simply love

strolling into the 'life' part of life with Evenflo | self-care tips for moms

{the trees here in the carolinas are starting to bloom- so gorgeous) 

"it takes someone really brave to be a mother, someone strong to raise a child and someone special to love someone more than herself."
my husband and i recently went to a discovery place for kids in charlotte on a saturday afternoon. we had a lot of fun and parks loved the splash table and puppet show. there were kids everywhere; it was beyond crowded. when we left, my husband looked at me and said, 'every mom and dad in there looked so, so tired. exhausted." we both kind of laughed and agreed. i often read about how exhausted moms are... and i get it. it's real and it's where we are in our lives right now. we all need to remember that we are doing our very best and that we should be more gentle on ourselves. in october, i launched my own business and so not only was i still a stay-at-home mom, but i was also a work-at-home mom... putting in very long hours. i often found myself yearning for more; i was yearning for a life that seemed so out of reach. i wanted more balance, while also conquering all of my expectations.

my goal for the new year: inviting calmness + balance. i had sadly lost 'me' in many ways and i had no idea... it had become the new 'norm.'  two things dawned on me: i wasn't actually 'living' and i needed to get out of the house more. i was working over ten hours a day (with a moving baby) and the pressure i was putting on myself was quite crippling. (and i am not sure if i even knew it?)

self-care for moms | 

i think it's important to remember that it is not just a list of things to do, but rather a state of mind; a practice. self-care is making sure you are living the most fulfilling life possible. my son is young now but i know that he won't always be... i want to be a positive aspect in his life; creating an energy in our home that is healthy- and even contagious. he is going to be watching me... my tone, my reactions, the way i decide to take care for myself. i want to be the mom that can come around and find her 'center' during times of absolute exhaustion and times of stress. i want to do this so that my kids can then do this someday when they have a family of their own... just like they saw me do thousands of times.
however, how will i be able to do this without taking care of myself? 

self-care stems from the way you choose to take care of yourself... how you love yourself, how you express your feelings, and how you hold your self-worth above anything else. it comes from within and not from the validation of others. when the new year hit, i realized that the only way i could take care of myself was to focus on our daily practice... we were in a rut and it was not a good feeling. a part of me had been lost in all of the joys, challenges, and new beginnings of the last year. the calmness that i had gained over my years in charlotte had, in many ways, had slowly evaporated. i suddenly realized that i was focused on the wrong things (in many ways) and i wanted to take in the parts of my life that really mattered. (like making memories with my family as often as possible.) 
the first step? 
on wednesday mornings, parks and i started to venture into uptown charlotte together (it's about five minutes from our home). we would attend story time at imaginon library, grab a yummy acai bowl + a latte at the 7th street public market and then we would walk. we would explore so many parts of our city that i had been missing for the past decade. it's a beautiful place to live with so much to offer, but had i taken in everything that it has to offer as a mom? the stroller system, the sibby, from evenflo was the perfect way to do so... i instantly fell in love with the size, how lightweight it is, the full coverage of the umbrella, and most of all, how parks is so comfortable both looking out and sleeping in it. the basket at the bottom is spacious and the cup holder has now carried more drinks than i can name. i also love that it comes with a (super) light-weight infant car seat, which conveniently fits on for easy transferring/traveling. another incredible feature is the sleek kick board for when he gets older. (how much fun will that be for him!) not only is it functional, but it's so cute. i am a huge fan of evenflo products, especially the quality. we would walk and we would stop and i would either read a book, would interact with parks, or i would just sit; taking in my surroundings (not something i am used to doing). sometimes doing nothing means everything and these special times with parks have taught me to take advantage regularly. i truly believe that these simple (yet beyond important) mornings ignited my new journey... my journey to self-care and self-worth as a new mom.

this year has been extremely enlightening and honestly, i feel like a whole new person already... just two months in. most of all, i think i have become a better mom. it sounds simple, but this tiny new part of our weekly routine sparked so much more... it made me realize, more than ever, that i am the only one that can give my son a happy mom; one who loves life. (time to start 'living' more!!) 
the sibby by evenflo in mineral gray

the Sibby travel system offers a unique ride-along board, that allows two children to use the stroller at the same time. the ride-along board connects easily and folds away when not in use. The lift-to-fold design minimizes the Sibby's overall size so it can comfortably fit any vehicle. sleek cruiser tires and oversized rear wheels that make the Sibby travel system easy-to-maneuver. includes Sibby stroller, easy-to-carry LiteMax infant car seat, and a stay-in-car convenience base.
(parks loves the way the foot rest is adjustable!)  

sweet baby girl | a baby sprinkle

{cake | suarez bakery

in november, i hosted a baby sprinkle with a few friends for a very dear girlfriend. you may have seen some sneak peeks on instagram but i am so excited to share this gathering with you all. it was her second baby, a little baby sister to her two-year-old boy (my sweet Godson, william!) cora lee dull was born at the end of january and is very loved. here is how we celebrated her anticipated arrival... 
i made the buffet table (which normally holds our television) a dessert + decor bar 
the invites were feminine and boho
the cake was ruffled and was strawberry flavored for a baby girl
(suarez bakery did a fantastic job!) 
the flowers were $12 total at trader joe's 
momma of the hour + william + her mother-in-law, cheryl... love them all so much 
she is wearing an adorable amelia dress (this style is available in my shop!) i took napkin holders from target and put them on the hostesses/momma-to-be's champagne glasses
'ballerina, you must have seen her dancing in the sand
always with me- tiny dancer in my hand'

walking with God in the season of motherhood | a bible study

the past month has been very moving and very insightful for me (more soon) but i wanted to invite you all to join me on a new spiritual journey. for lent this year, i plan to incorporate yoga/working out, meditation, and this bible study into my life. it's an eleven week study and focuses on motherhood. if you would like to join me, comment below and i will provide more details soon. however, i am thinking about posting possibly on sunday mornings (we can discuss in the comments section?) the book is available here and was written by a local charlotte write, melissa kruger. 

a description of the book:
"Being a mom usually means being busy. Really busy. Whether you’re zipping from your children’s piano lessons to their next ballgame or nursing a baby while comforting a toddler, life is brimming with activities.  Yet one encounter can help shape every moment: time in the Word with Jesus. In Walking with God in the Season of Motherhood, you’ll learn how to nourish your own heart, mind, and soul with the wisdom you need to become the mother you long to be.  

-a scene from our master bedroom-

As you spend time with God through this eleven-week Bible study, you’ll gain life-shaping insights to help you…

Understand and pursue your purpose as a mother
Live out your true priorities
Entrust your child to God
Bear the fruit of the Spirit in your everyday interactions
Recover from Perfect Mom Syndrome 

Each week offers four days of study geared specifically to a mother’s concerns, with the Bible passages already printed out for your convenience. The fifth day is a warm-hearted devotional reading to help you reflect on and apply the truths you’ve learned.  As your relationship with God deepens through prayer and studying His Word, you’ll discover how His imprint on your heart can make a lasting impression on your children."

please let me know if you are interested... 
i really think this would extraordinary to do this as a 'mom tribe'.
wishing you a great weekend!

this is us | love day

hope your valentine's day day was nice and romantic... ours was simple and i loved it. 
here are some photos from our day... 
parks was given this cute play kitchen from his grandparents for his birthday (one month ago today... and a year ago today, i took his one month photos) ... it's flying by and i am trying to savor it all. loving this age so much. for his kitchen, i used some $1 spot target decor to decorate it for february. he loves this so much. here is the link | kidkraft kitchen. if we do have a little girl, i would love to get her the ikea one and maybe wallpaper the back/paint it mint green or cream... and totally 'vintage-glam' it up. i love both of them, but i think this one is perfect for parks. plus, it matches our kitchen! it's adorable.
parks and i surprised mr. monaco with dinner at a local soda shoppe + the cutest handmade gelato shop in town called va de vie gelato (the owner was so incredibly friendly and it was absolutely delicious- the closest to europe i have experienced since living there) if you live in charlotte, i highly recommend it! 
i ran a valentine's special in my shop and had lots of fun decorating 'rosa' 
i went to yoga at the y while this boy played with his 'friends' there ... then we went to chipotle for a lunch date (#firsttimer and he loved it!) we gave parks this think baby sippy cup + the book, bear and hare, where's bear? by emily gravett (it's so cute and was one of our favorites from story time at the library recently- love her books!!) 
my sister sent parks and i cards... it was so sweet to see her handwriting in the mailbox.
she has the biggest heart and surprised me with a 'couple's massage' for us next weekend when she visits charlotte... this isn't our first 'couple's massage!!' i can't even wait for our 'sisters weekend' together... and i can't even tell you how much i need a massage right now. i am so thankful for her.
he wore his red chuck taylor's to celebrate
a photo of our breakfast nook + the tulips from my boys (they also got me a case of orange la croix)
reading lauren graham's new book, talking as fast as i can + cupid leggings (i do have another pair of these!!) + socks from h & m. the parenthood + gilmore girls lover in me enjoyed her book. 
...what did you do...
again, it was a simple day... but i could feel the love. 
however, my big + little valentine makes every day valentine's day 
(love my little family) 

fifteen valentine's date ideas + a playlist

love is all around this week... one of my favorite things about february. the weather here has been in the 60's and 70's lately... so the spring tones are even more 'in the air' than normal. (i love the colors of this month so much) my parents went on dates and trips a lot when we were little (we were comfortable being left ... and i think that's important!) and i also think that it's one of the reason why they have been married for over 35 years. date nights or time spent together doesn't have to be overly expensive... there are simple and inexpensive ways to do so.
go check out this beautiful inspiration... maybe my favorite i have seen yet!

here are some simple and fun ways to spend time together:

1. go to a cute cafe or a diner (my husband loves diners! his grandparents were restaurant owners and it's nostalgic for him) 
2. take a walk or go on a hike (somewhere pretty!) 
3. do a game night
4. pick up dairy queen, make a cheese board, and watch netflix (our current binge has been gilmore girls) 
5. wine tasting
6. go on a picnic or go camping 
7. indoor rock climbing
8. bake cookies together
9. volunteer! give back together
10. make pizza together
11. take an art class 
12. go bowling or roller skating (hello, memories!) 
13. go out to dinner and order appetizers
14. go thrift shopping
15. go on a short road trip 

i also shared a gift guide and decoration ideas recently

a playlist: 
tupelo honey | van morrison
if the moon turns green | billie holiday
if you catch me stealing | eilen jewell
always on my mind | willie nelson 
lay, lay, lay | bob dylan 
i will wait | mumford and sons
love me tender | norah jones, adam jevy
love is all around | the troggs
at last | stevie wonder
still | lionel richie 
a kiss to build on | louis armstrong
one more time | mamuse 
shake down | valerie june
i'm on fire | town mountain

a gift idea:
i have given these calendars from artifact uprising several times as gifts and they are perfect. 
{like the february after my sister and her husband got married... most of the photos were from the previous year of festivities) i also love that they are made out of reclaimed pine wood. also, my husband and son brought me home a bouquet of fresh tulips on saturday (you may have seen them on insta.) 

what about you?
how do you love to celebrate 'love' this month?

-my littlest valentine-

*this post was not sponsored in any way... i just love these products!*