MOTHERHOOD: THREE THINGS I’VE DONE FOR MY MENTAL HEALTH WHILE PREGNANT DURING COVID

This isn’t a typical post for me to write.  Typically I keep my blog writing to classic style, home decor projects, and fun activities with L.  But this topic has been heavy on my heart and I feel called to share my experience.

Navigating pregnancy can be challenging for any mama, but throw in a global pandemic and a cold, gray winter and you have a recipe for an exceptionally difficult transition! Any woman who is newly pregnant probably experiences numerous types of anxiety and uncertainty.  Not only is your body changing, but your hormones are raging, you are exhausted, possibly nauseous, and on top of all that you are preparing to welcome a sweet new baby! It’s quite a whirlwind for nine months (and beyond – don’t forget the fourth trimester!).

I thought it would be easy being pregnant my second time around because I knew what to expect.  What I didn’t experience in my first pregnancy that I experienced in the first trimester of this pregnancy were mental and emotional challenges.   They say every pregnancy is different and that 100% holds true.  I really struggled those first 12-14 weeks.  Not only did I physically feel awful (nauseous, exhausted, so many food aversions), but I also felt mentally drained, uninspired, sad, grumpy, anxious, and just overall not myself.  Some days were very challenging and it took everything in me just to make it to bedtime.  I often would ask Rob if I would ever feel like myself again (spoiler alert: I do!). 

I do believe that raging hormones, physical discomfort, and the stress of being in the middle of a global pandemic (plus the stress of trying to decide if and how I should get vaccinated) really took its toll.  I’m so thankful everyday that I have such a supportive hubby and family.

I’m sure many other women experience these feelings at one time or another during their pregnancy.  I had to dig deep within myself to find ways to fight through this difficult time.  I’m hoping that by talking about the mental and emotional challenges that some women face during pregnancy and offering some ideas on how to cope will help other mamas feeling the same.  Before I share the things that worked for me, I want to remind anyone experiencing emotional or mental pain, to please reach out to your doctor or a trusted source for help.  

Below are three things I would try to do to center myself and find the joy in being pregnant. 

  1. Yoga – Yoga is so healing for your mind, body, and soul.  Whenever I need to re-center myself, I grab my yoga mat and just breathe.  I subscribe to the Yoga with Adrienne App and she offers some great prenatal workouts that are safe for mama and baby. 
  1. Communicate – Talk it out.  I can’t stress this enough.  I shared how I was feeling with Rob, my family, friends, my gynecologist – anyone who I felt safe talking to and it made a huge difference.  I am so thankful for a strong support system that listened to me and provided guidance when I was feeling my lowest.
  1. Get Outside – Even though some days it was really hard to get outside, I would try and get some fresh air, even if it was walking to the mailbox and back.  Fresh air can clear your mind and give you a fresh perspective and even if I only went outside for a few minutes, I always came back inside feeling a little more like myself. 

I also recommend that pregnant women rest as much as possible, eat what tastes good, and drink lots of fluids.  Being pregnant with a toddler and working part time is definitely not easy.  I napped whenever Lilly napped and went to bed early every night.  Getting enough sleep and rest during the first trimester really is so important. 

I hope this post helps just one other mama-to-be who needs some extra love and encouragement.  And always remember, you have a beautiful human growing inside of you and your body is amazing to be able to do that! 

Slainte,

Shannon

STYLE: MATERNITY VS. NON-MATERNITY

Back when I was pregnant with Lilly, I shared this blog post about my favorite maternity staples.  It was warm weather season during my second and third trimesters with Lilly so I mostly wore dresses.  The majority of this pregnancy is during the winter, so it’s been interesting to see how differently my style has been.  These days the only types of clothes I feel like wearing are leggings, oversized sweaters, and dresses.  It’s a little difficult to wear dresses in Ohio in January and February, especially when there is 16 inches of snow on the ground, but pants are just not comfortable for me right now!  

In my blog post I wrote back in 2018, I focused on my favorite maternity staples. This blog post focuses on what styles I buy maternity and what styles I buy non-maternity.

Pants/Denim

Once I start showing, I switch to maternity pants. However, I’ve never loved maternity jeans. But I also can’t stand wearing my regular pants once that bump makes its appearance. I’ve tried so many different brands and this time around I finally settled on two pairs of treggings (leggings with pockets that look like jeans) from H&M. They are more comfortable than denim jeans and still appropriate to wear in public. I did find a great pair of white denim jeans on Amazon and so far they are fairly comfortable. My favorite places to buy maternity pants are Gap Maternity, Pink Blush Boutique (they have the best leggings), and H&M.

Dresses 

When I’m shopping for dresses, I usually buy a mix of maternity and non-maternity styles. For maternity styles, I love to shop at Pink Blush. They just fit so perfectly. If I’m looking for a looser fit, I typically shop my normal stores (J.Crew Factory, Gap, Old Navy, Amazon, small businesses) and just go up one size. Once I’m done being pregnant, I plan on getting the non-maternity styles taken in to fit my post baby body.

Tees/Tops

For t-shirts, I tend to go for fitted, maternity styles.  I love to shop Target, Gap Maternity, and Old Navy.  For flowy blouses and tops, I do a mix of maternity and non-maternity.  Again, I just size up if I’m wearing non-maternity.

Lounge wear/Pajamas

It feels like I’ve been living in lounge wear and pajamas.  For these styles I do a mix of maternity and non-maternity.  Things like sweatshirts and sweatpants, I just size up one size in non-maternity styles.  But for items like nightgowns and pajama sets, I tend to purchase maternity.  Many maternity styles can transition to nursing and that is a huge plus.  I love to get my maternity nightgowns and pajama sets from Lake Pajamas or Pink Blush. 

I’ve broken styles down into a list to better help you in your decision making and shopping.

Maternity

Brands: Gap Maternity, H&M Maternity, Old Navy, Pink Blush, and Target 

Styles:

  • Leggings
  • Dress Pants
  • Denim Jeans
  • Shorts
  • Fitted Dresses
  • Fitted Tees
  • Loungewear/Nightgowns
  • Undergarments (bras and panties)

Non-Maternity

Brands: J.Crew Factory, Old Navy, Amazon, Target, Small Boutiques

Styles:

  • Dresses
  • Loungewear/Nightgowns 
  • Oversized tunics
  • Oversized blouses 

Some other maternity brands to check out:

I know this isn’t a crazy detailed list, but hopefully it provides some general direction if you are pregnant and not sure what and where to buy. 

Slainte,

Shannon

Baby #2 Arriving in July!

For those of you who follow me on social media and already know the news, thank you for your kind words and excitement! For those of you who follow me here, surprise! We are having another baby! Rob, Lilly, and I could not be more excited to welcome baby boy Solt in July!

First off, we are absolutely elated!  I love hearing about other moms-to-be experiences during their pregnancies so I thought I would share a little bit about how things have been the past 16 weeks.  

We opted to do the 10 week genetic testing with this baby, something we were adamantly opposed to when we were pregnant with Lilly. I don’t know why we decided to do it this time and why we were so much more open to it this time around, but we felt we wanted to make sure everything was okay with baby. We also wanted to find out the gender, which is how we know so early that baby is a boy! We were convinced the baby would be a girl. But about a week or two before we found out, I kept having this feeling that the baby would be a boy. And it turns it out, he is!

First Trimester Recap: I am not going to write about at length how challenging the first trimester was for me, but I do want to be real. I experienced a very tough couple of weeks. The biggest reason I took a step back from blogging and Instagram over the holidays was because I didn’t have the energy or creativity. Not only did I have extreme exhaustion (sleeping 8-10 hours a night, taking an hour nap in the morning, and a 2.5 hour nap in the afternoon almost every day I wasn’t working), but I also had pretty terrible morning sickness. I never actually was physically ill, but I was nauseated from the moment I woke up until after dinner every day. I’m incredibly thankful that I’ve been able to work from home during this time. That has been a lifesaver in allowing me to rest.

Mentally I also struggled.  My mood swings have been so much more extreme with this pregnancy than with Lilly.  I think the combination of winter, COVID, not being able to see people or really leave the house, and keeping it a secret for so long all contributed to these feelings of loneliness, grumpiness, and all around just not feeling myself.

Cravings and Aversions: I always find women’s cravings and food aversions so fascinating. For me, I’ve been craving all things citrus, pasta, and dairy. I cannot get enough oranges, red apples, mac and cheese, orange juice, pizza, and egg sandwiches. Early on the only thing that would help my nausea was Costco’s Kettle Cooked potato chips – so I ate a LOT of those. In terms of aversions, almost everything else was revolting to me haha. Poor Rob had a challenging time finding food for me to eat. I think the worst aversions have been the smell of coffee, alcohol, vegetables of any kind, and meat.

All that aside, I’m feeling 10x better. I’m slowly beginning to feel like my normal energized self again. I now have “bad moments” instead of bad days. I’m feeling excited and motivated to start on all the baby projects. I think most of all though, I’m grateful to be spending quality time with Lilly again. I think the hardest part of all of this has been the fact that I haven’t been able to give my all to my family. They’ve been wonderful through all this and incredibly supportive and I’m so grateful for my saint of a hubby and my sweet baby girl.

If you are thinking of getting pregnant or are a new mom-to-be or just loving talking pregnancy and babies, please feel free to reach out! I love to share experiences of motherhood and pregnancy.

And before I sign off, I want to give a huge THANK YOU to my friend Kelly from Photography by Kelly and Kelly for braving the cold winter weather to capture these beautiful photos of my family. Not only do they photograph portraits and family photos, but they also specialize in fine art photography. I personally adore their captures of Lake Erie and Marblehead Lighthouse! Much of their work can be purchased on their website, so be sure to check them out and follow them on social media (Facebook, Instagram)!

Slainte,

Shannon

MOTHERHOOD: INDOOR TODDLER ACTIVITIES

Winter in Ohio usually means lots of time indoors. And with COVID still running rampant, we have been spending an unusual amount of time indoors. I’m not going to lie that it’s been tricky keeping Lilly engaged and occupied. Some days we do great, finding creative ways to have fun, and other days it seems like all we want to do is lay on the couch and watch Moana.

In an effort to help other mamas who might need some new and fun creative activities, I’ve put together some ideas, as well as resources I use time and again when I need a new idea.

Indoor Toddler Activity Ideas

  • Baking: We’ve been doing this a LOT lately, but Lilly loves it and it’s great for developing fine and gross motor skills.
  • Playdough: Lilly likes me to make “pizza” with the playdough and then she has her puppets eat it. It turns into a game and she loves it.
  • Set up an indoor picnic: We dump all of our play kitchen food on a blanket, get out all of the stuffed animals and have a big picnic.
  • Painting (everything and anything!)
  • Stickers
  • Art easel: Lilly was gifted one for Christmas that has a dry erase board and a chalkboard. She loves it!
  • Hide and Seek
  • Build a fort with blankets and pillows
  • Kinetic Sand (I could play with this for hours)
  • Construction Paper: You can do soooo many arts and crafts with construction paper and glue. We just made mosaic paper hearts for Valentine’s Day and hung them on the window.
  • Indoor gym class
  • Puzzles
  • Alphabet games
  • Board games
  • Legos
  • Books
  • Sensory bins: We made one for Lilly with rice. It’s messy, but she loves it.
  • Drawing: We practice tracing our alphabet letters and numbers.
  • Cleaning: Yes this might be self-serving, but Lilly has her own set of brooms and mops and she loves to help me sweep the floors.
  • Doing the dishes: Again, maybe self-serving, but the girl loves to wash dishes and play in the sink.
  • Clean their toys
  • Meal Prep: Every day I have Lilly help me prep her lunch and dinner. Kids love to help in the kitchen.

There are so many different ways to keep your toddler engaged. Some days it may not seem like there is anything to do because a toddler’s attention span is about two minutes, but keep this list handy for days when the creativity is lacking and you’ll never run out of things to do. And if you need more ideas, check out the resources below!

Sweet and Simple Toddler Crafts:  A great resource for incredibly fun arts and crafts! 

Pinterest: Always a great resource.  Just search “toddler crafts” or follow me for ideas! 

Lottie & Lizzie Play:  I love this Instagram page and Etsy shop! If you are looking to help your toddler learn their alphabet, these letters are so fun and pretty! 

Samantha Lynch CCC-SLP: My friend Sam is a Pediatric SLP and she shares amazing content on her Instagram for engaging your child and helping them with their speech and communication skills. 

Busy Toddler: This Instagram page is amazing for toddler and kid inspired activities. 

Michaels and Target also have fun craft kits that are really inexpensive.  

I always find following and connecting with other mamas helps me find new ideas to try.  If you have some ideas I didn’t list, please share them in the comments below!

Slainte,

Shannon

MOTHERHOOD: SIMPLE AND JOYFUL HOLIDAY SEASON

The holidays.  A magical time full of so much joy and merriment.  It’s usually a time for friends and family to come together and celebrate the many blessings in their lives.  It’s full of delicious homemade food, twinkling lights, laughter, Hallmark movies, carols, and more.  Many people look forward to this time of year because of its simple magic.   

But it’s also busy, chaotic, and overwhelming.  For some, the holidays are a harsh reminder of loved ones they’ve lost.  This year is going to look very different for most people.  My family in particular will probably not be celebrating in person (my immediate family alone is 16 people!).  As someone who has always celebrated the holidays with several parties and tons of people around, this year has the potential to feel very isolating.  

But despite the challenges we are facing this year, there is always room for joy. I’m excited to be teaming up with my friend Whitney Caves to offer some tips to keep things simple this holiday season. We each identified three ways that we will be keeping things simple and organized. And, if you pop over to our Instagram’s, you will find a really great Emily Ley inspired giveaway!

TIPS FOR A STRESS FREE HOLIDAY SEASON

Get Organized 

Organization is my favorite way to combat stress. When I’m feeling overwhelmed, like my head is spinning out of control, I sit down, get out the old pen and paper and make lists. This time of year I have lists galore – Christmas present lists, food prep lists, holiday activity lists, etc. etc. Writing everything down and crossing off items as they get done takes so much pressure off. I highly recommend doing this if you don’t already.

Celebrate the Joy

Now more than ever it’s important we celebrate all the things that bring us joy. Whether it’s a distraction free meal with your family, a drive around town to look at Christmas lights, decorating the tree while listening to your favorite Christmas songs, celebrating each and every one of these moments is a great way to embrace the season.

Embrace the Simple

Keep it simple this year.  Lower your expectations.  Be flexible.  Learn to say no when you aren’t comfortable with a situation.  This year in particular is very strange and very stressful.  Know that it’s perfectly okay to say no to all social engagements.  It’s okay to stay home more and watch all the Christmas movies.  It’s okay to put that to-do list aside and spend the day baking cookies.  Just simplify in any way that feels right to you. 

Hopefully these ideas help you enjoy this holiday season!  Stay safe and healthy.  And don’t forget to check out Whitney’s post and our Instagram’s to win some organizational goodies! 

Slainte,

Shannon

MOTHERHOOD: FAVORITE BOOKS FOR TODDLERS

“And what book are you reading?” Anyone who knows my Bobo (grandma) will know that this was always the first question she would ask you upon arrival to her house. Reading was very important to her, and although I may have laughed at the question as a young tween, I so appreciate her passion for reading as an adult. Every year for our birthdays she would give us a book, usually a classic, that was related to our passions and I’m grateful I have such a robust library because of her.

My parents and Rob’s family also love reading and it’s important to us that we share this gift with Lilly. From a very young age we started reading to Lilly. We used to read to her when she was just a wee infant, doing tummy time on her caterpillar. And I’m so happy that Lilly finds so much joy in reading. Some days we just sit in her playroom and read every book on her shelves and that makes my mama heart so full.

I truly believe you are never too young to start reading and appreciate the power of a good story. There are a few books that have been favorites for us recently and I’m so excited to be sharing them with you all. All of these books have a purpose, as well as a magical story. I hope at least one of these stories will resonate with one of you mamas (or dads) and your little one. And if you need more options, be sure to check out two of my friend’s blogs – Sarah at Cozy Little Joys and Stephanie at Linen and Littles. Both of these ladies have babies around Lilly’s age and there is nothing better than a bond forged by motherhood and books.

ABC’s What Can She Be

This is a relatively new book for us but we LOVE it.  This book has everything a toddler loves.    It teaches the alphabet in a bright and colorful way with eye-catching illustrations.  It encourages a little girl that she can be anything she wants to be – whether it’s a mechanic, zoologist, neurologist, or interior designer – there are so many options and possibilities.  But I think my favorite part about this book is the fact that all girls are represented.  This book celebrates color, shape, size, and ability.  It’s truly a wonderful book about diversity and encouraging girls to follow their dreams.  

You can shop this book for $12 here.

Baby Feminists

A timeless edition to any toddler book collection, Baby Feminists is probably our favorite book. Lilly LOVES this book. She loves it so much that we bought Baby Feminists II. This book offers such an inspiring message that anyone can grow up to make the world a better place for everyone. This is an interactive book that not only teaches you about famous women who have made a difference, but also shows them as a baby – which toddlers love. And to be honest, this series has taught me about important women who have shaped history, some of which I’m embarrassed to admit I knew very little about! This book is definitely a must have for anyone who wants to teach their children about inspirational individuals.

You can shop this book for $6 here.

My First Baby Signs

Since babies don’t begin communicating with words until around 18 months or later, it was important for me to teach Lilly sign language. My mom bought this book for us and it’s been amazing! I swear Lilly learned how to communicate “more,” “all done,” and “eat” from this book. Toddlers and babies love interactive books and this one has pull tabs that illustrates each important sign. We have read this book so many times that all the pull tabs have been ripped out (eeek!). It’s one of our most well worn and most well loved books.

You can shop this book for $17 here.

The Rainbow Fish

Such a classic children’s book. And really is there a more beautiful book to teach about the power of friendship and sharing? We love this book, but it’s been a relatively recent love. The past couple of months Lilly has really shown interest in the glitter pictures and the story. And now we read it every night before bed. This international best seller is a must for toddlers to start learning about how to be a friend and how to share.

You can shop this book for $8 here.

The Gift That I Can Give

My sister (who is Lilly’s godmother) gifted her this book for her Baptism and it’s so special. The beautifully written and illustrated story shares such an important message. It teaches that all children can make a difference and make a positive impact on others. Not only does this book celebrate your child’s gift – whether it’s the gift of song, dance, or sports – but it also encourages and celebrates empathy, kindness, gratitude, and encouragement. It’s a lovely read and one that all families should consider adding to their collection.

You can shop this book for $8 here.

Goodnight Ohio

And last not but not least, is a bonus book that is specific to our beloved state of Ohio! Goodnight Ohio celebreates the many wonderful sights and attractions that make up Ohio. From the Ohio State Buckeyes, to the Toledo Museum of Art, Lake Erie, Cedar Point, and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, this is a classic toddler book that any native Ohioan should have in their library.

Shop this book for $7 here.

I hope these suggestions spark your interest, whatever they may be! Don’t forget the power that reading and sharing stories with your children has on developing their language skills, helping their mind grow, and their ability to listen. And as they get older, don’t forget to ask them, “And what book are you reading?”

Slainte,

Shannon

HOME: PLAYROOM GALLERY WALL

If you follow me on Instagram, you will have seen me talk about the gallery wall I’ve been working on for L’s playroom. This has been a summer project very near and dear to my heart. My goal with this gallery wall was to be very intentional with the artwork I was selecting. From the beginning, I wanted all of the artwork to be created by artists I admire and/or an artist I have become friends with. All six pieces that I have picked out so far fall into both categories and I’m so excited to share a little info about each artist and their work.

Becky Elgart Coastal Watercolors

Based in Connecticut, Becky Elgart finds endless inspiration from the Atlantic. You immediately can sense her love for the coast in all of her work. For me, each of her pieces of art invoke a feeling of peace and nostalgia for a simpler time. Her abstract coastal seascapes are some of the most beautiful pieces I’ve ever seen. Her piece “Forever Summer” is the piece that inspired me to create this gallery wall for L’s playroom. The lady in the hat reminds me of long, hot summer days playing dress up at my Bobo’s (grandma) house with some of her dresses and large sun hats from the 1940s and 1950s. I loved frolicking around in these vintage pieces and I really think it’s one of the reasons why I love fashion and fashion history so much. I chose this piece because it reminds me so much of my childhood and the endless amounts of imagination and creativity that comes with being a kid.

Check out Becky’s Instagram and her website for more of her beautiful work.

Cozy Little Prints

Cozy Little Prints and the story behind its formation is perhaps one of my favorite’s to share.  My friend Sarah (who I virtually met through Instagram) started painting watercolors at the beginning of COVID-19 as a way to ease anxiety during this incredibly stressful time.  Sarah first started painting watercolors of botanicals and has since expanded into architecture (I commissioned her to create a watercolor of my sister-in-law’s new house!), animals, pets, landscapes, and fashion pieces.   When I saw her share the watercolor she created of an elephant, I knew it had to be a part of L’s gallery wall.  L LOVES elephants – it was the first animal noise she made and she sleeps with her JellyCat Elephant every night.  The elephant print that Sarah painted is the sweetest, most precious addition to the gallery wall and nothing brings me more joy than to see L point to it and make an elephant noise.  

Be sure to follow Cozy Little Prints on Instagram and check out the Etsy site!

Jen Strandberg Studios

I discovered Jen Strandberg Studios through Cozy Little Prints! Sarah shared Jen’s artwork in her stories one day and from then on I was hooked.  Based out of NYC and Nantucket, Jen Strandberg Studios specializes in colorful coastal watercolors.  Full of coastal scenes, summers on the water, and hydrangeas in full bloom, Jen’s artwork makes my nautical loving heart so very happy.  As soon as I saw the colorful buoys that Jen painted, I knew they would be a part of the gallery wall.  They are so fun and playful – the perfect addition to a child’s playroom. 

Be sure to follow Jen on Instagram and shop her Esty site!

Little Lavender Lobster 

Rachel is the genius behind Little Lavender Lobster and perhaps one of the nicest and most supportive artists I’ve met through Instagram.  Founded in 2016, Little Lavender Lobster offers handmade jewelry, watercolors, custom stationary, and so much more – all created and designed by Rachel herself.  I love the simplicity and sophistication of her work.   One of the sweetest products that Rachel creates are personalized watercolor pennants!  Rachel and I worked together to create this customized piece for the gallery wall and it’s so perfect! It’s fun, playful, and the perfect amount of nautical.  I asked Rachel to use an “S” for Solt (in case there are more little Solt’s in the future) and watercolors in blue and white.  I’m so thrilled with the final piece and seeing this sweet pennant in the middle of the gallery wall makes me so happy.

Definitely follow Little Lavender Lobster on Instagram and check out Rachel’s website!

Michelle Brunner

Michelle is my first ever Instagram friend turned real life friend.  Michelle and I met over two years ago and she is one of the most beautiful humans.  Michelle actually teaches with my sister and that’s how we were introduced! Michelle creates the most gorgeous impressionistic paintings of Lake Erie and Ohio.  Claude Monet has always been my favorite artist and Michelle’s artwork reminds me so much of Monet.  I absolutely love her use of color and texture and I find myself getting lost in her paintings.  I am honored to have several of her pieces hanging in our home.  I knew I needed another nautical painting of Lake Erie to include in the gallery wall.  And this one with the little sailboat and the colorful patchwork detail is so perfect for inspiring creativity.

Be sure to follow Michelle on Instagram and check out her website and Etsy site!

Bittersweet Farms

For those of you who know me on a personal level, you will have known that I worked at Bittersweet Farms for five and half years, doing their marketing and social media. Bittersweet Farms is a local nonprofit that provides services to adults with autism. They employ a working farm model that helps individuals with autism live a life filled with purpose. One of my favorite programs is the Creative Arts Program. The Creative Arts Program provides adults with autism art therapy, art production, and art for intrinsic value. It has been a joy to get to know all of these artists and I am honored to have a piece of original art in my home. Before I moved on from Bittersweet, I saw one of the artists had painted this scene titled “Water Lilies.” I had just given birth to Lilly and I asked if I could purchase it, as it was the perfect addition to our room. This piece has been hanging in the playroom for many months, but it is now part of the gallery wall and the bright colors, coastal feel, and Monet inspired style makes me so happy.

Be sure to follow Bittersweet Farms on Instagram and check out their website for more information about this non-profit!

I hope you have enjoyed this introduction to some new artists. I am truly honored to have so many of their pieces displayed in our home. It has been so wonderful getting to know each of these individuals and I hope you will take the time to visit their sites and give them some love.


Slainte,
Shannon

MOTHERHOOD: AMONG THE WILDFLOWERS

Last week my mom and I took Lilly to a local flower farm.  I’m always looking for outdoor, social distance activities that L and I can do together and I’ve had a handful of friends recommend this activity to me.  I was truly thrilled with the experience and the farm itself, and I’m so excited to recount our adventures for you guys.  

A hidden jewel of Northwest Ohio, GardenView Flowers is a 60 acre family-run farm that specializes in designing beautiful bouquets for weddings. Not only does the farm offer the most gorgeous fresh-cut flowers for brides, but they also offer a U-Pick Garden and seasonal flower design workshops.

My mom and I had never been flower picking before and it was so delightful. It was seriously a very relaxing and very fulfilling activity! The flower farm opens daily at 8:00 a.m. We arrived around 10:00 a.m. and there were only a few other people there picking flowers. Upon arrival, we headed over to the cutest farm Flower Stop. The Flower Stop offers bouquets to go, dried flowers, and other gifts. It’s the most charming little building.

Adjacent to the Flower Stop is a check-in table where you pay for your experience and pick-up clippers and a cup/vase in which to place your picked flowers. Because Ohio is now under a mandatory mask order, I felt extremely safe. All of the staff and visitors were wearing masks and people were practicing social distancing. I was very pleased too with the disinfecting precautions the farm took to ensure the clippers and other supplies were cleaned in between uses. Plus, they offered hand sanitizer and complimentary bottles of water (it does get hot out in those flower fields)!

After we checked-in, we chose a field of wildflowers and started picking! The farm plants over 30 varieties of fresh-cut flowers and there was a colorful mix of varieties and textures from which to choose.

L and I were drawn to the bright pinks and purples, so we picked a lot of Zinnias, Cosmos, Dahlias, and Sweet Williams. There were also plenty of Sunflowers, Gladiolus, Snap Dragons, and Blue Ageratum. There were so many different varieties and colors and you could easily come home with multiple bouquets depending on the look and feel you are going for.

We picked flowers for almost an hour and I was actually kind of sad to leave! L absolutely loved smelling the flowers, helping us pick them, and frolicking through the many fields. Her face of pure joy really just sums up our experience. We definitely plan to return again and again. If you are local to Northwest Ohio and are looking for a family friendly, safe activity, flower picking at GardenView Flowers is a must!

Be sure to check out their website and follow them on Instagram!

Slainte,

Shannon

BRAND SPOTLIGHT: MADDIE AND CONNOR CO.

I’m exceptionally excited to share this latest brand spotlight with you all! A few months ago I connected with a fellow mama, Sara Feeney, on Instagram. We quickly bonded over motherhood, classic children’s clothing, the coastal life, the list goes on. Early on, Sara mentioned a dream of hers to create her own brand of children’s clothing that was preppy and classic. Over the last couple of months, I’ve had the pleasure of watching Sara bring her dream to life. And so, without further ado, I introduce you all to Maddie & Connor Co.!

Maddie & Connor Co. offers timeless and classic clothing that captures the joy and essence of childhood. All of the styles are designed by Sara herself and her attention to detail is top notch. Think stripes, seersucker, embroidery, eyelit, and scallops. The designs are so timeless that they can be passed down from sibling to sibling, and generation to generation.

One of my favorite designs in the new collection is the Lighthouse Beach Dress. You guys know I’m a sucker for blue and white stripes so I knew right away this style would end up in Lilly’s wardrobe. The ricrac along the ruffle and hem make this dress so incredibly sweet. And the fabric is really lightweight – perfect for hot, summer days down by the water.

When I’m shopping for clothes for Lilly, I look for quality, style, and price. And Maddie and Connor Co. hit all three of these criteria. The quality is beautiful (the Lighthouse Beach Dress washes so well!!), the style is timeless and classic, and the price is completely affordable. If you are looking for a great children’s clothing brand, I highly recommend shopping Maddie and Connor Co.!

Slainte,

Shannon 

MOTHERHOOD: STRAWBERRY FIELDS FOREVER

Strawberry picking! An activity the Solt family had never done before and I’m still not sure who had the most fun! We are still sticking pretty close to home and when we do take L out, we only go to outdoor spaces with plenty of room, strict social distancing, and mask wearing standards. A local farm where I typically buy pumpkins and mums in the fall offers you pick strawberries for two weeks in June. I did my research to make sure this farm was taking the proper precautions that are mandated by the Ohio Department of Health and feeling comfortable, we decided to try it out.

Stevens Farm in Monclova is the perfect setting for a morning out with the family. There is a cute little farmhouse at the front of the property with an old log cabin and small barn with horses and goats you can feed and pet. They have a greenhouse with fresh herbs and flowers and just across the way a small pond with a dock and canoes. Just past the pond is an orchard with peach and pear trees. Lilly loved running through the rows of trees! And just then just beyond the orchard are fields and fields of strawberries.

We arrived soon after the you pick opened and I’m so glad we did! Within 45 minutes they were almost sold out of spots – aka rows. All of the employees were wearing masks, they were sanitizing berry carts, and every family had their own row and they alternated rows so that people were spread out comfortably. We felt exceptionally comfortable.

We spent about a half hour picking strawberries and filled up two pints. These were literally the most delicious strawberries I’ve ever tasted! So fresh and so sweet. I think Lilly enjoyed squishing them between her hands more than she enjoyed eating them though.

We ate a fair amount throughout the day after we got home and washed them. But I also ended up making a strawberry cobbler that was so yummy and refreshing. You can find the recipe for that here.

It was a beautiful summer morning and I’m so glad we ventured out for these happy family memories!

Slainte,

Shannon