Swim safety is so so important and something that I think is sometimes taken for granted. Now that we’re settled into our new hometown and sending three kids to swim lessons at the same time doesn’t cost as much as college tuition, it was a priority for me to get the kids into swim lessons before the summer swim season starts so the little ones are comfortable in the water and my oldest knows more about water safety. Only Charlie had had lessons before, and they were when he was three. We hadn’t been swimming in quite a long time so we knew he needed lessons again. He has always been reluctant to participate in classes and sports so I was nervous about how he would respond. Calvin, my 3 1/2 year old, had never had swim lessons and Quincy, age 2, has barely been in a swimming pool (third baby problems). Needless to say, I didn’t have high expectations.
Charlie took a few lessons here at our local YMCA but in watching him in class he didn’t seem to be progressing and mostly just looked like he was playing. So when we discovered Goldfish Swim School I knew I wanted to work with them. I heard so many wonderful things about their swim program and it seemed like the perfect fit for my little guys. I’ve shared some of their swimming in my Instagram stories (there’s a Swimmers highlight so you can watch their progress and decide if you think it is the right fit for your own little fishies) and I’ve gotten a lot of direct messages about their lessons and progress. So I thought it would be helpful to share here on my blog and update our experience and progress every other month throughout the year. This post is based on our first month of lessons at Goldfish Swim School.
I was lucky enough to get a little solo mama trip to Los Angeles a few weeks ago (it was the best thing I’ve done for myself in a looooong time — like, since I became a mom). During that time I escaped to Ojai with a couple of mama friends for 24 hours and it was such an amazing refresh for us. I thought I would share some of our favorite places to eat, shop, and stay while we were there so you can plan your own Ojai refresh. You’ll be like “oh, hi Ojai!” 🙂
Mother’s Day is just around the corner, and while most of us mamas are perfectly happy with a homemade card and some cuddles (and maybe a morning of sleeping in), I thought I would share some of my favorite gift ideas this year for every type of mom.
(click the pink titles below to be taken directly to the websites)
For Any Mom
Most moms I know do not prioritize their own self-care, and are desperately in need of some rest and relaxation. The ARISE self-care gift box is a brilliant gift idea that helps the mama in your life nourish her mind, body, and soul. Instead of sending flowers or a traditional food or sweets basket, you could send the gift of self-care. I love that the gift acknowledges the hard work and sacrifice mothers make and how they too deserve to be cared for. I also love that ARISE supports women-owned businesses in the US and donates 1% of profits to Girls, Inc. — a nonprofit inspiring all girls to be strong, smart, and bold. What an incredible thing!
If you’ve been a reader of this blog for a while then you are already very familiar with my love of Made by Mary. Their personalized pieces are beautifully made, allowing the wearer to add meaning to their jewelry and share or remember their own special stories. I have several pieces and they are my most favorite treasures.
Every mom I know could use some good skincare products that help us look refreshed, less tired, and just take better care of our skin. And many mamas are becoming more and more conscious of using clean and safe products in their homes, eating cleaner foods, and using safe bath and body products on their kids. But many still need help remembering that it is important to clean up their own skincare and beauty routine (which I learned when my health started to suffer — read more about that here). So I think a perfect gift idea for any mom is some clean skincare or beauty products from Beautycounter (I love them so much I became a consultant!). You could buy her a whole starter kit collection (such a nice gift!) or start her off with a new day and/or night moisturizer and cleanser (the two linked at left are my favorites that work for most skin types). Or get her a gift card so she can pick something out for herself (which also gives her the gift of shopping 😉 ). I’d be happy to help anyone select the right products for them, just shoot me an email! And just a note: these products are free from over 1500 harmful or questionable ingredients that many other brands use in their products. Also, they are really concentrated, so a little goes a very long way. While the price tag may seem high, the products are far more effective and last much longer than drugstore or department store brands — making them as affordable and more effective in the long run.
Another longtime favorite gift guide pick is pretty much anything from Paloma’s Nest. Each piece is custom made, can be personalized, and are beautifully unique heirloom pieces. We love their ornaments but I also cherish my ceramic silhouettes of the boys (I still need to add one for Quincy to my collection). While the silhouettes would not be ready by Mother’s Day this year you could order a gift certificate for one to give the mom in your life. It’s the gift sure to make any mom melt into a puddle.
Similar to the silhouette above, every mom (especially of the grandma variety!) would love to have a photo book or print of their kids or grandkids. If you are ever in doubt, a photo gift is a sure fire win. My favorite source for photo gifts is Artifact Uprising — their prints are stunning, their books simple and classic, and their frames modern and high quality. I’m such a fan of their work and products.
For the New(ish) Mama
Babywearing was one of my favorite parts of being the mom of a newborn, infant, and young toddler. It’s also one of the things I miss most. Since I didn’t have or use a sling until my third baby I’m always telling new moms about the magic that is the Wildbird ring sling. It’s a great gift idea for a new mom, or a mom who just hasn’t gotten one yet 😉 And if you are looking for some help or info on babywearing read this post.
While I love a cutesy baby blanket as much as the next mama, the blankets that are my favorite to receive are more modern and classic, making them instant heirlooms that your kids can pass to their own kids. The Heirloom Blankets from Koko’s Nest are so lovely and so beautifully made that I actually want to steal ours for myself. Quincy has the Bloc design in the Grays color way but I’ve been eyeing the new Line design for myself — if only they made grown-up sizes! Any new mama would be stoked to be gifted one of these beautiful blankets for her new baby.
I fell in love hard when I discovered Oat Mama bars. The lovely ladies behind Oat Mama sent me a few bars to try while I was still pregnant with Quincy and I put them away for a low supply day. I packed a couple in my hospital bag, and it was love at first bite. They are delicious granola bars that are made from healthy ingredients and also help you with your milk supply. I’m not saying they work miracles, but due to a thyroid condition I have never been able to produce enough milk to exclusively breastfeed my babies, or to go as long as a year. The only thing different to help with my milk that I did after having Quincy was to eat Oat Mama bars (the peanut butter chocolate chip was my favorite because I had to give up dairy with Quincy and their chocolate chips are dairy-free!). And I was able to exclusively breastfeed him until he self-weaned at 20 months. That’s why they are such a great gift — because the mama you give them to won’t even realize how much she needs them or how much they could help her.
So there you have it! Eight gift ideas that will cover the gamut of every mom — whether she’s a new or expecting mama or a grandma or falls somewhere in between. All make such nice treats to truly spoil or honor the mama in your life. So get to shopping! And make sure you follow me on Instagram for a special treat tomorrow!
I’m always looking for ways to teach my kids how to take responsibility for their belongings, for teaching them some age-appropriate household tasks, and learning good behavior. It is usually easier to do during the school year because we have such a regular routine and schedule. On weekends things get a little lax as far as cleaning up after ourselves or staying on task — and that’s ok. And sometimes I realize we’ve gotten out of regular habits of chores or behavior charts due to our busy schedules. So I’m trying to get prepared for the summer, when I want to take advantage of a more laid-back schedule to implement more age-appropriate chores for the boys and a regular routine of cleaning up after themselves and being responsible for their own belongings. I also want to set clear expectations for them and for myself. I found a few things that I think will help us to stay organized and on task this summer without getting out my whistle and implementing a military-style strategy, ala The Sound of Music.
Chore and behavior charts are great in theory, but I’ve yet to find one that really works for us and that we stick to for longer than a week. I think it is partially because we don’t have a consistent routine of checking off boxes or getting stickers for each category successfully completed. I also think it is because I’ve only really used one for my oldest son. I got these behavior charts from Pickett’s Press that you can customize with both behavior and chores or tasks and personalize for each child. I had one made for each of my boys and plan to hang them in a very prominent place in the kitchen where we will see our progress and remember to track and reward timely. I love that the styles are so cute and aren’t an eyesore hanging in my kitchen. I think they will really help my 7 year old keep a consistent behavior routine and remember expectations (which we need because we are navigating what we think is ADHD with him and consistency is huge). My 4 year old will benefit from a behavior chart as well, though he doesn’t need one to motivate good behavior as much as his older brother. And my 2 year old will want one just because his brothers have one 🙂
Another thing I stocked up on are personalized bookplates. The mess of books in our house is a problem. I love that my kids love books and want to read them so much, but I cannot handle the piles of them left out and the fight over who made the mess. So I’m putting bookplates in my kids’ books. Each are personalized by color and name so that they can lift the cover and see who is responsible for putting that particular book away. And at the end of the day if there is a pile left out I will put the books in “jail” and the owner will have to earn them back. We’ll see if that works…
I’m not a stickler for continuing school work when we’re on break, but I do like to encourage writing and reading in the course of our play. Charlie loves to write stories and books, Calvin has started practicing writing because he wants to be like Charlie. And Quincy loves to color. So I got each kid a personalized journal so we can do “journal time” over the summer. Charlie might write down his ideas and thoughts, or dedicate the journal to just one story (he’s very particular about his writing and “books” that he writes). Calvin and Quincy will likely just scribble in them. But my thought is that I’ll write the dates and save them from each summer to see what we did and worked on at that time.
Those are a few of the ways I plan to stay somewhat organized and on task with my kids this summer. I mostly hope to relax and have fun and just play outside in our backyard, gardening and learning through play. But using those tools will help to keep some consistency and routine that will help us transition back into our regular routine once school starts again.
What is your summer vacation style? Are you laid back, do you through structure out the window, or do you try to keep a consistent routine? What tools help you?
This post is sponsored by Pickett’s Press, which is also included in Chandra’s Favorite’s Guide. But the opinions are my own and the love is real.
This post was created in partnership with Ebay Home. Thank you for supporting the sponsors who help me bring you content here on Oh Lovely Day.
Since moving into a new home nine months ago I’ve been planning, designing, styling, pinning, shopping, and searching for the perfect products and pieces to include in each room. Home design and styling is a personal passion and hobby for me — I love the hunt of finding the perfect rug, the dreamiest bedding, and the perfect full-length mirror. But sometimes my style tastes are bigger than my budget and I’ve had to get creative and learn patience when it comes to hunting for the perfect pieces. But, I’ve found a source for my high-style tastes that fall within my budget-friendly constraints: eBay.
One of my favorite updates in our master bedroom is our rug. Rug shopping is always depressing for me because the rugs I love are usually WAY out of my price range. And when you need a large area rug, the prices can be astronomical. So, I comparison shopped and looked in places you might not think of looking — and I found my dream rug within my realistic budget on eBay. It is a beautiful, high quality rug and it is the perfect size to cover most of our master hardwood floor, leaving 1-2 feet of wood border all around the perimeter of the room. And best of all, the rug was around 80% cheaper than everywhere else I had looked. Oh, and it shipped for free, as most of their large items do. They actually have over 900k rugs in their inventory and 90% of them ship for free. Score!
Our large area rug was the piece that pulled our whole master together. We already had furniture and bedding. Now all we needed were a few small pieces to complete the styling of the room. Since I had such luck finding our rug, I looked for some small decor items on eBay Home as well. I added a Himalayan Salt Lamp and a giant Palm Leaf to the room to give warmth and texture. Salt Lamps work as natural air purifiers, so they are great to include in bedrooms in combination with plants or on their own. And I typically am not a fan of fake plants (to me they create and collect dust instead of helping to clean the air like live house plants). But I loved the addition of the giant palm leaf — it is easy to dust and lasts forever vs. a cut leaf that would die.
Another item that you should definitely check for on eBay is luxury bedding. Pottery Barn sheets are my absolute favorite and I was able to find my favorite ones brand new at discounted prices on eBay. Category pages make it easy to browse and shop for your favorite brands, find on-trend pieces and the best price.
And don’t forget to check their decor section for affordable frames for photography and artwork you want to hang in your space. The addition of those items that are all available on eBay provided the perfect updates to complete our master bedroom. I’m still hunting for the perfect end-of-the-bed bench and I’m hopeful I’ll have luck finding it on eBay as well thanks to their large selection of furniture from brands like Design Within Reach, IKEA, and Restoration Hardware.
Did you know that you could find such a broad selection of home items on eBay? Have you sourced any products for your home from there? Do you plan to? The selection, value, free shipping and ease of shopping made me feel like this was a secret source that I never knew about and now I’m sharing it with everyone and can’t wait to share more eBay finds with you all.
This post was written on behalf of Ebay but the opinions expressed are my own.
I’m a minimalist when it comes to my jewelry style, but that doesn’t mean I don’t want high quality materials and high style. In fact, I’d venture to say that my jewelry style is simple but expensive 🙂 My wedding ring is a simple eternity band; my engagement ring a round solitaire diamond. I don’t love a ton of jewelry, big chunky or flashy pieces (I like them on others, but not on myself), and I don’t tend to change out my jewelry often. I love simple classic pieces. Heirloom pieces. Forever pieces. So when I found out about AUrate New York, I felt like I struck gold! And I did, because AUrate is a fine jewelry brand that has no concessions. They have beautifully designed pieces that are unique and stunning in their simplicity. They source the best materials and follow the highest human rights, environmental, and social responsibility standards. They are so confident in the quality of the products that they offer a lifetime guarantee for every single piece, no questions asked. And even though the pieces are high quality and beautifully made, they don’t cost a fortune because AUrate eliminates the ugly supply chain most jewelers use. I am especially crushing on their collection of necklaces.
I have been wearing their Mini Gold Letter Charm Pendant and Mini Gold Bar Earrings for about a month and I absolutely love them. I chose the rose gold chain with black diamonds and it is so pretty and delicate and just a tiny bit edgy while still being classic. I hadn’t worn earrings in over seven years — I got very annoyed by earrings after I had my first baby and between him reaching for them and my feeling them when I laid down to get what very little sleep I was getting at the time, I took them out and just never put any back in. But I haven’t taken the bar earrings out since I first put them in and I don’t even feel them. They are delicate and I don’t even notice I’m wearing them — until I look in the mirror. I’ve received so many compliments on them too. And because they are made of high quality and real gold, they don’t make my ears itch or break out like some jewelry can.
One last reason I’m crushing on AUrate is the fact that the brand supports literacy of students here in the US — for every purchase you make, you put a book directly into the hands of a child that needs it. Brands that give back are always crush-worthy.
I think AUrate’s pieces make great gift ideas for things like Mother’s Day, the birth of a new baby, or a wedding gift in addition to the usual birthday or anniversary gift. The style, quality, and design of the jewelry make them a new favorite go-to for my own wishlist!
This post was sponsored by AUrate, but the opinions are my own.