Two Under Two: An Update

Two Under Two: An Update

I’ve been talking a lot about my family dynamic with friends and family lately. Although I don’t technically have two under two now, I do have two boys who are very close in age (15 months apart) and my youngest is approaching his first birthday. All of this inspired me to write an update to my original Two Under Two blog post. Now that I’ve gotten to a point where I have a very comfortable daily routine with my boys, I can reflect more on the pros and cons of having two children close in age, and why I personally love it. Hopefully this will provide some insights to anyone expecting a second child close in age or thinking about having children close in age in the future.

Pro- Once your youngest passes the newborn stage, both children do pretty similar activities. 

Of course my boys aren’t in the exact same developmental stage, but their stages are similar enough that they like many of the same toys, shows, etc. This means I’m not dividing up my time as much as I would between two children who are in very different stages, and I can often put together one activity for both of them.

Con- Having two under two can be physically demanding.
In addition to the demands of back to back pregnancies, it can be draining to go through the sleepless nights and sleep regressions back to back. Getting your kids on the same schedule as early as you can makes things much easier. And its important to remember that these stages are temporary. I moved my oldest out of my bedroom at 6 months, and my youngest at 9 months (although in retrospect I wish we had done it a little earlier) and both times the change helped us get to a more normal routine.

Pro- You become very efficient. 

Those first kid vs second kid commercials are very true. There are a lot of things we tend to do as first time parents that you just won’t have time for anymore when you add a second child, especially one close in age. But some of the things that get cut can make your household more efficient. I’ve also become more efficient at changing diapers, making bottles, and general baby care. My husband and I also share more responsibilities now, and that makes some activities like bath time more fun.

Con- Your oldest may feel frustrated during the transition.
I mentioned this in my original blog post, but some toddlers need time to adjust to having a new baby in the house. This was hard for me. It’s a big change for any kid, but it can be especially difficult for some toddlers since they can’t even express their emotions well yet. The toughest part of the transitional period lasted about three months for me. But one of the pros to having two kids close in age is it doesn’t take long for your oldest to forget there was even a time before they were a big brother or sister.

Pro- Having children close in age can make planning for a large family easier.

I don’t believe there is any perfect family size. There are some couples who are happy without children, some who love having one child to devote attention to, some who love having two, and some who want to have as many children as they can handle. If you know that you want to have a big family of three or more children, having children close in age may make things logistically more practical. For example, close planning can put less stress on your biological clock. And some women including myself prefer to get it done in one big swoop so they can focus on the infancy/early childhood stage and then move on to the next stage. This is especially true for me because I’m currently a stay at home Mom but I do plan to return to the workforce eventually.

Those are some of my thoughts on having two children close in age.  I’d love to hear your thoughts on spacing in your family. What worked for you or what would you like to do in the future?
Xo,
Courtney

My Holy Grail Beauty Essentials

My Holy Grail Beauty Essentials

I’ve found that as I get older I’m actually getting more into beauty products- upgrading my skincare routine as well as perfecting my day and night makeup looks. I see it as an important form of self-care now that I’m in my 30s. And as a busy Mom of two I need self-care. Below I’ve listed my absolute favorite skincare and makeup products. Let me know what your favorites are in the comments.

Rodan + Fields Radiant Defense Perfecting Liquid– If you use foundation I’m sure you’ve dealt with the pain of finding the perfect formula. There are so many brands out there and quality varies widely. I’ve tried many brands over the years and struggled to find one that provided just the right amount of coverage, offered the perfect color match, lasted a long time, and didn’t transfer color. Rodan and Fields had the best foundation I’ve tried yet. The formula is so lightweight it feels like a tinted moisturizer, but it really lasts and the color blends perfectly. My skin always looks dewy and illuminated when I put it on.


Anastasia Beverly Hills Brow Powder Duo– I’ve always had sparse brows and I’ve been filling them in pretty religiously for the past 6 or 7 years (I cringe at some of my old photos before I started filling them in). I finally made the leap and scheduled an appointment with one of the top microblading artists in the DMV area at the end of the April (she’s booked months out and I couldn’t be more excited about this upcoming appointment). But up until now Anastasia Beverly Hills’ brow powder has been a lifesaver. It’s easy to use with an angled brush, the pigment looks very natural and blends easily, and one pot of this magic formula lasts a long time.

Too Faced Better than Sex Mascara– Like the search for the perfect foundation, my search for the perfect mascara went on for some time. Too Faced’s Better than Sex mascara offers the most dramatic length of any mascara brand I’ve tried. I love the wand itself and their tips for getting the most length.


Fenty Beauty Match Stix Trio– I’ve always been intimidated by contouring, but the Fenty Beauty Match stix make contouring and highlighting so easy. You can choose the perfect shade of concealer, the perfect contour color, and a pretty highlighter shade by matching it to your Fenty foundation shade. Being able to do a simple contour has really upgraded my night out makeup looks.


Anastasia Beverly Hills Liquid Lipstick-I love matte liquid lipstick because it makes my lips look fuller. My husband has even accused me of altering my lips in photos when I’m wearing it. Anastasia Beverly Hills offers gorgeous colors in a formula with staying power. I’ve really been getting in to red lipstick lately and I love the shade “Seraphine” for the perfect ruby red, and mixing “Heathers” and “Tulip” for a vampy shade of red.

Sunday Riley Good Genes Lactic Acid Treatment– I love all Sunday Riley products but the Lactic Acid Treatment is perfect for exfoliating your skin. My skin always looks more even and my pores look smaller after using it.
What are your favorite makeup and skincare products?
Xo,
Courtney

7 Brands That Actually Make Cute Clothing for Girls AND Boys

7 Brands That Actually Make Cute Clothing for Girls AND Boys

I’ve always loved fashion so I look forward to trying to put together cute outfits for my boys. As other boy moms can probably tell you, it’s a challenge to find cute and trendy items for boys. We typically get the short end of the stick- scrolling past delicate dresses and coordinating headbands on instagram, walking past aisle after aisle of colorful leggings and t-shirts with darling details, only to head to our much smaller section of dinosaur and truck prints in the same shades of blue, brown, and green.

Thankfully I’ve learned where to shop to pick up items for my boys that are actually fashionable. Right now I’m in spring shopping mode so I wanted to take some time to share my favorite brands that I feel really make an effort to give Moms of boys and girls equally cute options.

Zara-


Zara carries trendy pieces, classics with a fun twist, and minimal/natural styles. If you’re a bit of a hipster it’s easy to find styles you’ll love at Zara. They also have really sweet messages on some of their tees and sweatshirts.

Gap Kids


The Gap is my go to for denim, outerwear and accessories. They have a ton of cute options for boys, and their pieces are great quality and on-trend. One of my favorite Gap items is a denim jacket, they always offer a classic version but they also put an adorable spin on their denim jacket pretty much every season.

Janie and Jack


If you love to dress your children in classic styles, Janie and Jack carries adorable high-end pieces that are the perfect blend of classic and preppy. I love this brand for special occasion pieces.

Hugo Loves Tiki


If your style is modern and fun, Hugo Loves Tiki offers playtime friendly styles in really bright allover prints. You can also shop their end of season sales for amazing discounts.

Jamie Kay-


If you prefer neutral and natural styles, Jamie Kay has perfected the minimal look in their online shop. A lot of pieces are gender neutral and they’re made of soft, high-quality fabrics.

Ralph Lauren


I love Ralph Lauren tees and shirts, the polo brand is so All-American and iconic. I find great deals by shopping Ralph Lauren’s end of season sales online.

Carters-


Carters is my go to for onesies, casual t-shirts and pajamas. They typically offer email discounts daily.

 

Those are my top brands that don’t make me feel like I’m sacrificing style when I shop for my boys. I love brands that focus on producing cute clothing for everyone. What are your favorites when shopping for your little ones or buying gifts for others? Let me know in the comments.

 

Xo,

Courtney

 

Relationship Goals

Relationship Goals

One of my goals for 2019 is to actively prioritize my marriage and be more thoughtful about it. I started dating my husband 8 years ago and we’ve been living together since 2012. Every now and then I think it’s important to refocus and recalibrate, especially when life gets hectic (for example when you start having children). I recently read an article written by a married man with teenage children that really stuck with me. He described how his kids are sent upstairs every night at 9pm so that he and his wife can have alone time. They don’t have to go to bed, but they can’t come downstairs unless it’s an emergency. His reasoning was that his relationship with his wife is the most important relationship in the house. If that crumbles everyone else is affected. And even though his rules sounded a little extreme to me, he went on to talk about how it used to be common for parents to prioritize themselves in that way, but a shift happened where people now tend to be more focused on their children’s happiness than their own.

Thinking of my marriage as the foundation of my family isn’t a radical concept, but the extent to which I can and should prioritize it is something that I’ve been exploring lately. Thankfully I can’t say I’m lacking in alone time with my husband. Both of my sons are on a bedtime schedule and they are both in bed by 9pm every night. Most nights we spend time together talking and watching netflix before bed. And we’re starting a more frequent date night schedule. But the fatigue and occasional stress that comes along with having a baby and a toddler means that our frustration can sometimes come out in how we talk to each other.

One of the ways that we’re working on maintaining a happy marriage this year is embracing constant open communication. This means opening up about how we feel or what we need from each other at any time. This also means we have to actively listen to each other at those times.

Another thing that I want to do is embrace each other’s love languages. If you haven’t heard of love languages the idea is that people express love and want to receive love in different ways that generally fall into 5 categories: quality time, acts of service, gifts, physical touch, and verbal affirmations. The importance of each of these categories varies from person to person. You can take a quiz here to find out which love languages are most important to you.

Last night my husband and I both took the quiz. I was surprised to find that our results were VERY similar and that quality time was the most important love language for both of us. Acts of service were also very important to both of us so I know that we have to continue to find ways to help each other out. And I was surprised to see that gifts ranked a little higher on his list than I expected. Now I need to come up with ways to give small meaningful gifts in between holidays and celebrations.

So those are the main things I’m doing to meet my relationship goals this year. What do you like to do (or have done in the past) to maintain a happy marriage or relationship? Let me know in the comments.

Xo,

Courtney

My Top 5 Subscriptions

My Top 5 Subscriptions

As a millennial and as a mother I love a good subscription box. There’s something exciting about getting a package of goodies in the mail every month, especially when the contents are varied. I’ve tried a lot of subscription boxes carrying everything from food to makeup and skincare to baby items. Some boxes were amazing and others either weren’t customized enough to suit my needs (pretty much every beauty box) or were just generally a waste of money. Read on for 5 boxes that I think are actually worth a subscription. If you’ve tried any of the following boxes or if there are others that you love, please let me know your thoughts in the comments! 

Winc– If you love wine, this subscription box is perfect for you. They send a box of wine bottles customized to fit your flavor preference profile. You can choose four white, four red, or a mix. And your feedback after each box helps determine what they send you next. This is a subscription that I tried out pre-babies, but as a Mom of two a box of wine delivered to my doorstep sounds amazing right now. If you don’t know much about wine all of the choices out there can be pretty daunting. This makes it easier to sample different kinds of wine and learn what you like and don’t like. Wine tasting at a Vineyard is a nice experience to learn more about wine too, but this subscription is fun and convenient. 

Hello Fresh-This is one that pretty much everyone has heard of even if you haven’t tried it. Its one of the most popular dinner subscription boxes for a reason. Hello Fresh sends you recipes and ingredients to make 3 meals a week. The recipes are generally delicious and take 1 person about 30 minutes to make. I also tried this subscription out before I had kids. My husband and I did the vegetarian plan and I loved learning new vegetarian recipes (I’m not a vegetarian btw, but I try to go meatless as often as possible). And I loved that I didn’t have to go hunting for exotic ingredients in the grocery store. When our family expanded we stopped this subscription, but I honestly learned so many cooking tips from the recipe cards that the length of time that I did have it was invaluable. It’s also nice that you can keep the recipe cards and recreate the meals anytime. I loved Hello Fresh so much that I’m considering signing up again. 

Bluum– I was gifted a subscription to Bluum when I was pregnant with my oldest son Mason. They send a box of pregnancy or baby related items depending on how far along you are or how old your baby is. When I was pregnant I received things like belly cream, affirmation cards for delivery day, and ointment to help with breastfeeding. After the baby came I started getting things like toys, bottles, skincare products for babies etc. One of my favorite boxes included a pack of cleaning tablets and wipes for cleaning bottles on the go. This came in handy so many times when bottles fell on the ground while we were out and about, and once when we stayed overnight in a hotel room and I forgot to pack my bottle brush and soap. I love that things I never would have thought of on my own like that were included in the boxes. 

Little Spoon– Some of you may have seen the beginning of my journey with homemade baby food on my instagram stories. With my oldest Mason I bought all of his baby food but stuck with organic brands. This time around with Myles I was determined to make all of my own baby food since I’m currently a stay at home Mom. But the reality of having a baby and a toddler means there’s less time for chopping, peeling, and steaming than I had hoped and I needed a backup plan. Little Spoon delivers organic fresh meals (using HPP) that are tailored to your baby’s developmental stage and preferences. I love that they use over 80 ingredients. Some of the similar cold-pressed brands available online have a limited number of ingredients so there’s less variety than what Little Spoon offers. I also appreciate that Little Spoon uses a lot of vegetables. I think some brands rely too heavily on sweet fruit. Little Spoon comes in convenient packages that include a tiny spoon (sn: I’m also guilty of relying too much on pouches in the past, which can promote lazy eating habits). And Myles loves it so far. 

Yumble– Once Mason moved past the baby food stage I struggled with coming up with a variety of lunches for him that were nutritious while I was working. Yumble was almost a lifesaver. They deliver organic toddler meals that are balanced, easy to reheat and so tasty I often found myself eating them. It didn’t work out because I had such a picky eater on my hands that most of the meals went to waste. But if your toddler isn’t as picky, or if you have a slightly older child this might work really well for your family especially if you’re a working parent. 

Those are my top 5 subscriptions. What are your favorites? Anything you’re thinking about trying? If it might make my life a little easier let me know! 

Xo,

Courtney

Two Under Two

Two Under Two

I can’t believe my oldest son Mason will be two in just a couple of weeks! My days of having two under two are coming to an end, soon it will be two under three which sounds somewhat less daunting. Mason’s approaching birthday inspired me to write a post reflecting on what life with two littles so close in age has been like. As I mentioned before, when I was pregnant with my younger son Myles, I got a lot of negative comments about how hard life was going to become with such a close age gap. Everyone from nurses to well meaning coworkers had strong opinions about it. Now that I’ve actually experienced it for several months, here’s what I have to say about life with two under two. If you’re thinking about having children close in age one day or already expecting a close younger sibling hopefully this helps.
Things are difficult, but doable– For me, the hardest part of caring for essentially two babies is feeling tired all the time. But that’s one of the hardest parts of being a new Mom even if you have one child. Things were fairly easy for me in the beginning. As a newborn Myles slept all the time, so I felt more refreshed than I expected to, and I still had some alone time with my older child. Things got harder when Myles started waking up more often because I was so drained. It’s difficult to meet everyone’s needs when you have little energy and both children are on different schedules. I’ve had plenty of moments where I felt overwhelmed, but some strong coffee and leaning on my husband more or another family member helped me get through those tough moments. And sometimes I just have to take a break (more on that later).
Thankfully things have started to get easier again now that their schedules are syncing up and Myles is starting to sleep through the night. Getting everyone on the same schedule or close to being on the same schedule is essential for thriving with two under two! I like to change diapers back to back, bathe them at the same time, and put them to bed at the same time. Then my hubby and I can enjoy some netflix and wine or I can read a book (or let’s be honest browse social media) at the end of the day to decompress.
The older child may need some time to get used to the baby– Mason had a bit of a learning curve when it came to interacting with his younger brother. Not only was he not used to sharing me, but he also didn’t know how to gently handle someone so small and fragile and I had to watch him like a hawk around the baby. It took about three months for him to get used to Myles, and Myles is still growing on him. Now they’re even starting to play together. Myles is completely enamored with his big brother and it’s beautiful to see a budding relationship that is separate from my own relationship with them.
Self-care becomes more important than ever– When I was pregnant with Myles I once had a friend remark that I would be walking around with mismatched clothes and makeup smeared on my face after the baby because two under two would turn me into a zombie. Thankfully that’s not true. I don’t really get dressed up while I’m sitting at home with the boys, and sometimes things do get a little messy, but in general I love getting dressed in real clothes, getting my hair done, and putting makeup on. Those things actually mean more to me now with two under two, because it helps me maintain my sense of self. It’s important to prioritize yourself physically and emotionally so that you’re not pouring from an empty cup.
If I’m feeling really overwhelmed, sometimes I just hand both kids over to my hubby and go spend some time by myself. I usually come back feeling much more recharged and capable, so I don’t feel guilty about doing that. Self-care is essential for a happy household. It’s also important to make time for activities that have nothing to do with the kids. I recently started a meditation program. And my resolution for 2019 is to schedule more dates with my friends and to start doing yoga again.
That’s my take on two under two. I’d love to hear your thoughts. If you’ve experienced life with two kids close in age, please feel free to share your perspective.
Xo,
Courtney

The Biggest Lessons of My 20s

The Biggest Lessons of My 20s

My 20s are coming to an end in a week. The past decade has given me some of my toughest moments and greatest triumphs. I wanted to recount some of the biggest lessons I’ve learned in my 20s. What were some of the biggest lessons of your 20s?

Success is Not Always Automatic- I went to college at UVA and did well as an English major. I enjoyed my time there, made some friends, and even met the boyfriend who would eventually become my husband. I imagined that when I graduated I wouldn’t have any trouble starting a successful career. But that didn’t turn out to be my reality. And like many people around the country who graduated with liberal arts degrees around that time, I struggled to find a “good” job right after college, and it left me feeling very despondent. It took a long time before I finally ended up on the right career trek in communications. After a few jobs that were either unfulfilling or not the right fit for me, I applied for a position as an editor and finally got to put my English degree to use in an environment that I loved. Sometimes we just have to be patient when things aren’t going our way because a breakthrough may be just around the corner!

And Sometimes You Have to Have the Courage to Walk Away From Things That Aren’t Right For You- I spent a year at home post-college. Feeling eager for a change, I applied to both grad school and law school during that time! I decided to go with law school because it sounded prestigious and like a natural extension of my English degree. I ended up attending Howard law school in DC. But going to law school just made me more despondent because it’s the kind of thing you really have to be committed to and I realized that I really didn’t want to be a lawyer. I decided to leave, and it was one of the toughest decisions I ever made! I don’t have any regrets about dropping out, because I think I know myself very well. There are a lot of amazing lawyers out there, but I’m proud of myself for taking action when I knew it wasn’t right for me, instead of continuing on a safe path. The upside to attending law school was that I ended up moving in with my then boyfriend, getting my first apartment, and having a lot of great experiences in and around DC. And knowing what wasn’t right for me helped propel me into making some of my dreams a reality, including starting a fashion business.

Love (and Grief, which is an extension of Love) Will Shape Who You Are- 2017 was the hardest year of my life so far. My grandfather died after battling pancreatic cancer, and we were very close. They say grief comes in waves, and it’s very true. But my grief made me a more spiritual person, and more eager to try to help others. 2017 was also the year that I became a mother. Nothing anyone says can truly prepare you for how hard motherhood is (the anxiety, the sleepless nights, etc etc) but no one can prepare you for how strong the parent-child bond can be either and it’s amazing to feel so much love for someone.

And because I met my husband at somewhat of a young age, we’ve had the interesting experience of growing up together during our 20s. Our relationship has definitely taught me some things that I appreciate about myself and some things that I’ve had to work on. Love finds us all at different times in our lives, but when it does it helps us to grow as individuals.

Those are a few of the biggest lessons I learned in my 20s. But I can’t wait to see what the next decade has in store. There are a lot of question marks in my future. I plan on focusing on Mom life for a while (and *fingers crossed* having one more baby) and starting a women’s group based on my own spiritual practices, but eventually I do want to resume my career or take on something else entrepreneurial.

Again I’d love to hear some of the biggest lessons you learned in your 20s (or that you’ve learned so far). Let me know in the comments!

XO and Self-Care,

Courtney