Do Your Kids Have These Sweet Summer Shoes?

Summer is here and we have been nothing short of active! I have our day trip bags always half way packed with water toys, clothes, snacks, and at least 2 pairs sweet summer shoes!
When kids are young, it is such a pain to keep up with their growing feet. Its frustrating to buy a great pair of shoes only for them to be too small in a matter of months. However, that’s how it goes especially with boys.
Tips for Buying Shoes
* Buy a 1/2 size up. Be sure to actually try the shoes on your kids’ feet and make sure that the 1/2 size is appropriate. Do some research on the brand (if you’re planning to buy a well known one) and know whether or not they run small, tight etc.
*Get 2 pairs- if you can swing it. This is something I learned after buying a few pairs that were good brands and a) had the first pair ruined in a matter of days and b) they were grown out of within the first month due to a spurt. 
*For the Summer- get a good pair of sandals and water shoes. 
 
Hunter basically lives barefoot or in water shoes in the summer. Since he’s still young we go through new shoes at least twice a year. This year we bought 2 pairs of Cat and Jack flip flops and some Fresko water shoes. While I personally like the look of the “sneaker water shoes” better, I chose the rubber sole shoes that come up and over the toes. That style is best for him since we frequent rivers with lots of rocks and sharp edges.
There are a ton of choices when it comes to kids shoes. However, there are quite a few brands that are better than others. 
Plae
We have quite a few different pairs of Plae shoes. These are great for toddlers. They’re water-friendly and quick dry. Plus, they’re lightweight with availability to tighten, and come in a vareity of colors.
Merrell
These  Merrell sandals are very versatile. They are made with high quality leather straps, rubber sole and toe, and can be used for hiking and playing in the water.
Crocs
We had a pair of these Crocs that Hunter loved- until his feet grew 1/2 a size up in less than a month. They’re lightweight, very breathable, give protection almost like a normal shoe, and they look like little boating shoes! The only downside I found was that the entire shoe is made of durable plastic (which doesn’t sound bad..) but there is no fabric inside the shoe. I would suggest looking into another shoe if your kids have sensitive feet and easily get blisters.

Teva
I am a big fan of the covered toe sandal for kids. I’m not sure how your kids are, but Hunter has trouble picking up his feet and trips over the tops of his shoes often. When he has a covered toe I worry less about his toes getting scraped up. These cute Teva toddler shoes that come with open toe and closed work well for hiking and water play. They also have and “older” version of these sandals that are just a cool. I’ll likely get a pair when Hunter’s feet grow into them.
OshKosh
Hunter and I are similar in the fact that we love color. While we both share in loving the color blue, we also love big, bold colors. I found these OshKosh bumptoe sport sandals and immediately knew we needed to have them. The extra selling point I liked about the sandals were the fact that they were machine washable! Rinsing shoes that walk everywhere is one thing- but a deep cleaning is always good.
Kamik
Here’s another great hiking/water shoe option. We live in the mountains in North Carolina (wish we were closer to the beach..) so not needing to switch shoes every time we hike into a river is so much easier.
Cior
Although this shoe is an off brand,  it has real potential.  This Cior watershoe has mesh on the top, a rubber sole and an easy slip on sneaker/ water shoe hybrid.
 

Healthy Organic Snacks For Kids (on the go!)

Putting together a nutritious meal is an everyday staple in our home. I try to go down the list to check off the necessary foods: proteins, carbs, fruits and veggies. I personally do not typically add healthy fats to my list since I find them in snack items. However, healthy snacks for kids is a requirement in itself.
 
When I was a kid we had health class in school that taught us the basic food groups, complex carbs etc. I even remember that old food pyramid, do you?
 
 
 
 
Old food pyramid picture
 
 
 
 
Check out the new pyramid health providers are now pushing:
 
 
 
 

Simple pyramid

 
 
 
Nowadays healthy food requirements have changed and there are now organic, gluten free, vegan, keto, and paleo diets. These were not around when I was growing up, and if they were, they were seldom discussed.
 
I was extremely skeptical of all these new diets popping up and honestly just thought someone got bored one day and decided to make up something new to get  popularity points. I stepped back and followed the old cliche of: “Don’t judge a book by it’s cover” since I know very little about these diets and their health benefits. I’ve vowed to keep my opinions to myself until I know more about them.
 
One area I am familiar with is going organic. As I said, I originally thought it was a big wig that got fancy, when in fact its about keep chemicals out of our bodies.
 
Unless you work in the food industry most people have no idea what is happening behind the scenes when food is being processed and grown. It finally came out that so many things that we ate had harsh chemicals, pesticides, and preservatives that are not meant for our bodies.
If you are interested in learning more about what you’re eating and choose to eat healthier, go organic. I’ve heard stories from the a few generations that are older than I about how they ‘didn’t eat organic and they’re fine’. That’s great, but would your knowingly give your children a harsh chemical to ingest? I doubt that.
 
 
Hunter is a hungry little boy. He’s growing more everyday.  I have to keep snacks on me at all times for when the ever present “I’m hungry” fills the air.
 
I chose to go organic. I try my absolute best to buy as much organic as possible, but sometimes I just do not have $50 to spend on those pretty peppers raised in a perfect paradise.
 
I started purchasing whole wheat and low sodium products, then spread to organic meats and veggies. Thankfully I only need to buy for Hunter and I as purchasing for an entire family (let’s say 4 people) tends to get expensive.
**I would like to state that not everything you see that says it’s USDA Organic is all the same quality. There are better brands that you should strive to purchase, but at least an organic purchase is better than a non-organic one. An example would be: I would rather buy organic Whole Foods brand frozen veggies first than Publix or Ingles  organic brand. And neither of those supermarkets are low in quality.
 
And since I decided to buy as much organic as possible, the health packaged snacks I leave home with are no different. It’s difficult to have hand picked amazing snacks for kids when they’re hungry on the go but a healthy snack is better than no snack. He’re’s a list of organic toddler snack foods that you should never leave your home without!
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

 

 

 

6 Ways To Naturally Reduce Anxiety and Stress

This post may contain affiliate links. 

According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA),  40 million adults (age 18 and older) suffer from an anxiety disorder. I bet most of those people are moms… 🙂

Seriously though, that is a large chunk of people that are ridiculously stressed from life. Actually, it’s 18.1% to be exact. 

As a professional of the healthcare system, I see too many patients that come in with addictions to many drugs, and anti-anxiety drugs are among them. While I sometimes agree for the need of a prescription,  it’s believed that most stress and anxiety can be managed naturally. I’m not talking about holistic ways- just simple practices that you likely already do, or should do more of.

 

Clean Your Home

I actually do this- frequently. I wouldn’t be surprised if my poor counter top was scraped up simply from my scrubbing. I pretty much have every known (and some crazy awesome unknown) cleaner to man. When you get down to the nitty- gritty stuff there is a wonderful feeling of relief. While you scrub your base boards it feels like you’re washing away your worries. If you need some “cleansing” inspiration, here’s a few cleaners I can’t live without and also keep the illness at bay in my home.

 

Organize Your Schedule

When you feel frantic it’s typically because you have too much on your plate and not enough time to do it. Try organizing your schedule. Use a planner to keep you on track so you have (at least) a general idea of what is happening each day. While it is a little tedious to use both an online organizer and a tangible planner, I’ve found that it has come in handy more often than being a nuisance.

 

Visit The Beach

We know that going to the beach helps reduce stress and give us our much needed vitamin D, but it also promotes good health too. An associate professor at NC State University found that “beaches and waterfront parks offered more resorative benefits to people than gyms, entertainment venues, and the built urban environment.”

 

 

 

 

Go For A Walk

According to Stanford research, going for a walk in a natural environment can help to significantly reduce your risk for depression among other health benefits. Skip the Doc and go for a walk! (I’ve turned into Dr. Seuss…)

 

 

Exercise

Yes, walking is considered exercises but if you’re walking for relaxation then I suggest you leave the fitness box unchecked. Raising your heart rate while doing upbeat exercises helps release endorphins and toxins while toning up your physique. As a busy working mom (who gets her cardio in walking 12 hours at work 3 times a week..) I try to complete at least 2-3 exercises a day. They’re simple and quick, and you can complete them in less than 10 minutes or you can break it up and do them throughout the day. Expelling that energy relieves built up tension- so get moving!

 

 

Invest in Essential Oils

When used with a diffuser, I really enjoy essential oils. However for my sniffer, if I open a bottle of oil I end up sneezing and getting headaches due to the intense scent. There are plenty of ways to use oils that do not require you to place the scent directly on you. Using a few drops (as directed) in lotions, soaps, vitamins, and supplements. With oils, there is a wide variety scents. Each promotes something different- from relaxation to energizing scents. Some are even said to cure headaches. Using these oils is an easy, hands-off way to promote good health in your home.

 

 

 

 

How I Doubled My Pinterest Views in 7 Days

This post contains affiliate links.

It was a struggle for a lengthy period. I really wasn’t sure I was doing anything right on Pinterest since all my efforts seemed to go nowhere. I looked at my site- and although I understood that it is still very new I was hoping to have seen more progress. 

I had my Pinterest profile set, all my boards were ready, I SEO-ed the poop out of my profile and boards, and was pinning like crazy… or so I thought.

Up until this point I had made an extremely conscience effort to manually pin everyday, and often, to boost my presence. It was basically working since my views would slowly but steadily increase each day. And by slowly I mean maybe by 100.

I was discouraged and frustrated. What picture was I missing? The fact is, I wasn’t pinning enough. I thought that by hopping on and pinning 2-3 different times a day and maybe doing 4 pins each time was enough. And, while it technically may be for some, I wasn’t getting the results I wanted.

I decided to take a look at my Tailwind account. I hadn’t realized how much I was slacking with it, and that was killing me! I had 5 scheduled posts. FIVE. Not for that hour, not for that evening. Five for the whole day. I almost fell over. What a waste!

After the initial frustration I sat down and brainstormed on how to make positive changes. Here are 2 steps I put into effect to boost my views.

 

1. Double Your Scheduled Tailwind Pins

 I sometimes still think about how I had no idea how to use Tailwind- and the fact that I only had five flippin’ pins scheduled. Insert slap to the face. The amount, quality, and timing of your pins makes a difference! So I literally doubled my scheduled pins. The five I had scheduled everyday got bumped to ten. And, I continued to pin manually. I was grateful for 

Sign up for Tailwind here

Here’s the difference- just doubling that amount- even adding only 5 additional pins and still manually pinning about 1-2 times a day to about 3-4 boards helps. Granted, most people do not have that time. ( I don’t have that time!) However, testing it for the set time proved to be valid. My starting views were around 14k. I ended up just below 31k views in about 7 days!

 

 

 

Pinterest Views 14k

 

 

2. Publish a “Series Post”

This idea is from Elna Cain over at Twinsmommy.com. I was researching ways to drive traffic and her lovely post came up. The gist is to write and publish a post every day for a set time. I chose to do a 7 day St. Patrick’s Day Series ( you can check out one of my posts here

I did research for a full 2 weeks before. I wrote my posts ahead of time and fixed up all my photos. It was hard work. I was tired. I hoped it would work- and it did. In one day I received close to 900 saves. For me, that was a ton of saves.  With a new, small blog, this was a huge deal. This was a big ticket for getting more traffic and boosting my Pinterest views and saves.

 

 

Pinterest Views 30k

 


What I Learned

 

  • Blogging is not easy- nor is it for anyone looking to get rich quick. But, any serious blogger could have told you that. I did learn that if you’re looking to have your blog stream income, gain followers, and build a rep, you have to put in the work. When you read about those bloggers that built SEO behind the lines, stayed up until 2 am, or got up early around 4- after going to bed at 2- they did it. They put that hard work in to reap their benefits. I know a lot of people who make a face when I say that I blog. I’ve stopped trying to explain why I do it. When I’m able to stop working my 9-5  (or my three 12-hour shifts)  then it will be time to explain. Do not give up. When you put in the smart work, it pays off.
  • I also learned where to place more effort in my blog. I learned about my actual work ethics and effort. I found out I knew literally nothing about SEO, and that being an affiliate is more than loving a product.  (You need to learn how to “sell ice to an eskimo” as my dad would say.
  • I found that I didn’t need to be an amazing writer- but I did need to find my voice- and one that worked well with my audience.
  • Do. Your. Research. Write your posts ahead of time- not the night before. A post is not just about what content your write. It’s about your chosen pictures, your pins, the products and how you promote them.
  • Know what your audience wants. Some of the posts I wrote did not perform as well as I thought. And similarly on the flip side posts that I was a little unsure about did great. Don’t be afraid to write about something new- just research the topic first.

 

 

Future Plans

 

I will plan to have 4 series throughout the year. While that may not seem like a lot that is a large goal for me. I’m a single mom without family in town, working full time and going back to school. Whew! I’m lucky I still have a brain at this point! 

I use an Erin Condren planner to keep everything together. (Join her referral program here)

Most planning is great to have online- but some times I don’t have access to a computer and I can’t always see the little text on my phone. Having a tangible planner takes the anxiety out of being prepared.

I’m also planning on adding more pins to my Tailwind scheduler. Since I’m starting small, I like to add in batches. Once I can handle scheduling 15 pins per day I can bump it up to more. Although that is likely nowhere near what other bloggers pin, the principle is the same. Do not overload yourself or bite off more than you can chew. It will hurt your growth!

If you have another way to boost your views, I’d LOVE to hear about it! Leave me a comment or contact me here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5 Things All Moms Want on Mother’s Day

At first I was thinking about posting all the items I love and use as a Mom. I had a big list of fun finds and cool gadgets that I was sure would hit the spot with many moms reading this post. Then, I took a step back and thought about the dinner I had last night with my little boy.

We had been very busy all day, and although I had pulled everything out and was ready to cook dinner- I really did not feel like it. We ended up eating dinner at a restaurant instead. Yes, I know. Lazy mom.. guilty!

When we sat down, Hunter acted as most 3 year old do: loud, giggling to whining then back to giggling, and grabbing everything under the sun. I was constantly talking to him about how we needed to use our inside voices, not to touch the butter knife and fork, and that we didn’t need to drink the whole applejuice box before dinner arrived. It was time for a distraction!

First, with the mini magnetic drawing board he had, we drew animals. He would ask me to draw an animal- I would do my absolute best since I’m no Picasso- and then we’d laugh about how well he thought the drawing was. This went on for 10 minutes, and when we both couldn’t come up with another animal that he knew and I could draw, we moved onto sounds.

We quizzed each other on the sounds of animals: “What animal sounds like this?”, Hunter would ask and I would say my answer. We laughed after every one. This was the highlight of my day and we hadn’t even eaten yet. 🙂

After we finished dinner and we waiting for the check, a little elderly couple that had been sitting behind us stood up to leave. The gentleman walked off to speak to his waitress whom they knew from their church (yes, I was eaves-dropping..) and his wife stopped for a moment before joining him.  She turned to me and said, “Mom, I’ve been listening to you through our entire dinner. I hear you teaching him [Hunter] manners, and how to act properly. You don’t see that anymore with young moms. You’re doing a wonderful job. You are a good mom.”

I looked up at her and tried to brush off the doe-eyed look my face was giving off and thanked her. When she left I felt a strange ache in my heart that didn’t hurt. It was validation

If you were to ask my what my greatest accomplishment was (as I’m sure most of us would say), it is of course being a mom. Being a good one is of the utmost important job I’ve ever had, and ever will have. I feel in my own heart and mind that I am a good one, which can be hard when life keeps chucking lemons at you and makes you wonder. However, when you have a complete stranger stop you and tell you so- even when they’ve only seen you or heard you for less than a day; less than an hour- that is validation that you are doing a good job.

That’s when I started thinking about Mother’s Day. It’s so cliché to say that it’s not about the gifts we get, but it’s the truth. Here are five things all moms want on Mother’s Day.

 

1. Verbal or Written Acknowledgement

This is aimed toward immediate family such as a spouse and children. When we hear from our closest loved ones that we are a “Good Mom” it our hearts melt. It makes us feel good to hear that our SO believes we are great moms to our children.  And, when our children say it to us- at any age- we want to burst out in tears of joy. Being acknowledged for being your mom, and a good one at that brightens our souls!

 

2. Outside Validation

Just like my sappy little story at the beginning of this post, we want to hear from outside sources that we’re doing a good job. It’s not necessary for our happiness or a key ingredient to being a great mom but it certainly helps! When an outside perspective is given from someone that is not close to us we feel validated in being a stellar mom. And, not to be rude, but if this praise comes from someone we respect and hold in high regard, the added validation makes us feel extra amazing!

 

3. Appreciation

We want to be appreciated! Moms have a tough role as a recent study has shown that what we do is the equivalent to working 2.5 full time jobs! It’s a running joke (but true!) that moms eat last, get the least amount of sleep, clean the most, etc. Heck, even our bodies deal with stress as we loose and gain weight when growing babies! We simply want to be appreciated for all that we do.  A genuine “thank you” goes a long way!

 

4 . Sharing Memories

I didn’t realize it until I became a mom and my son started (even at 3!) to share memories with me. He said to me in his broken toddler English about how I was his “favorite person in the whole wide world”. This is something I have said to him on many occasions and it made me smile instantly listening to him try to hard to repeat it. 

On that note, adult children who recall favorite memories with their mom bring back the feeling of being acknowledged as a good parent. While giving gifts is not what the day is about, small tokens with memories attached to them are the best kind of gifts.

 

5. Unconditional Love

This goes without saying, but showing unconditional love to us is without a doubt the most precious gift to give. Sharing memories, acknowledgement and appreciation are all ways to show moms how much you love them, but sometimes it’s the smaller everyday things that mean the most.