MOTHERHOOD: LIFE AS A STAY AT HOME MOM (PT.2)

It’s been over one full year since I left my job in government public relations and marketing to stay home full time with my babies and boy has it been a year! It’s been a year full of so much joy, so many memories, so much exhaustion, and so much growth. 

Being a stay at home mom is nothing like what I expected.  And to be honest, I’m not sure what I expected.  Perhaps it was this vision I have of a 1950’s housewife who was impeccably dressed with a perfectly styled and clean home and dinner on the table. And maybe that’s how life was back in the 1950’s.  But my experience staying at home with my kids has looked a lot different than that.  If you follow me on Instagram you only see the highlights of me being a mom.  But in reality it’s very over-stimulating, it’s exhausting, my house is never, ever clean and the laundry is never done or folded. And I don’t cook. Thank God for my husband who goes to work to provide for us and then comes home to cook us dinner (it really is not an activity I enjoy). 

So what is it really like staying home you ask? Well it’s loud for one. The days feel really long sometimes (but yet somehow nothing ever gets done and there’s never enough time to complete my to-do list). At times it can be incredibly stressful. At the stage of life I’m in with my kids, I have one child who wants my undivided attention and one child who needs my undivided attention. And sharing that attention equally doesn’t always happen. It’s a constant battle between which child needs my attention at that exact moment. And sometimes they both do. It’s a balancing act that takes a lot of practice and a lot of patience. And a lot of grace for yourself. But our days are full of imaginative play, lots of snacks, some boo-boo’s, lots of cuddles, messes everywhere, and just a lot of fun. There are some really beautiful moments. But it’s not easy. It’s definitely not easy.

As I started thinking about this blog post and what I wanted to share I knew I wanted to share how much I enjoy staying at home with my kids and it’s a decision that although I’ve questioned, I know it’s the right one. But I also want to be honest and share that I’ve had a lot of moments of struggle. I think being a parent right now in general is just insanely difficult.  We are dealing with a pandemic that’s not going away, a winter full of severe viruses that the world hasn’t seen in decades, constant social media sharing and perceptions, political and social turmoil, an increase in anxiety amongst younger people, and everything else in between. It’s hard and it’s exhausting. 

But being at home is truly a beautiful experience. Over the past year I’ve come to realize more and more that choosing to stay home with my kids is one of the bravest decisions I ever made. And I say that because prior to staying home I felt like I was confident in who I was and my abilities. Being a mom and one that stays home 24/7 has had me questioning and at times reeling at who I am. In the midst of all the chaos and sleep deprivation, I’ve lost track of hobbies that used to bring me so much happiness. I’ve had to learn how to be a doctor, therapist, and a manager. I’ve had to re-learn how to be organized and how to multitask. I always thought I was great at multitasking and perhaps I was in my career, but I’ve learned that multitasking as a stay at home parent is a completely different ball game. In a span of two minutes you can be making breakfast, helping a toddler go potty, soothing a one year old who just face planted, cleaning up a mess from the dog, and who knows what else. I’ve felt frustration, exhaustion, and insecurity in my ability to manage all the things that happen at home. When I envisioned staying at home I never envisioned I would lose myself in the process.

But, I’ve also learned a great deal about myself and found a different version of me. I’ve learned that I don’t like to be over-stimulated and that my coping techniques are, well, not great techniques. I’m learning that remaining calm, kind, and patient are the most difficult skills to master, but they also help tremendously to manage the meltdowns that occur throughout the day. Everyone says make sure you take time for yourself. But that is much easier said than done. I’m learning that small victories for yourself, even if it’s for five or ten minutes, goes a long, long way. I’ve picked up new hobbies such as painting with watercolors and growing flowers – two things I can do alone or with my kids. Being at home has definitely been a learning curve in how I manage stress and multiple tasks at once and how I take care of myself. But I feel hopeful that I’m making strides in the right direction to find myself again and to feel more confident in my ability to be a great mom. 

Now, enough with the struggles. Being a stay at home mom is the greatest. I do not take this opportunity lightly and I know many parents would love to be able to spend all day every day with their kids. Being with your kids all day kind of makes you feel like a kid again. It’s amazing to watch their little imaginations at work. Right now we are in the midst of pretend play – dress up, parties, fairies, going on trips – it’s all the things I loved to play as a kid. Both kids also love to do crafts and paint. It’s truly so remarkable to watch them paint a picture and be so proud to show everyone what they created. We keep as busy as possible, especially during the winter when it’s hard to get outside. Summertime is our favorite though. All three of us love being outside, riding bikes, swimming, playing on our playset. There is just so much to do in the summer and I’m pretty sure I lived my childhood outdoors so I want the same for my kids.

We are getting to the stage where the kids are even starting to play together. Lilly is almost 4.5 and Teddy is 1.5  Teddy is just enamored with his big sister and wants to do everything she does. And for the most part, Lilly is team Teddy and will let him tag along. And even recently I’ve heard her say “Teddy come play with me.” And THAT makes my heart so happy! I grew up with four siblings and to this day they are my best friends. I pray every night that Lilly and Teddy have the same relationship that I have with my siblings and that they are always there for each other, always respect each other and are always kind to each other. I genuinely hope they always love each other’s company and choose to hang out as they grow older. 

One of the things that I am 100 percent confident in is my ability to connect with and communicate with my kids at this stage in their lives. More often than not I can anticipate their next need or want. I can usually sense a day or two before they actually get sick that they are going to get sick. I can understand what they are saying when no one else can. Whether it’s their developing language or gestures, I know what they want. And I think being with them all the time gives me this ability and for that I’m so thankful.

Watching my kids day in and day out live only in the present moment without regret of the past or fear of the future has been a beautiful gift and a good reminder to do the same. Kids have so much life, energy, and joy and it’s hard not to feel those things when you are with them. I always tell Rob that their laughter is like music to my ears.

I’m so thankful for all the people in my life who have and continue to support me on this journey of motherhood. It really does take a tribe and I’m lucky enough to have some really amazing people in my tribe. I never imagined that blogging would connect me with so many other moms, but it has! My friend Taylor has been one of those people that has helped me through some really challenging times. We often swap stories and experiences or go to each other for advice, as our kids are about the same age. She’s also sharing her experience as a SAHM and some really great ideas for what works for her. Head over to her blog to read her experience and give her a follow on Instagram!!

So at the end of the day, although it’s crazy hard, I would not change anything about being able to stay home right now. If you made it this far, thank you! This is a post I’ve had in my heart for a long time and it’s nice to finally share it with the world. And if you came to this post to see what exactly my days look like, then I’ll be sharing that on my Instagram soon! Think of it as a “Day in the Life” post!

Happy parenting!

Slainte,

Shannon

HOME: WHITEWASHING OUR FIREPLACE

It’s been seven years in the making but we finally painted our fireplace! Ever since we moved in to this house I knew I wanted the brick painted. The tone of the brick was just too red and just didn’t match my blue and white aesthetic. And let me tell you, I one hundred percent wish we had done this sooner!! Painting this fireplace white makes this space feel bigger and brighter – which is exactly what I was hoping for. 

I did a lot of research on Pinterest just to make sure whitewashing was what I wanted. I will admit I was worried about choosing white (opposed to gray or navy) since our walls are already white. But the imperfection of the whitewash technique actually adds some texture and dimension and I just love how it looks against the white walls. I’m not sharing a ton of pictures because the overall space isn’t done yet. We hope to install some white shelves on either side of the fireplace so I’ll share a follow up post once that project is done (which could be many months or even a year).


In the meantime I’ll share the tools, supplies and process I used for the whitewashing! It actually was a very easy and fun project!

TOOLS AND SUPPLIES

(We had a Lowe’s gift card so everything I bought I was able to find there)

Valspar Ultra White Latex Interior Paint and Primer (I went with eggshell because I didn’t want it too shiny)

2-3 paint brushes (latex flat paint brushes)

2 buckets (one for mixing paint and water and one for just water)

1-2 sponges 

Spray bottle with water

Towels/Sheets to protect the floors and wipe up any drip

Painters Tape

PROCESS

I did some research prior to painting, but really I was banking on my friend Erin (who is an artist and who has done her fair share of home renovations) to lead the way. I sent her a simple process that Home Depot has on their website and we went from there.

Step 1: Cleaning and Prepping the Space

The day before we painted I primed the area by cleaning the brick with a gentle multi-purpose cleaner (I used my Branch Basics Spray) and a rag. After I cleaned each individual brick I vacuumed the entire area with the vacuum hose. This took me about an hour.

I then set up the painters tape along the perimeter and made sure I had enough towels and sheets to cover our hardwood floors. 

Step 2. Mix the Paint

A couple minutes before Erin arrived I mixed the paint and water together. I started with a 50/50 mix but quickly realized that was going to be too opaque for my liking so I added more paint to make it about 70% paint and 30% water.

Step 3: Paint the Bricks!

I technically didn’t watch the video I sent Erin from Home Depot but she did (thank goodness!) so she knew exactly what to do. We ended up only using paint brushes and painted each individual brick and all the mortar by hand. 

We would wet a couple of bricks at a time with a spray bottle of water and then use a paint brush to apply the paint. We would immediately use a wet sponge (we had one bucket of just water) to even out the paint and catch any drips. We ended up putting on two coats and then I went through and applied touch ups as needed. In between the first and second coats we identified only a handful of bricks to keep more opaque than the others and taped those off so we wouldn’t paint over them. This allowed us to create a nice pattern throughout the fireplace.

The painting portion took us about two hours, which included small breaks since our kiddos were playing and were very curious as to what we were doing.

And I think that’s about it! If you are on the fence about painting your brick fireplace I say do it!!! Especially if you have a small space like we do. The white completely brightened and enlarged our family room and I really couldn’t be happier.

Next up: adding shelves to either side of the fireplace! 

Thanks for all the encouragement and excitement over this project! There is nothing I love more than decorating our home and making it feel like home. 

Sláinte,

Shannon

COASTAL OHIO: LAKESIDE CHAUTAUQUA

Every summer I try and visit a new place along the Ohio coast and earlier this summer I had the pleasure of visiting Lakeside Chautauqua with my good friend Katie! People have always told me I would love Lakeside and let me tell you. None of them were wrong! Lakeside is the most charming coastal town with beautiful views of the lake, lovely historic homes and buildings, and the most quaint downtown filled with nautical inspired boutiques and coffee shops. It’s truly a gem.

I’m going to break this post down into a little bit of history of the coastal town and some tips if you plan on visiting soon.

ABOUT LAKESIDE CHAUTAUQUA

Lakeside Chautauqua is a private community along the shores of Lake Erie that was founded 150 years ago. You might be wondering, what in the heck does “Chautauqua” mean? The word originates from the Iroquois tribe and is meant to mean “two moccasins tied together” or “bag tied at the middle.” What this really represents is a community that welcomes all people to come together to grow spiritually, culturally, intellectually, and physically. Chautauqua focuses on four pillars which are religion, education, cultural arts and recreation.

Lakeside is truly such a unique place to visit. Founded by Methodist preachers in 1873, Lakeside soon became a faith-based summer resort and to this day, people still come to worship, rest and reconnect.

Since it’s founding, the coastal town has grown and become home to beautiful lakefront cottages, unique restaurants, and coastal inspired shopping boutiques.

You can read more about Lakeside and the Chautauqua movement here.

TIPS IF VISITING LAKESIDE

I had the advantage of visiting Lakeside with a friend who rented a home every summer growing up and she was able to give me the inside scoop about visiting! Below are some tips that will make your experience even more memorable!

  • Lakeside is a private community and a Chautauqua Pass and an Auto Pass is required in order to get in during the summer. You can choose to forego the auto pass and park outside the gated community, but you still have to buy a pass to get in. So here is a big tip! General admittance is $28 for the day. We bought the half day pass which gets you three hours for $6. Every additional hour you stay is $1. So if you plan on going for like 8 hours, the half day pass will definitely save you money!! We ended up going from 11-3:30 and it was much cheaper than buying the full day pass. Another tip: the price increases for the month of July. So I recommend going in June or August. But really, after Labor Day in September would be the best time to visit because they don’t have the admissions fee! You can read more about their fees here.
  • Wear comfortable walking shoes. You can drive your car in, but you will still be walking a lot so make sure you have on comfy sneakers or sandals! I wore my J.Crew Factory sneakers and they were perfect for walking around nonstop.
  • Definitely be sure to play shuffleboard! It’s free and a great way to relax and enjoy the lake views. I had never played before and was a bit skeptical but I actually really enjoyed it!
  • If you arrive early in the morning, you have to try a freshly baked donut from The Patio Restaurant- they are SO good.
  • If you need a yummy place for lunch or dinner, try out the Hotel Lakeside Dining Room! It has beautiful views of the lake and the food is delicious. They offer breakfast, lunch, dinner, brunch and afternoon tea!! Plus the hotel was built in 1875 so the historic vibe is very cool.
  • If you have kids they have a kiddy pool right on the pier so bring your swimsuits!
  • Lakeside has a ton of waterfront recreational activities. Whether you prefer swimming, sailing, kayaking, paddle boarding, or fishing, there is something for everyone. Or you can just bring a book and enjoy the view from a comfy lounge chair.
  • In addition to waterfront activities, visitors can play tennis, pickle ball, sand volleyball, and miniature golf, plus several playgrounds for the babes (including an inclusive one!).
  • Don’t forget to pack the sunscreen!!

I might be forgetting some insider tips so my plan is to update this post as needed.

If you are planning a trip to Lakeside I’d love to hear all about it!

Sláinte,

Shannon

FAVORITE LAKE ERIE BEACHES

Our favorite time of year is here!! It’s beach season in Ohio (although I could definitely argue that the beaches are equally beautiful in the colder months too). Most people probably don’t realize that Ohio has a ton of beaches along Lake Erie and they can get quite crowded during the summer! Today I’m sharing some of our favorite Lake Erie beaches we’ve visited over the years. All of these beaches are on the western side of the state, but there are so many more beaches that we have yet to explore on the eastern side of the state in and around Cleveland. This is by no means a full list of Ohio beaches, but I thought it would be fun to share our favorites and encourage anyone interested in Coastal Ohio to visit one (or all) of these beaches!

Erie Beach at Maumee Bay State Park

This is our favorite beach and one that we visit the most frequently (it is the closest to where we live).  I actually wrote a blog post about this beach back in 2020 and offer some tips for anyone beachin’ at this location. You can read that blog post here

We love this beach because it’s actually quite large and is rarely too crowded. The views are some of my favorites and there is even a cute lighthouse you can see in the distance. But probably the best part of this beach is that it’s part of an Ohio State Park (Maumee Bay State Park) and there are a TON of activities for the family. They have biking, boating, hiking, cabins for rent, camping, fishing, canoeing, paddle boating, swimming, a pool, golfing, birding, and so much more. It’s truly an experience and my family has spent many a long weekend exploring and enjoying this park and beach.

The only negative to this beach is that the water is prone to toxic algae when the weather gets really hot. This means it’s not safe to swim. We’ve never actually swam in the water at this beach, but we will walk along the shore and get our feet a little wet. I wrote a blog post all about this algae issue and ways to help save Lake Erie from harmful toxins here.

East Harbor State Park 

I know I said Erie Beach is our favorite beach, but the beach at East Harbor State Park is also up there as one that we visit frequently. This beach is also part of an Ohio State Park (East Harbor State Park) and there is so much to do beyond the beach. Visitors can enjoy everything from boating, fishing and swimming, to picnicking, camping, and hiking.

This beach is a lot smaller than Erie Beach and it gets REALLY crowded in the summer. You have to get there early if you want a spot. BUT, Rob and I have discovered that if you keep walking along the beach, past where you think it might end, you will discover 5-6 smaller or “private beaches” hidden between the trees. These little beaches can comfortably fit 6-8 people and if you are able to snag one early, you have privacy and incredible views! I wrote a blog post about this beach here.

Waterworks Park and The Port Clinton Lighthouse 

Rob and I stumbled upon Waterworks Park and The Port Clinton Lighthouse earlier this spring and were so delighted by the views of the lake. Not only was the Lighthouse beautiful and the history fascinating, but there is a lovely public beach next to the lighthouse with gorgeous views of the lake. It was 40 degrees and snowing when we visited so literally no one was at the beach and we had the entire park to ourselves. It’s not a huge beach so I anticipate this being a popular beach when the weather is nice. We plan on going back with the kids later this summer. You can read more about this lighthouse here.

Main Street Beach in Vermillion

Vermillion is one of the cutest coastal towns we’ve visited in Ohio and it’s home to my favorite Erie and Anchor shop! We took Lilly to Vermillion in early 2020 before COVID hit for the opening of Erie and Anchor and were so charmed by the town and the cute Main Street Beach. The beach is smaller (like all Ohio beaches), but the views are next to none and there is a cute little lighthouse adjacent to the beach, which I mean, everyone loves a lighthouse!

We might be going back for a family trip in July and I cannot wait to explore this beach and town more!

As you can see we haven’t been to many Ohio beaches as we truly have our favorites, but we hope to explore many more and I’ll be sure to take you guys along for the ride!

Happy Beachin’!

Slainte,

Shannon

BRAND SPOTLIGHT: SAILORMADE

With summer just around the corner (Yippee!) I thought it would be a perfect time to introduce a new brand to you all: Sailormade

Based in Massachusetts, this family owned business designs nautical accessories that are inspired by life on the East Coast. Sailormade has been creating beautiful brass hardware for four generations! The classic and timeless designs are inspired by summers near the ocean and are handcrafted to the highest quality.

When it comes to jewelry, Sailormade offers so many different and unique designs. Whether you are looking for marine rope, nautical chain link bracelets, leather wrap bracelets, sterling silver, or coral inspired jewelry, I guarantee you will find something you love.

One of my favorite products that Sailormade makes though is the Rayminder Bracelet. The Rayminder Bracelet is part of the Rayminder Jewelry Collection and this line of jewelry pairs semi-precious gemstones with UV sensitive beads. As the rays of the sun get stronger and stronger, the clear gemstone will change to a bright color, reminding you to apply your sunscreen! How amazing is that?!

May just happens to be Skin Cancer Awareness Month so I’m more passionate than ever to share this brand and their Rayminder Collection with you guys. As I get older I’m understanding the importance of SPF and protecting our skin. I love that the Rayminder bracelet is something you can wear every day and be reminded to protect yourself from the harmful rays of the sun. I also love how beautiful these bracelets are and how lovely they look styled alone or paired with your other favorite bracelets.

AND, to make this brand even more awesome: $1 of every unit sold is donated to IMPACT Melanoma. You guys know I’m a sucker for brands that give back and I’m so happy to support Sailormade in this endeavor.

As if you need more convincing, Sailormade offers more than just nautical inspired jewelry for men and women. They also sell baseball hats, dog accessories, keychains, coasters, and more. I promise that if you love coastal inspired products and love supporting family businesses, then you will love Sailormade.

Be sure to check out their website and give them some love on Instagram

Slainte,

Shannon

STYLE: THE SHANNON DRESS

One of my favorite classic brands, Duffield Lane, launched their spring resort collection and it’s my favorite collection to date! Think blue and white stripes, seersucker, bright pinks – all of my favorite things in one collection!

Duffield Lane was kind enough to send me the new Shannon Dress – yes the SHANNON (I think they designed this with me in mind 😉) and it’s the perfect classic navy seersucker dress. I’ve been wearing it on repeat and it quickly has become a favorite dress for this spring, summer and even fall!

I’m sharing a review of it and breaking it down based on style, fit and quality. Please note that these opinions are my own and although the dress was gifted, I’m sharing this blog post because I love this brand and this dress so much.

STYLE

I think it goes without saying that this style of dress is completely on brand for me. I’m not sure what detail I love the most: the navy stripes, the seersucker, the flirty tiered skirt, the adjustable waist, or the nautical gold buttons. All of these details are just perfect. This style of dress will be forever classic and timeless and I cannot wait to wear it year after year.

FIT

I adore the fit of this dress. I’m eight months postpartum and I’m still figuring out this new post baby body. It’s extra important to me right now that I feel good in what I’m wearing and this dress makes me feel amazing. I love the adjustable waist and the length of this dress. I’m petite and many times I find myself having to hem dresses (otherwise I get swallowed in them). The one critique I have is the sleeves. Initially they were a bit snug, but the more I wear this dress, the more they stretch out so the material is a bit flexible! I feel so confident in this dress and that makes it a new favorite.

QUALITY

Per usual, the quality of this Duffield Lane dress is outstanding. The attention to detail is just beautiful. I love that the fabric is thin enough that I won’t be hot as the weather continues to warm, but it’s not too thin that it’s see through. I’ve always had a positive experience with the quality of fabric and craftsmanship of my Duffield Lane pieces and this Shannon dress doesn’t disappoint.

If you have been eyeing this dress (or any piece from Duffield Lane), I highly recommend investing in it! I promise you will feel and look amazing. You definitely will not be disappointed! 

Here are a few other styles I’m loving from the latest Resort Collection.

Adele Dress in Pink Stripe

Tate Top in Pink Colorblock

McKenna Crew Neck in Pink and Blue Stripe

Annie Dress in Blue Stripe

Happy Shopping!

Sláinte,

Shannon

BRAND SPOTLIGHT: THE BEACH AND BACK

I’m so excited to share this month’s Brand Spotlight with you! If you love jewelry that is classic, elegant and coastal inspired then you will love the beach and back.


Based in New Jersey, Carey dreamed up the idea of the beach and back in 2020 when she wanted to create a brand that would unite fellow beachgoers. With a background in graphic design and an extensive career doing product development in the fashion industry, Carey had the tools she needed to branch out and create her own brand.


The mission of the brand is simple: to create simple and elegant pieces inspired by the ocean. I’ve had the pleasure of owning three of her bracelets and I can tell you firsthand how lovely this jewelry is to wear and style.


As a fellow coastal lover, I love the simple designs of her jewelry. The ocean wave bracelet is my favorite! The simplicity of the blue waves paired with a gold bangle is the perfect amount of coastal. It’s truly such a unique design. I love to pair this bracelet with other the beach and back bracelets or with a few other bracelets from my favorite brands.


I also find the design of the Marco Island slider bracelets so beautiful. The hand drawn tulip shell accent is so pretty! I love to style these slider bracelets with the ocean wave bracelet. They are equally gorgeous styled separately though – they are just so elegant and timeless. Plus these bracelets are designed to be easily adjustable which I love!


Clearly I’m a fan of the designs and style, but I’m also a fan of the quality. I love jewelry, especially bracelets. But I’m also a mom to two littles and so my jewelry needs to be durable. I can honestly wear these bracelets all day and not worry if a certain little chunk tries to grab or tug on them. These bracelets are truly top notch and made out of beautiful materials.

You guys know I love supporting small businesses and I hope you take the time to check out the beach and back. I promise you won’t be disappointed and you will come to love this coastal brand.


And while you are shopping, be sure to use the code SOLTATTHEBEACH for 15% off!


Sláinte,

Shannon

MOTHERHOOD: LIFE AS A STAY AT HOME MOM

For as long as I can remember I’ve always wanted to be a stay at home mom. Sure I have/had dreams of a career and I’m really dang proud of the career I had up until this point. But something deep down always longed to be at home with my babies some day. I truly feel so lucky that the time for me to be able to stay home is now.


Growing up, my mom was a SAHM. I can honestly say I had a charmed childhood. My parents gave us the greatest gift of having one parent home and both parents always involved. Having my mom home with us meant everything and I think it’s the reason I always wanted to be a SAHM. And my mom made it look so easy and glamorous.


My experience so far though is not what I expected. Now that I’m in the thick of it myself, it is the hardest job and the most rewarding job I’ve ever had. What a blessing to be able to spend all day with my babies, watching them grow and learn and become independent little humans. As much as I love it though, the days are long and sometimes lonely. I have no idea how my mom had so much patience and energy and how she made it look so easy. And she did it with FIVE kids!!


The first couple of weeks were really hard for me. I cried a lot and questioned my decision every day. Most of my days consisted of managing one meltdown after another as the kids alternated between wanting my undivided attention. I just couldn’t figure out how to juggle two kids, their schedules and finding time for Rob, let alone myself. And many days I still struggle with this, but slowly but surely I am learning patience and learning how to manage feeling frazzled.


I think it’s important that I share the good parts and the challenging parts of being a SAHM. Being a mom is HARD. Society expects a lot out of moms and there is very little appreciation for the work we do. (This really is true for parents in general). Below I’m sharing the parts I love and the parts that have really challenged me as a person and as a mom. And I’m teaming up with fellow SAHM (who has become a dear friend) Taylor from Living Taylored who is sharing her experience being a SAHM. Check out her experience here.


WHAT I LOVE

My favorite and most obvious reason for loving being a SAHM is the opportunity to be home with my babies. What a blessing to be able to spend all day at home with them, playing, laughing, and watching them grow. I truly feel so blessed to be Lilly and Teddy’s mom and I feel even more blessed to be in a position where one parent can stay home. I’m hoping that as we continue to grow and get ourselves into a routine I can be better at planning out fun activities for us. I have always envisioned taking my kids to parks, the zoo, the art museum, Lake Erie and the islands, visiting daddy at work – all the normal things we used to do before Covid. Now I just have to be more creative with activities that keep us busy and get us out of the house (we do a lot of driving around town, visiting the river and picking up curbside orders).


I love that by being home, I can focus my attention on my kids. When I was working it was exceptionally difficult to disconnect from parenting while at work and from working while at home. I constantly felt guilty that I wasn’t present at my job or as a parent. Being a SAHM means I can focus one hundred percent on the needs of my babies and not have to worry about extra responsibilities.


Another aspect that I enjoy about being at home full time is being able to take care of the house. For as long as I can remember I have loved cleaning and organizing. It gives me great satisfaction to be able to play house all day. Although, I will say it requires extra effort to keep things tidy with two kiddos in tow. I saw something on Instagram that said cleaning with kids is like raking leaves during a tornado and boy that is the truth! But, I’m beginning to let go of the mess and allow for it. It’s messy because my kids are young and they are exploring and learning. As a colleague said to Rob: our house right now is a home that is lived in and really, what more should you want for your home?!

With all that is going on in the world with COVID, being able to stay at home and not be in a position that requires our kids to be in daycare or school gives me great peace of mind. I know 90% of parents don’t have this option so I can only imagine the mental and emotional worry parents are going through right now. I know myself and I know that worry would weigh heavy on me. So I’m thankful I can keep my babies close for a little while longer before Lilly has to go to school.

BIGGEST CHALLENGES

Being a SAHM comes with so many challenges that I never expected. Whether it’s feeling lonely, feeling exhausted, feeling the weight and responsibility of raising two littles, or sticking to a strict budget, there are so many aspects of this role that surprised me. I’m thankful for my mom, my sister and the many moms I’ve come to know on Instagram who have listened, supported and encouraged me. These women have most certainly gotten me through some difficult moments and now more than ever I think it’s important to have a community of moms who you can lean on for support.


The biggest challenge so far for me is finding time for self care. Some days I feel like I have zero time for myself. And just to be clear, a five minute shower does not count as self care or time alone. I thought staying home would give me so much more time to work on my blog and grow my brand, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. I’m lucky if I get five minutes a day to spend taking pictures and styling outfits. Usually it happens with a lot of bribery and an upset child or two (which really isn’t that fun then).
Another hard part about being a SAHM is thinking you have so much time to get things done but you don’t. Most days you barely have time to eat, shower and use the bathroom. You do whatever you need to do to keep the kids engaged and happy and that means you go from one activity to the next, many times at a very rapid pace. I’ve had to really lower my expectations of what I want to get done (I’m talking blogging, decorating, working out, cleaning the dishes, laundry, vacuuming the floors, organizing the kids clothes, rearranging the playroom, etc). I make a list of what I HAVE to get done for the week and try to do one thing on that list each day. I remind myself daily that my kids are only this little for a fleeting moment and all the chores can wait.

Meal times are exceptionally stressful for me, with lunch being the hardest. Trying to make lunch for Lilly and me and keep Teddy occupied and keep the dog from eating everyone’s food is enough to send me over the edge some days. And usually by this point in the day I’m exhausted, which just adds to the stress and chaos. Sometimes I feel guilty that I watch the clock like a hawk waiting for nap time to arrive.


Despite some of these challenges, I’m learning so much about myself and how to be a better person and a better mom. I’m learning so much about patience and grace and letting things go. I’m learning that in order to take care of my kids, I first have to take care of myself. Sometimes that doesn’t always happen, but when days allow for me to slow down and take a break, I take them.

I’m learning that the days are not perfect. But they consist of perfect moments. I love watching my kids play and learn and use their imagination. I love watching them figure out a new skill or understand a new concept. I love taking them on walks and exploring our cute downtown. I love that they feel safe with me and come to me for comfort.


Time is going so fast, yet the days are so long, the nights sometimes longer and some days just really seem hard. But at the end of the day, there is no where else I would rather be than at home with my kids. I don’t want to miss a moment with them and I know I’m incredibly blessed and fortunate to have this opportunity.

And yes I wrote this blog post over several weeks during naptime while Teddy slept on me. And honestly I wouldn’t change any of it.


Sláinte,

Shannon

BRAND SPOTLIGHT: BUOY COAST

This week I’m chatting all about a charming small business called Buoy Coast! Inspired by coastal Maine (a state I desperately want to visit!!) Buoy Coast sells classic clothing and accessories.

This East Coast based brand is female founded and family run. The owner, Maura, created Buoy Coast because of her love for the New England coastline and the coastal way of life. Offering products that range from cozy sweatshirts, to baseball hats, to trendy tees and canvas totes, Buoy Coast has something for the entire family.


I can attest firsthand to how cozy their sweatshirts are! I am wearing the Fort Williams Hoodie and I love the relaxed feel and fit – almost like a worn hoodie that you’ve had forever and can’t part with. We took these pictures in 25 degree weather down near the water (which always feels colder) and I can tell you this sweatshirt kept me quite warm!
I love that all of the products come branded with their buoy logo. I love it’s simplicity but I also love that it tells a story immediately and that story is one of coastal living. The logo is classic and preppy all in one and I’m sure any nautical loving customer would be proud to wear this brand on all of their boating and coastal adventures.


Not only does Buoy Coast offer top notch clothing, but they also have great quality accessories. I love the fit of their classic cairn baseball hat. This hat comes in seven different colors! It’s seriously hard to choose my favorite, but I am obviously partial to the melon.


And I can’t leave this blog post without talking about their tote bags! I’m in love! These tote bags are amazing quality – the perfect beach tote. They are just stunning and crafted with the most durable heavy weight cotton canvas. I have the Picnic Point Tote and I love the navy and red stripe webbing that gives this tote that classic, timeless look. The signature buoy logo on the front exterior and inside pocket gives it that extra preppy look which I love.


I cannot wait to use this tote at the lake this summer. It’s seriously so roomy and would be perfect for beach days, picnics and I’m pretty positive this tote would make a great diaper bag.


I’ve become such a fan of Buoy Coast. I love their products and their story. But I also love that they are socially responsible and give back. A portion of all their proceeds are donated to HFC, which is a non-profit raising awareness of Alzheimer’s. Have I convinced you to go give this brand some love yet?! I am one hundred percent confident that if you love the coastal lifestyle, then you will love Buoy Coast!

p.s. Be sure to follow them on Instagram!

Sláinte,

Shannon

MOTHERHOOD: OUR FEEDING JOURNEY

I can’t believe my precious baby boy is 5.5 months old! The newborn stage with Teddy has flown by SO much faster than it did with Lilly. I feel like I blinked and now here we are, halfway to one year. 

Teddy is the sweetest boy who is so generous with his smiles and his cuddles. He adores his big sister and watches her with fascination all day long. And now that he’s rolling, standing and pulling himself up, I suspect he’ll be trying to match her energy from here on out. We have loved loved loved watching this precious boy develop into the (big) tiny human that he is.

But anyone with kids knows that the newborn years can be tough. One of my biggest emotional challenges with Teddy has been our feeding journey. He has been an excellent and voracious eater. But it hasn’t gone as planned. After hanging on for as long as I could, I sadly gave up breastfeeding at five months and Teddy is now on all formula. It’s been an emotional rollercoaster for me knowing that this is our last baby. I wanted to nurse him as long as possible for many reasons, one of the biggest being Covid and providing him with my immunity. But, we’ve had some challenges over the past few months that made keeping up with nursing really hard and I had to take into account my mental health and the mental and emotional health of my family. And, I truly believe that the FED IS BEST method is the only way to feed your baby.

Breastfeeding in general is HARD. Not only do you experience physical discomfort, but you worry if your baby is getting enough, you carry the responsibility of being the only one who can feed your baby, and most of your day is spent nursing or pumping. There is a lot of pressure on moms to breastfeed. And I understand why to a point. Breastfeeding is so good for the baby and for the mom. It provides extra immunity to the baby, it promotes a healthy bond between mom and baby, it decreases the chance of SIDS, you can feed the baby anywhere at anytime and not have to worry about milk temperature or milk spoiling – the list goes on. I am one hundred an advocate for breastfeeding but I’m also an advocate that you do what’s best for you and your baby. At the end of the day, FED IS BEST.

Breastfeeding with Lilly was REALLY hard. I had to fight tooth and nail to nurse her until she was six months. I did everything I possibly could to keep the milk supply up.  I ate oatmeal multiple times a day, drank a ridiculous amount of mothers milk tea, ate lactation bars, drank water, etc. And I still had to supplement with formula.  And I’m really dang proud I got her to six months. 

Teddy started out really strong and we had an easy go the first three months. He ate every 1.5-2 hours and was always so happy and content after nursing. However, the stress and strain of life since October (going back to work and then quitting my job (really leaving behind a career), covid, sick kids, and surgery for Rob just to name a few) had taken a toll on me and my milk supply significantly dropped over the course of a few weeks. I went from producing 4-7 ounces of milk to 2-3 and then to less than one. As this was happening Teddy went from eating 2-3 ounces to 5-7 and my body couldn’t keep up. I started supplementing with formula, which led to a preference in bottles over nursing for him. At some point we switched to all bottles that were half breast and half formula, but pumping around the clock with a three year old and a baby and being the only parent home during the day is really dang hard. I started missing pumping sessions because I just didn’t have time and this signaled to my body that it didn’t need to produce as much. 

I’ve been feeling incredibly guilty and disappointed that this is the way our feeding journey has gone. I feel guilty I don’t have time to do all the lactation things I did when I nursed Lilly. I feel guilty that during the time of covid I won’t be able to give him my antibodies much longer. I feel guilty that I’m a little bit relieved to be done nursing because now the responsibility of me being the only one who is able to feed him has lifted. (In the beginning I worried so much that something would happen to me and I wouldn’t be able to feed him). And this guilt feeling leaves me so angry and frustrated. Moms shouldn’t feel this way or have so much worry and anxiety about feeding their babies. It shouldn’t matter how we feed our babies. What matters is that we feed them and that they are healthy and growing.

I admit that this has been a really emotional post for me to write and I cried several times while trying to write it over the last few weeks. I try to remember that every month that I nursed him or pumped gave him an incredible boost, and the first three months of exclusively nursing helped us form a connection that I love and cherish. I also know that breastfeeding is challenging or not even an option for many moms, so I’m thankful that we had as much time as we did.  

I hope that by sharing my journey I can help other moms who are feeling bad or discouraged about breastfeeding. It’s an emotional ride for sure, but let’s all remember we are doing our best and your baby adores you and loves you no matter which feeding method you choose.  I couldn’t have nursed Teddy as long as I did without the support of Rob and my family.  I’m incredibly grateful for their encouragement and support throughout this journey. 

So let’s all choose to support each other and offer encouragement. And remember to give a mom you know a hug, because being a mom is the hardest job and sometimes we just need to know we are seen and appreciated.

And remember, fed is best!! 

Sláinte,

Shannon