MAJOR Q&A

This year, I started to do Friday Q&A’s as a way to answer more DMs. I know it sounds redundant to say, but it really does eat at me that I can’t answer them all. I do Friday Q&A’s to share links and help you find something you may not be getting on the blog. Last week I asked for some questions you had so I could source it all in one place on the blog and these are some of the repeat questions from each week! I hope this helps.

I’ll divide this up by:

  • Lifestyle/Parenting
  • Fashion
  • Babies
  • Home
  • Beauty

Lifestyle/Parenting

Did you have PPD or PPA after either birth?

{Trigger warning for those with anxiety} I had postpartum anxiety in regards to driving after I had Maxi. It was absolutely crippling when I was in the car. I would have these very intense visions that someone would hit us off an overpass and we would die or Maxi would be alive and I would die and who would save her from the car? I would pull over and bawl on the side of the road and tell Paul he had to come get us. It felt petrifying to all of a sudden be an insecure driver. This is honestly a huge reason why I’ve put off making a decision on a larger SUV for the children. My SUV is smaller, but it is very safe and I feel confident in it. I get scared to change anything and even when people say, “Oh you get used to driving a large SUV.” it’s very different when you’ve gone to therapy for driving anxiety. I can’t just get used to something in the way someone else might be able to. This lasted until she was about 18 months. We lived further from my family at the time and I hated driving. I would bawl my eyes out. I kept it a secret {my family knew} from friends for quite some time. They’d poke fun about him chauffering me when Paul would drop me off at lunches, but they didn’t know. When Maxi hit 18 months and I had dozens of moments hysterical driving, I knew I needed therapy. I first went to my OB and she was so compassionate. She hugged me while I cried and told me what can go on hormonally to make these visions so intense. I wish I had reached out sooner because she shared this can actually be very common. Once I was open about this on Instagram about 6 months ago, I found from dozens of you that you experienced the same. My OB helped me find a therapist that knew how to handle this and I went. It was the best thing I’ve ever done for myself as a mother. Paul even went with me for a few sessions so he could understand how to talk me through these terrifying moments. Now with Harry, it hasn’t been as intense, but it comes in waves. I don’t like to drive to Dallas for work. I get scared when a friend wants to meet up anywhere that isn’t typical for my driving route. I won’t go over certain overpasses as they are extremely high in the DFW. But it feels manageable with the tools I learned through my time in therapy. I share all of this for any mom that has felt this way. My OB and therapist said how our maternal instincts of protection come out and when we have children we realize just how scary driving can be. I have been there, sister, and I can’t recommend reaching out to your OB and finding a therapist enough!

Do you have help cleaning your house? If so, how often?

I go through this in waves! The short answer is yes. The long answer is sometimes it is once a month, sometimes we skip a few months, sometimes it is twice a month. The reason this is inconsistent is we have a dear sitter that helps about 6 hours a week so I can get some work done and sometimes, I don’t need her to help with the kids as much and she helps around the house- which is a Godsend! She will help me fold laundry or deep clean bathrooms. As a working mama with 2 kids, I can’t be a unicorn. And the older I get, I realize how much I don’t WANT to be. I don’t want to feel so spread thin I can’t see straight. I have started to learn my plate size much more and I feel so grateful we have her in our life.

What bible verses have been speaking to you lately?

In this stage of life, I would say my two greatest struggles are people-pleasing and control. Working in social media, you deal with the opinions of hundreds of thousands of people. Add in a pandemic, an election, and many many painful issues we could never assume we could navigate perfectly and it’s made for one heck of a year emotionally! I’m a big person on intent, so I never want someone to assume my intent was wrong and that happens just about 50 times a day from strangers.

Galatians 1:10 is something I have committed to memory:

Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.

From covid regulation comfortability to social media opinions, it has taken me one PR degree and 10 years of working in this industry to finally accept that if I desire to be like Jesus, I can’t live in fear of man.

One of my favorite pastors said, “Sometimes it seems that we think that Jesus said, “When the world loves you, keep in mind that it loved me first.” That’s NOT what he said. John 15:18-19 Jesus was courageous. He was loving, but he spoke up. People thought HE was rude. They were offended by him and even outrated. He was bold. He was tortured. He was killed.

Feelings are fickle. What pleases one offends another. I know I love the Lord. I know I love people. I know my intent. I know that I will offend people because I am not going to worship the approval of man’s inconsistent feelings.

Now, let’s talk about the other struggle I stink at?! Control! I want to know the entire plan. I’ve spent a lot of time in Genesis the past year. It’s the book of the bible that I’ve probably read the most and still, I feel like I’m learning themes of it more than ever- especially control. From Eve to Sarah to Rebekah, he promises a plan and in turn asks for trust. As a woman, I identify so much in struggling with that. As a naturally intrinsic caretaker, I know the “plan” for everyone in my family, so when it comes to myself I want to know that plan. So many problems stem from entitlement. I’m not entitled to know what my job will be in 5 years. I’m not entitled to know how many kids I will have. I can have hopes and prayers, but I have to free myself of entitlement. To recognize the relationship built in the waiting has helped ease my heart over the past year and future.

What do you do with Maxi during the days she’s not at school?

Between dance and swim lessons and tennis and appointments, I feel like our days fly by! We have a sitter that comes 6 hours a week and I get work done then. But she loves walks in the neighborhood, the park, picnics, playing Barbies, and arts and crafts. I’m not sure if this question means how do I get work finished or what activities she enjoys. But I would say in regards to work, she’s way easier to get work accomplished than with than H. A 9-month-old is getting into everything, whereas, she’s 4 so she is pretty fantastic at independent play. Here is a blog post on activities at home.

Favorite places to travel in Texas?

For a Dallas weekend, we love The Joule or The Rosewood Mansion. We are big fans of the J.W. Marriot for little ones. That’s our favorite little weekend getaway. If you want a spa weekend, my friend, Diana reviewed these Austin spots here.

A more detailed Bible Study/Bible routine?

This story highlight goes through my routine.

Do you have budgeting tips?

Here is my blog post on my budget binder! Budgeting is so relative and I feel a bit intimidated to even speak on this, but my husband works in accounting so I feel better letting him give his 2 cents. No pun intended. 😉 He said we focus a lot on day-to-day cash spending and tracking. We have spreadsheets for everything- even what we buy on Amazon. It may seem a bit obsessive, but our constant tracking and communication helps us stay on the same page so neither person is shocked when we have a larger expense coming up. We have weekly meetings {aka when the kids are content with snacks and we can sit in peace at the kitchen table} about our long-term financial projects {6 months to a year away}. Before we buy groceries we prioritize tithing, bills, saving, retirement, investments, giving…and then our day-to-day budgets follow suit. We also try to be respectful of what the other person prioritizes. For me, I’d eat the same exact thing every single day of my life. I don’t get tired of peanut butter sandwiches- ha. CLEARLY, I’d rather take that pocket money and run to Homegoods. My husband has a demanding job working, so he’d rather spend money on Favor for lunch since he can’t go grab it. It can drive me crazy he won’t bring lunch to work, and I’m sure it could drive him crazy I think we need yet another ginger jar in the house. But we just always ask the other person and I think by asking, we soften that misunderstanding. I’ll ask him if I can run to Homegoods and he asks me if he can Favor his lunch. We don’t find that to be demeaning, even when we both work, we find it to be really loving. So we overcommunicate and ask about everything before purchasing. At the end of the month, he makes spreadsheets so we see where our spending money went and we can make goals for the next month if we need to reallocate what we prioritize. Again, this is so not my forté, and I know I’m speaking in terms of frivolity here {Favor and Homegoods} but I think weekly meetings and spreadsheets visually helps me with long-term goals.

Tips for dealing with stress for things you can’t control/what do you do in the moment?

Piggybacking off my Genesis talk above, this is not my strength at all. I’d marry control if I could. ha. But THANKFULLY, I married someone that is so easygoing. He doesn’t sweat the small stuff. I’m always so impressed at how well he navigates stress in work or his personal life, and I learn a lot from him. A few things I think in the moment:

  • Is the person I’m letting down someone that will be at my funeral one day?” This helps me make decisions when I’m stressed on how I allocate time.
  • Does this impact earthly work or Kingdom work?
  • Am I thinking more about myself than this person is?” Most of the time I hype up a situation in my head with stress so much and then the reality is no one thinks about my own reactions as much as I do!

Fashion

Do you have any favorite full-coverage swimwear?

I rant about swimwear all the time because I can’t ever get over how difficult it is to find full-coverage bottoms. Here are a few swimsuits I love AND you can feel comfortable with your kids at the pool while wearing it. 😉

  • I recently ordered this Melissa Obadash one piece called “The Texas Swimsuit” and I thought, “Where has this been all my life?!” This will be on repeat. They have it in black here.
  • Solid & Striped is another brand I consistently feel comfortable in. The belted ones are my favorite.
  • Tory Burch is also known for having a one piece perfect for mamas. I ordered this one.
  • If you want a fabulous budget-friendly option, I swear by this Amazon one. I’ve had it for years and love it!

Your favorite Old Navy Tees, do they still make them? 

Old Navy made the most perfect slim fit tees that *nothing* compared to. They aren’t sold at the moment {I’m not okay!} but my girlfriend ordered these from GAP and said it is a pretty solid dupe. The sleeves are a smidge longer here for the same style.

Amazon Clothing Basics?

Amazon is a little tricky when it comes to capsule wardrobe items as their Amazon Essentials line sells out too quickly to even blog it. Here are some items I swear by:

  • I have a few of these tops to pair with workout shorts and leggings in the summer. They wash great!
  • These bohemian-style dresses are quite popular on Amazon and I have had a few of them for years.
  • This graphic tee is one of the softest ones I have! See my style it here.
  • This leopard dress is great for church, I have blogged it here.
  • This lightweight spring sweater is another Amazon Essential that you could easily work into a capsule wardrobe. It runs a little large.

Well-priced mom shorts?

The every-day shorts from Buru are a must-have, especially if you’ve recently had a baby. I LIVED in them last summer. I’m also a big fan of the J.Crew Seaside Short. For an option under $20, the brand Universal Threads at Target has pull-on shorts that you’ll be shocked you ever survived a summer without.

Baptism outfits for mom of baby?

Linking a few favorite options for you above! You can’t go wrong with the Born on Fifth collection at Dillard’s.

Favorite jean/jean shorts under $150?

AGOLDE makes my favorite jean shorts- they run TTS. Will link a few more I love.

Mom-friendly wedge for summer? 

I would go with an espadrille wedge that isn’t as high.

Where is your cross necklace from?

My husband gave it to me from Tiffany’s!

Favorite place to buy maternity clothes? 

Amazon, ASOS, and Shopbop! Here are a few blog posts you’ll want to check: maternity style guide, this Amazon dress, and this.

Maternity dresses for baby showers? 

Here is a blog post with some maternity dresses for showers.

Favorite white jeans that aren’t skinny

I only own white skinny jeans or old flares, *but* I have these jeans in a light wash and am going to order the white. They fit incredible!

All the jeans- diff price points, not distressed, etc.

I truly hate to not answer this, but I just shot a jean style guide for you for next week- so stay tuned! I just want to be able to show you the images next to the jeans and am waiting on the photos.

Do you have any dupes for your Jimmy Choo flats?

These from Nordstrom!

Babies

Tips for 6-month-old baby that still naps on me?

Hang in there, mama! I jokingly say each Q&A that no one should come to me for baby sleep advice because I’m pretty relaxed about it. Maxi was a typical first-born, she slept through the night at 6 weeks as a breastfed baby and I assure you it wasn’t because of a fancy schedule. Granted, she had more of a routine being the first. She wasn’t woken up early from naps for dance class or swim lessons or tennis camp like baby brother is. She had a regression at 4 months and then slept great and now she is a typically 4-year-old child and will come in our bed to sleep with us once or twice a week around 4 am if she gets scared. I praised myself and thought, “See! You just have to swaddle them and put them in the crib and they sleep!” And then I had, Harry.

I am a novice when it comes to parenting. I’m not even out of the whole parenting experiment yet. I’m not filled with wisdom like many mothers with grown children are. *BUT* I find the obsession with obtaining perfection in baby sleep a fascinating one. It takes two to three months for the infant brain to even develop the ability to produce melatonin. They really don’t have clear circadian rhythms until 18 weeks. And even with that, their biological design is to nurse all night for cue-responsiveness, supply, and digestion. I started to find that so much of what our culture praises goes against the biological design of infants. Because yes, so many methods work for families, but if methods aren’t working for you, it’s easy to feel like you failed. So I really had to change my mindset of what healthy expectations could be.  Could I expect my 6-week-old baby to sleep through the night? Could I expect them to go from womb to bassinet to crib with no cries for comfort? Could I expect my baby to not nurse all night?

Here’s what I have learned with 2 babies {so literally NOTHING compared to most! haha}

  • Routines help build healthy rhythms– H has far less of a routine than Maxi because that sweet baby always gets his second nap in a car seat as we run around for big sister. But the routines we can commit to like bedtime are consistent. We bathe, cuddle, read, nurse, listen to music all at the same time and in the same manner.
  • Chest naps eventually end– I let my babes sleep on my chest until 5 or 6 months and I treasure it. I use the Solly wrap if I have to work, but then I start to transition them into one nap in the crib, then the other naps, then sleeping at night. They eventually end and now if I tried to get my busy 9-month-old to sleep on my chest he wouldn’t. I wish! If it doesn’t bother you, I say soak it up. This too shall pass. But if you want to start getting routine, I’d aim for one nap in the crib a day. And in a few days, you could try the next nap, etc.
  • Manage expectations- This was a big one for me! Maxi was a pretty easy sleeper, she still is. She is 4 and still takes a 2-hour nap each day. That is just what her body needs. H isn’t as consistent with his naps. But I also remind myself at this point Maxi was a formula baby and H is still nursing, so digestion wise I can’t expect the same from both. Define what makes a big win for you and your baby- not what the world celebrates as a win! For us, a big win is H gets his two naps in a crib {means we didn’t have a busy day!} and he nurses once in the middle of the night. When he does that we celebrate with hot coffee. When he doesn’t, we don’t obsess over factors that could have changed it, but instead, we just chalk it up to the fact babies be babies. 😉

So why do I rant over all of this? Because I think this obsession with sleep can sometimes make moms feel bad about themselves or their routines. They obsess over what they did wrong…when in fact, you didn’t do anything wrong. We can’t out swaddle God’s biological design for babies. Some sleep more, some sleep less, some prefer certain routines, schedules, or swaddles. But do NOT beat yourself up!! There are thousands of experts on Instagram I could point you to, but this is me giving you a virtual hug, and iced coffee saying, “You’re doing great. You are allowed to complain of exhaustion! This is exhausting. You are a great mom no matter how long or short your baby sleeps.” Also keep in mind you are your baby’s mom for a reason. You know what they need, your neighbor doesn’t.

How is Harry’s sleep?

To piggyback off the prior question, I never like to say it’s consistent because I will jinx myself. 😉 But as of now, his morning nap is his longest. He will nap for about 2-2.5 hours. He gets a second nap that is shorter given he gets rudely awakened for swim lessons, etc. ha. He dozes off in the car to finish it off. He goes to bed at 7 pm, and then usually does a dream feed at midnight, feeds again at 5 am, and then wakes up at about 7:30/8. There are some nights he nurses 3+ times at night, but I also find it’s pretty instinctive because if I can tell my milk supply is dipping a bit {from his regular food intake} he nurses more to keep it up, etc.

What Etsy shop is Harry’s boppy from?

This is the shop.

How do you decide what clothes of your children gets put in their forever boxes?

Birthday outfits, “first” outfits {first holidays, first dance class, etc.}, and sentimental pieces like baby dedication, meeting baby brother, etc.

Books for Godly parenting, how you incorporate Jesus daily?

Pour your second cup of coffee, mama. This may be long. This is me humbly expressing our family’s faith, so please know wholeheartedly this is not me saying, “This is how you should do it.” I simply feel I can’t be honest about my faith if I sugarcoat how we feel about it, and I would never want you to do that either if I asked you. Our faith {speaking for Paul and I} is our life. It isn’t an accessory. Church is not a weekly Ted Talk we tune into to feel better about ourselves. Our faith is a relationship with Christ, the most important relationship we have. On earth, the best example we have is marriage. If our marriage is the closest earthly relationship we have, wouldn’t our family revolve around it? That is how we feel about our relationship with Christ. But how do we nurture it with our family?

Children are sponges and so we feel we can’t lead them well or even share a great example if we don’t prioritize our relationship with Christ first. For our children, that means, they see us do our quiet time, they see us in our community group, they see us serve at church, they hear our village around them speak of Christ. Half the time Maxi is sitting in my lap while I do my quiet time, and it is amazing how quickly she tries to mimic it.

We also believe that what we feed our mind grows. There was a time, I always had the news on. I woke up, grabbed my coffee, turned the news on. But once Maxi became a toddler, I recognized how much I didn’t want that in the background noise for her. I wake up, have quiet time, and we play worship music in the mornings. In the car, we listen to worship music, or I listen to sermons. While I get Harry down at night, Paul has one-on-one time with Maxi. He is great at this because he will read her a Bible story, then will find a cartoon on his phone that really acts it out well so she understands. Then he talks about it with her and prays with her. We also work on weekly scripture memory and we try to always point discipline back to the fruits of the spirit.

A few things I love:

I could never pretend I know exactly how to do this, in fact, I desperately don’t and that is why I try to cling to Christ in how I parent. I need him to parent, I don’t just want him to help me parent. And in all sincerity, I have no clue what I’m doing!

Favorite double stroller for long walks?

This Bob one! We had the Thule and returned it as Maxi didn’t like it at all.

Cute little girl shorts for under dresses? 

We do monogrammed bloomers from Babies on the Boulevard.

Special gift for first Mother’s Day and First Father’s Day?

I would do something from Cowtown Clay so you can have a personalized piece that will last forever on a buffet or bookshelf!

Home

Cleaner that gets rid of grease stains on clothes?

I always use Dawn dish soap if a stain has grease in it like tomato sauce, and then use this Puracy stain remover and wash.

How to take on organizing a pantry?

Before any organization project, take 2 weeks to assess lifestyle. I’d keep a post-it note on your pantry door. Make notes of how often you go in your pantry, what are you looking for, what are the top 5 things you most consistently grab? How you organize your pantry at 22 is going to be wildly different than how you organize it at 42. For this stage of life, I prioritize how easily we can grab a fruit snack before dance. If I were doing Whole 30, I may prioritize array of seasonings, etc. By keeping track of what your family needs you may make decisions like keeping a bowl of fruit on the counter your family can easily grab from. Maybe you need to move your oils next to your stove if you cook 3 meals a day. Maybe you are buying far more perishable snacks at the grocery store than you actually need. You also want to take note of how quickly you go through items because that will determine how you store them. For example, I use these glass jars from Walmart to store oats, Goldfish, and bars- things we go through quickly. But if we didn’t go through them quickly, I wouldn’t store them there as the jars don’t seal.

Once you take inventory and assess needs, here are a few things I find helpful:

  • This blog post features our pantry in our home {I’ve tweaked a few things currently, but most is the same}, here is our pantry in our last home.
  • I use these jars from Walmart religiously in our pantry. They aren’t in the above photos, but it was a change I made about a year ago and we love them!

Easy sheet pan recipes?

My favorite sheet pan recipe is with chicken sausage. Maxi thinks it is like french fries and hot dogs!

Slice chicken sausage, potatoes, and add canned green beans. You can also add extra veggies you have in the fridge, I do cherry tomatoes with this a lot. Then add olive oil and some ranch seasoning. Bake at 350 for about 30 minutes!

Affordable ginger jar pieces? 

Homegoods, my friend. Homegoods! They have some of the most affordable you will find. Now if you want ginger jars that don’t look as new, head on over to a local antique shop. You can find antique ones for a great price {some will be the same as Homegoods if they aren’t perfect} and that can give you more of a curated look.

How to be content with a small house and wanting to make it look nice? Really tight budget!

I just love this question! It’s no secret, I love content. I love seeing home tours and interior designers share their portfolios on Instagram. But there is a fine line between appreciation and comparison. One scroll too many and we start to think everyone has perfect turf in their backyard and real marble countertops and endless home budgets. And while it is all so relative, we’ve got to keep perspective. I think the best way to make a tight budget look designer is to hone in on your personal style, not your Homegoods runs. Whether you have an At Home find or a custom-made chair, nothing will look nice to your eye, if you don’t decide what you love. Take time to really decide what home style you are drawn to the most for your lifestyle. {I’ll have a blog post on this soon!} For example, I love MANY home decor styles, but New Traditional and French Country feel coziest and most comfortable for our family. Your version of comfort may be modern or shabby chic. Once you find the style you love and need for your home, control your feed. You can’t look at 800 other content creator’s versions of a perfect home while trying to hone in on yours. Keep your eyes in your lane. For me, that may be only following 5 interior designers that I really feel inspired by for our home. It doesn’t help for me to follow accounts with a European Modern style, I may love that, but if I’m not decorating that way it can sometimes just mess with what I want. And remember you are trying to hone in on what you love.

Once you find what you love, take an easy app like Canva, and start to make mood boards. Make one for the concept of your home. What photos inspire you? What textures? What colors? Then, you can make them for specific bedrooms crafting layouts. You do not have to keep budget in mind while brain-dumping what you are drawn to.

Once you’ve made some mood boards, then you take your budget per room and enjoy the thrill of the hunt. TJMaxx online, Homegoods, The Inside, Etsy, Facebook Buy/Sell/Trade pages, antique malls can all help you achieve the look for less. Take your time. You can use Ikea furniture {I love it!} but buy secondhand designer throw pillows off Facebook for a completely custom look.

This may seem common knowledge, but I think when you are most confident in the style you love, you will love your home no matter the budget. I love my Ikea table as much as I love my drapes because they both exude my personal style. I could have an expensive table, but if I’m not in love with it I don’t care about it.

List of cars with top AC vents:

The Car Mom on Instagram is a great resource for this!

Beauty

Easy hairstyles for new moms? 

I have a highlight on how I do my braids and my top knot!

Can brides spray tan before their weddings or will it damage the dress?

I did not spray tan before my wedding because I was just nervous. We got married in September, and while I am obsessive with sunscreen, I had natural sun before our wedding just based on the time of year. You could as long as you found a professional to really advise on this and you got it days in advance. But again, I didn’t do this so I don’t want to speak to it, too much!

Can you compare native deodorant to the Beautycounter deodorant? 

I am obsessed with the new rose Beautycounter deodorant! There are rumors {and a few confirmations!} that the Donna Karan deodorant will be discontinued. If you know, you know. I switched to clean deodorant when Maxi was born and Native worked best for me. I loved the sensitive kind without baking soda. Then when Beautycounter launched their rose one, a friend at Preschool gave me one. She knew I loved fancy deodorant. 😉 This one has the same texture as donna Karan- what I used for years before switching to clean. In terms of clean deodorant, Native Sensitive and Beautycounter are my favorite. This would just be more of a preference in terms of product. Beautycounter is $28 {refills are $18} while Native is around $12. The Beautycounter one has a creamier texture, the packaging is more luxe, etc. But both are incredibly effective and have fantastic scent options. I would say if you are addicted to Donna Karan, you may want to try Beautycounter first {it’s closer to the price you paid anyways} but if you already use clean, you’d love Native. You can’t go wrong either way, it’s just preference. I love NYX lip products as much as a luxury brand, it just depends on what I’m shopping for.

Under-eye creams that actually diminish dark circles?

Contrary to what many $90 eye creams will tell us, we can’t 100% get rid of them. Just like with pore size, dark circles are thanks to genetics and things like blood flow. You can of course use products to aide and conceal- but because this is a genetic and circulation situation, eye creams can’t diminish dark circles at a cellular level. I do, however, recommend this eye balm! My code KATEY will get you 15% off. I also have an Insta Story highlight here showing the swatches. For your day eye cream, I’d recommend this. For an evening eye cream, I am obsessed with this.

Woof, if you have read this much- BLESS YOU! No one wants, needs, or desires to read all these thoughts I have…but I wanted to hopefully include your question if you had one!

 

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1 Comment

  1. Loved reading this! ❤️✨

    Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog
    http://charmainenyw.com

    Published 01 Apr 21Reply