Friday, August 31, 2018

Friday Favorites

Goooood morning and TGIF!!

This is an extra, extra TGIF because it is a long weekend and my troop is off on VACATION all next week.

I seriously can hear the angels singing. HALLELUJAH!! 

I thought I would link up today to share some Friday favorites of what we've been enjoying around here this week. 

Meatloaf Balls

We have been LOVING this recipe for Meatloaf Balls.  It's honestly hard not to make them every week.  Justin is hooked, and usually I can even get Teddy to eat them too. 

If you're like me and don't feel like taking the time to make mashed potatoes, I'm a big fan of the Oprah (O That's Good) Potatoes that have some mashed cauliflower mixed in!

Dirt Road Playlist

We are gearing up for our first bit ROAD TRIP with Teddy next week. We will be driving down to Gatlinburg, TN to stay in a cabin for a few nights and then head to outside Atlanta for a family wedding.   I have been obsessing over this country playlist on Spotify that I think will be getting a lot of rotation on our trip (along with Baby Shark, of course!).

And while we are on the subject, Sam Hunt is playing at Wrigley Field this weekend with Luke Bryan.  If ever there was a concert that I am supposed to be at, this would be it. Since I'm already heading to Ravinia tonight with my mom and the first Notre Dame game is on Saturday night (someone has to make the dip & chili!!), it's just not going to happen. Between that, and missing the PopCast Live in Chicago next weekend with BooMama and BigMama in town, I don't even know who I am right now. 

Major FOMO.

Everything Fall

Speaking of FOOTBALL!! You guys...I cannot even tell you how pumped I am for fall. It has been hellaciously hot here lately, and this preggo lady is SO over it! Fall is always my favorite season, but it is extra welcome to show up this year.  I was literally giddy yesterday morning when I woke up and it was 59 degrees.

For the Notre Dame/Michigan Game this weekend, I'm going all in and making Chili and a new dip  that goes like this:

1lb sausage (browned)
1 jar of Pace Picante Sauce
Sour Cream (not sure how much...)
Melted Cream Cheese (again...will eyeball)
*mix all together and serve with chips or crackers*

Yes, MAAM!!!!!!

20 Week Ultrasound

We had our 20 week ultrasound this week for Baby Girl Miller who is due in January! I am so thankful to say that everything went great and this is finally seeming real that we are actually having another baby and a GIRL!

Little miss is very active and was flipping around all over the place.  I am absolutely loving feeling all her little kicks.

It's going to be so different this time around having a winter baby.  Teddy was born at the end of June, so I can't help but feel like January will be the polar opposite...literally.

I plan to put her in all sorts of snuggly getups like this one...

I just cannot handle the cuteness.

Alrighty, that's all I have for today.  Have a fantastic LONG weekend, and hopefully I can share some vacation pictures once I'm back.



Monday, August 27, 2018

Mom Hacks Monday: Volume 2

Hello friends!

I put the call out on Instagram stories (you can request to follow me @jesrmiller) to see if people wanted a weekend recap today or a Mom Hacks Monday post. 

100% of you said Mom Hacks Monday.  Ask and you shall receive...

Mom Hack #1: Petsmart

I get the feeling that places like Petsmart are a severely underused destination for moms of toddlers.  We started taking Teddy when he was about 14 months old because he was obsessed with fish. When he first walked in the store, you would swear we were at the Shedd Aquarium.  He was screaming gleefully, running around pointing to every single fish in every single fish tank.  Now, we also oogle over the reptiles, birds, cats, and of course the dogs that are in daycare.  This is such an easy and CHEAP activity for a rainy day.  Just make sure to bring a sucker so that you can lure your kiddo out of there at the end without buying a lizard. 

The best part is our Petsmart is across the street from a Chick-fil-a, so we basically have an afternoon made with that combo.

Mom Hack #2: Johnson & Johnson Hand and Face Wipes

My friend Ashley introduced me to these wipes!! They are the absolute best for running around with your kids, and you can find them almost anywhere. I'll often buy the generic version if available to save some money (Target has one). 

They can obviously be used to clean up messes on your toddler's hands/face (and who am I hands and face!), but I also like to think they double as a sanitizing wipe for things like the grocery cart handle, etc.  They claim to wipe away 95% of germs and they still seem very gentle on skin.  I keep a pack of them in my purse at all times.

Mom Hack #3: Recognizing Seasons

Becoming a mom for the first time (or second...or third...) can be overwhelming in so many ways.  I dealt with a lot of anxiety postpartum and I think one of the things that really helped me was finally coming to the realization that "everything is a season."  When you have a newborn, the season is: feed, change diapers, worry, no sleep, cry a little (or a lot), house is a disaster, on repeat.  When you have a toddler, it's constant correcting, fighting to get them to eat, trying not to raise a monster, and maybe a little more sleep and cleaning than before.  It's easy to want to rush through those time period to when you think it will be "easier" or to even feel envious of those who are in a different season of their life.  Just remember - this is not going to be your exact situation one year from now, five years from now, ten years from now.  I'm not saying that I'm encouraging wishing away any season.  It's more about keeping things in perspective and compartmentalizing, because nothing is forever.  Be in the moment and do the best you can.  Bloom where you are planted.  Someday, your kid will sleep longer than 2 to 3 hour stretches.  Someday, maybe your kid will actually eat a salad. Some day, maybe you will be able to have a kid-free date night.  Right now, love on your kiddos (and your life in general!) where they are and do the best you can. 

Have a great Monday!! :)



Thursday, August 23, 2018

On Never Growing Up and DI-SOREs

Sometime in the middle of last year I was forced into a period of some major self reflection.  One of the things that came out of that period was learning that I am not so good with change. Maybe that's why I decorated our first baby's room (a boy) with a Peter Pan theme. Deep down, I must have known that once he was here, I would never want him to grow up.

Maybe this is also why I am really struggling when moms post on Facebook questions about things like "infant potty training."  

What the actual heck is that?!

Am I the only mom that has zero desire to get my toddler potty trained before the new baby comes?! Is this just my fear of change and not wanting him to grow up? Peter Pan syndrome? 

As the days are just flying by and the moments feel like they are slipping out of my hands, I felt the need to get back to this blogging space to share more of the every day happenings.  My long term memory is unfortunately terrible, so this seems like the perfect way to save those memories.  I hope those 3 of you out there who still read this page will indulge me a little! :) 

I was having an emotional day last week after hearing some heartbreaking news about an old friend of mine whose son suddenly was diagnosed with a life threatening disease.  I decided I wanted to plan a special afternoon for Teddy after daycare, and landed on going to the splash pad.  

The experience wasn't quite as picturesque as I had imagined.  Naturally, I spent 75% of the time fighting with him about wearing his shoes.  (Look, I'm all for the Boho look, but he slips if he doesn't wear them and I didn't have any band-aids.)  

I always find it sweet when Teddy will find random, discarded toys places and get super excited over someone else's throw away item.  For him, its like finding lost treasure.  So, when he came running up to me with something tiny and green in his hand yelling "DI-SORE!!!!" (aka, dinosaur), I said "awww, yeah!! did you find someone's dinosaur?"  

Only, this seemed to be only a teeny tiny piece of someone's discarded DI-SORE.  

And then he got closer... 

And then he handed it to me... 

And I kid you not, I was staring at this little green treasure for a good 20 seconds before I realized it was not actually a DI-SORE, but a piece of someone's chewed up wintergreen gum. 

Peter Pan.  DI-SOREs. Nasty old gum destined for a shoe that a toddler has begged to take off.  Not all green things are alike, but they do make for fantastic memories and moments I clearly do not want to change or forget.

 (Don't call DCFS, he is not chewing the gum!  It's the pretzels I bribed him to wear his shoes). 

Monday, November 13, 2017

Mom Hacks Monday

Hi Friends!

I hope you had a fantastic weekend!

We started out our weekend by taking Teddy to the The Choo Choo restaurant in Des Plaines.  He is obsessed with "choo choos" right now, so I thought this would be a fun stop for us.

Clearly, he had a ball!

If you plan to go, you need to bring cash for your meal, and I would say try to go at an "off" time so you can get a booth up right next to the train line.  The train goes around in a circle around their "bar" and delivers your food right to your table.  This totally reminded me of going to Arni's (the train room) and Pizza King in my hometown, and I love that there is somewhere near by that I can recreate that experience for Teddy.

I also thoroughly enjoyed indulging in a root beer and greasy cheeseburger #yesplease!

Saturday morning, we had our family Christmas pictures... I snuck a few pictures of Teddy behind the scenes, and I am dying to see our family shots!

We watched a  ridiculously disappointing Notre Dame football game Saturday night.  UGH!

Then, we spent Sunday getting things ready for the week. I cooked up some of this Crockpot Cheesesteak Pulled Chicken and baked a healthy egg casserole.  My mom and grandma are here watching Teddy while his daycare is on a well deserved vacation, and they love to have my egg casserole on hand for the mornings.

Overall, it was a great few days with my little crew!

Now that we have recapped the weekend, in my effort to get back to regular blogging, I thought I would start with a little Monday fun, because we can all use a little pick me up on a Monday morning.  Am I right?!?

As first time mom, now to a toddler (ahh!!), I am always looking for "mom hacks."

I would call a "mom hack" anything that makes our days run a little smoother and more efficiently, with minimal cost and effort.

If you guys enjoy this, I can make it a recurring series for Mondays! :)

BEBT Mom Hack #1: Super Speed Hair Dryer

When Teddy was first born, I was using a crappy hair dryer I bought from Target.  That hairdryer would take SWEET FOREVER to dry my hair.  This ended up meaning that it was a major to-do to wash my hair.  I ended deciding to pitch that hair dryer in favor of this Parlux hair dryer that my hair stylist uses.  I kid you not, I can now dry my whole head of hair (and I have a LOT of hair) in 6 minutes flat.

This is a GAME CHANGER! I'm sure there are tons of dryers out there that are quick-drying, but this one works for me and has majorly simplified my routine!

BEBT Mom Hack #2: The Lunchtime Workout

Okay, I know...this is SO not a revolutionary idea.  But, I've had some people ask me when I find time to squeeze in workouts now that I have a little one.  Of course, there are so many great options for getting this done.

Pre-baby, I was a HUGE proponent of a morning workout. I still think morning workouts are the best, but they are just not feasible for me right now.  Teddy is up at 5:30 AM, and if I try to get up before him, I always wake him up. Also, once he's up, we are go go go until it's time to head out the door for the day.

I was always against a mid-work-day workout, because how was I going to have time to shower and make myself look presentable enough to go back to work? I am totally one who gets a super red face from an even marginally difficult workout, so a shower is a must to clean off and cool down. When my firm started offering 30 minute personal training sessions as a perk, I decided I had to give them a try.  Almost every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday now, I head down for a 30 minute workout at lunch time, then take a quick body shower and use dry shampoo (Batiste is my fav). I bought an extra deodorant, body wash, lotion, and dry shampoo, which I leave in a toiletry bag at the office.  This routine has been working for me now, usually 3 days a week, since the spring!

If you're a working mom and have the ability to get a workout in over the lunch hour, seriously consider it!  As I say, "something is better than nothing," and the 30 minute workouts have been more effective for me than I ever could have imagined.

BEBT Mom Hack #3: Dollar Busy Boxes

With the weather turning cold and having a toddler who wakes up BEFORE the crack of dawn, I have been struggling to find activities to hold his attention and "bridge the gap" between his 5:30AM wake-up and his first nap of the day.

I turned to Facebook for some suggestions, combined that with some Pinterest research (LOVED this list), and came up with a list of supplies to hunt down.

I decided to go to the dollar store to keep the expense minimal, and I was able to get ALL of this stuff for just over $18.00!!!!

Isn't that incredible?  (Some of the items, like the puzzles, I got with my nieces in mind!)

I figure we will take out one activity or craft project a day when it is too cold for us to get outside for a walk (so, pretty much daily until March, let's be honest!).

I am currently storing the items/supplies in these boxes (hence, why I am calling these our busy boxes), but my hope is to purchase one of these carts that I can slide under our planning desk in the future.

Well, that's all I have for you today! I hope maybe you can take one of these tips to get ahead this week.

Feel free to comment with one of your "Mom Hacks" you have been loving lately! :)

Have a happy & healthy day!



Monday, October 9, 2017

The Small Things

Hi Everyone!

Wow, long time, not talk, right?!

I am SO, so sorry for neglecting this space. I have talked about starting back up my blog for a long time.  I have even drafted posts about my return to blogging.  But, for some reason, I just haven't felt like the time has been right to press "publish" yet.

I am coming at you today in hopes of a long overdue blog chat, but also to share something pretty awesome that I feel like you need in your life.

Church of the Small Things.

What's that? Well, if you follow me on social media, you may already know that I have been hocking this new book by one of my favorite authors, Melanie Shankle, for a couple of months now. 

The book just released last week, so now you can all get your hands on it too!

Instead of dragging you all through a chapter by chapter review of the book, which I tend to find kind of boring, I thought I would share with you what this book has meant to me.

First off, it might be kind of fun to explain to you how I got hooked on Melanie! :)

It was about the middle of 2015 when I stumbled upon the Big Boo Cast podcast. The Big Boo Cast is a podcast where you basically eavesdrop on a telephone call between two bloggers, Sophie Hudson and Melanie Shankle.  They are two women who both live in the South and are big lovers of being wives and mamas, along with football, cheese plates, anti-aging products, their hilarious dogs, a good mascara, and their faith. 

I was going through a pretty trying time in my personal life, and somehow listening to this podcast brought me a whole lot of comfort.  It brings me back to the days where I would sit gabbing on the phone with one of my girlfriends for hours upon hours on end.  Do you miss that as much as I do??

Anyway, after listening to a ton of the podcasts, I read through every single one of these ladies' books.  So, when I found out Melanie was releasing a new book, I was totally in!

Little did I know, this book would speak to me in so many unexpected ways.

As a new mother (yes, I have a son now - he is 15 months! - more on that later), a wife, and a full time attorney, I have often felt pretty overwhelmed.  Grateful as heck, but SO overwhelmed.  I am someone who has been striving to achieve at everything for a very long time. I feel like I have always been looking forward to the next challenge, how I can reach that goal, and how quickly I can get there. 

But, for once in my life, I have truly felt stretched so thin. I have felt like there are not enough hours in the day. I have felt like I am racing to do this thing, then that thing, and all at the same time, I  have felt like I am MISSING everything!

I often ask myself, shouldn't I be able to handle this all with grace like everyone else seems to be doing? So what if I have a full time job, isn't that the norm for women now? People have babies, then they have ANOTHER baby, then they buy a bigger house, then they get that promotion, and they do this all while never uttering a complaint or breaking a sweat.

That whole inner monologue has made me feel a lot of times that I am just not ENOUGH. That if I do not do ALL OF THE THINGS or if I can't achieve ALL OF THE THINGS then I am not going to be enough.

This book, people, stopped me in my tracks. 

Literally in the Introduction of the book, Melanie says: "We can spend so much time wondering and worrying if we're fulfilling God's primary will for our lives. Yet, ultimately, God's will isn't about the things we achieve; it's about the people we become.  Life is more about how He use us to make a difference to the people who cross our paths, even while we are just going about our normal, sometimes boring, lives.   He is a God who used twelve men to change an entire world. He is a God who clearly finds value where we tend to look and see nothing special.  God's primary will for our lives isn't about a particular job or circumstance. It's not about the city we live in or whether we're married or single.  We are in God's will when we wake up with a willingness to go wherever he leads the day, to seek him in the ordinary, and to love and influence the people around us.  Sometimes that can look a whole lot like packing a lunch."  

I mean, wow.  I so needed to read that when I did, and I really need to just read it over, and over, and over again. 

Melanie goes on, "...and so we decide that maybe it's the next big moment that will finally make us truly happy.  Meanwhile, we are ignoring the fact that we woke up that morning with air in our lungs, had a cup of coffee, and laughed on the phone with a friend."

This book taught me so much about gratitude.  About slowing down.  About self worth. About the happiness that can and should be felt by being present and taking a look around myself in the quiet times. 

It's the sip of a warm cup of coffee first thing in the morning. It's the way my little boy is bobbing up and down with the biggest smile on his face at 5:45 a.m. when I give up on him going back to sleep.  It's a good, long afternoon nap.  It's a sincere hug from your significant other or spouse when you needed it the most. It's windows open on a crisp, fall day.  It's when your favorite song comes on the radio. It's a warm chocolate chip cookie. It's catching that beautiful sunrise and realizing the blessing it is just to have been gifted another day to wake up and put our feet on the ground.

To get check out Melanie's blog and get the book, go HERE.  I am confident that this book will lift you up like it did me.  It will encourage you to bloom where you are planted.  It will have you reminiscing about your childhood, your precious memories with your grandparents, and the hilarity of things like auto-correct and why it is NEVER a good time to get bangs.

Something to talk about: what small thing is blessing you today?? If you've read the book, tell me how much you love it??

I hope to be back soon to spend some more time with all of you!

Have a fantastic Monday!



Thursday, October 1, 2015

Throw Back Thursday: Costa Rica Trip - Part 1

Good morning, everyone!

Today I'm doing another #TBT post and throwing it back to our trip to Costa Rica.  My mom so graciously planned this amazing trip for us back a the beginning of July.  

Justin & I packed ourselves up very carefully and ordered a car to take us to the airport. We always use American Coach Limousine (888-709-LIMO) because we find it to be cheaper, more reliable, and a little more luxurious than a cab. 

Things were going great until we found out that our flight out of O'Hare was significantly delayed, causing us to miss our connection in Florida.  We realized this right when we checked in, so after fighting with the front-desk lady for about an hour, they agreed to put us up in a hotel in Hollywood Florida for the night so we could catch a morning flight out to Costa Rica. 

We drowned our sorrows in a couple of Goose Island beers waiting for our flight to Florida. 

I believe the hotel we stayed at in Florida was a Holiday Inn, and we were shocked at how nice it was.  I even took a picture of the view from our room! :) 

We got a few hours of sleep, a shower, a quick breakfast, and we were off to Costa Rica.

Once we finally got to Costa Rica, we found my mom and brother who had been patiently waiting our very LATE arrival with our driver for the week, Emilio.  Emilio had a big van and he was going to take us up the tretcherous, winding roads to Monteverde. 

But first, we stopped for an authentic lunch at a roadside restaurant. 

I think those were fried plantains and some garlic shrimp. It was very good, but probably not the best choice for the ride we were about to embark on.

I'll just say that if you go to Costa Rica, you absolutely must go up to Monteverde. However, do NOT attempt to rent a car and make this drive yourself.  We are talking unpaved roads twirling around the sides of a mountain.  

The view from the top was incredible. 

We pulled off the side of the road to catch this picture - we were literally ABOVE the rainbow. 

We stayed in Santa Elena at Poco-a-Poco Resort (little-by-little, because it described how you came up the mountain to get there!).  

The views from the resort were incredible, and the rooms were so fluffy and relaxing.  

Really, I could just go there and take a week-long nap with the windows open. 

Some pictures from the resort: 

Just look at the view from our shower...

So, I will tell you that even though this was July and throughout the rest of the trip I was dying of the heat, I did NOT pack correctly for Monteverde.  It was chilly, and a lot of the time it was either lightly raining or a torrential downpour.  

A jeans jacket over a maxi dress and Old Navy flip flops were not the greatest dinner attire up there. 

Our first night we walked in a downpour to an Italian restaurant - Mar y Luna. 

We had an appetizer of chips and 4 dips (umm...amazing!). 

I got a salad with a ton of hearts of palm...obsessed. 

The boys got steak, and their plates came decorated. Soooo festive! :) 

The next morning we were up bright-and-early (trust me, very early) to have breakfast at the resort and then catch a bus to go zip lining through the cloud forest.  

Now, what you need to know is that the only other time I have ever been zip lining was at summer camp in Michigan. It was over a little lake. What I was about to do in Monteverde would be VERY different from that. 

We decided to go up to the Salvatura Zip Line, which was another steep trip up higher on the mountain above the clouds.  Once we got up there, we were strapped into these wet harnesses and asked to sign a waiver that I don't even want to talk about.  Then, we were sent on our way with our 18-year-old native guides. 

I wish I could use emojis on here because the scared face would be on repeat. The amount of trust in complete strangers that was involved in this process cannot be over-stated. 

We were hooked up from tree to tree (about 14 total lines) and thrown out at times over 1000 meters over the trees. 

I was the only one of our group that did the Tarzan swing, which is basically a straight down dive from a tower on a bungie, then a swing to some trees across the way. 

I'm sure my family has never heard me scream like that before! :)

The Superman zip line was the hardest part for me. The spot I am at in the picture below...I stayed there for about 20 minutes paralyzed in fear and not sure if I could make it the rest of the way.  

The Superman zip line was going to be the longest one we did and it was very, very high. 

What freaked me out is that they hook you up from your BACK, then you literally lie down and spread your arms out like "Superman."  

On the other lines, you were hooked up from the front of your body and your hands were up on the lines.  So, logically, I told myself if my caribeener failed, I could just hang on with my hands...right?!?! 

Well, with the Superman, if your caribeener fails, you're falling body first with no chance to grab on. 

The good news is that I overcame my fear, conquered the Superman, and it was so incredible. I may have been praying out loud the entire time, but I did it!! 

After the zip-lining was done, we walked through the forest on the suspension bridges. 

Before heading back into town, Justin and I grabbed a beer at the bar and some chicken tortilla soup (we were COLD and very wet!). 

By the way...a good backpack on this trip was an absolute must. I bought a Marmot backpack from Dick's Sporting Goods before the trip and I think it was the most-used item. Everyone handed off there stuff to me for the backpack. 

When we came back to the resort, I had a glorious massage at their spa.  I was the only one in there, and the lady let me lay for about 30 minutes afterwards on the table with the door open to the mountain air.  It was AH-mazing. 

I spent some time out by the pool and hot tub before showering up for our night out. 

That night, we headed out for happy hour at the Treehouse restaurant. 

After happy hour, our dinner was at Morphos.  It was my favorite dinner in the Santa Elena area, but somehow I didn't take any pictures!! 

We sent my mom and brother back to the resort, and Justin and I went on to a sports bar (Referees) where we hung out with the locals for a while and learned some more about football (aka soccer). 

The next morning, we headed out for a guided tour of the cloud forest. 

We saw some wildlife, I wore my ridiculous poncho again (should have brought a rain jacket!!), and got eaten alive by a swarm of ants. Good times! :) 

After the walk, we ended up going to Taco Taco for lunch, which was great for being super hungry. 

We then went over to have some drinks and catch some WiFi at Orchid Cafe, which would also be a great spot for breakfast or lunch.

I adore mango anything, so I had to get a mango smoothie...

After lunch, we shopped around a little and then headed back to the hotel to relax before Emilio was back to pick us up and take us down south to our next destination...Quepos and Manuel Antonio. 

I think that is enough recapping for today.  I'll post the second half of our trip in the next #TBT post. 

Have a great Thursday, everyone!



Sunday, September 27, 2015

Sunday Shopping: Fall Basics

Hi friends!

Fall is in full swing and the thought of sweaters, leggings, scarves, and boots (with my #pumpkinspicelatteinhand) has me grinning from ear to ear.

I have been waking up super early on the weekends with not much to do, so online browsing has been in full effect.

(I'm sure any minute now Justin is going to run downstairs and confiscate my wallet).

I haven't pulled the trigger on a ton of stuff, but I wanted to share with you all some of my "must haves" basics for fall.

I've been eyeing this cardigan (also known as the "Blardigan") for a long time now and finally took the plunge. 

Let me first say that I do not walk around in my bra and underwear wearing this thing (see picture). It is great for when you just wake up on a cooler fall morning and want to throw on something warm and a little more put together than your bathrobe.  You can also throw it on with a long tank, leggings, and boots and call it an outfit. 

I bought the Pewter/Midnight color shown and I decided to size up in it because the S/M was super tight on my arms (thanks body pump). 

These boots.  These are not just your typical black boots. They are stretchy in the back, which means they will literally go over any pant leg comfortably, and they are WATERPROOF!

I wore these boots to death last year during the fall, winter, and nasty early spring. They are pricey right now, but they did go on sale for under $200.00 last year. 

Have you ladies bought these leggings yet? If not, go over immediately and purchase them in black and grey. You can thank me later. 

These are the most comfortable flats I have ever owned.  There's something about the elastic band that goes around the top. And if the animal print is wrong, I don't wanna be right. 

I love that this scarf will go with everything and it is only $20.00. No brainer! 

I'm sure everyone already knows about this necklace, but it has to be on my must have list. Justin got me a silver/white stone version last Christmas and if you've seen me since then, you know I wear it just about every other day. I need all.the.colors ASAP! 

And...while we are at it I have been dying over this necklace for a couple of months now.  It is a splurge, but I'm putting it out into the universe that this would be a great gift for me :) 

Happy fall & happy shopping!