Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Top Tips to Choose the Right Childcare

childcare options, daycareI was a little crazy about choosing the right childcare for Jax.  I began researching childcare options when we first got pregnant.  I started phone interviewing childcare providers months before we would actually be joining.  I started meeting with places about 2 months before we would join.

We chose a family daycare for his first year, and chose to go to a more structured, education-driven daycare when Jax turned one.  It was the right choice for us.  We wanted a nurturing, family-centered environment to start with.  Every family will choose what is right for them.  What was important for my family might not be as important to yours.  We all have different priorities and wants.

The one thing that is every parent's priority is that whatever childcare they choose, it is caring, safe, and a good environment for their child.

Through my experience looking for amazing daycares that work for our family, I have compiled my top tips to choose the right one.

1.  Make sure they are accredited.  Let me start with a story.  This is how we learned to choose only accredited family (AKA, at-home)) day cares.  We went to interview a woman who had an at-home daycare.  I asked what activities they did each day.  She said (roughly), "All different things.  They mostly play video games, watch cartoons."  Um...okay.  One:  I don't want my kid watching TV all day,  Two:  My baby is 4 months old.  I'm pretty sure, even if I was cool with it, he wouldn't have the fine motor skills to pop a ho and steal a car.  That was pretty much the end of the interview for me, but - to not be rude - I asked a few more questions.  I don't remember what I asked her exactly, but I do remember her response was, "I just need the money."  Alright, no.  I do not want my baby spending 8+ hours a day with a woman doing it because she needs the money.  To put the cherry on the shit sundae, as we were walking out, her garage door opened and the distinct skunky smell of weed wafted out.  Wow.  She was the last interview I did with an at-home daycare that was not accredited with the state.

You can find which daycare's are accredited online.  I found a list in Evanston through a few sources, our library had a list, the city of Evanston website, and the child services website for our county.  Once I found the list, I put a flag for each one on a Google map.  That's how I prioritized who to call.  Whoever was on my or my H's route to work got a call.  We interviewed and found Ms. Anne.  A lovely woman who had been running her accredited daycare for the past 15 years.  She was a gem and we loved her.  It was just recently that we moved Jax to an institutional daycare to give him a more educational experience.

2.  Compile a list of questions that you know what you want the answers to be.  For instance, I was concerned about Jax getting enough tummy time and I wanted to make sure someone didn't just stick him in a playpen all day.  I asked, "What activities do you think are important for a 4 month old to do each day?"  I knew the answers I wanted to hear, and some surprised me by giving me answers I didn't think about, but appreciated.  Childcare providers should be able to surprise you with great ideas that you haven't thought of.  They take care of children for a living.  You have the ninos you have and you're figuring it out as you go along.

3.  Ask the childcare provider if you can observe.  If they don't allow observations, you can be sure they're doing a whole lot of nothing all day or they aren't a confident provider.  During the observation, watch how the provider engages with your child.  Watch how they encourage the children to engage with each other.

4.  Ask the childcare provider if you can drop in.  If the provider has a translucent system, and allows parents to participate in their child's day or just come for a visit, then they are confident in what they do.  They know they will be doing exactly what they should be doing.

Our children are the most important parts of our lives.  We grew them, we went through labor, we raise them - they are everything.  Making sure that your childcare provider is giving your child an experience that you are happy with is a top priority.  By following these tips, you can feel (a little) better knowing your child is in good hands.

What I listened to while writing:

Cold is the Night by The Oh Hello's

Emmylou by Vance Joy

Northern Wind by City and Colour

Sarah Smirks, documenting baby's accomplishments

Monday, September 29, 2014

My Morning Routine with the Babe/ Heatless Curling Tutorial

morning routine with babyMornings become a carefully choreographed dance when you have kids.  Each step, if taken a moment too late, will throw off the whole dance.

I wake up at 5:00am, 5:10 and my day is ruined.  I love my snooze button as much as the next girl, so I set my alarm for 4:45am, and then my real alarm goes off at 5:00am.  It helps me mentally prepare to get my ass out of bed before the sun.

At 5:00am, I brush my teeth wash my face and turn the Keurig on.  By 5:15am, I have my coffee in hand and am ready to do hair/makeup.

By 5:30am, I have my hair and make up done.  If you regularly read my blog, you saw the 5-minute up-dos I usually wear for work.  When I wear my hair down, I actually wake up at that first, 4:45am alarm.

By 5:40am I am dressed.

At 5:45am, I wake Jax up, get him dressed, brush his teeth, and set him in his high-chair.

At 6:00am, the husband takes over and I am out the door for work.

That's the whole dance.  In order to make it work, I do some prepping at night.  I shower the night before.  If I plan on wearing my hair down, and know I'm not waking up early enough to do it, I'll do a nifty little braid thing I learned from a YouTube tutorial, and my hair will be curly the next day - so easy.  See the tutorial below.  I also pick out my outfit the night before, and if I worked from home the day before, I'll make sure my work bag is set up to bring into the office the next day.

When you are new to going back to work after your maternity leave, it's important to get a routine down that works for your lifestyle and stick to it.  It'll get easier eventually.


Here's another one I found that I'm tempted to try!


Update:  I tried this last night.  It worked great!  This method gave me Kardashian-like waves.  I suggest drying the roots first, so your hair isn't flat.

What I listened to while writing:

It'z Just What we Do by Florida Georgia Line

Sarah Smirks, documenting baby's accomplishments

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Sunday, September 28, 2014

Work Style Inspiration Board - October, Week 1

Express is having their semi-annual clearance sale!  Almost all of my office clothes are from Express, so - needless to say - it's my personal holiday, full of rituals and celebrations.  Any true Express-er knows that as the weeks of the sale go on, their sale gets better and better.  Right now, they're up to 60% off!  This work style inspiration board is all Express sale attire to celebrate my favorite holiday :).  By the by - an additional 20% is taken off at the cart.  For reals.

office style, work fashion1. Express Cropped Top/High-waisted Skirt | 2. Express Editor Pants | 3. Leopard Top | 4. High-waisted Midi Skirt

Okay - so maybe you can't wear a crop top to work, but add a cami underneath and you're good to go.

What I listened to while writing:

Dirt by Florida Georgia Line

Let Her Go by Passenger

More Like Her by Miranda Lambert

Sarah Smirks, documenting baby's accomplishments

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Workout You Can Do With Your Baby! Fit or Flab Friday

[caption id="attachment_129" align="alignleft" width="300"]Photo credit: Ed Yourdon / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA Photo credit: Ed Yourdon / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA[/caption]

When Jax was a tiny, tater tot, I used to work out with him on the regs.  Now, he's giant and I can't rep the nugget like I used to, but here's a glance at the workout routine I do with him (not as many reps as I used to!):

1.  Dance!  I still do this with my giant sack of potatoes.  We turn on some music, I pick him up, and we dance all over the house.

2.  Squats!  I squat while holding him.  I prefer the ballet-type squats (I'm sure there's a technical name for it; feel free to let me know what it is!).  The ballet squat: 1) Your toes are pointed out 2) You squat low.

3.  Crunches!  I use Jax as my weight as I do crunches.  I hold him to my chest and sit up, working that core a little harder.

4.  Arm reps!  As I do my squats, I hold him and raise him up and bring him down.  He's 23 pounds now - it kills!

Here are some YouTube workouts I also did a lot when Jax was younger:

Lauren Brooks |  Working out with Baby


BabbaCo | Post-Pregnancy Exercise


What I listened to while writing this:

Jax was chilling with me, so we listed to If You're Happy and You Know.  I kid you not, the dude had a dance routine to go with it.  News to me!!

Sarah Smirks, documenting baby's accomplishments

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Family Friendly Vacations: Link Love Thursday

Link Lovin ThursdayMy little family is trying to plan a vacation.....with a toddler.  Kyle is a teacher, so our vacation time options are sparse.  Winter break, spring break, and summer.  Summer is gorgeous in Chicago, so we usually stay local and glamp (I'll post on that later).  Winter break is so packed with events, we don't really have time to leave.  Spring break it is.  Yay!  The most expensive time of year to travel.

When deciding on a vacation we came up with a list of must haves that definitely changed since we had Jax.  Before it was more along the lines of cheap, boozey.  Today, it goes something like this:

1.  All-inclusive - I don't have the money I used to to go out to eat for every meal.  Child care is expensive - can I get an amen?

2.  Baby/Toddler Activities - this was hard.  Not too many places cater to those with little ones, but I wanted a place that would keep Jax engaged.  Kyle and I wanted it to be a vacation for him too.

3.  Babysitting Services - we wanted the option to be able to go to dinner or out on an excursion solo.

Here are the links I found the most helpful in our vacation planning.  Enjoy!

Beaches Resorts - I went there for a wedding and it was incredibly child friendly (this was our final choice - Beaches Jamaica!)

Travel and Leisure - They made a list of the top family-friendly resorts.  Number 10 was a close second!

Family Friendly Child Network - This is where my search started.  It helped inspire my must-have list.

Have you taken your toddler on vacation?  Where did you go?

What I listened to while writing:

Kyle was watching Fast and the Furious in the background.....RIP Paul Walker.

Sarah Smirks, documenting baby's accomplishments

Flex Offers

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

What childcare option is right for you? Take the quiz! (Part 1 of a 3 part series)

[caption id="attachment_94" align="alignleft" width="300"]childcare options What childcare is right for you?[/caption]

When I was deciding on a childcare option, I looked at every option.  There are so many, and making that decision is incredibly hard.  Is flexibility and control important to you?  Is socialization your top priority?  What about an intimate setting?  Do I want my child to have a close bond with his or her childcare provider?  There are a lot of options to choose from and it makes the whole idea incredibly overwhelming.

What to do, what to do...

My incredibly long and blindingly boring research into childcare can't just be for my own good.  What a waste?  I made a quiz to help you decide what childcare option makes the most sense for you.

Take the quiz here!

Make sure you don't miss part 2!  Sign up to follow Sarah Smirks' posts on Bloglovin' - click here.

What I listened to while writing:

Yellow by Coldplay

Sarah Smirks, documenting baby's accomplishments

Monday, September 22, 2014

To Moms Everywhere: Don't Feel Guilty

parental guiltTo Mom Everywhere:

We are not super human.  Sometimes we break down because not everything is perfect.  We put the pressure for our children's lives to be perfect on us.  It's on our shoulders (in our heads).  The reality is, it really does take a village to raise a child.  Not everything is going to go the way you (or your child, or your husband, or anyone) wants at all times.  But still, we put that pressure on ourselves.

Because I constantly feel like I am doing everything wrong, I wrote a list of things I (and all moms) need to remember not to feel guilty about.

1.  Don't feel guilty that your kid goes to daycare, a nanny, or whoever might provide child care.  It takes a village to raise a child.  Being a stay at home mom is not right for every family.  Working moms:  your child gets an education and social skills through their childcare experience.  Whenever I start to feel guilty for Jax being in daycare, I remind myself how much he has learned during those days at school.  He has friends.  He shares.  He learned to crawl and walk at school from watching the older toddlers in his class.  He sings.  He dances.  His daycare can provide the stimulation and engagement that I could never provide.  Even if I worked from home 100% of the time, I couldn't give him the stimulation, engagement, and social skills that his daycare provides.

2.  Don't feel guilty when you get frustrated by your kids and look forward to their bedtime.  Kids are exhausting.  We're all guilty of occasionally watching the clock for bedtime.  No one should feel guilty for wanting some me time.

3.  Don't feel guilty for getting a babysitter and having a night out.  Balance is the key to sanity.  Get out of the house, kids free once in awhile.  Another important aspect of this is keeping your relationship with your partner as a priority.  Spend alone time with your husband or wife without the kids.  Here's the kicker, try not to talk about the kids while you're out.

4.  Don't feel guilty for putting your kid in baby jail - whatever that might be.  When Jax is out of his mind, I'll put him in his crib, in his pack n' play, or - at this moment - I jailed him in his walker (that he only uses to eat on, now that he walks).  Kids have many feels and have no idea why or how to deal with their emotional roller coasters.  Feel free to walk away when your kid is out of control.  And feel guilt free.  When I'm watching Jax alone and he's being ridiculous, I'll put him in his crib, walk away, and let him calm down before I approach him again.  It's much easier than staring at him, wide-eyed as he screams in my face about God knows what.

5.  Don't feel guilty if your kids aren't meeting their milestones when books say they are supposed to.  Every person is different, and eventually he or she will catch up.

Mommies - we aren't perfect.  It's not possible.  Do your best, and forgive yourself for the things you feel guilty for.  Don't listen to the mama haters that are always telling you the "right" way to do things.  There is no right way.  Every family is different.  Every person is different.  Give yourself a break.  We're all just trying to figure it out as we go along.

What I listened to while writing:

Lots - I wrote this over several guilt-ridden days.

Sarah Smirks, documenting baby's accomplishments

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Work Week Style: Week 3, September Inspiration Board

This week, I am obsessing over vintage-inspired clothes, mainly the early 70s and cute office decor.  I have been hauling up in my home office way too often lately, and it is a mess.  It is driving me insane.  Plus, looking at all of the other bloggers' offices makes my green monster twinge.  I would love to know how they get away with a sparse desk.  I have two monitors, a laptop, a docking station, and two phones.  How do they have a cute notebook and a pile of books on their desk (exclusively!)?  Oh well, that drove my week 4 inspiration.

workplace fashion1.  Forever 21 Skirt | 2.  Forever 21 Statement Necklace | 3.  Forever 21 Hat (side note:  I just bought it today!) | 4.  Office Freaks paper weight (inspired by my baby boy, Jax!)

What I listened to while writing:

My mother in law yelling at me from the other room.  She'll get 10 points if she notices I wrote this ;)

Sarah Smirks, documenting baby's accomplishments

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Saturday, September 20, 2014

Carpet Diem

Great post for your weekend! This is a re-blog from the Doodle House blog on mixing old and new pieces together in a room. Enjoy & thanks, Doodle House, for the inspiration!

Friday, September 19, 2014

Low-carb Football Dip - Fit or Flab Friday

foottball sunday, game day snacksThe only thing I really care about during football season is the food and Bloody Marys.  There, I said it.  There was a time when I liked football (kinda), but that slight joy was killed when I became a sports widow.  Now the turning of the leaves only reminds me that I will be ridin' solo any Sunday I feel like leaving the house.  Today, I didn't mind watching football.  Partly because I was browsing my blog feeds while Kyle watched football, but mostly because I was eating yummy dip.  Of course, I didn't make it or come up with the recipe.  The husband did, naturally.  But, for you, I stole the recipe and now you can make it too!

Kyle is on a low-carb kick, so he made a low carb version of his favorite dip.  We'll name it the Cheesy, Meaty Man dip.

Cheesy, Meaty, Map Dip

What do you need?

  • Ground Beef

  • Sloppy Joe sauce

  • Cream Cheese

  • Shredded Sharp Cheddar Cheese

What do I do?

  • Grill up the meat like you would for tacos

  • Add the sloppy joe sauce

  • Get a plate

  • Spread cream cheese all over the plate

  • Spread the sloppy joe meat on top of the cream cheese

  • Add the shredded cheese on top

  • Microwave for 30-50 seconds to melt the cheese

  • Eat - to make it low-carb, Kyle ate it with celery (I ate it with tortilla chips)

DSC_0731 (2) sloppy joe dipDSC_0733 (2)

What are your favorite football snacks?

What I listened to while writing:

Home by Phillip Phillips

If There's a Reason by Derby

Middle Distance Runner by Sea Wolf

Sarah Smirks, documenting baby's accomplishments

Thursday, September 18, 2014

My Favorite Fashion Blogs: Thursday Link Love

Link Lovin ThursdayI started getting into blogs when I was pregnant, purely by accident.  <begin rant> I was freaking out over how grotesque my stomach would be after I had my baby, and I was Google Imaging post-baby stomachs.  I'm a glutton for punishment.  There are a few bloggers who post their post-baby bodies, and it's realistic, but mostly you'll get photos from plastic surgery sites that are terrifying.  Don't Google Image, "post-baby body" when you're pregnant.  You'll have nightmares. <end rant here>.  The point is that I ran across Veronika's Blushing.  Veronika, the writer behind the blog, had a baby in May, 2014 - about 4 months before I was due to give birth, and I was in the height of my post-body freak out.  She had posted pictures of her body post-baby, which were quite normal, and I started reading her posts from when she was pregnant, and I got hooked.  She is also a working mom, and we're in a similar field, so I identified with her easily.  Her blog got me completely addicted to the blog world, and it spiraled.

Below are the top 3 blogs that I check everyday.  These aren't the only blogs I read, but they are the ones I read first thing in the morning, every morning.  I like my routines :)

1.  Veronikas Blushing - She posts mostly real-life, workday fashion posts, but she has posts about being a mother, crafts, and everyday life sprinkled in as well.

2.  Little Blonde Book - Taylor Morgan is the adorable chick behind Little Blonde Book.  She writes all fashion posts.  Taylor chooses very wearable clothes and styles it for the everyday girl.  She occasionally posts about her equally adorbs baby girl.  Her blog just celebrated its 1 year anniversary.  Having as much success as she has reached in one year is a dream!

3.  Gal Meets Glam - Gal Meets Glam is written by a blogger named Julia.  She's all fashion with travel thrown in as well.  Her fashion posts are a mix between formal and every day.  While I wouldn't necessarily choose to wear everything she wears, I love the way she styles and it gives me ideas of new twists on the clothes I like to wear.

What fashion blogs do you love?

What I listened to while writing:

Breathe Me by Sia

Be Ok by Ingrid Michaelson

Satellite Mind by Metric

The Funeral by Band of Horses

I Will Follow You into the Dark by Death Cab for Cutie

Sarah Smirks, documenting baby's accomplishments

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Dealing with Stress

dealing with stressNo matter how much I strive to have my life be a well-oiled machine, sometimes a gear gets off track and throws everything off.

Example:  We renovated our entire house and pretty much turned our pockets inside out to pay for it.  Just as we were finishing and trying to rebuild our savings, we got a huge tax increase and a tenant decided to move out in the middle of his lease.  The gears were officially off the track.

It took everything within me not to just go to bed and never emerge from my blackout curtain-draped bedroom.  When I was done feeling sorry for myself, my husband and I sat down and wrote out a plan to fix our problems.  I contacted all of the old applicants for the apartment and it turned out one was still interested and they quickly signed a lease.  Check, off the list.  Next, we decided to refinance to bring down our payments and make the tax hike less brutal.  Partial check - still in progress.

During these ordeals, I had to really work to deal with my stress.  While I wanted to give up, I obviously couldn't do that - I have a baby, husband, career.  I couldn't sit around feeling like the victim because that didn't solve any of my problems.  While we were able to figure out solutions, the stress was still abundant, to say the least.  Here are some tips that I used to stay sane during this situation.

  • Exercise - I exercise 2-3 times a week and it helps me work off the stress that aches me.

  • Steam room - Along the same train of thought, while at the gym, use the steam room.  Nothing is a better stress reliever than the sauna.

  • Write down your problems - When something is getting to me, I write down my problems and make a list of possible solutions.  As I try them, I feel much better just by making progress toward a fix.

  • Deep breathing - When the stress is really getting to me, I focus on my deep, slow breaths.  If you've ever taken a Yoga class, you know what I'm talking about.  Taking those deep breaths slows a racing heart and effectively calms you down.

  • Talk it out - Sometimes all you need is a good friend to vent to when stress triggers are getting to you.  You never know when someone has been in a similar situation and has sound advice.

What do you do to help deal with stress?

What I listened to while writing:

Stairway to Heaven by Led Zeppelin

America by Imagine Dragons

Lakehouse by Of Monsters & Men

Sarah Smirks, documenting baby's accomplishments

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Perfectionist Problems

perfectionist, type aI'm the first to admit, I'm a perfectionist.  I never feel like anything is quite right and I am always trying to find ways to improve everything.  As I was fuming over my husband forgetting to bring Jax's jacket to daycare, I started to think - is this a me issue?  Am I so critical of myself that I can always find fault with others as well?

I started to think of the issues that can surround those of us Type-Aers that are always looking for things to be a bit better.  I mentally compiled a list of reasons I need to calm the ef down, and not strive for complete perfection.

Perfectionist Problems:

1.  Nothing I do is ever good enough in my eyes - I noticed a couple posts back that I used "your" when I should have used "you're."  I'm still pissed.

2.  Nothing ANYONE does is good enough - I have high standards for myself and everyone around me; therefore, I always see how something could have been done more efficiently or better.  I wanted to know if this was a me thing or if other perfectionists felt the same way.  I conducted an informal survey (texts, IG, Twitter, and G-chat), turns out I'm not the only one.  Others also feel that everyone could be a whole lot better at everything.  It irks them when they see some task being performed beneath their standards.

3.  No one will ever call me laid back - All my life, I have wanted to be described as laid back, but with my lists, phone alerts, multiple calendars, and mind-melting editing hours, I will never be described as laid back - much to my dismay.

4.  We can take dieting and exercise too far - We are so focused on perfection, when we start a diet or exercise plan, we strive to do it perfectly, and sometimes it can go overboard.  Along the same vein, when I had my son, obviously, I was a little flabby.  It didn't bother me that I had gained weight, it bothered me that it looked messy.  I wanted to be compact because it appeared more...neat, I guess.  My motivation for this point is that I started a diet for the first time after I had Jax, and without realizing it, I had lost way too much weight.  I took the diet like a competition I had to win.

5.  If something can't be perfect, we quit in the middle - This was brought to me from my good friend, Jenn.  She's the queen bee of perfect.  She's my perfectionist Buddah.  I strive to reach her type-A nirvana.  She was helping me with my son's baby shower decor.  I am a selective perfectionist.  We were working on a pendent banner, and I was half-assing it because I was tired and huge (she was pregnant too, but a much better trooper).  Turns out, she stayed up late and re-did everything I did.  Other projects got tossed aside because she knew she wouldn't be able to make them as perfect as she wanted.  But, I have to hand it to the girl, everything was flawless.

These are a few of the items I came up with to convince myself to try and chill a little.  I love the type-A in me.  I get shit done!  However, no one is perfect.  Not you.  Not me.  I want to try will work on being less critical of myself and others.  It takes too much energy to care that much about unimportant details.  My amazing boss tells me all the time, "80% is good enough."

I have bigger fish to fry than obsessing over using the wrong your.

What I listed to while writing this:

Say it Ain't So by Weezer

Sarah Smirks, documenting baby's accomplishments

Monday, September 15, 2014

Work Week Fashion: Week 3, September Inspiration Board

Every Monday, I will showcase my work week inspiration boards.  I need a little somethin' somethin' to get me motivated to not throw my hair in a messy bun and pull on a baggy sweater.

It's feeling a whole lot like fall today.  Not fun fall - sunny, crunchy leaves, pumpkin spice lattes, more like late October, brr fall.  To make me happy, I did some fake shopping today.  I don't know how fashion bloggers can afford to shop all the time.  I envy them!  I covet their closets (and Instagrams).  However, I cannot buy everything I want, so my inspiration boards are filled with affordable clothes.  I frequent Nordstrom Rack, Marshalls, TJ Maxx, Kohls, Target, Express, Forever 21, and Zappos.  You can get great deals and on-trend items.  My thought is, I'll spend a bit more on classics, so they last, but I'm not spending bunches of money on clothes or accessories that will go out next season.  It hurts my soul, and my purse.  No one likes low alert bank texts, am I right?

Here is my inspiration board.  It's filled with my current fall covets:  menswear mixed with very ladylike items.  I hope it inspires you like it inspires me!

work week clothing, work attire  1.  Zappos | 2.  Express | 3.  Express | 4.  Express

What I listened to while writing:

Hmm....well, Big Bang Theory was on in the next room...

Sarah Smirks, documenting baby's accomplishments

Sunday, September 14, 2014

sick hair day

Hilarious post, reminds me of my mom's adventures with my brother. Braids and kool-aid dyed hair.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Pumpkin Cake Recipe - Fit or Flab Friday

pumpkin cake recipe

Fit or flab Friday is a toss up.  On Fridays, maybe I'll feel motivated to do a fitness or health blog, OR, maybe I'll feel a little slothy.  It has been stupidly cold today in Chicago, so, flab wins!

I have made this recipe more than once, which is really saying something because I hate cooking, baking, and everything in between.  The husband keeps me from starving.  For real.  If he's not home for dinner, I stare at the fridge like it's a mystical thing I can't figure out or I order pizza.  Anyway - we're making pumpkin cake today!  It's easy and (a wee bit) healthier than regular cake.  Pumpkin has vitamins and fiber, so less guilt (?).

I, personally, buy boxed cake batter.  To make pumpkin cake, you add a can of pumpkin and a couple splashes of pumpkin spice seasoning to your batter (egg, oil, water - whatever it says on the box), mix together, and bake as directed  Let it cool and add cream cheese frosting because cream cheese frosting makes everything better.  BOOM, pumpkin cake.  Not only is it delicious, but it is moist and a bit more nutritious.

If you are a little more domestic than me, and most people are - man or woman - try this pumpkin cake recipe from scratch from allrecipes.com.

What I listened to while writing:

Nothing again!  Pandora has been my enemy this week.


Sarah Smirks, documenting baby's accomplishments





Wednesday, September 10, 2014

5 Minute Hairstyles for the Busy Mom - Thursday Link Love

Links that help working momsMy morning consists of waking up BEFORE the crack of dawn, getting myself ready, getting Jax ready, kissing my husband, and booking it to the office.  Occasionally, I'll make the time to make my hair nice n' pretty, but - let's be honest - most days no.  In a future post, I'll show you the genius no-heat curl tutorial that changed my life.  Today, I'll be posting quick n' easy work appropriate up-dos (btw - I'm holding my son right now, and typing with one hand, AND he just bit my neck while simultaneously passing gas.  I wanted to give you some context of my life.).

1)  This tutorial is super easy and shows 10 different hairstyles you can try.


2)  The fishtail braid is incredibly easy, but looks complex + 6 other quick hairstyles


3)  This is more of a weekend look - milkmaid braids.  I think they're adorable, and I wear them a lot on the weekends.  They're fast, and it looks - to the outside world - like I'm quite put together, and wear pants regularly.



With these easy hairstyles, you too can pretend like your put together.  Haha - cause isn't that what we're all doing?  We pretend to have our shit together, but I have always gone by the creed - fake it 'til you make it.  If you fake being put together and having an orderly life, eventually it becomes a reality.

Check out more of the hair tutorials I love on Pinterest!



What I listened to while writing this:

Nada - other than my son's lullaby's over the monitor, and then he woke up and just said mamamaamamama over and over again.  No good jams this time (my Pandora was being wonky).

Sarah Smirks, documenting baby's accomplishments



Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Fun Way to Document Baby's First Year

When I had Jax, I knew I needed to think of a fun way to document all of his accomplishments throughout that first year.  From the day he was born to now, he has changed completely. 

An aside:  He was 4 weeks early, which put him behind in those milestones for 4 weeks as well. I didn't know this when he was born, but I later learned that for each week earlier than 40 weeks your baby is born, it puts them a week behind on the milestone charts.  So, don't freak out if your baby doesn't smile of rollover during the weeks/months that the books say that he or she will.  

I took a picture each month he was born and added his likes and accomplishments with Photoshop for that month.  You can also do this much easier (and if you don't have Photoshop) with the app PhotoGrid on your phone or online with Picmonkey.com.

For his 1 year birthday party, I combined all of the pictures into a collage and printed a poster size as decor.  Everyone loved it, and it was a great way to document his accomplishments and show off how much he changed over the years.

[caption id="attachment_32" align="alignnone" width="168"]first year, baby accomplishments Here's an example of what I did each month. This is his 9 month accomplishment picture.[/caption][caption id="attachment_33" align="alignnone" width="300"]1 year birthday decoration I made this collage and got it printed in poster size as decoration for his first birthday party.[/caption]


Check out my pins that inspired other party decor for Jax's big 0-1.


Mamas:  What have you done to document your baby's accomplishments during the first year?  Comment below.

What I listened to while writing:

Comes and Goes by Greg Laswell

Mess is Mine by Vance Joy

Skinny Love by Birdy

Sarah Smirks, documenting baby's accomplishments

Monday, September 8, 2014

Cubicle Makeover

cubicle makeover, cubicle decor, office decorating

Cubicle Makeover[/caption]

The standard gray, drab cubicles will suck the soul out of you.  My soul has been sucked more than once!  They're boring and I have a creative job.  I can't be dragged down by corporate yawn decor.  We recently remodeled our company building and - woo.  hoo. - we got new gray, soul sucking cubicles.  I decided to dress mine up.  I work in the office 3 days a week, and then at home 2 days a week.  I wanted people to know just who owns my cube when I'm gone.

Here's my "office..." redecorating tips:

1.  Choose decor with personality -  I love dry, sarcastic humor, so I chose a "Cubicle Sweet Cubicle" sign from Etsy.  Here's the one I have (it's only $6!!).

2.  Pick a theme - I'm all about a theme.  My son's room is world travel themed (I'll blog about that later).  I chose blue.  Not much of a theme.  Some would dare to say, not a theme at all.  Suck it.  It's theme-esc.

3.  Load up on pictures - I have a ton of photography and a weird amount of clocks (maybe I have a thing for clocks?) at home, so I brought them here.  Now, people know exactly whose house (cubicle) this is when I'm not in the office!  My face is all over it.  I'm territorial; what can I say?

Do you have tips on dressing up the old cubicle?  Comment below!

What I listened to while writing:

Grand Optimist by City and Colour

Go by Avalanche City

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Friday, September 5, 2014

Welcome to Sarah Smirks!


This is my first post on Sarah Smirks.  I just wanted to introduce you to my blog before getting into the dirt of real, live posts.

[caption id="attachment_17" align="alignright" width="224"]lifestyle blogger, hand foot mouth disease, mommy blogger This picture was taken at my son's 1 year birthday party. I'm sure you're wondering why he is so....under dressed. He had 103 fever and was diagnosed with hand, mouth, and foot disease. Have any of you ever experienced that? Any mamas with kids who had HFM?[/caption]

 This is a lifestyle blog that I started because being a working mother is hard.  I wanted to start this blog as a way to document how I keep my sanity and a forum for others to share their experiences.

I will be posting on topics related to how I keep my house and life in order, baby/toddler stuff I'm learning along the way (I have a 1 yr old boy.  I can tell you my story, but I'm no expert!), and how to keep my own identity while wearing the hats of marketing director, wife, mother, friend, sister, daughter, etc, etc, etc.  God, how do we keep sane with it all?  It isn't easy, so I want this to be a forum - comment, reply, communicate with us.  Share your experiences with me as I will share my experiences with you.  I want this to be a community, not a diary.

What I listened to while writing:

1.  Broadripple is Burning by Margot and the Nuclear So & So's

2.  First Time by Vance Joy

3.  Flapper Girl by The Lumineers

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