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

Choosing a Neighborhood When You Have Kids

Choosing a Neighborhood When You Have Kids

A year ago I was just settling into my current home in Stafford, Virginia. I was in love with the look of our place (everything was brand new and very modern) and excited to be closer to my family- about 30 minutes from my Mom, Stepdad and little sister, and 2.5 hours away from my extended family. We had chosen to move out to Stafford so that I could get more help with my kids from my mom and sister (Mason was 10 months old and I was newly pregnant with Myles) and so that the cost of childcare would be cheaper because daycares in Alexandria were so expensive- most of the centers were $400-$500 per week per child, and they were almost half that price in Stafford. My husband and I both knew we would be taking on extra long work commutes of up to an hour and a half, but we still felt like the positives outweighed the negatives.

Our optimism didn’t last long. We soon realized that in our eagerness to move we had chosen our new area very poorly, without accounting for all of our new needs as parents. Stafford carried a lower cost of living, but it was far more socially isolating than where we had lived previously because most of our friends are closer to DC. And the long commutes can really make going to work a drag. I’m lucky to no longer have to make the commute now that I’m a stay at home Mom, but I know that it’s draining for my husband and some days he’s home late when I need help with the kids in the evening because of traffic alone. And our neighborhood is beautiful but not very kid friendly, we have to drive out to parks and activities for their age group.

Because of all of these negatives we decided to move again this year. I knew that I wanted to live in a master planned community this time- these are large residential neighborhoods with amenities like parks, playgrounds, pools, athletic spaces, and sometimes even town centers with retail. They typically provide a lot of events and amenities that are geared towards children. A few examples of master planned communities in the DMV area include Embrey Mill in Stafford, Potomac Shores in Woodbridge, and Westphalia Town Center in PG County. We ended up choosing Brambleton Town Center to be close to my husband’s job.  

I’m looking forward to taking the boys to the parks and events. If you’re thinking about relocating with children now or in the future, consider the types of activities your children will be interested in and how accessible those things will be in your new area. Also consider whether or not you’ll mind driving to most things or if being in a walkable area is important to you. It was very important to me, because I’m not a master at loading my two littles into the car and taking them out on excursions by myself without coming back stressed yet. I’ve also always loved walkable areas because I’m a city girl at heart.

And of course do your research on your childcare options in the area well in advance if that’s something you’re going to need.

What are your tips for choosing a new neighborhood? And if you have any advice for minimizing stress during a move let me know.

 

Wishing you self-care,

Courtney

3 Things I Wish I Knew Before I Had Kids

3 Things I Wish I Knew Before I Had Kids

Recently I wrote a post about 3 things I wish I had known before I got married. I wanted to follow that with a post about 3 things I wish I had known before I became a parent, because motherhood is definitely one of those things where expectations sometimes don’t match reality.  Hopefully this helps some new or future moms out there. And I would love to hear from experienced moms who have advice to give.

Don’t worry too much about labor– Before I gave birth for the first time I obsessed over what labor would be like and how I could prepare myself. I read every book, article, and forum I could find. But the reality is, if you’re having a hospital birth with an epidural, most of that is unnecessary. The whole process is painful and tiring but relatively simple, and doctors and nurses who help with labor every day are there to assist. You’ll have way more work to do when you actually go home with your baby.

But, it doesn’t hurt to do some research. You should educate yourself about your options in case there are complications. And if you’re planning on a natural birth without an epidural then you should prepare yourself as much as possible beforehand for the physical and mental task you’ll be undertaking.

Breastfeeding can be really hard- When I was pregnant with my oldest son Mason, I didn’t think too much about breastfeeding. I knew that I wanted to do it, but I imagined it wasn’t any harder than just putting my baby to my breast. But when he was born and started breastfeeding the whole experience was incredibly painful for me. And my milk didn’t let down as much as it should have as a result.

It turns out the pain was due to an improper latch that took me a long time to correct, even with help (some people also think breastfeeding with boys can be a little tougher for sensitive moms). I kept going and breastfed for 9 months, and it eventually got much easier, but I regret not preparing more beforehand. Some women don’t have any trouble with breastfeeding. My own mother breastfed my little sister for 2 years with no problems. But for others, it can be a struggle. You should study up on latches and positions before your baby comes. Also many hospitals will send a lactation consultant to see you automatically, but if they don’t, then ask for one. Even if you think things are going well right out of the gate, it doesn’t hurt to make sure.

You don’t need much stuff- I have a ton of baby gadgets for my sons. Some things are amazing, but sadly many things I’ve purchased have gone unused because they weren’t interested. Every baby is different, and you never know if something will work for your child even if it worked for a family member, friend etc. For example, Mason loved his swing but hated his Jumparoo and never used it. Myles isn’t a big fan of the swing. So don’t feel like you have to spend a ton on baby gadgets. Even the things that work only last a short period of time before your baby outgrows them. Babies really only need the basics (and your love and attention) to thrive. Anything else is extra.

Those are three things I wish I had known before I had kids. What are some things you wish you had known? Or if you haven’t had kids yet but want them, then what are you looking forward to or worried about?

 

Wishing you self- care,

Courtney