Five on Friday | Kicking the Cold Bug

Fall is officially on the horizon – our house was hit by our first cold. Poor Blake was the first to get it and my husband was the next. I’m usually so much better about prepping our immune systems but I got lazy – and here we are! You better bet I’m pulling out all the stops for Aubrey and I so we can avoid it and get the other two healthy ASAP!

In light of the coming seasons, my Five on Friday is dedicated to ways we are staying on top of our wellness using essential oils. I’ve mentioned here and there that our family uses oils in our home, but this is a little more in depth! If you’ve been curious about oils or have your starter kit and want to expand to more this will be great! You can also read a little more about oils by going to the “Essential Oils” tab in my top menu! There is a general overview and information about joining me also! You can also follow along with my oily Instagram for more tips and tricks!

one | I spent an afternoon this week refilling all of our roller ball bottles with immunity boosting blends that we put on the bottoms of our feet each morning (& night now that we need some extra help). Our most used oil this time of year is Thieves and I can’t tell you enough about its benefits!

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two | Ningxia Red is boost of antioxidant power! Just what out bodies need right now! If I was a quick boost I drink it straight, but lately I’ve been adding a bit of sparkling water and either a drop of Lime Vitality or Grapefruit Vitality! Such a yummy afternoon pick me up! Aubrey’s been having it this week too…I just water hers down a bit so it isn’t as full flavor for her and she loves it and calls it her “vitamin juice”, haha.

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three | Sleep! Sleep is what we all desire around here and when we are kicking a bug or trying to stay healthy I try to get myself and give the girls as much as possible! We start our bedtime routine a bit earlier and I diffuse at their naps too (sometime I don’t always do). Out of the bath, we use the Seedlings Baby Lotion and it has the most amazing calming scent for the girls! (We also put the Immunity roller on the bottoms of their feet or along Aubrey’s spine for an extra boost) Peace & Calming blended with orange helps us wind down while we read books and I’ll talk about their bedtime, diffuser blend next!

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four | At bedtime while dad reads books with the girls, I fill their humidifiers (if they do have the sniffles) and their diffusers. At the moment we are loving oils from the KidScents line! Snifflease is perfect help support their little noses! I’ll add a couple of drops of that with a drop of lavender for a great sleepy time blend! Or for Aubrey who is staying healthy, I’m using Sleepyize with a drop of Cedarwood. LOVE!

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five | Clean clean clean! Even at 2.5 and 13 months, my girls put EVERYTHING in their mouths still! Blake is still exploring and Aubrey uses her mouth as a tool if she needs an extra hand. I use my Thieves Cleaner on just about everything! If they’ve been playing with a few specific things for the majority of the day I try to clean those that night, and I do an all over toy wipe down every few days when they’re sick or every few weeks normally! Also laundry. I feel like Blake’s sheets get all sorts of snot on them, so I’ve been washing them every other day and adding a couple of drops of Thieves oil into the load!

Hope you guys have a happy and healthy friYAY and a wonderful weekend!

BONUS: If you’ve been interested in essential oils or this just intrigued you and you’re ready to jump in, email me and mention this blog post. I’ll get you all joined up on our team with exclusive access to our wonderful support system and a FREE bottle of Thieves  Household Cleaner!

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xoxo

Whitney

Be sure to catch April, Christina, and Natasha!

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Life’s Essentials: Keeping a Routine

As a SAHM, its up to me to structure my day. As much as I love a list and filling my calender, I have to work really hard to not get in a rut. I find that I can let hours pass in the morning playing with the girls, attempting to do laundry or cleaning up the kitchen from the night before. By the time I’ve gotten us together enough to get out of the house, its time for lunch and naps! (for reals my life revolves around nap schedules right now!)

Now that our fall schedule is back in place, I’m trying to get myself into a routine to help our mornings run smoother and to help me feel successful at the end of the day! Whether you’re a CEO of a household or a CEO of a company – everyone wants to feel satisfied with their day, right?  Although the girls are just toddlers, we do have at least one out of the house class or activity everyday so that really helps motivate me to stick with some ground rules! These are some things that I know help our family be more calm and ready for the day and just help keep us all happy and organized!

Disclaimer: this is truly like one big pep talk to myself. By no means do I have it all figured out and this is just a way for me to organize my ideas for myself and feel accountable!

Preparation | “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” Benjamin Franklin hit the nail on the head with that one. It is so simple, but it is the hardest thing for me to do. Procrastination has been the name of my game for years! Why would I pack our drinks/snacks/lunches the night before when I can do it in the morning when I’m rushing around with two kids at my feet?! Because. I want to feel ready for the day, and not frazzled first thing in the morning.

One load a day | Laundry is a task that I really don’t mind doing, but it can definitely turn into a lofty chore if it let it! Our hamper, the girls’ hampers, sheets, towels…I know everyone has to wash their clothes but why does it feel like we have enough laundry to cover the entire neighborhood for the week?! I’ve found that spending an entire day in the laundry room isn’t fun for me or the kids. So putting in a load in the morning that I can switch over at some point in the day and be done with by nap time is an easy way to eliminate the dread of tackling Mt. Everest once or twice a week!

Set an alarm |  Sleep is a hot commodity around here.  With a 2.5 and a 1 year old in the house, I feel like I’ve been in a constant state of “mombie” for the past few years. We have finally gotten into a good bedtime routine with the girls so that we get an hour or two to ourselves before we go to bed, but I’m still waking up once or twice at night with the little sis.  Even so, having 30-60 minutes to myself before the crazies wake up is a great way to start the day! Hot coffee, I can get ready if I want, empty the dishwasher in peace, or just relax on my phone or computer to blog. Do I still snooze?  Yes. But ultimately I try to remember how good I feel once I’ve had some time to myself first thing.

Keep a clean sink | Do you know how long it takes to put one coffee cup, one plate, and a couple of utensils in the dishwasher? Like 45 seconds. Do you know how long it takes to put an entire day’s worth of dishes in the dishwasher plus clean up from dinner?! It feels like an hour! Throughout the day I find it really easy to just set things in the sink and move on to the next thing. But you know what the bummer is? My mom isn’t coming behind me to wash them all! I am the mom…what?! At the end of the day after dinner, its better for all of us and our bedtime routine if dinner clean up is just that and not from the entire day!

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It has a place | We have a few areas of the house that can easily be considered a drop zone. Did I grab the mail? Set it by the phone. Did I just come in from running errands? Drop everything on the island. Do I have clean laundry? Leave it on the laundry room counter. This may be my worst habit. The kitchen can tend to become the ‘catch all’ area and soon feels like a cluttered disaster that seems like I can’t keep clean. By having a place for everything, it eliminates the clutter. By taking just a few minutes to put things away in their proper place I don’t feel like I have to overhaul the entire house to get it clean. I was watching InstaStories and Kate from The Small Things Blog (k8_smallthings) mentioned that she keeps her house within 10 minutes of clean. So at any point – for example if some company were to say they’re coming – you could get your house picked up within 10 minutes. Such a good rule.

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(In a dream world my kitchen would look like this all the time. It was short lived!)

These are some things I strive for but still have to work on each day.  When I take the time to prepare for my day I feel like the days run smoother and I enjoy my time with the girls more. Do you have any go-to tips for feeling prepped and ready for your day? I’d love to know!

xoxo

Whitney

Head over to Confessions of Parenting to find all sorts of home and family posts that linked up for the first #WanderingWednesday!

Wandering Wednesday

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Potty Training Essentials

I’m not sure if there is any task more daunting than teaching a toddler how to use the toilet.  As yucky as it may seem, diapers are pretty darn convenient – expensive, but convenient! Car rides, lines at the grocery store, restaurants without bathrooms – all of these situations are stressful enough even without the added pressure of a possible accident! It never fails though. There comes a time when the thought of potty training creeps into your head. Someone at preschool, a great aunt, or that crunchy mama who is still breastfeeding and used cloth diapers who now has a 16-month-old using the potty, all have an opinion about why your child should be potty trained NOW.  The holiday weekend before Aubrey’s second birthday I thought we were ready. I thought I was gonna “keep her naked for three days and she would be potty trained by Monday!” HA! We tried this method for about 8 hours, and after the 10th time cleaning up pee off the floor I was over it.

Fast forward a few months and I was as ready as I would ever be to try again. That was the best decision. Tip #1: You just can’t force something on a toddler until they’re ready! Tip #2: I don’t think there is any “magic method”. We had the basic idea of having on just underwear for easy on/off and so she could feel herself if she was wet, and setting a timer to try going in intervals. We lucked out with our timing and it clicked after a couple of days. Do we still have accidents? Now and again. Does she battle sitting on the potty to poop? Yup. Or when shes in the middle of playing or watching her favorite show? You bet. But she’s getting better and I just think that is the way it goes with a strong willed two year old!

After spending hours sitting next to the potty and a few months of practice, I’ve rounded up some of the essentials for a pleasant potty experience!

(disclaimer: by no means is all of the “necessary”, it has just made life with a potty training toddler and little sister always in tow a bit more convenient. *contains affiliate links)

 

Potty Training Essentials
So much stuff, right? Well let me tell you – its worth it! We started off with just the mini potty at home. I loved that it wasn’t too much of an eye sore and she loved that it was “just her size!” It makes a little flush noise when you pull the handle and the lid comes off the back so you can store wipes or, like Aubrey, hide toys in. Soon after came the step stool and faucet extender because this mama was tired of lifting her up to wash her hands a million times a day! Once she got the hang of the potty, we changed out the seat on the closest bathroom to our living area. This may seem a bit dramatic, but let me tell you, its so nice to not have to deal with one of those little cushion seats and having to hang or store it somewhere. The kid seat just magnets to the lid and when Aubrey is going to use it, she just has to open the whole lid and then pull it down for the “perfect size seat!”
I’m pretty sure I avoided leaving the house for over a week once we started this! The thought of traveling or being caught somewhere without easy access to a restroom was scary! That’s where the OXO travel potty comes in! You guys – its genius! We’ve used this at the park, in the back of my car, and I’m not even ashamed to say, on the patio of a restaurant that didn’t have a bathroom! (I swear she was blocked by the walls and the stroller – you gotta do what you gotta do!) Even when we go in a public restroom, you can either lay the legs flat to use on top of the toilet, or just use it on its own. The bags that come with it are also amazing! I cannot even count how many times this thing has saved us over the past few months! Also, the hand purifier and spray are perfect for those potty breaks in the trunk or when I’ve got too much going on with a toddler and a baby and washing hands in a sink just isn’t going to happen! My faves are the Thieves line from Young Living! If you haven’t heard me rave about it, you can read up here and here!
Unfortunately for me, I do not own this car seat protector, but you better bet when searching for this stuff to link on Amazon I ordered it! Nothing is worse than hearing, “Mommy I pee-pee’d!” from the back seat! This would have saved so much time!
I hope this post was helpful! If you have a potty trained toddler, YAY YOU! If you’re thinking about starting this milestone, I hope for a smooth transition!
Do you have any potty training essentials that you couldn’t live without?! I’d love to hear about them!
xoxo
Whitney
| This blog post may contain affiliate links that I receive a small commission on.  Every product I review or recommend is something I would use or purchase myself.  I am grateful for your support and love for the brands and companies that support the Whitney Michaels blog.   |
* Whitney Michaels is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.

Miss Blake Annebelle

In the early days of this blog, I spent the majority of my time documenting my pregnancy with my first daughter, Aubrey.  Its like life was in hyper drive during the newborn stage and then we jumped into a home renovation and moved out of our house – all the while I fell off the blogging schedule. So much has happened in the last two and a half years including another baby! Our little Blake is ONE and I am just in disbelief. The days and nights may have sometimes felt like they’d never end but the weeks just flew by! Since so much was dedicated to Aubrey, I wanted to post a bit about Blake too!

We announced to our family on Christmas Eve 2015 that Aubrey would be a BIG SISTER (she was 10 months old)!

 

Being pregnant with a young baby was so much different than the first go around! With Aubrey, I worked at an office and spent most of my days sitting. This pregnancy required so much more energy that I didn’t have.  I was still getting up at night with Aubrey and rarely spent time just sitting.  It didn’t seem ideal at the time, but I was so grateful to be living at my mother in laws.  It was amazing to have an extra set of hands when dealing with that crazy little girl! I was grateful to have had a healthy pregnancy again, and a busy one! Aubrey turned ONE in February, we moved back into our newly renovated home in March, and spent the last weeks getting our house in order (as much as possible anyway – does this process ever end?!). I was due July 24, and three days later (just like her sissy) Blake was born on July 27, 2016 at 3:15PM. There has never been a more overwhelming yet joyful moment than when Aubrey (who was 17 months) came to meet her little sister the next morning!

 

In one year, our family has grown so much! Blake is the perfect addition to our lives and we couldn’t be more thankful for two healthy, smart, and beautiful girls!

Happy Birthday to our sweet, yet tough and determined little girl. We love you so so much!

| all of our photos were taken by Alex of Alexandra Kayy Photography |

I cannot wait to share all about her birthday celebrations!

xoxo

Whitney

How to Plan: Family Photo Outfits

I love to take family photos.  Something about documenting a certain stage in life with beautiful photos brings me joy! Although I can't always predict how it will go with two kids – (I leave it up to our amazing photographer to capture the magic that she does), I can make sure we look put together! I may spend a bit more time than some on deciding our outfits, but I've got a good system down and I love having something to shop for-whether its in a store or our closets!  Here's some tips on choosing outfits for your family's photo session:

one. Decide on a time frame/special occasion for your photos. Are you taking pictures for Christmas cards or a special birthday? Will you be taking them in the spring or the fall? Obviously if you're taking photos in the summer you don't want to be wearing sweaters and jeans and if its fall photos you're doing, you may want the overall look to be more cozy!

 

You can also add to this with accessories. Here in Southern California, there was really no need to a blanket scarf in the fall, but it looked super cute on our Christmas Cards! For Aubrey's first birthday photos, I added a party hat and a fun accessory to bring in her party theme just for a few photos.

two. Choose a location.  Your photographer may be able to help you with this – but once you have a time frame, location is a big factor in deciding our look.  Typically if I mention the beach or something rustic, our photographer Alex will have a few options up her sleeve for us.  I love light and bright colors on the beach. Keep in mind if you're going somewhere that has specific colors or decor, you don't want to clash or blend in. I've noticed browns and olive greens may not work in a more rustic location with lots of trees and long grass.

 

three. Once you know when and where your session is taking place, the coordinating begins! Choose your starting outfit. For me, it's typically mine (mama's gotta look good, haha). I know my girls look cute in anything and it's easy to find a shirt for my husband to go with anything. Sometimes my outfit is neutral, and sometimes it has a pattern or makes a statement. Once I've found something for me that goes with the overall feel I'm going for, I move on to the girls, and then my husband.

 

burgundy dress is LuLaRoe | floral and green ombre were both LC by Lauren Conrad at Kohls | white dress is Knox Rose at Target | sequin dress was from Rent the Runway

four. The kids. As cute as matching outfits are for two sisters, I like them to be different so they don't just look like one blob. Since my girls are young, we tend to hold them often so I like some contrast. I usually do one in a pattern and one in a solid. Or two solids with different textures. Just some difference to make it interesting! Depending on your preference, you can choose a color from the pallet of your starting outfit, or an opposite yet complimenting color. One way I like to keep a bold look more simple is to keep something consistent like denim pants.

 

The girls' white outfit details are in a recent post.

five. My husband. For men, and especially those who don't like to play dress up, simple is key. Family photos are not his idea of a great day, so I try to make his outfit as painless as possible! His go to look: pants and a button up. If I want a more dressed up look I find a long sleeve and he wears nicer shoes. If I want a more relaxed look, I go for a short sleeve and boots. I want to be sure we all look cohesive in this way.  If I have on a floor length dress, it only seems fitting that his shirt is a bit dressier and on the contrary, if the girls look more relaxed, I want us to also feel casual! His shirt is usually simple (unless our overall look needs a pattern or something) and compliments my outfit alone and the girls clothes. I always like to sneak in a photo of just us, so I want the two of us to look complimentary on our own.

 

The last tip is find a photographer whose style you love and would want to see in your home. I found Alex from Alexandra Kayy Photography while I was pregnant with Aubrey and she has been capturing the special moments in our lives ever since! I love knowing that our memories are in good hands! She's been at the hospital the day after my babies were born and documented our girls as they've grown. I cannot thank her enough for the gifts she has given us through photographs!

Check her out here: Facebook | Instagram | Website

I hope you enjoy coordinating your family's outfits for your next family photo session! Do you have any tried and true tips for good family photos? I'd love to hear!


Here's a quick version of these tips:

one. Time frame/Season/Occasion

two. Location

three. Inspiration Outfit

four. Compliment with texture, pattern, solid, colors

five. Cohesive as a whole – bring in elements for consistency (i.e. denim)

Love your photographer!


xoxo

Whitney

 

The Day of Family Photos

A few months ago, I was thinking about my youngest daughters first birthday approaching and how time was moving so fast. This would be a perfect reason to take some family photos! Documenting the milestone of “1” while also getting some Christmas card shots in sounds like a win/win. Right?

Then the day gets closer. It’s a week before, I’m scrambling to pick an outfit scheme. Thankfully the Gap (tank) and Old Navy (dress) come to my rescue to find outfits for the girls that coordinate with a dress I liked at target weeks ago. (unfortunately I cannot find my dress online anymore! But I love almost everything Knox Rose makes!) Then the husband. Always my challenge. He is such a trooper and I’m thankful he humors me and tags along for all of these “photographic moments” but he can be picky. And I tend to procrastinate! So naturally, the morning of after two trips to Kohl’s, he has a new shirt and new pair of pants.

 

Phew. We all have clothes. Now to plan the entire rest of our day around “the golden hour”. Don’t get me wrong, I live for the golden hour and our photographer always has perfect timing and gets us in the best light. But 6pm is just so hard with an almost 1 and 2 year old! At some point between lunch,  naps, go back in to put back down for naps, playing, snacks, packing for what seems to be a whole weekend but it’s just a 2 hour photo shoot…I get ready. This is something that rarely ever happens for this exact reason. Who has time for this?! Shaving, shampooing, drying, makeup, curling…all in the same day? Normally I’m lucky to get 10 minutes to just get clean.

We did it. I’m ready and dressed, packed up the girls’ outfits, car is loaded with snacks, possible distractions and entertainment and we are on our way.  Surely the baby will get in a power nap and be happy when we get there. Nope. Surely Aubrey will eat on the way so she is full and happy. Nope. And so the chaos begins. We get there and load up this awesome wagon with all of our junk to pull around with us and find the perfect spot on a bridge to stop for the first photo opportunity.  There goes Aubrey…running away straight for the pile of horse poop – thank goodness she missed it! We catch her and wrangle her and got a glimpse of the shenanigans she was going to pull for the entire session. An hour and a half of bouncing and tickling Blake to get her to smile. Chasing after Aubrey and offering bribe after bribe to get her to stay still for 5 seconds, maybe even a smile?!

Somehow we make it through, make it home, and get the kids to bed…late, but oh well! And somehow, Alex gets amazing shots and I fall in love with the sneak peeks and (im)patiently wait to see the rest!

website | facebook | instagram

Alexandra Kayy Photography has captured so many of the most important milestones in our lives and we couldn’t be more grateful! Stay tuned for more photos from our session and photography related posts!

Hope your Monday was short and the rest of your week is fabulous!

Whitney

These are the days…

These are the days.

The days you should “cherish every moment”. The days that “are going to fly by”. The days that “you’ll look back on one day and miss”.  We’ve all been told by our moms, our friends, and that old lady at the grocery store that says “you’ve got your hands full!”.

This may be true. But these are also the hard days. The days that never seem to end. The days that turn into nights (you know – the time most people in the world are sleeping but you’re still awake with a baby). The days that you clean up the damage left by one tornado, only to turn around and find another devastation in the next room. These are the days that you notice at 3 pm that you’re still in your pajamas. Or you’re reaching for the dry shampoo for the third day in a row. These days you have every intention of doing “a load a day so you can keep up” with the laundry, but just remembered it’s been sitting in the wash since yesterday morning.  These days, dinner ranges from home made enchiladas on a good day, to cheese quesadillas and beans the next because cooking is hard.

These are also the days that we need to give ourselves grace.  We need to know that as long as your kids are fed, clean, and loved – they think you’re perfect.  They don’t mind cheese quesadillas for the 3rd day in a row for lunch or the occasional baby wipes bath. They don’t care if you put on a bra today, or if you’re rocking the mom bun – again.  In fact, my daughters newest request is “a big bun just like you!” Their innocent eyes don’t see those thoughts in your head comparing yourself to that “perfect Instagram mom”, or the guilt you are feeling for giving them noddles covered in powdered cheese. They see their perfect mom.  Their perfect mom sings that special song she made up, does the hot dog dance with them in her pajamas at 3pm, and let’s them stand at the counter to stir in the powdered cheese and cook together!

We don’t have to be the perfect mom, the perfect wife, the perfect homemaker, the perfect employee…

We should be their perfect mom,  a version of his perfect wife that this season of life allows, and the homemaker that makes us feel good! We may be that woman in the grocery store who thinks back on these long days and realizes they did fly by. For now, we must find joy in the little successes and know that its okay if you want to forget about those few moments when you felt crazy instead of cherishing them.

Photos by Alexandra Kayy Photography

Here’s to giving ourselves grace, and knowing that those pics on Instagram are a highlight reel (as are the photos above). I’m currently drinking cold coffee at 11am in pajamas.

xoxo

Whitney