an author as well and encouraged me to turn my stories about my crazy life in Paris into a memoir. My first book, Confessions of a Paris Party Girl, is about my move to France and all the bureaucracy, partying, and falling in love that ensued.

Work At Hom Mom Interview with Author and Blogger Parisian Party Girl Vicki LesageMy sequel, Confessions of a Paris Potty Trainer, picks up where the first book leaves off and follows me on my journey of raising two kids in Paris . I started my blog as a way to keep in touch with my fans and fill in the gaps between books – people are always asking for more about my life!

What do you think is a realistic work schedule for a Work At Home Mom?

I think you have to be flexible about when you work, but when you do decide to work you have to be 100% dedicated to working. No kids running around, no other distractions. While I will sometimes try to reply to emails with a baby in one arm, I can’t do any real work until I have two free hands and at least 30 uninterrupted minutes in front of me.

Where do you work? Do you have an office or a special desk just for you?

Ha! An office? In my dreams! I work at my dining room table, which is in our living room, which also serves as our playroom. It can be hard to find those 30 uninterrupted minutes I mentioned above!

What are the perks of working at home?

I’m way more productive than when I have colleagues interrupting me in the office (they can be worse than toddlers)! You also don’t waste time on transitions or getting ready. Like, I just sit down and start working. I don’t need make-up, I don’t need to commute, I don’t need to do anything other than start working. I can also hop up and put a load of laundry in while I’m brainstorming what, for example, my next blog post will be about, then I sit down and write. I can get things done around the house during my “down” time, and sometimes it helps to step away from the computer for a few minutes anyway!

What advice do you have for other moms who are interested in working from home?

You have to have a goal and you have to be disciplined. For me, my goal is to sell books via my blog and I make sure to write 2 blog posts per week and take the time to promote them everywhere. Your goals will be different but you have to stick to them no matter what. It’s so easy to get distracted on the internet (guilty!) or think “I’ll just wash those dishes real quick” but you have to make sure you’re getting your work done and only doing other stuff if you have the time or if it’s during a break.

What did I miss? Is there anything you would add?

Working from home can be a great way to minimize commute time and balance work and family. But you have to take it seriously and you have to have the right personality for it. While I’m very social, I’m serious when it comes to work and so I like working from home where I can be focused and not interrupted. Other people might go crazy with the solitude or wouldn’t be able to stay disciplined. You have to find what works for you!

Thanks so much for sharing Vicki! I loved getting a peek into your world and how you make it all work (magically!). And best of luck with your books!

Do you know of any Work At Home Moms who juggle kids and work demands?

Check out the other mom’s here!

“All About That Bass” by Katie Davis and A Lot of Link Love

I saw this video on Facebook the other day and literally can’t get it out of my head.

While I otherwise would not be listening to “All About That Bass”, this is right down my alley and I keep getting a giggle out of hearing “booty” from a woman playing a bass.

Besides, I found this line ironic since I just joined Weight Watchers.

“My mama she told me don’t worry about your size”… Ha!!

Like this?

You may also like these great links:

Joanna Goddard from Cup of Jo’s excellent Weekend Links.. Seriously look forward to them every week!

See what happens to a little girl who has consumed thousands of colas in her lifetime.

This mom who decided to stay in the pictures.

I LOVE this Frat Boy rendition of Taylor Swift’s “Shake It Off”.

What this guy can do with a balloon blows my mind!

Why the U.S. chills its eggs.. I had NO idea!

This beautiful moment caught on tape when a mom with Alzheimer’s remembers her daughter.… Touching…

And these dads getting to “feel” their “babies kick” had me in tears!

Have a great “practically fall already”!



Before & After: The Start of a Success Story (Weight Watchers Week 0)

{This is the diary of a mom in the trenches- fighting for her body back, her self confidence and for healthy habits for her children to follow.}

I’m mortified.

I just rejoined Weight Watchers for the third time.

1. 2. 3.

Three times.

The second time I did Weight Watchers online, and frankly, with no accountability or meetings- I don’t even know if I lost a pound.

So this time, I’m taking accountability to a whole new level.

1. Facebook “Coming Out” party.

Facebook Get Fit Coming Out Party

2. I’m blogging about it. (Eek!)

3. I’m even Instagramming about it.

Last Hurrah Before Get Fit ChallengeLast hurrah before weighing in… Nursing moms- Pumpkin Spice Steamer is all the taste with zero caffeine (if you value your sanity).

Before & After: The Start of a Success Story  (Weight Watchers Week 0)

Revese Before & After Oatmeal Smiles(Admittedly I chose a flattering picture.. but that’s a 50lb difference.)

Here’s another one for ya’.

11 months post partum wm(Notice the bun.. it just works for mommyhood!)

Here’s the thing.

My motivation for losing weight is entirely different now in my *ahem* mid-30′s and as a mom and I’d love to share that with you.

How Your Motivation Changes When You’re A Mom

How Your Motivation to Lose Weight Changes When You Become a Mom Oatmeal SmilesWhen I was in my teens and 20′s I wanted to look a certain way.

I wanted to wear a certain size. It was all about appearance and confidence.

Now, I won’t lie- I would still love that appearance and I would love my old confidence and self esteem. But.. things are different.

At this point in the game I have different motivation to take care of myself.

1. My health. I don’t feel great. I’m tired, slow, and lethargic. I’m unmotivated and am starting to watch my kids play rather than play with them. I know it’s a slippery slope from here on out. My hips ache, my hands ache. After I lost weight after baby #1 my hands and hips quit aching. And here I am again after baby #2 same weight (plus some), with the same chronic pain.

When is your baby due- a year ago.. oatmeal smiles

2. My Level of Fitness & Physical Wellness. Getting out of bed is an athletic event. Wish that was a joke. I more “roll” out of bed and hope for a graceful landing. I have Diastasis Recti after having babies and an abdominal surgery and I will tell you more about that later.

3. Most importantly- your children watch everything you do. Everything. How you talk to yourself, how you interact with others, your insecurities, when you turn to food or tv for comfort and they will take on and mirror your habits, self talk and activity. This mortifies me.

I think often now about how I want my kids to be living their lives when they are in their 30′s. And feeling chronically tired, frustrated, ashamed and defeated in a sedentary life is NOT what I want for them.

Also, I want my girls to have healthy habits, a healthy relationship to food and activity. So far, I’ve gotten away with only watching tv when they’re asleep and only eating snacks when they’re asleep but seriously- who am I kidding?

I used to be so ashamed to share this because I used to be different. Because now I’m the traditional mom who has “let herself go”, because I’m the  stereotypical American who is overweight. I should know better after living in Europe where there is less obesity.

But then I realized it’s not just an “American problem”. According to statistics over 65% of Americans are overweight or obese and worldwide 62% of obese people live in developing countries. So really, it’s an “all of us” problem.A Goal Without a Plan is Just a Wish- Oatmeal Smiles

So if by sharing my journey to success I can encourage even one person, then I will.

Besides, I have a closet full of clothes waiting to be worn and I’m tired of not being in my family album.

Cheers to changes,


Have you ever had a breaking point?

What motivates you to change/be better?

Baby Beach Equipment Rentals for Gulf Shores, Alabama

{I’m so excited today to be partnering with Baby Beach Equipment Rentals for Alabama and Florida!}

We recently returned from a week at the beach. *sigh*

Gulf Shores Alabama BeachWe went to Gulf Shores, Alabama and could not have been more impressed.

Beautiful beaches? (Yes!)

In Alabama? (Yes! Yes!)Gulf Shores Alabama Beach

Oatmeal Smiles Instagram Gulf Shores

And though the beaches were beautiful and we were TOTALLY relaxed- I was most amazed by this new service I found that I had never heard about.

Baby Beach Equipment Rental.

I REALLY really think this is genius! I kept gushing to the owners about how brilliant this is.

The Beach Back Story: My Baby Essential Worries

We knew we were going to meet friends and stay at a condo.

I worried about how the sleeping arrangements would work out with 4 kids under the age of 3 and 4 adults in a 2 bedroom condo...

The gang leaving dry and dusty West Texas for the beaches

Leaving dry and dusty west Texas for the beaches!

We were flying and had limited space.

So… I worried!

Then I realized that Baby Beach Equipment rents out EVERYTHING you need (and budget friendly!).


I found Beach Baby Equipment Rental on line and called and spoke with one of the owners who could not have been more kind.

These guys deliver your items to your destination before you arrive and come and pick it up after you leave.

Such a relief when you’re trying to pack light (& with babies)! Can I get an amen?!

Beach Baby Equipment Rental

Baby Beach Equipment Rentals for your beach vacation

Here’s what we rented:

  • 4 pack-n-plays ($30/week per pack-n-play. Much cheaper and easier than paying to lug yours cross country!)

Baby Beach Equipment Rentals Gulf Shore Alabama IMG_5890 Baby Beach Equipment Rentals Gulf Shore Alabama

Baby Beach Equipment Rentals Gulf Shore Alabama Baby Beach Equipment Rentals Gulf Shore Alabama

Beach Pop Up Tent for Kids Baby Equipment Rentals Gulf Shores Alabama

The kids loved these! We played lots of “The Three Little Pigs” in these tents!

Beach Pop Up Tent for Kids Baby Equipment Rentals Gulf Shores Alabama

Hanging out in their little tent.

  • 1 beach rocking chair ($25/week) I wasn’t sure about this chair but it got hours and hours of use by each of us- reading, rocking babies and listening to the surf!

And they have so much more!

We could have also gotten things like:

  • full size cribs
  • baby swings
  • baby bath tub
  • baby monitors
  • sound machines
  • diapers
  • double strollers
  • Balcony railing net
  • baby gates
  • car seats

and more!

Not Just For Babies

The great thing about Beach Baby Equipment Rentals is that they offer much more than baby equipment. You can also get:

Grocery Service.  I wish we had done this. We all arrived in late on Sunday night and went for groceries Monday morning. By the time we got home and got breakfast made it was well past noon and we had some cranky babies on our hands.

And get this:  Groceries will be delivered and put away prior to arrival.

A grocery service would have been the perfect solution to this problem and would have been an even more relaxing way to have started our vacation.

Beach Chairs, Caddies and Umbrellas. Again.. I wish we had taken advantage of this. On the beach chairs and umbrellas run around $45/day. With this service they are $95/ week!

Gulf Shores Alabama- Beach Chairs, Umbrella and Caddy RentalsIf you know anyone who is going to be visiting the beaches in Alabama or Florida I highly recommend Beach Baby Equipment Rentals for all of your needs.

Like me, you won’t be disappointed.

Check out Beach Baby Equipment Rentals here and see for yourself how great it is.

Have you ever heard of a service like this?
I think this is genius!!

Behind The Scenes: Work At Home Moms- Bobbi McCormick

Behind the Scenes Work at Home Moms Series
Hi guys! For today’s Behind the Scenes look at a Work at Home Mom I’m bringing you another one of my all time favorite bloggers. Seriously, I’ve followed Bobbi’s blog for YEARS. She is inspiring, cheerful, dedicated and loves the Lord.
What’s not to love?!
She blogs about healthy living and running and now has a sweet little baby. Enjoy!
Bobbi Mccormick N Her Shoes
When did you become a “stay at home mom”?
September 2013
How many kids do you have and where do you live?
1, in Southern CA
What is your “at home work” besides being a mom?
Blogging, Personal Trainer, CEO of Refresh Attire and the Refresh Summit Kickboxing and TRX instructor

What does your business/work look like?
Lots of online office work:)
How many hours a week do you put into it and when do you find the time to work?
This is a hard one, I work about 2 hours in the morning on Blog and PT stuff, Teach Classes in the evening and than at bedtime I get lots of Emails answered and more blog work done.
How did your business/at home work get started?
Wanted to work for myself doing what I love most and that is helping people becoming the best versions of themselves, inside and out. Took a huge leap of FAITH and just did it!

What do you think is a realistic work schedule for a Work At Home Mom?
Lots of work during nap times and after the kiddos go to bed. I don’t like to work when RJ is awake, because that is the time I want to invest in her.
Where do you work?
Home Office.  Do you have an office or a special desk just for you? YES!

What are the perks of working at home?
Creating my own schedule and getting to stay home with RJ!

What advice do you have for other moms who are interested in working from home?
Sit down on Sunday nights and map out your work load and schedule it all through out the week with flexibility! Also if you can get a sitter once a week on Wednesdays for a couple of hours to pound out some work, it helps so much! Also make sure to carve out time for your marriage as well, because it is important to have a healthy balance of work and family. We try and disconnect from all electronics at 9:30pm every night and just enjoy time chatting or watching our TV show together!

Is there anything you miss about working outside of the home?
I guess if I miss anything it is getting dressed everyday, but I don’t really miss it :)
Thanks so much Bobbi! I loved getting to know more about you!
If you want to see more of the Behind the Scenes: Work at Home Moms Series click here!
Behind the Scenes Work at Home Moms Series

Whisper.. or… #I’mexhausted

Today at lunch I was trying to convince my 3 year old to accept a scoop of sour cream with her taco.

Apparently, she’s got her father’s tastes more and more.

I told her it was yummy and just to take it.

She said something “grown up” and then put her hand to her eye/cheek (her sign that she’s “whispering”) and whispered/mumbled something incoherent with the biggest, sparkliest and most mischievous smile ever.

I knew immediately she was going “naughty” so my ears perked up.

She tried again and I made out the faint, “It’s gucky!” followed by a warm rolling giggle.

Oh the simple pleasure of being 3 and being so tickled by one little word and the freedom in saying something that seems off limits.

In other incoherent news- I’m flat out, plum, deliriously exhausted. We’ve covered six states in the past four weeks with our two children. It’s been great and it’s been fun. But… well… I’m tired.

Suitcases ready for a long month of travel

But I’m glad to be back. Oh so very glad to be back.

And that’s that. ;)

{This post is a part of the fun “Five Minute Friday” writing party where we write for 5 minutes on a selected prompt. Want to join along? Click below. It’s fun.. I promise.}

The One Idea That Will Change How You Use a Cell Phone Forever

{This post may contain affiliate links. These links cost you no extra and help to maintain the cost of this website. Thanks!}

You’re sitting at breakfast with your children and before you know it, you catch yourself texting or checking out your iphone. Again…

You don’t want to be distracted. Really, you don’t. You know the research on cell phones impacting communication as well as dangers of cell phone use and driving. You’ve heard or even read about the book and movement Hands Free Mama and how to really be present with your children.

But here you are again- surfing some app or social media or responding to one text that just can’t be ignored.

Here’s one tool to help you stamp out your cell phone dependence.

The One Idea That Will Change How You Use a Cell Phone Forever

Child on phonephoto credit: derek olson via photopin cc

Consider this: How you’re modeling cell phone use is what your children will learn.

If you catch yourself checking the screen for new texts or updates while your child is talking to you. Or worse yet, you zone out looking at your phone to pass the time while you’re kids are literally saying, “Mommy!! Look at me!” then imagine this.

In a few years your kids are going to be teenagers, adults and even some day OUR caregivers. Imagine your children growing up with the same habits you are modeling. Picture them in one of those stages, and you, desperately wanting to connect with them.

I see my girls as teenagers, half listening to me while scrolling through their messages.

I imagine us at dinner and me feeling livid as they constantly “just check” their phone while we try to connect with them.

Family Textingphoto credit: Artotem via photopin cc

And do I have room to even argue when I’ve done the same thing through their young and formative years?

When I am an old woman needing care, it pains me to imagine my daughters visiting me or caring for me and doing the very things I do on a daily basis. When I am unplugged from most of the world and in a vulnerable position of need I don’t want them to be “half” there! I would want to cry out, “See me! Look at me! I won’t be here for long. This time is precious!”

I’m not saying that all cell phone use is evil or wrong… At the same time I AM saying that sometimes it’s okay just to TURN IT OFF and not be available. Put it high on a shelf and forget it for- GASP- an entire day. Refuse to use it at the table or when you are playing with your children.

Shift your mind to imagining your children having your exact same habits and see how that changes your own cell use.

Amazon Deals-n-Steals {Speaker, Dollhouse, Girls’ clothes and more}

Hi guys!

I hopped on Amazon this morning and saw these deals and just had to share them with you! Jacob and I love Amazon and shop there quite a lot. We spend time making our wish lists so we can shop smartly for anniversaries, Christmas and birthday. You can say we’re Amazon crazy.

So I became an affiliate because seriously, it only makes sense! I only share products I completely love and think you will too.

When you click on the links I share it costs you absolutely no extra charge but helps me in a tiny way to keep this site up and running.

We use Prime and get things shipped to us within 2 days! I’m currently waiting for this new book to arrive.

Now on to the deals I really wanted to share with you today!

Mini- Moby Doll Carrier- $14.45 (%24 off!)

 The Mini Moby Doll Carrier is made from the same OE 100 Certified Cotton as the Moby Baby Carrier. Designed for children to carry their favorite doll or stuffed toy, the Mini Moby allows children to practicing their babywearing skills along side Mom and Dad. Ages: 3 years +

KidKraft My Pretty Petal Dollhouse ($74)

 {This one is going fast! Check that it’s still available.}

$74 (Normally $94.99) Prime eligible.

It’s time to let our imaginations run wild and play house. Young girls will absolutely love playing with this gorgeous wooden dollhouse. 11 colorful accessory pieces are included and it makes a great gift for any occasion.

Learn Spanish: Rosetta Stone Spanish (Latin America) – Level 1 $99! (45% off!)

Follow this link for discounted other languages like French, Italian, Arabic, Japanese and more:  50% Off Rosetta Stone Level 1-5 Sets

 Method. Rosetta Stone utilizes an innovative method that allows learners to discover a language the same way they learned their first language-naturally, without translation or memorization. Their solution encourages learners to think in a new language, right from the start. That means you’ll begin using your new voice immediately, confidently.

Up to %50 Off Select Children’s Books

(Offer ends by Tuesday night so hurry!)

(We already got some and Claire loves Gazpacho ( $8.50 at 50% off) for Nacho and Kitty Cat, Kitty Cat!)

Girls’ Leggings as low as 80% off

These little girl ruched navy cropped leggings are normally $19.99 and are $6 now!

Hatley’s stretch leggings are the perfect basic for every girls wardrobe. Complete any outfit with this go to bottom. Wear them right into fall.

50% or More on Youngland’s Girl Clothing

This dress is 80% off ($9.41 only!)!

Frozen Jewelry
45% off this necklace.

Bowers & Wilkins Z2 Wireless Music System – White $199 (50% off)

This speaker is normally $400 and is 50% right now! Get it for $199.

With Z2, you get the best of all worlds: Amazing sound, the effortless convenience of wireless streaming, the ability to digitally dock the latest generation of iPhone, iPod touch, and iPod nano with the new Lightning connector, and a versatile design that fits anywhere.

Most of these deals are good for another week but some are expiring by the end of today! Always check your total before you check out in case prices change.

Happy shopping!

Behind The Scenes: Work at Home Moms- Roni Noone

Hi guys!
I’m really excited to share with you a little series I’ve been working on about Work at Home Moms.
Don’t get me wrong- being a mom is work, and being a stay at home mom is a full time job. But I was curious to see how other moms handle work while technically being “at home”.


I’ve loved it! I’ve learned a lot about other moms and what they do to make things work. Behind the Scenes Work at Home Moms SeriesToday I’m interviewing one of my all time favorite bloggers: Roni from Roni’s Weigh! I’ve followed (and loved) Roni for years.

If you want motivation and inspiration then Roni is your girl!

I was thrilled when she agreed to be interviewed. I loved hearing more about her and I think you will too. Enjoy!
Behind the Scenes: Work at Home Mom-RoniNoone
When did you become a “stay at home mom”?
So funny! I don’t consider myself a stay at home mom. Yes, I’m home. I’m a mom. I’m also a business owner, author, web site manager, blogger, event organizer and consultant. I used to work full time as an assistant professor but once I planed on having baby number two (4 years ago) I realized it would be impossible to work outside of the home and accomplish the things I wanted to accomplish.
How many kids do you have and where do you live?
I have two boys, 3, and 9 and we live just outside Baltimore Maryland.Behind the Scenes: Work at Home Mom- RoniNoone
What is your “at home work” besides being a mom?
In 2008 I created SkinnyMinnyMedia LLC to pursue my business interests. I now manage 3 blogs, a yearly conference and work with brands on social media campaigns. I’m also currently writing my first traditionally published book! All of my projects can be seen on RoniNoone.com
Behind the Scenes: Work at Home Mom- RoniNoone
What does your business/work look like? How many hours a week do you put into it and what do you find the time to work?
Honestly, I work whenever I can. It was a hard decision to finally put my youngest in full time care while I was home but there was no way I could juggle him and work at the same time any longer. So now I work a semi-typical day.  Having one child in elementary school and one in pre-school my day is abbreviated so I usually work 9:30 a.m. -3:30 p.m. and then after the kids go to bed, 9-11 p.m.
How did your business/home work get started?
Funny enough it wasn’t something I set out to do. In 2005 I started a blog and things kind of snowballed. In 2007 I launched a second and then I started to see a lot of potential. So I took the leap and establish my LLC while still working full time.
Behind the Scenes: Work at Home Mom- RoniNoone
What do you think is a realistic work schedule for a Work At Home Mom?
I think it really depends on your situation. There really is no right way and honestly, once you find your right way things will start to change. I used to do most of my work in the evenings once the kids went to bed but with my oldest getting older that’s not realistic any more so my days shifted to the mornings again. You really have to sit back and see what’s working and what isn’t and then adjust.
Where do you work? Do you have an office or a special desk just for you?
I turned my dining room into my office. On one hand it’s great because I can work and still be available in the house or to the kids. On the other hand, when I really have something to focus and I can’t have distractions, it gets tough. I usually have to put on headphones and tell everyone I’m off limits.
What are the perks of working at home?
NO RUSH HOUR! Can I scream that any louder? Everyday I’m am most grateful for the fact I don’t have to waste time in traffic. I’m here when my kids get home from school. I can take time to walk and pick my youngest from day care. The time savings is enormous. I used to have to sit in traffic for an hour each way before.
What advice do you have for other moms who are interested in working from home?
My best piece of advice is to weigh out the pros and cons and do what you can to create a work situation that works best for you. On the surface working at home seems like a no brainer but it also has challenges.  Ones I didn’t realize until I started to do it myself. Working in an office also has problems but some days I really do wish I could just go to work and leave the stresses of home behind. It works both ways.
What did I miss? Is there anything you would add?
Not that I can think of!
Thanks SO much Roni! I’ll see you guys back next week with our next Behind the Scenes: Work At Home Moms Interview! If you’re interested in looking into Roni’s books you can use my affiliate links below or go straight to Amazon to check them out.

Have a great week guys!

photo credit: markus spiske via photopin cc


Do you know the feeling of sitting in a memory?

That’s me right now. With the sound of the surf crashing, the ticking of the clock and little girls begging to play just “five more minutes”.

We’ve reached the end of a week of blessings.Oatmeal Smiles Instagram Gulf Shores

A week of vacation with a dear and near college friend.

We’ve shared two due dates between us and now have our four children to play and hug and giggle. We can sit and revel at the unfurling beauty of moments together.

Sand between our toes, and sand castles constantly smashed by baby hands.

How many years since we lived in dorms and felt like the world was our oyster?


And here these many years later God has let us meet again, old friends with little babies and patient husbands. In the last decade we only got to see one another when we both wore wedding dresses and entered a new season.

But for now…Oatmeal Smiles Instagram Gulf Shores

We can hug, listen to music and talk deep quickly. A memory we’ve wanted and longed for is here and now we’ve reached the end of it all too soon.

Is it really almost over? Will this chance ever come again?

It’s a wonderful thing to hope and long for something and then to sit in the speeding moments of its fulfillment knowing it will soon be over.

What beautiful memory have you recently made?

Do you have a friend who has spanned the decades and phases of life with you?

{This week I'm taking part in Five Minute Friday.. Care to join? Click below!}

An Open Letter to My Former Students

Open Letter To My Former Students- Oatmeal Smiles2Dear former student,

You are special.

Do you know that? Because it’s true.

I was not the perfect teacher.

I was nervous and stressed. Always over tired and with a to-do list you wouldn’t have believed…

I came down too hard, got too silly, didn’t push hard enough and everything in between.

But here’s a little secret you may never believe.

I really do love you guys.

I grew up in a small town and now live near it again. Visiting baby showers and weddings I am constantly running into my old teachers. They smile and hug me and we go our separate ways.

But there is something really special about those encounters.

They help to confirm me as a person and encourage me in a way that others do not.

And I am sad and I am sorry.

My first year of teaching was in the Czech Republic and those students now are dispersed throughout Europe, the U.S. & Canada, Asia and all over. Then I taught in Uganda- sweet students who walked for miles and went with no food, no shoes and no supplies but eagerly listened to every word. Then I taught in a cotton field in Texas.

I’m sad and I am sorry because I can’t be that for you. I’m a gaping hole in your childhood or education. I am someone you will likely never run into again.

I want to run into you at the grocery store and let you know how proud I am of you. I want to ask what you’re up to and let you know what joy you were to have in class.

You see, you were young and distracted by friends, other classes, other teachers. But for at least one year you were my focus and I remember you for it.

I remember the classes that only wanted to have fun, the ones who were struggling to obey.

I remember watching you overcome peer pressure, have your heart broken, and giggling uncontrollably at something silly that always managed to happen.

And as an English teacher, I remember YOU.

I remember your essays and journal entries (I really do).

I remember your stories.

I remember your struggles and pains, your joys and triumphs.

I remember you.

As a child and a former student I would have never believed this.

It took becoming a teacher myself to know this strange motherly love a teacher has for her students.

So when I “like” your update on social media, as you get married, have children and grow into the world, know that that “like” means so much more.

It is a hug and genuine love. It is a feeling that in some small way you were my child and I really want what’s best for you.

You are special.

And having you as a student was a blessing to me.

I laughed with you and cried with you.

You didn’t know it, but you were watching me grow up as much as I was watching you.

You watched me get engaged, get pregnant and become a woman.

So wherever you are I just wanted you to know.

You are special!

I am proud of you- and that’s one virtual grocery store hug you can remember on days when you need it.

Your Former Teacher
photo credit: dcJohn via photopin cc