Organization – My More Practical Way

In my recent blog post, How to Keep a Relatively Tidy Home, I talked about everything having a “place” and that sometimes you have to create that place. There’s several ways you can do this. And if you happen to follow The Home Edit or just stroll through The Container Store, you’ll realize how incredibly expensive it can get to have a beautifully organized home.

Believe me, if I could do what The Home Edit does to my own house, I would, but I’d rather not spend a ridiculous amount of money on clear plastic containers. And to be honest, I think all of the color coding and excessive labeling is a little unnecessary.

So, I’m here to let you know how I organize and declutter in a more practical way.

First of all, let me tell you the main places to find some inexpensive organization tools…

  • Target – I had to say it. Yes, I’m a typical millennial mom who loves Target. They have some really great looking totes, baskets, etc., but they can be a bit more pricey than other places. My tip – try to wait for the sales. Sometimes they will run a 10% or more sale. And if you don’t already… get a Target Red Card – 5% off everything always.
  • Walmart – Good ol’ Wally World! Obviously, they have great prices. And the quality of their items isn’t bad. I’ve actually found some pretty cute cubes there. It’s also a good place to find kitchen containers and such.
  • Menards – This is definitely not the place to buy the decorative stuff, because the few nice looking things they have seem over-priced. But it’s a great place to get things like hooks and shelves.
  • Dollar Tree – I love getting my drawer dividers and cheap plastic baskets here! Everything is $1, so if it breaks, who cares!
  • T.J.Maxx/Homegoods – This is one of those where you don’t know what you’re going to get, but I always like to pop in and check what they have. It’s hit and miss, but I have found some good stuff for a good price.
  • Amazon – Of course, there’s always Amazon where you can find everything! Just be careful, because it’s not always the best deal.
  • The Container Store – It’s usually over-priced, but I have gotten some coupons that help, and sometimes they just have things you can’t find anywhere else.

So, those are the places you can shop to find your equipment to get your home more organized and give each item a “place.” Now, my home is far from perfect and I am no organization expert, but here are some ways that I have organized my own space. And please remember, that this all came with time, and I am constantly adding or redoing.

1 – Cubbies

I love me some cubby shelves. They are so versatile. The shelf in my picture came from Target. It’s one of their less expensive options, but they have lots to choose from. I bought this for our old living room several years ago. I used to keep a couple storage cubes with random stuff in them and the rest of it was photo albums and decor.

Now, it’s in Lily’s room with toys in the cubes. The cubes came from Walmart, they were on clearance after back-to-school season. They’re actually fuzzy, which is perfect for Lily since she loves all things fuzzy! Walmart has lots of other styles of storage cubes at a good price!

2 – Drawer Dividers

Image result for dollar tree small baskets

Nothing is worse than a drawer with a bunch of stuff floating around that you have to dig through. The very obvious place to use a drawer divider is your silverware drawer. Start by getting a silverware tray like this one…

madesmart Classic Large Silverware Tray - White | CLASSIC COLLECTION | 6-Compartments |  Soft-grip Lining and Non-slip Feet |BPA-Free

They are pretty inexpensive almost everywhere. This one from Amazon is only $8.00. Then, if you have more room on the sides of your drawer… get some of these longer baskets to keep extra utensils in.

Image result for Long Slotted Multi-Purpose Plastic Baskets dollar tree

I put extra knives, serving utensils, and baby silverware in these. If you get them from Dollar Tree, they come in a pack of 3 for $1. They’re not the best quality, but they work perfectly for just sitting in a drawer.

I also use these same baskets, plus the rectangular ones they sell in places like bathroom drawers, nursery drawers, and junk drawers. The long ones work great for tooth brushes and pens!

I have also found some better quality drawer organizers at T.J. Maxx and Walmart.

3 – Decorative Containers

Aseana Small Tapered Bin Natural 4.75"x8" Khaki - Threshold™ - image 1 of 1

Sometimes, there just isn’t enough room in your drawers and cabinets for all of your stuff. You can create places for your things in ways that fit in with your home decor. You might have to pay a bit more for pretty baskets, but you can usually find some good deals at places like Target, Walmart, and T.J.Maxx/Homegoods.

In my living room, I have some built-in shelves with a couple of tin buckets, a wooden box, a wicker basket, and some pottery pieces. Nobody would even know that I keep extension cords in one of the buckets, charging cords in another bucket, loose change in the pottery pieces, and various junk in the basket and box.

You can do this anywhere in your house and it doesn’t have to be just nice looking baskets. There’s a ton of ways to organize in a decorative way… you can always use some good ol’ Pinterest inspiration!

4 – Toy Storage

Speaking of decorative storage… you definitely do not have to get super cutesy kid-like toy boxes for places like your living room. I purchased this storage ottoman from Amazon when Lily’s toys started to venture further than her bedroom. It’s a great way to hide her toys!

We also have various nice looking totes/baskets for her toys that can be easily carried from room to room. It keeps her toys contained and makes it easier for cleanup. There’s lots of great ways to hide toys in a way that doesn’t scream, “We have kids!” when people come to visit.

5 – Hooks

Franklin Brass FBKEYT7-BSE-R Key Rail with 7 Hooks, 14" Rack, Black & Satin Nickel

Hooks are a super easy way to minimize clutter without breaking the budget. You can put hooks almost everywhere, and a single hook in a tight space can go a long way.

A key rail like this one by the door is a perfect place to keep keys so they can never get lost. We also have a rail of hooks in our garage for dog leashes and jackets. We have hooks on the backs of doors and in closets for hanging towels, bags, jackets, robes, etc. We even put a couple hooks in the laundry room for hanging clothes that can’t go in the dryer.

Then there’s hooks for various equipment. We have a garden tool holder like this one…

Berry Ave Broom Holder and Garden Tool Organizer Rake or Mop Handles Up to 1.25-Inches, Small, Black

It’s perfect for holding all of the outdoor tools in our garage. Then, we have hooks like these…

Everbilt 8-3/4 in Zinc-Plated Steel Wall Mount Utility Brackets (2-Pack) 20lbs

These are also great for the garage to hold hoses, strollers, and other yard equipment. Along with these, we use simple nails and screws to hold lighter items up off the ground. All of these, plus some shelves has kept our garage organized and clutter-free.

6 – Shelves

Plano® 34-1/4" W x 56-1/4" H x 14-1/4" D 4-Shelf Plastic Shelving Unit

Shelving is great for storage… everyone knows that. The obvious place for storage shelves like the ones above is a storage room or garage. These particular ones are great if you don’t want to spend too much, plus they simply snap together. Menards is always a good place for inexpensive storage solutions.

Along with a whole shelving unit, you can also get a simple shelf board like this…

Dakota™ 3/4" x 11-3/4" W x 4' L Ponderosa Prefinished Square Edge Shelf

Which come in all different sizes and colors at Menards. Then, pick some brackets like these…

John Sterling™ 8" Black Scroll Decorative Shelf Bracket

These shelves are great because they’re cheap, easy to install, customizable, and look pretty good! We’ve used them in the office, bedroom, and laundry room. Add a basket or something to store smaller items in. It’s such an easy way to get things up and decluttered.

7 – Plastic Drawers

Plastic drawers like these are great for all sorts of things and they can go anywhere. They don’t look the best, so I usually try to hide them within closets/cabinets, but it’s a fairly inexpensive way to organize things in a convenient way.

We use a smaller one to organize medicines and such. Then, I used a smaller one to keep all of my nursing/other baby equipment in when Lily was a newborn. I even have a really small one for some of my cosmetics.

We have some larger plastic drawers in our closet for seasonal clothing. We also have a couple medium sized ones for tools, etc. in our garage and storage room.

Some Other Organizing Tips…

  • Reuse the bags that sheets, blankets, etc. come in to store your bedding and keep everything fresh.
  • Then use bins/baskets (I use these from Target) to separate and organize items in your linen closet/cabinets.
  • Use wall mounted baskets like these from Target in smaller spaces like bathrooms, pantries, and laundry rooms to store small items that you don’t have room for.
  • Get an awesome spice rack like this one.. we love ours!
  • Fold clothing/other items smaller or roll them then put them in your drawers/shelves in a way that you can better see them all. (This is something I learned from Marie Kondo, although I don’t fold things exactly like her.)
  • Hangers can be used for more than just clothes… use them to hang up bags, scarves, belts, ties, etc. in your closets.
  • Use fishing tackle boxes like these to store smaller items. We use one for all the miscellaneous cords we have.

Once again, I’m definitely not the queen of organization and my house is nowhere near most of the super tidy homes you see on Pinterest and such. But, I like to keep everything relatively tidy and I hope this more practical approach can assist you in making your home slightly more organized without going crazy and buying every expensive container and color coding everything.

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Easy “Sushi” Bowls

Here’s another one of our favorite dishes in our house! It all started when I had the Spicy Tuna Bowl at Bonefish Grill. I’m not a huge fan of eating just fish by itself, but I love sushi, so I thought this was a great way to eat fish without having to actually make a sushi roll.

Bonefish Grill uses rare seared tuna, so when we first made this dish, we used ahi tuna steaks. We just seared them for about a minute on each side with soy sauce and sesame seeds.

But, the great thing about this dish, is you can use any fish you’d like. Lately, since I’m pregnant and can’t have tuna, we’ve been using salmon. I am not a fan of salmon usually, but I know that it’s really good for me, so this is a perfect way to get my omega-3’s!

Here’s how we make our salmon for the bowls…

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Put Salmon on a baking sheet.
  • Cover salmon with a layer of soy sauce, red pepper flakes, ginger, & sesame seeds.
  • Bake for about 15 minutes or until flakey.

This is just one way we like to prepare the salmon, but you can cook it however you like. In the past, we’ve even simply spread an asian sauce on it and baked it.

So, once you have your fish ready to eat, you can make your bowl.

There’s really no specific measurements and ingredients to these. You can make them however you want. However, this is what we use…

And that’s it! Just put as much of each ingredient in your bowl as you want and eat up. So delicious and not too bad for you either!

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12 Items to Help you Get through Pregnancy

As I pass the halfway mark of my second pregnancy, I’m grateful to have all of my experience from my first. And luckily, the things I had to purchase the first time are still good for this time around. So, I decided to write a blog with a list of the items that have helped me get through both pregnancies.

1 – “Yeah BABY!” Book

I talk about this book a lot. For real, though, if you’re pregnant or trying to get pregnant, this is such a great book. It’s written by fitness expert, Jillian Michaels… who has never been pregnant herself but she was beside her wife while she was pregnant and decided to write a book about it. She gathered all of the top experts in each subject that she writes about.

It’s three years old now, but I feel like the research all still seems very relevant. It discusses diet, exercise, and just general pregnancy information for each trimester. I read it front to back when I first got pregnant with Lily and now I use it for the workouts, which I love!

2 – Pregnancy Apps

Image result for babycenter app

With my first pregnancy, I had several pregnancy apps on my phone to keep track of baby’s development. It’s pretty fun to see how big baby is at each week. Not to mention, all of the apps give great information about what mama’s body is going through as well. Here are some of the apps that you can get…

3 – Maternity Clothes

This is an obvious item for pregnancy. But if I have to give some advice… get the basics and add accessories and such to change them up. Motherhood Maternity has a ton of options for pregnant women and if you use coupons and look for sales, the prices are reasonable.

They have these “BumpStart” sets where they sell two basic items together. I bought a long-sleeve shirt set and a leggings one. Then I bought a few pairs of jeans. After that, I added a couple more pieces for dressier occasions. I really only bought about 10 pieces total. After that, I had some larger tops that still fit throughout.

I’m also super lucky that my second pregnancy is only 2 months different from my first, so I have all of the right clothing for the seasons!

4 – Larger Bras

Full Coverage Maternity And Nursing Bra, Black

Unfortunately, things other than your belly grow during pregnancy. You might find yourself not fitting in your regular bras. The best recommendation I got during my first pregnancy was to buy nursing bras in your new size. Then you’re not buying new bras for pregnancy and then new bras for nursing.

Again, I went to Motherhood Maternity where they have a great selection of nursing bras. I also had the associate there measure me for my new size. They worked great for pregnancy and nursing. One more tip… underwires can get really uncomfortable during pregnancy, so try to stick to those without.

5 – Good Shoes

Jade Oil

If you know me, you know I used to sell shoes, and you know that I preach about wearing good quality shoes. When you’re pregnant, you gain weight… that’s just what happens. That extra weight can take a toll on your feet. They just aren’t used to it, and it can actually start to flatten your arch, especially if you’re on your feet a lot. Which is the reason why some women’s shoe size goes up after pregnancy.

I know that slip-ons and flip flops are really comfy, especially when your feet are swollen. But it’s so important to get some arch support for those puppies. You don’t necessarily have to wear running shoes all of the time, but you should invest in a good arch-supportive pair.

Yes, they can be a bit pricier than most shoes, but it’s so worth it. If anything, at least, get a pair of good arch support inserts for your current pair of shoes. I wore both… supportive shoes and shoes that weren’t as good with an insert.

There’s lots of great brands that have good support. And, of course, I have to say it… go see my friends at Scheels and they can help you find the right pair for you. But here are some of my favorite brands that will give you what you need…

  • Vionic – I have flip flops and slippers in the brand. Yes… I even wear slippers with arch support.
  • Birkenstock – These are not only good for your feet, but in style!
  • Dansko – These aren’t just for nurses anymore… they have a bunch of cute styles now.

The first three brands – basically every style within the brand has support. The other brands I mention, you’ll want to be cautious because each shoe doesn’t always have arch support.

6 – Socks with Compression

Women's Stance Uncommon Run Tab  Socks

Let me just continue my rant about footwear… throughout my whole first pregnancy I always wore socks with compression along with supportive shoes. I did not go up in shoe size even a little bit. All of my shoes still fit.

So… you’ll also want to make sure you have socks with compression. I’m not saying you need to get a knee-high compression sock (unless you want the extra help with swelling and you’re on your feet a lot). No, just go get some good socks that have a compression band around the arch. Here are some of my favorites..

So, again, if you don’t want to up in shoe size and if you want your feet to feel good during pregnancy… go invest in a good pair of supportive shoes and some socks with compression. Go to Scheels or your nearest shoe store where they know their stuff.

7 – Snoogle Pillow

Leachco Snoogle Original Maternity/Pregnancy Total Body Pillow, Ivory

In the second trimester of my first pregnancy, I broke down and bought one of these. It definitely helped on some restless nights, but I wouldn’t say that it was 100% necessary. I still haven’t had to get it out yet for my second pregnancy… but I’m only halfway through.

However, if you have any issues with your hips, back, knees… I definitely recommend this. It’s also very helpful in keeping you on your side if you’re anything like me and keep rolling to your back. (If you don’t already know… they recommend not sleeping on your back during pregnancy).

8 – Exercise Ball

GoFit Balance and Stability Ball - 55cm, 65cm, 75cm

If you’re doing workouts at home, you should already have one of these, because they are great for all sorts of exercises. But, if not, I highly recommend using one in your 3rd trimester. As your belly gets bigger and it seems like everything hurts, sitting on one of these, for some reason, is very relieving.

During the last month or so of my first pregnancy, I was constantly getting lightning crotch (see the link if you don’t know what it is) and sitting on a stability ball, like this one would help a bit. Not to mention, it’s good for your body. It helps strengthen and open up your lower back and hips. They say it’s great for getting ready for labor, so why not?

9 – Prenatal Yoga/Workout Videos

So, as you already know, I love the workouts in my Yeah Baby! book. However, if you’ve read my blog, Exercise (My In-the-Middle Approach), you know that I like to change up my workouts. I love doing yoga and barre videos.

There are a ton of great videos on YouTube, but I personally love Fit by Larie. She has several different workouts including prenatal and regular. I haven’t found one that I didn’t like! I highly recommend giving one of them a try.

10 – Belly Band

You can definitely hold off on getting one of these until the third trimester. But, let me tell you… a belly band like this Gabrialla one sure does help if you have to be on your feet for a while and your belly is ginormous. I actually didn’t use mine a ton, but when I did, I was grateful I had it.

I used mine for walking and sometimes for working out. There were also a couple occasions when we were doing some extra walking, like shopping or something, when I wore it as well.

Regardless, I was afraid that it might not be worth $38, but I’m glad I spent it for some extra support in times of need.

11 – Stainless Steal Tumbler

Rambler 30 oz Tumbler

Okay, so this isn’t like a do or die item, but it is a pregnancy life saver, especially in the summer. When you’re pregnant, you need to drink lots of water. And your body tells you this (for me, constantly), and you feel the need to sip water all day long.

My 30 oz Yeti Rambler Tumbler is my best friend. It’s really no lie that it keeps ice for days. I fill it up with ice water and take it with me everywhere and my water stays cold, even if it sits in a 100 degree car. Of course, a ton of brands make similar tumblers now, so you don’t have to get a Yeti. Just make sure it’s stainless steal with a double wall vacuum insulation.

12 – Sleep

Photo by Pixabay on

If you’re already pregnant, you’ve probably already heard someone say to “sleep while you can.” But, for real… pregnant women need extra sleep, and you will feel this especially in the first trimester. And, yes, you will get less sleep when that baby comes, so enjoy your rest while it lasts.

Take naps when you can. Sleep in when you can. And if you want to go to bed at 8:00 PM on Friday, don’t let anyone give you hard time!

So, there you have it! These are the 12 items that have helped me get through my first pregnancy and will continue to help me get through my second. I hope they are just as helpful for you!

And if you have been pregnant and don’t see an item that you thought was a necessity while pregnant, let me know!

If you liked this blog post, press like below! And if you want to share it with others, click the social media links below. And I would love to hear back from you… feel free to leave a comment! 

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How to Keep a Relatively Tidy Home

Now, I am definitely no Marie Kondo, and I’m not even close to the same level as The Home Edit. But, I do take inspiration from them, and I would consider myself to be a fairly tidy person. I believe everything has it’s place, I hate clutter, and I love organization.

Unfortunately, I can’t afford to buy plastic containers for every single ingredient, snack, hair product, and art supply. Believe me, if I could, I would. And if that’s the level of organization your looking for, this isn’t the blog post for you.

No, I consider my home to just be “relatively tidy.” (Remember… I’m the In-the-Middle Mom!) As in, there’s very little clutter, cupboards/drawers are fairly organized, and the house is usually pretty clean. So, if you need a little guidance on how to keep your home at my level of tidy… then please do read!

1 – Everything Needs a Place

This one probably seems pretty obvious, but I believe it is the single most important step to keeping your house tidy. If something doesn’t have a place… it becomes clutter. And you might think all of the items in your home do have a place. But, make sure you think about how specific that place is.

Saying a spatula goes in the kitchen doesn’t really work. Okay, so the spatula goes in a drawer. Which specific drawer? And is it with all of the other spatulas/utensils? Having a very specific place for each item in your home not only helps you find it every time, but keeps it from becoming clutter on the counters, floors, beds, etc.

**NOTE: Being organized and specific about where things go is important, but there’s also nothing wrong with a “junk drawer.” I have a few different junk spots throughout my house. It’s for those miscellaneous items that you need relatively often. Just make sure you keep the “junk” in the same “junk spot” each time you put them away.

2 – Creating More Specific Places for Items

Sometimes the spaces within your home aren’t really meant for storing your items well. This is when you do have to invest in some products to help you better organize and keep things uncluttered. I’ll write a more detailed blog about ways to organize without breaking the budget in the future.

Just for an idea… try to use totes, baskets, shelves, drawer dividers, hooks, cubes, and other containers around your home to create those places for your items. And there’s no need to spend hundreds at The Container Store. Most of my organization products come from Target, Wal-mart, and dollar stores.

3 – Have a Schedule

Nobody likes cleaning or doing house work, but you have to do it to maintain a tidy home. The best thing to do is create a schedule for everyday, every week, every month, every year. I’ll admit that this isn’t my strong point either. But I do try to stick to the same day-to-day chores and a weekly schedule.

I’ll work on another blog post with my particular cleaning schedule. However, everyones schedule is going to be different, so you have to cater it around your own life. As a stay-at-home-mom, I have the luxury of getting things done throughout the day. You may have to plan things for your mornings or nights or weekends. The key is to stick to it so you don’t get behind.

4 – Clean Up as You Go

I know, I know… this one is no fun. But, this is the key to keeping my house tidy. My goal is to leave a room the way I would want to reenter it. Nobody wants to walk into their bedroom and see an unmade bed and clothes on the floor. And I really hate seeing dirty dishes as I walk into the kitchen.

So, I try (and sometimes fail) to clean up immediately. It may not be perfect… I rarely actually make our bed with the sham pillows and all. Sometimes the dishwasher is full and I have to leave dishes in the sink (because I hate hand washing). And there’s times when I’m in a hurry and can’t get the laundry folded.

However, I do my best to clean up everything right after we eat. I flip up the covers right away in the morning. I put all of my makeup/hair products back in the cabinet when I’m done. And I set a good example by having Lily pick up her toys before her bath at night.

5 – Divide and Conquer

Since I’m home during the day, it’s easy for me to take care of most of the housework. But, there are a couple of “chores” I’ve assigned to my husband. And if you live in a household where everyone is busy, it’s definitely necessary to split responsibilities.

So, it may not be easy, and it may cause an argument, but it’s so important to discuss who does what when it comes to taking care of your home. Once you have a plan set in place, it should make it all much easier for the whole family. And don’t be afraid to make to-do lists or chore charts. Involve everyone that is capable of helping.

6 – Involve your Kids at a Young Age

Since the day Lily was born, she’s been by my side as I do housework. And as she’s gotten older, I’ve tried to involve her as much as possible. I don’t remember the last time I’ve folded laundry without her. And I actually wait until she can help me unload the dishwasher because she loves to do it so much!

And ever since she’s been old enough, I’ve had her help me pick up her toys. We have several baskets, boxes, and bins for toys. I’m never picky about where certain toys actually go, just as long as she puts them into a container. The other day (at 17 months old) she surprised me and actually put her blocks away without me telling her. <Insert “mind blown” emoji here.>

It does take some patience, because believe me, laundry will get unfolded and dishes will be taken out one spoon at a time and distractions will happen as toys are picked up. But, I love that I’m teaching her the importance of being tidy, and I hope that it will stick with her.

I personally believe that if you try these 6 tips, you’ll have a less cluttered, more tidy home. Not to mention, you’ll set the bar for your family. I grew up in a tidy home and now I have a tidy home because my mom taught me the importance of it. I’ve already noticed how my husband has been influenced by my habits, and I definitely see how my daughter is beginning to follow in my footsteps.

And if any of these tips feel like a reach for you, just keep trying and eventually, hopefully, they’ll become habits for you too. I remember the days when my laundry sat for a week without getting folded and my dishes sat in the sink for 3 days. Trust me, you can change your ways and it’ll become second nature to you.

If you liked this blog post, press like below! And if you want to share it with others, click the social media links below. And I would love to hear back from you… feel free to leave a comment! 

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Unnecessary (to me) Baby Products

I’ve written a couple blogs about products that are “must-haves” for newborns and babies up to 12 months. For newborns, I have the 10 Must-Have Baby Products (0-6 months) and then there’s Must-Have Baby Products (6-12 months). But today, I thought I’d give you a list of baby products that I feel are, in my opinion, unnecessary.

Of course, some parents might find these products totally necessary and really like them. This is simply my own opinion and it’s merely here to help when you are making a baby registry or deciding what to buy. Every baby is different and every parent is different.

1 – Wipe Warmer

Munchkin Warm Glow Wipe Warmer

I’m sorry, but I think these are kind of ridiculous. I mean, maybe there’s babies out there that scream bloody murder when you wipe their butt, but I have never had an issue wiping Lily’s with an all natural room temperature one.

Now, granted, it looks like these aren’t too pricey, so if you want to get it, by all means, go ahead. But, I just feel it’s a bit silly and a waste of money.

2 – Diaper Pale

Here’s where a lot of moms will probably argue with me. I hardly know a mom who doesn’t have a Diaper Genie or something like it. I, personally, think having a special trash can for diapers is quite over-the-top. I bought a simple step-on trash can from Target. I put a grocery sack in it, and I change it when it’s smelly.

30 ltr Step-On Trash Can Stainless Steel - Room Essentials™ - image 1 of 1

For a larger trash can like this, it’s $40. You can get a smaller one for $15. Grocery sacks are free. It seems more cost effective to me than the refills for diaper pails, and it’s one less thing to add to my list of things to buy. Plus, I can reuse the trash can wherever I want when we’re done with diapers!

Again, this is my opinion, and my method works for me. A diaper pail might be the right choice for you and your stinky little one.

3 – Every Single Baby Holder on the Planet

4moms mamaRoo 4 baby swing, high-tech baby rocker, Bluetooth enabled – soft, plush fabric with 5 unique motions

There’s baby swings, bouncers, rockers, bassinets, slings, sleepers, seats, activity centers, walkers, Bumbos, playards, carriers, high chairs……… this list is ridiculous, people! And no, you don’t need one of each. Honestly, if you can, get the very essentials for a newborn like a bassinet and swing, and then go from there. You’ll learn over time what is important to you and your baby.

In our house, we ended up needing just a swing/rocker and a high chair. She was in her swing most of the time, and then we put her in the high chair when we wanted her close in the kitchen/dining room. When she wasn’t in one of those, we were holding her or it was tummy time on the floor.

Now, as they grow, you might decide to add more. We have a Chicco Playard for traveling. And we got the Joovy Spoon when she was ready for it. We also have a carrier for going out and about.

But, eventually, they just start crawling and walking and they no longer need any of it. Just take your time in deciding what’s best so you’re not stuck with a bunch of expensive things you don’t use.

4 – Diaper Bum Brush

This one just makes me giggle. Okay, it’s only 10 bucks, so go for it if you think it’s necessary. But around here, we use Aquaphor, which works like a charm on diaper rashes and you simply wipe your finger on the diaper when you’re done.

I guess, if you need a super strong diaper rash medication that’s really sticky, this might come in handy. But I feel like it’s a silly extra step to take for no reason.

5 – Baby Food Maker

This is one that you, as a parent, might get some use out of. But, personally, I’m glad I didn’t buy this or put it on my registry. I always thought I would be the mom that made homemade baby food purees. And I was for like a week… then I discovered Baby-Led Weaning.

No purees, whatsoever. No blending, no freezing in cubes, no spoons, no bowls, no tired arm from spoon feeding. I’m telling you, at least look into Baby-Led Weaning, because it’s worth it. Oh, and read my blog about it, Baby-Led Weaning… it’s worth it!

6 – Owlet Baby Monitor

When I was pregnant with Lily, I was convinced that this was the greatest product ever. I thought for sure it was worth all $350. Complete peace of mind, right? But alas, we never did spend the money on one, and believe me, I still slept when she slept.

I do think that these are really neat. There’s a lot of super expensive baby products that would probably be great to have, but they really aren’t 100% necessary. This is one of those that if you have the luxury of purchasing one or receive it as a gift, you’ll probably love it. But, parents have gone without them for forever, and so did we. Just practice safe sleeping and use a simple sound or video baby monitor.

7 – Bath Kneeler

I am cracking up right now. Like, really? This thing is $30 on Amazon. I’m sorry but… use the rug or fold a dang towel and quit your whining. And apologies if you have one…

8 – Fancy Baby Utensils

GRABEASE First Self Feed Baby Utensils - Anti-Choke, BPA-Free Baby Spoon and Fork Toddler Utensils with Pouch Set - Toddler Silverware for Baby Led Weaning Ages 6 Months+, Orange

Okay, so this is probably different for every parent/kid, but I bought several different sets of learning utensils for Lily. These particular Grabease ones are $15 for the set. Come to find out… she does best with just a regular salad fork. So, my recommendation… start with an inexpensive set of utensils (obviously, you still need little spoons) and go from there. Perhaps your baby will really get the hang of it with the fancy ones, though!

Once again, these are all from my personal experience, and are my personal opinions. You might not agree with any of them and will buy all of these anyway. Like I said… every parent and baby are different and these products might be perfect for you and your little one.

Have you had any other bad experiences with baby products that I didn’t mention? Let me know in the comments! I’d love to get the word out to other parents.

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Easy Healthy(ish)Shrimp Pasta

My husband and I (mostly, my husband) concocted this recipe, and the whole family loves it! We usually don’t leave any leftovers.

We recently came across this Banza Chickpea Pasta. It’s not necessarily low carb, but it’s definitely better for you than regular pasta. It’s super high in protein and fiber and it does have a few less carbs, but still tastes delicious!

The pasta is super quick to prepare. Directions are very clear on the back of the box. Basically, just cook it like regular pasta but it doesn’t take as long.

Everything else is very simple, as well. Cook everything all in one large skillet and add your pasta at the end. The whole recipe only takes 30 minutes or less!


  • 1 package Banza chickpea noodles (we use Rotini, but any is fine)
  • 1 lb Shrimp – cooked, deveined, tail-off
  • 1/2 Onion – chopped
  • 4 cloves Garlic – finely chopped
  • 1 cup Grape/Cherry Tomatoes – halved
  • 1/2 cup Salted Butter
  • 2 tbs. Olive Oil
  • 1 tsp. Red Pepper flakes (use more or less for spice level)
  • 1/2 tsp. Hımılayan Pink Salt (or table salt if you don’t have)
  • 1/2 tsp. Basil – finely chopped
  • 1/2 tsp. Black Pepper
  • 1/2 cup White Wine (we use a cheap $3 Chardonnay, but any white wine would work)
  • Optional: Parmesan Cheese for topping


  1. Cook the Banza noodles as instructed on the box.
  2. Meanwhile, melt butter and olive oil in large skillet over medium heat.
  3. Add onion and tomatoes to melted butter and sauté until softened.
  4. Add garlic and stir for 1 minute.
  5. Increase heat to medium-high, add wine, stir until reduced.
  6. When sauce sticks to back of spoon, add red pepper, salt, basil, and pepper, stir.
  7. Add shrimp and turn to medium heat.
  8. Cook & stir until shrimp is nice and hot.
  9. Add cooked pasta to the skillet, stir, and serve.
  10. Top with parmesan cheese if you want!

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It’s a BOY!!

We are so incredibly excited that our little family of four will have even “teams!” We’d be lying if we said we weren’t hoping for a little man when we went in for our ultrasound.

When I was pregnant with Lily, we decided to skip the big gender reveal party. We wanted it to be more intimate. We waited until the 20 week appointment and had the ultrasound tech put the gender in an envelope for us.

Then we went to our favorite restaurant, The Drover, which happens to be a few blocks from the doctors office. We ordered our delicious steaks, then opened the envelope to find out that it was going to be a girl!

We had pink flowers delivered to our parents, then we just let word of mouth take over from there. No social media posts or anything. We kept it pretty low key… and then I went shopping!

This time, we decided to pay the extra $$ for an ultrasound at 17 weeks to find the gender. We made it even more simple. We brought Lily to the ultrasound and just let the tech tell us in the room. I mean, it was pretty obvious on the screen that it was a boy anyway.

We still went to The Drover for lunch (which happened to be the first day they were open since their fire several months ago). However, this time wasn’t as intimate… going out to eat with a 1.5 year old is never ever intimate. But, Lily got her french fries and we got our beef and it was a fun little celebration.

I made a poll on Facebook to see what friends and family thought we were having. (Majority was for a boy.) Then, we had Lily eat a blue lollipop and took pictures of her to send to the family and post on social media.

And then, I went shopping of course! I had to get the little dude his first outfit… urban camo, obviously!

Apologies for my lack of blog posts… the move has taken up a lot of my time. Stay tuned for a pasta recipe that I’m working on. And please shoot me some ideas for more future blogs!!

Must-Have Baby Products (6-12 months)

My previous blog, 10 Must-Have Baby Products (0-6 months), I went over my favorite products for newborns. If the list of things you need for a newborn seems never-ending… I’m sad to tell you that as they grow, the list just gets longer. They outgrow one thing, just so you can buy yet another thing. Some of it is a little more simple, while a few things remain complicated with way too many choices.

All I can say is… don’t be afraid to wait to buy the things that they won’t need when they’re newborns. There’s no reason to go buy a highchair when you’re still pregnant. You’ll just have to find a place to store it, and what if you change your mind?

Many of the products on this list, we actually started using a little earlier than 6 months, but I know that every baby is different and every parent is different. So, here are my favorite baby products for the “post-newborn” stage…

1 – Convertible High Chair

Graco Table2Table Premier Fold 7-in-1 Convertible High Chair, Landry, One Size

We actually decided to buy a high chair for Lily when she was about 3 months old. We have a higher dinner table, and when we were eating, we felt like Lily was so far away in her swing/rocker on the ground. We liked the idea of having her “at the dinner table” with us just like it’ll always be in the future.

I found the Graco Table2Table Premier Fold 7-in-1 Convertible High Chair. I love this high chair! We were able to use it right away with the whole tray removed and Lily buckled into the reclined position. She was even able to sit right next to me as I worked at the table. And now she’s 16 months, and I still love it.

The cover is machine washable. The eating tray is dishwasher safe (but doesn’t fit in our dishwasher so I hand wash it, which isn’t a big deal). There are 3 reclining positions. There are 5 height adjustments (we use the highest with our 3 foot table). It folds up, which I thought would be important, but we never fold it out of laziness. The whole seat comes off of the base and can buckle to a chair like a booster. And there’s a little “big kid” seat on the base if you want to use two seats at once (which might actually happen now that we’re expecting again).

I found this highchair was perfect when Lily started Baby-Led Weaning. If you want to learn more about our experience with Baby-Led Weaning, check out my blog, Baby-Led Weaning… it’s worth it!

2 – Joovy Spoon

I know that this is one of those controversial baby items, but I thought this walker was so convenient. When Lily was only 4-months-old, we wanted something she could sit up in. She had outgrown the Graco Duet Sway, but she wasn’t able to sit up on her own yet. This walker really did the trick to keep her upright and engaged with us. Feel free to judge me, but I felt it was completely safe.

At first, we put a blanket or two around her to make sure she didn’t wiggle around too much. We also have mostly carpet in our house, and this walker would not budge on the carpet, so it was more like a stationary bouncer saucer thing. I really love that this walker has just a big open tray. I thought the ones with all of the toys attached were super obnoxious.

We were able to give her any of her favorite toys, and as she got older, any of her favorite snacks! It’s pricier than other walkers, but you can totally tell it’s better quality just by looking at it. To be honest, I didn’t use this much once she started crawling since we don’t have much hard floor for her to move the walker around on. I’m hoping baby #2 will get more use of it in our new home.

3 – Jogging Stroller

BOB Rambler Jogging Stroller, Lagoon

When Lily was 8 months old, we got this BOB Rambler Jogging Stroller, and I cannot praise it enough! It is such a smooth ride, and great for any terrain. I’m sure it’s great for jogging as well, but every time I try to jog with it, my running form suddenly changes and my knees hit together (if anyone has any pointers for running while pushing a stroller, let me know).

Our neighborhood has some crazy sidewalks with lots of bumps and hills, so this thing has been amazing for walks. It also kills ur Chicco stroller at the zoo!

All of the Bob strollers have lots of accessories you can add as well. We added the snack tray and a handlebar organizer with cupholders for me. There are also car seat adapters in a few brands if you’d like to be able to click your carrier car seat into it.

4 – Convertible Car Seat

Unfortunately, they can’t stay in their carrier car seat forever. Which is a bummer, because you can no longer quietly take the whole carrier with you when they are fast asleep. But, alas, they do grow. Lily had to switch to the Chicco NextFit Zip Convertible Car Seat when she was about 6 months.

I really like this car seat. It is very easy to install. And it has all of the options for rear and forward facing. It’s super easy to get into the perfect position. And I feel like Lily is really comfortable in it. Also, the whole cover zips right off if you want to machine wash it!

5 – Deuter Child Carrier Backpack

Deuter Kid Comfort - Child Carrier Backpack, Midnight

Okay, so maybe this isn’t a must-have for you, but it has been so great for us as active parents! We love to put Lily in it for hikes, walks, the zoo, and we even got to take her shed hunting with us. And she seems to really enjoy it too! She can see everything that we see, she’s comfortable, and she’s more content than in the stroller.

Now, I’m not saying you need to go get this exact carrier, but any carrier in general is really nice to have on hand. We also have this LILLEbaby Six-Position Carrier, which was great when she was smaller, and I definitely plan on using it again for baby #2.

6 – Sippy Cups

Munchkin Click Lock Bite Proof Sippy Cup, Pink/Purple, 9 Ounce, 2 Count

This is an obvious one, but we actually had Lily start practicing with a sippy at about 4 months. I’d just put some water in it and let her play. It was mostly a teething toy for her. But, I’m glad I started so early, because she was off the bottle by 7 months (except for her last feeding before bed).

There are tons of different sippy cups to choose from. These Munchkin Click Lock ones are my favorite right now (at 16 months). But, go read my blog, Let’s Talk Sippy Cups, for my personal reviews on all of the cups that we’ve tried.

7 – Drip Catcher Bibs

These “trough” bibs, as we like to call them, are genius! They are especially great for Baby-Led Weaning, because let’s be real… it is ridiculously messy. But these bibs catch all of the crumbs and drips. And the best part… they are so easy to clean! I either wash them quick in the sink, or if they are super sticky, throw them in the dishwasher. They also roll up, so they are great for throwing in the diaper bag for eating out.

Again, if you’d like to read more about our Baby-Led Weaning journey, go see my blog post, Baby-Led Weaning… it’s worth it!

8 – VTech First Steps Baby Walker

First Steps Baby Walker (Yellow)

This obnoxious toy has been entertaining Lily since she was about 9 months old. She loves all of the noisy buttons and detachable pieces. It was great when she was learning to walk. The toy panel actually comes off of the walker, so if you have a baby who isn’t standing yet, they can still play. I still hear her messing with this thing in her playroom every now and then.

9 – Baby Delight Go with Me Chair

Baby Delight Go with Me Chair | Indoor/Outdoor Chair with Sun Canopy | Gray | Portable Chair converts to 3 Child Growth Stages: Sitting, Standing and Big Kid | 3 Months to 75 lbs | Weather Resistant

This outdoor folding chair is so nice for babies who aren’t mobile yet. You can buckle them right in and it’s super sturdy, so you don’t have to worry about them. It comes with the sun shade and the tray. It even has leg holes if you want to have them stand in it! It easily folds up and goes into a carrying bag.

I actually used this a lot in our basement while I was working out. She’d just sit patiently in it and play with toys. We also used it in the backyard while chilling on a nice evening, and I’ve taken it to some baseball games.

10 – Halo Sleepsack

Lily was one of those strange babies that didn’t like to be swaddled. We went to a sleep sack at a pretty young age. We tried a few different kinds, but settled on the Halo Sleepsack. We used a fleece one during the winter, and a cotton one for spring, summer, and fall. I love the weight and feel of the cotton ones. The zipper starts at the top, so it’s easy to unzip from the bottom for diaper changes.

Halo has many other products, including the swaddles for the little ones. They also have muslin and plush along with the fleece and cotton. Lily actually still wears a sleep sack every night (she’s now in an XL). She seems to just sleep better with one, so why not?

There you have it, my favorite products for 6-12 months (or earlier, or later)! Again, if you’d like to see my list for 0-6 month products, see my blog, 10 Must-Have Baby Products (0-6 months).

If you liked this blog post, press like below! And if you want to share it with others, click the social media links below. And I would love to hear back from you… feel free to leave a comment! 

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10 Must-Have Baby Products (0-6 months)

There are so many products that everyone says you have to have when you have a baby. Unfortunately, a lot of them are right. Baby’s really are expensive. Luckily, a lot of the products you can use for more than one baby. As I’m packing for our move and thinking about baby #2, I’m realizing how little I’m going to need for him/her.

So, I thought I’d write up a little list of my favorite baby products. I know there are a lot of blogs like this out there, but I’m the In-the-Middle Mom. I’m not a 100% organic, chemical-free, hippie mom… but I do try to keep as many bad substances away from my kids/household. I’m not a “there’s no such thing as holding your baby too much” mom… because for crying out loud, I need to set the kid down once in a while. And a lot of our parenting style has really just come to us as we went, and we learned what worked for Lily and us.

Here are my 10 must-have baby products for those first 6 months…

1 – Kiinde Breast Milk Storage System

I could go on and on about this milk storage system! If you plan on pumping and storing your milk, Kiinde is such a great product. The storage bags attach straight to your pump (the kit comes with adapters for basically every brand of pump). You simply pump, twist the cap on, and store! Then when it’s time to feed, you thaw/warm it in the bottle warmer, pop it into the bottle frame and snap on the nipple. The kit comes with a slow, medium, and fast nipple (and Lily took to them really fast). There’s no transferring of milk from pump bottle to bag to bottle!

Some tips: If you fill the bags all the way (which is what I did to save on bags), they’re too big to fit into the organizer that the kit comes with. I actually just stored all of my bags in recycled boxes/paper bags. And if you’re like me, you won’t fill a whole bag in one pumping… so, I just condensed the two bags into one (so yes, a little bit of transferring). And if I still didn’t quite fill the 6 oz., I’d put the bag in the fridge and filled it completely the next pumping.

Also, if you go to the Kiinde website, you can get a free starter kit (just pay shipping/handling).

2 – Babyganics Products

Babyganics Essentials Gift Set

We love the Babyganics line. It’s one of the more affordable organic, plant-based baby brands. We use the Babyganics shampoo/body wash, lotion, sunscreen (the spray is the best for application), and hand sanitizer. We also used their laundry detergent when Lily was a newborn.

Some tips: As safe as their insect repellent is, it’s very greasy. I keep the travel size in her diaper bag, but I definitely prefer using the Epoch Baobab Body Butter from Nuskin. Go to my girl, Bri Watts, at her shop B. Marie’s Flowers to grab this great bug repellent!

3 – Boppy Pillow

Boppy Original Nursing Pillow and Positioner, Blue Pink Posy, Cotton Blend Fabric with allover fashion

This was an absolute lifesaver when Lily was a newborn. Not only is it awesome for nursing, but it’s great for just propping up the baby. I would just hold her in my lap with her head on the Boppy. And as she got a bit bigger, we would set her in the pillow so she was sitting up more. Then, we used it for tummy time. And later, when she was sitting but not quite able to balance yet, we’d put the Boppy around her. It’s so great for the first 6 months!

Some tips: Definitely get a cover for your Boppy! It’ll constantly be getting milk and spit-up on it. And for one step further… get two covers so you have an extra when your washing the other.

4 – Travel System

Chicco Bravo Trio Travel System, Orion

A carrier car seat that simply clicks into the base in the car and also clicks into a stroller is a major must-have. There are a ton of different routes you can take with this. Lots of brands and most strollers have adapters for different carseats. However, we really loved our Chicco Bravo Trio Travel System. For a fairly good price, you get everything you need!

Some tips: Getting an extra base if you change cars often is always a good idea. Also, if you’re like me and go for walks a lot (or go to the zoo every week), you might like a jogging stroller. We got a jogging stroller when Lily was a bit older and I absolutely love it. I’ll talk more about it in my 6-12 months must-haves blog.

5 – Swing w/ Rocker

The whole swing/rocker/bouncer thing can be so overwhelming as a new mom. There are so many different options from inexpensive bouncers to ridiculously expensive swings. At the last minute, we ended up grabbing this Graco Duet Sway Swing with Portable Rocker and it ended up being a fantastic purchase. It’s fairly small, so it didn’t take up too much space in our living room. It’s a simple swing that can swing either front-back or side-side. The seat can easily be removed and just be a portable rocker. We used it both ways until Lily was about 6 months.

Some tips: It’s corded, which is nice to not deal with batteries, but we had to use an extension cord so the swing could be more in the middle of the room. It’s also not the biggest seat if you have a really big baby.

6 – Diapers/Wipes (obviously)

Huggies Natural Care Baby Wipes, Sensitive, Unscented, 3 Refill Packs, 648 Count Total

I thought I’d just share with you my go-to’s for diapers and wipes. Thanks to Costco, we are a 100% Huggies family. We buy the large boxes of Huggies diapers and Huggies Natural Care Wipes. We’ve tried other brands of diapers, and really liked the quality of the Huggies better. We gave the Kirkland brand wipes a chance once when they were out of the Huggies and we will definitely not be purchasing those again. I also love that the Natural Care wipes have natural ingredients that are more gentle.

Some tips: Costco does not sell the newborn size diapers, so it’s actually a great time to experiment with different brands. Also… have a diaper party before baby comes! We didn’t and we regret it… our friends who did it all received enough diapers for like a year!

7 – Sound Machine

MyBaby, SoundSpa Lullaby - Sounds & Projection, Plays 6 Sounds & Lullabies, Image Projector Featuring Diverse Scenes, Auto-Off Timer Perfect for Naptime, Powered by an AC Adapter

I thought these seemed so silly before I had Lily. But, she is now 16 months and we still use it every night. It’s really more about drowning out background noises than the actual sound. We have this very simple and inexpensive MyBaby SoundSpa Lullaby, and it does the trick just fine. We put it on the ocean sound fairly close to her crib and it runs all night. I actually have no idea if it makes a difference because we’ve rarely not used it.

Some tips: This particular machine is only $25, and we don’t use any other functions except the ocean sound. I don’t recommend spending any more than this. But I do recommend getting a second portable battery one. This would have come in handy when traveling and we never did get one. (Note for baby #2).

8 – Aquaphor

This stuff… I tell ya what! A fellow mom gave us a tube of Aquaphor as shower gift, and I honestly have never tried anything else because it’s worked so well for us. It heals Lily’s diaper rashes so quickly. It’s clear, so no mess (and comes right off your own hands on a diaper so no need for that silly applicator). She also got chapped skin in all of her fat rolls when she was tiny last summer, and Aquaphor always did the trick. And my favorite part… no smell! My husband and I have used it on our own cuts and burns too.

9 – Amazon Echo Dot & Smart Light Bulb

Okay, this might seem a bit overboard, but I swear it’s been so nice for us! We have an Echo Dot in the nursery that controls the Kasa Smart WiFi Light Bulb. Believe me, you’ll thank me when you’re running into the nursery, holding out a baby that has poo running down her leg and you don’t have to try and turn on the light switch with your elbow. Just a simple “Alexa turn the light on” is all you need. Not to mention when it’s sleepy time, “Alexa turn the light to dim” is quite nice.

I also ask Alexa almost every day what the weather is as I get Lily dressed. We use the Dot to listen to music. And here’s how ridiculously indecisive I am… I hate deciding between all of her outfits every day because they’re all so cute, so I say “Alexa pick a number 1-10,” and I count from one end of her closet to pick what she’s wearing.

10 – Playpen

Chicco Lullaby Baby Playard, Orion

A playpen is definitely necessary for traveling. We have a the Chicco Lullaby Baby Playard and we love it. Super easy to set up and take down. It has the napper and changing table which are great for newborns. We actually had this in our living room when Lily was first born and she was in the napper a lot. The storage on the side is really handy. It also has a “bassinet” setting where the mattress sits up higher for newborns. Then you can remove the frame and put the mattress at the bottom when they’re older.

Tip: Invest in the Playard sheets, because baby’s stain stuff. Enough said.

I hope this helps all of you parents-to-be as you create your registry! Stay tuned for more must-have blogs in the future. Next up will be my Must-Haves for 6-12 months and later, a blog about the baby products that are not quite as necessary.

If you liked this blog post, press like below! And if you want to share it with others, click the social media links below. And I would love to hear back from you… feel free to leave a comment! 

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6 Moves in 8 Years

Today, I’m writing a more personal blog. As we prepare for yet another move, I can’t help but reminisce about our other moves in the past. It’s crazy the path your life takes you on. And if you end up actually reading this, you’ll see how quickly, yet slowly, life’s changes can happen. 8 years can seem like a long time, but it goes so fast.

So, if you are anything like me, and you dream about the perfect forever house as you watch HGTV and browse Pinterest… it probably isn’t going to happen tomorrow. But 8 years? A lot can happen… including 6 moves, 6 job changes, a couple pets, a wedding, a baby (almost two)… and before you know it, your dreams are coming true!

How it all began…

Image may contain: 2 people, closeup
This is Us – 2012

I met my husband, Alex, almost eight years ago. I was only 20 years old, living in a dorm, attending my second year of college, and working part-time. We both worked part-time at Scheels (a Midwest sporting goods store that if you haven’t been to, you probably should). We met, we went on dates, we fell in love… you know how it goes.


After about 6 months, when Alex had his own apartment and I was sharing one with some friends, I decided to move in with him. This first apartment of his is what I like to call “jankety as hell”. It was a $500/month basement apartment with a tiny kitchen, a super sketchy laundry room down the hall, and no security, so homeless people would knock on our door.

No photo description available.
The first apartment on moving day.

So, let’s just say we were eager to move when the lease was up. After a year of being together, we started shopping for the first apartment we could call ours. Alex now had a full-time big boy job and I was working two part-time jobs, so our options weren’t as limited. We made move #2 to The Biltmore apartments.


Now don’t get me wrong, these apartments were very nice. Big brick buildings with all white interiors. The kitchen, dining area, and living room all opened up to one another. Walk-in closets, a good sized bathroom, and in-apartment laundry. Lots of amenities like a huge gym and multiple pools. It’s everything you could ever want.

But, the complex is huge. You are really just a number there, and there are so many people around. Alex and I both came from small towns, we aren’t the biggest fan of being surrounded by others. Not to mention, after a year of living there, they wanted to raise our already pricey rent by over $100. Ummm.. thank you, next.


Move #2 was to the apartment of my dreams! I’m telling you, if we still had to rent, I would totally go back to those apartments. Standing Bear Lake apartments were so perfect for us. They are on the outskirts of town, right next to a lake with walking trails, but still close to everything we needed. It’s a smaller complex, so the leasing office knew us personally, and it seemed like mostly retired people around us.

The interior was so nice but still homey feeling. Open concept, a laundry room that wasn’t right next to the bedroom, a separate sink/vanity in the bedroom with a door to the bathroom (I had more bathroom storage than I do now). I loved that apartment so much, but unfortunately, we didn’t even get to stay for a full year.


Move #3 was when Alex’s work offered him a promotion… in Minneapolis, Minnesota. This move was a little bigger than the others. We made a couple trips to visit beforehand, met with a realtor, and tried to find a place to live with very little knowledge of the area. It was so overwhelming, because if you know Minneapolis, you know there are a LOT of options. So. Many. Suburbs!

We settled in Shakopee, Minnesota. One of the more outer rim suburbs. We got more for our money out there. Our realtor found us a 3 bedroom, 3 bathroom townhome in our price range, and we couldn’t say no. Alex had his own office, guests could stay in the guest bedroom, and no more apartment living.

No photo description available.
Our stuff took up about 1/8th of this truck.

It was a great place to call home for the almost two years that we lived in Minnesota. Home was calling to us and we were ready to start a family closer to our loved-ones. So, we prepared for move #4.


When we were ready to move back to the Omaha area, we decided it was probably time to buy instead of rent. If you know us, you know how important deer hunting is to us. And if you know anything about hunting laws, you know that hunting in Iowa is not easy if you live out of state. Alex and his dad have many properties in Iowa that they are able to hunt on, and like I said, it’s important to us. So, we wanted to find a house on the east side of the Missouri.

So, with our jobs being in Omaha, we started our house search in Council Bluffs, IA. We got ahold of a family friend realtor, Gary Fischer of Heartland Properties, and I made an account on Zillow. It was time to get serious – no more year-long leases… this would be more permanent.

We wanted at least 3 bedrooms, so if we were to have a baby, we would still have a guest bedroom. We wanted a fairly good-sized yard so our dog could finally have the space she was meant to have. We wanted to stay on the east side of town. And we preferred move-in ready.

Did you know buying is a lot more complicated than renting? I wasn’t fully aware of the process when it all got started. We fell in love with an amazing house in an awesome subdivision… 4 bedrooms, 3.5 bedrooms, 3 car garage. It could be our forever home! The kicker… the price was right, but the taxes were outrageous, so the monthly was too high for us. We gave it a shot anyway… we tried to bring them down to our comfort level but they flat out refused – not even a counter offer.

So, back to the home search. But remember… we were still living in Minnesota, so my searching consisted of saving homes on Zillow and sending them to our realtor. Then, we had to wait until we made the trip to go see several homes all in one day. When it was getting down to crunch time, we looked at like 10 homes in a day, and our brains were mush. None of the houses were quite right and we were trying to decide if we just wanted to settle on one that wasn’t awful, or keep waiting and make yet another trip back for more showings.

That’s when I took one more look at my Zillow app. A 3 bedroom, 3 bathroom home in our price range had just been listed. The pictures looked promising and the neighborhood looked great. We made the call to our realtor and we were able to get in to see it just an hour later.

I doubt the owners were expecting to get a full listing price offer after just hours of being on the market. But, we fell in love immediately and we needed to get back to Shakopee in the morning… so why not? A month later, we moved into our first HOME.

And it has been a great first home for 3 years now! We’ve made several changes over the years to make it more “us”. This is our daughter’s first home and I will always look back at it fondly.

However… HGTV and Pinterest still had me dreaming. We’ve complained about the space, the proximity to the neighbors, and the amount of storage space. With only 3 small bedrooms and a 2nd child on the way, we’d be eliminating the guest bedroom. Alex is now working from home and needs more of an office than just the corner of the basement. And we are ready to live in a smaller town.


The search for our “forever home” has been going for the past year now. My Zillow app has been set to notify me when a new house in our price range comes on the market. We’ve looked at several homes and attended a few open houses. We’ve even been in contact with our loan officer, Nicki Montelongo (who is freakin’ awesome, by the way), to make sure all of our finances are in order.

But, we were never in a hurry. We wanted to make sure our next house was perfect. No more moving. However, when we found out we had baby #2 on the way, we did start to get a bit more serious. That’s when we decided to check out a gorgeous home in Treynor, IA.

It’s funny to think back to when we first moved back to Council Bluffs… we often drove through Treynor to get to Alex’s parents’ house. For some reason, I always pictured us living there. It’s a wonderful little town, just 10 minutes from the city, and it has a great school. So, when we saw this perfect house in this perfect town… it was a no-brainer.

Image result for treynor, ia

This moving process has been a lot more complicated than years past. Selling your current home so you can buy your dream home is ridiculously stressful. Even after a few complications, the deals are all moving along. We only have two more weeks until closing day!

So, I’m here to tell you that life has a funny way of getting you where you’re going. Things don’t happen overnight, yet changes can happen so quickly. I didn’t plan to meet the man of dreams at 20. I didn’t plan to move in with him after just 6 months or say yes to marrying him after a year and half. My career goal was not “stay-at-home mom” as I was earning my bachelors degree. I didn’t plan to move to Shakopee, Minnesota. Definitely, didn’t plan to settle in the state of Iowa (Go Big Red for life). But I must say, if I had a glimpse of what my life would become in 8 years at the age of 19, I would want it all to go exactly as it did.

So, just settle in for this crazy roller coaster called life, and don’t be afraid to make the moves that make you happy!

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