Friday, September 14, 2018

Friday Faves

Do you guys like Friday Faves? Is it still a thing? I'm gunna keep it a thing, ok? I like sharing stuff with you guys. I promise to not bombard you with stuff that we don't use or like. Deal? Deal.

Have you guys tried ZipFizz? I feel like in my early motherhood stage - I need an extra amount of caffeine to get me through the day. I'm exhausted. Flat pooped out. I just need it. I've always been the type of person that wants my body to "make its own energy." BUT - I have since seen the light. I've come to terms with the fact that during this time in my life... I need an extra boost. And as much and I love me some Dr. Pepper... I can't have it every day. I mean, I could... but I shouldn't. So ZipFizz it is. The Blue Raspberry is my favorite, but I'm currently making my way through a pack of Orange Cream. It's very sweet, but also delicious. Next flavor I'm buying - Limon. Can't wait. (The things I live for...)

I recently read Model Mormon by Rosemary Card & I loved it. She has such a fun, modern insight on  life. Obviously, I'm LDS, so I can relate to a lot of the topics that she shared. My personal favorites were modest ISN'T hottest, her thoughts on Heavenly Mother & how Christ wept so it's ok if men weep. We get so caught up with a world where the mothers are the nurturing ones, but we need soft hearted men in the world, too.  Aaaaa-men.

We've been slowly collecting books for the kids about emotions, feelings & consequences. We just bought Teach Your Dragon To Understand Consequences. This is a super easy read & I love that I can teach little lessons along the way to Kess. Sometimes when I run into a teach moment with Kess I feel like I don't have anything to refer to. I can't say, "remember when..." because it's the first time we are faced with a certain incident. So if we have a few of these emotions/feelings, etc. books I think it will be easy for Kess to pinpoint certain instinces and I can help her grow that way.

I gave this Neutrogena Hydro Boost Water Gel Sunscreen a try last week at the beach and I really liked it. Super lightweight & non-greasy (I hate greasy sunscreen or lotion.) Plus, it smells really good. I didn't grow up being super conscious about sun damage. I was naturally dark so I rarely burned & I didn't give sunscreen a second thought most of the time. Now that I'm getting older and starting to see some of the damage that the sun has done to my skin I take sunscreen more seriously. I'm a big believer in the necessity that is Vitamin D. I want my kids to get some good vitamin D, but I also want them protected. A lightweight sunscreen is (in my opinion) the way to go! The less they notice about it (beyond me applying it) the better.

*This post is sponsored by Neutrogena & BrandBacker. All opinions are my own. Thank you for supporting the companies that support Beautiful Effort.

Thursday, September 6, 2018

Sibling Snapshot

I've decided to document these two cutie little siblings through little snapshots since we are slowly outgrowing our "monthly posts" now that Manning is older than a year.

I wanted to document random things about the kids; things that I normally wouldn't be able to remember a year from now.

We are try to soak up this last little bit of our mountain summer & we are hoping to squeeze in another beach day or two before Fall hits, but I am loving the chilly mornings. I love living in Idaho because we get all 4 seasons. Granted, Winter is by far the longest season when you live in the mountains, but I'll still take it. I love Summer, but I couldn't handle living in the constant heat. Nope. I need breaks.

The kids are growing like freaking weeds. I feel like some days just drag on. Then they go to sleep and I miss them. Then they wake up older. And then I'm sad. Motherhood is a freaking roller coaster, right? Rollercoasters make me queazy...

Kess age: 4

Kess started preschool today. We are doing a little co-op with some friends from church, so it's pretty informal, but the social aspect is what she really needs. She's a little genius if ya ask me, but she is still slowly learning social skills like sharing taking turns, etc. I think she will really thrive this year. She knows all her letters & can write them pretty well. She mixes up B & D sometimes. We are working on her spacial awareness so she doesn't spell her name "EKSS" & she's doing really well. She's starting to understand that everything works from left to right. She loves to do copy work, so I can write out some words and she will copy them below. Again - working on spacial awareness and she can write her whole name. First & Last.

She loves Manning until she doesn't. He's getting busier and busier and usually loves to get into whatever she is playing with. We are working on Kess being more patient with him and working on teach Manning to not bulldoze whatever she is doing.

Kess struggles to say the "th" sound so "think" & "thing" come out "'hink" & "'hing." I love it. The other day I heard her say "think" and noticed she got the "th" in there and it made me a little sad. She also adds a "p" to the front of most words. Like, "pasgusting" & "pahsausted." I hope she does this for a while because it's hilarious.

Kess thinks her dad is the most amazing person ever. She loves all of her grandparents. She thinks she will marry her cousin Conrad someday - despite our best efforts to tell her that she really, really can't do that.

She loves quiet time. She goes into her room for a movie or music while Manning take this nap. She usually colors or plays with toys & is no longer allowed to cut paper during quiet time since she chopped her own hair. But, she really loves doing quiet time. She's wildly great and independent play & really needs a little time to herself every day.

Kess is starting to backtalk a little which is infuriating and kinda funny. She has a super similar personality to mine so we tend to butt heads, but I'm working on being more patient so I can help her through her problems instead of telling her that she's being ridiculous... because you can bet your butt that she will yell back, "No, you're being ridiculous!" She usually has the sweetest personality and we all love her to pieces.

Manning 16 months.

The busiest boy. Seriously mellow Kess did not prepare me for Manning. He climbs on everything. Including climbing my pantry shelves to get his own snacks. He loves to pull DVD's out of their cases. He is sleeping really well right now and it makes me so happy. We recently got rid of his bottle entirely and he has some milk in a sippy just before bath time. Once we stopped giving him milk in his room he was sleeping much better at night. Glory, Glory Hallelujah! He sleeps with a water bottle and will hand it back to you & say, "moooore" if it isn't all the way full. He loves his Paci. More than Kess did and I wasn't sure that was possible. I think I'll have to wean him from that after we move into our new house.

Manning is getting chattier and chattier every day. I love it. He says, "eh dom" (welcome) instead of "thank you." He says, "mom," "dad," "kess," "keekee" for kitty, "hot," "all done" & a slew of other words that only we understand. He mimics pretty well so he's learning new words almost every day. It's fun to have him talk with us. He is the happiest little guy until he's not, then he will let you (& everyone else) know how unhappy he is. He can not/will not sit in the grocery cart. I'm positive that he will fall out one day.

He loves to climb up on the couch and then run and dive into the pillows. I think he gets a new bruise, booboo or bump every single day.

He snuggles right up to be during nap time or bedtime. He loves to hum along to whatever song I'm humming to him. He actually knows "I'm a Child of God" pretty well. It's impressive.

He loves when dad comes home and usually greats him with a "Daaaaaad" in a super deep voice. He usually drinks about a 4th of my protein drink every morning. He loves to go down the slides at the park backwards and on his tummy. And for being a boy who is constantly on the go, he loves to just sit and read books. I often find him in his room, sitting on the floor next to a pile of books, quietly reading. We all love him tons, even when he's being a Wild Mann. Less affectionately calls Manning "Cheekers" because we used to call him "chubby checkers" for like 2 seconds when he was a tiny baby and it has stuck in her mind. We think it's super cute and we are sure she will continue to call him that for a long, long time.

This post turned out longer than I anticipated... I guess that's what happens when you talk about your kids, right? I am really loving this little phase of life that we are in. It's hard, sure, but I feel like we are getting into a good groove. Good nap schedules, good structure... all good things.

I hope you all are getting ready for Fall. We are ready for a little change of pace here in the mountains. Summer has been so good to us, but so, so busy.

*Kids clothing courtesy of Gymboree. Thank you for supporting the companies that support Beautiful Effort.*

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

That Motherhood Research

Complete and total honesty here. When I was younger I didn't think much about what motherhood would be like. I knew I wanted to be a mom eventually. I knew there would be hard days. I knew it would be exhausting. I knew it would be fun. I knew I would love my kids. Turns out, every single on of those things is the biggest understatement ever.

I never knew how badly I wanted to be a mom, until we started trying and didn't get pregnant immediately. (Uh, I had spent my entire adult life trying to NOT get pregnant. Then we actually want to get pregnant and it doesn't happen at the first try? Was this some kind of sick joke?)

I had no idea that it would feel like the bad days are significantly outweighing the good days. This shiii is HARD! Like, holy crap, it's so hard! Why is it so hard? Shouldn't these yahoos come with a warning label? Mmhmm.

I had no idea how rewarding and fun it would be to raise someone who is half mine and half my favorite person's. How freaking cool is that? I never knew that I would send Matt text messages throughout the day with pictures of the kids doing something the exact way he does things (with the eye roll emoji, of course.) I never knew that I would be brought to tears by Kess sharing a toy with Manning without me asking. Or reading him a book in his room while I do the dishes. Who knew it would be so awesome to be a mom?

I knew I would love my kids. Sure! But I had zero, nada, zilch idea that I would love them way more than I love myself. Quite frankly motherhood has a way of making you not really love yourself at all - all in the name of those kids, right? I never knew that I would feel empty thinking about not having my kids. You know that feeling you get when you miss someone - like a hole in your chest? That's the feeling I get when I think about living my life without my kids. The worst.

I also had no idea that I would research more than I did in college to find answers to my parenting problems. Recent research consists of "Why won't my 15 month old sleep through the night?" "fever while teething?" "Can my cat give my toddler ringworm?" "Ringworm in toddlers." "ringworm contagious?"

Yep, you guessed it. Manning won't sleep & Kess got ringworm from our freaking cats... who are updated on their shots, too. What in the heck, you guys?! And this isn't even the whole point of this post - it's just to give you a little taste of the insanity of motherhood.

And let me tell you what... I LOVE BEING A MOM! Loooove it! I think I'm pretty dang good at it, too. But, again - not the point. The point is that when I'm knee deep in diapers, whining kids, teething, fevers, meltdowns, lunch on the floor, RINGWORM & all the snacks & shows that we can fit into one day - I'm still really happy to be a mom.

Lately I've been struggling to be a great mom and a great Kierra. You know the feeling, right? Where you want to grow as a person, but your tiny humans are essentially making that impossible.
Example: - working out for physical and mental health benefits. Real hard to get up before your kids for a sweat reset when said kids won't sleep through the night. I needs my sleeps to function. I really, really do. I can't grow as a person because I'm not sleeping. It's hard. It's so hard. I want to be a present, fit, spiritually fed mom/person. But my lack of sleep, focus, etc has me turning to social media/food/tv as an outlet or a way to "cope." That's NOT what I want at all.

Whenever I need a reminder about the importance of motherhood I think about returning to live with our Heavenly Parents again. I think about how They will hug me in my return and tell me about what a good job I did raising my kids. They will tell me that they know it was truly exhausting & sometimes heartbreaking. They will tell me how They know how I wracked my brain over sleep schedules, nutrition, fine motor skills, preschools etc. They will congratulate me for putting my kids' needs and my husbands' needs before mine own more often than not. They will tell me that MY JOB, my raising my kids was the most important job out of any other job I could have had on Earth.

I once told Matt (& he agrees with me - before you think I'm all stuck up) that my job was WAY more important than his. Sometimes I feel beneath Matt because I don't financially contribute in the way that he does. He has established a name for himself, he has a stellar career before 30 & I feel like the only name that I've created for myself is "Momomommmmmaaa."

But I had an epiphany that our Heavenly Parents will truly greet us with praise about how we raised our kids and not on how we built our worldly careers.

So for those of you who are googling solutions to your parenting woes - know this... You are such a great mom/dad. You truly care for your kids. I know it. You know it. They know it. Yes, it is hard when YOU are the center of your tiny humans' worlds. Really hard, but what you're doing is THE MOST important thing you could possibly be doing.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Trail Run

I did it! I marked off another item off my 30 before 30 list. This one was HARD! Like I was totally undertrained. I had the endurance to run 10 miles, but not the endurance to run 10 miles with some serious elevation gain and terrain change. My body still hurts. Real bad.

But, with that being said - I am freakin' proud of myself. While I felt like I was undertrained, I definitely trained for this race! I truly don't know how people with young kids even train for any type of race over a 10k. Like really? Tell me your secrets? How do you find the time? I gotta know. I get a serious case of mom guilt every time I go out for a long run. For my last long run before the race I hired a babysitter. Seriously - probably one of the best things I've done for myself in a long time. And I'm keeping it up - another post on that later!

Ok I've had lots of training questions. You're going to hate me, but I didn't use a training schedule - I just kind of went with it and did what I had time for. I made sure that I increased mileage every week to two weeks (sometimes I just couldn't swing a long run, so I didn't sweat it.) Occasionally on a Saturday I would ask Matt to stay with the kids so I could go on a long run alone or with my friends... I think I did this twice.) And then I hired a sitter for my 8 mile before the race - as mentioned above.

Any time that I did circuits in my garage I added a running section and ran uphill on my treadmill 10.0! So hard. The inclines are where I was undertrained. I needed to work on those so much more to be prepared for this race, but I survived. I tried to workout 2-4 times a week every week leading up to the race and that helped a lot. Plus, I think the fact that I run slow helps with my endurance. HA!

The race actually came out to 11 miles in Map My Run. The first 2 miles were brutal. Lost of boulders to climb over and lots of uneven, uphill ground. Then I felt pretty ok until mile 5. That bad boy was straight uphill - all we could do was walk it. There were some swear words. There were a few people who had reached the top and were panting as they ran down the hill, saying "great job" or "keep it up" or "there's chocolate at the top!"

Once we reached the top/end of mile 5 we refueled with some chocolate, water melon, water & electrolyte water and made our way down hill. We were careful to not book it down hill, mostly because it would have been too fast and too hard on our knees. And the ground was uneven, so keeping balance was more important than speed.

My friend Becky ran it with me and we both decided to only walk when we needed to. Like if it was too rugged or too uphill. At the end we felt like we walked way more than we thought we would, but when we did walk - we truly needed to. It was a rough race. I tried to keep Matt and some friends in the loop with a quick text every few miles. The last 2.5 miles were downhill and on single tracks (mountain biking paths) and they were the funnest. We kept pace with a few other runners and it just felt good. As my Map My Run was chiming in at 10 miles I felt like it had to be way off because there was NO WAY we were close to the finish line. I was starting to feel pretty discouraged. Then we could hear the announcers at the finish line and lots of cheering. I turned out of the trees and saw Matt, Kess and Manning and a few of my friends! I wasn't sure if anyone would make it so it was SO fun to see everyone!

My friend Becky and I finished in 2 hours and 54 minutes. We stopped for about 5 minutes at the top to stretch, eat and drink. I feel really happy with that time! I would love to train more and beat that time in the future, but that's only for the sake of progress.

You better believe that I took a WM Nutrition PreWorkout before the race started. I tried my hardest to not start out too fast (which was truly impossible because it was uphill) & made sure that I stayed hydrated. At the end I ran out of water and was kind of freaking out a little Thankfully Becky had some backup!

The McCall Classic Trail Run was my favorite race that I've ever ran. The owners were super nice, everyone that ran was super nice, and I got to chat with a friend the whole way! Becky, thanks for asking me random questions and singing me songs to keep me out of my head.

50% off WM Nutrition with code "effort50"

Monday, July 16, 2018

Amazon Prime Day Favorites

It's PRIME DAY! Yay! I'll be posting my favorite deals & purchases here all day. So keep checking in! *Update* - Dang, I'm real tired of seeing the Dogs of Amazon, but now it's finally working. So here we go!

We have two of these little Echo Dots and I love that they connect to our phones through bluetooth. We often play our own playlists or from time to time we just ask Alexa to play a certain station for us! These would be a fun gift to give someone who is about to head off to college! Perfect dorm room or new apartment gift!

You guys know that I loooove my instant pot! I use it a few times a week! I actually made some hard boiled eggs an hour ago. We use it for beasts, rice, beans and eggs the most! I haven't gotten into that whole make your own yogurt thing, but I'm sure it's handy! ;) And this is a screaming deal.

These jeans have been saved in my amazon list for about a month now & I'm dying because my size (size 6/28) is only  $38.02! Killer deals for Lucky Brand Jeans!

I ordered Matt a few pairs to try out too. He is officially down to one pair of jeans and they don't look good people. They're falling apart. He rarely wears jeans so they get put on the back burner. Not today, baby! Not today!

This Anastasia Beverly Hills Brow Wiz is a no brainer! This makes life much easier if you fill your brows. I am currently using the Dip Brow, but I love the Brow Wiz. Especially if you're a beginner to the whole brow filling deal!

Kesser jeans are a must. She has skinny jeans and they're ok if they're too short, because we can roll them like they're cropped. But she needs some bootcut jeans. Something that can go over her shoes for adventures and camping. These will be perfect! They had the adjustable waist, too!

I had a friend recommend this to me because I need a steam mop. I usually stiffer my kitchen and dining area quick after meals (or I have good intentions to) but i feel like I'm just pushing the dirt and grime around with my current mop. Like I mop my little heart out and then Manning's little feet are dirty after running around. So gross. This mop is on sale (not part of prime day) and then has a coupon of $29 off on top of the sale. Originally $199. On sale for $163.99. Then an extra $29 off. Total $134.99. I'm really excited about this. I'm typing so fast right now! ;) Ok Update* This is for the all in one vacuum only, but if you buy the steam pads it adds $13 to your order - which is still less than the actual steam mop/kit. **update update. I'm not sure what's going on here. haha I bought the extra mop pads... but now I don't think I need them. I guess I'll let ya'll know Thursday when my stuff arrives haha!

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Self Care Series: Nutritional Supplements

Round 2 of the Self Care Series!

After feeling like I was floundering in the weightloss department I started wondering if something was wrong with my body. I wasn't losing weight. Sure, I'm in the late 20's. But I was working out a few times a week, watching what I was eating... nothing. I started to get really frustrated and decided that if I was going to "stay the same" then I might as well be able to eat chocolate and drink a Dr. Pepper when my kids go down for quiet time/nap time. 

I decided to kick it in gear and really focus on what I'm doing. Like WHY I want to get fit. I'll be totally honestly with you. I want to feel hot again. I want to feel good in my skin. Heck, I want to feel good in my clothes again. I am in full acceptance that my body will "never look the same" after having kids. I'm great with that, but I also know my body's potential. I know that I can be healthier, fitter and have more energy if I just work hard enough to fuel my body with good things and push my physical limits. 

This is where WM Nutrition comes in. They have a super yummy protein shake that has great macros ( in my personal opinion.) I have another protein shake that I LOVE, but it has a good chunk of carbs that I'm just not quiet ready to part with so early in the day. They blueberry protein shake is delicious. I add Collagen Peptides for Hair, Skin and Bone support. Then I add some chia seeds, flax seeds and spinach, cuz you know - that's all good stuff. ;) I add frozen blueberries and ice, too because I like my protein shake to think it's a milkshake. ;) It's SO good! I'm dying to try their Cookies and Cream flavor too. 

I often feel like I am dragging myself through my workouts. I find that I don't push myself and I just can't wait to get through it so I can check it off my list. As it's starting to warm up here in the mountains I have been loving running outside! It's so crisp and beautiful in the mornings. But inside or outside workouts - I don't have much time. I need to power through and get the most of my workouts. Enter WM Nutrition's PreWorkout. Just enough energy to power through my workouts. I love that you don't have to take this with water. I'm prone to side aches... I don't know if that's just something I deal with or if I'm just really out of shape ;) But being able to skip the water and just pour the pre-workout straight into my mouth pixie stick style is a game changer for me! I love it! I love that if I don't have a crazy tough workout planned then I only need to use half. You can bet that I'll be using a whole packet for my trail run in July though. (seriously - I'll need all the help.)

And my biggest nemesis... snacking. I heart snacks a whole lot. I always find myself snacking on this, that and the other all day long. Mostly because I'm surrounded by it. Yummy kids snacks are all over my house. Even the healthy ones really have no place in my diet. I get crazy snacky once the kids are down for the afternoon. I tend to fold laundry while watching Netflix and chocolate and or mass amounts of wheat thins seem to go hand in hand with each other. I have been drinking WM Nutritions AdvantraSlim - which is their appetite control. I drink it right before I eat lunch and I truly do not get the urge to dig into my pantry for a treat. It feels really, really good to not regret eating something that I really didn't want or need. 

Don't get me wrong - sometimes I need something sweet and I stand by it, but for the most part... I'm just eating because I can and I'm bored. I find it much easier to stay within my calorie and macro count when I'm not even thinking about a snack. The AdvantraSlim totally does that for me! 

I whole heartedly believe in good foods that fuel our bodies. I think that nutrition is the biggest contributor to our health. Exercise is great and I love how I feel after, but I don't have the time to 
out-exercise a crappy diet. I'm also a firm believer in balance. Sometimes I really do want to go out for pizza or grab some snacks and catch up on our shows with Matt. And if I'm staying on track otherwise - I think that is perfectly fine. WM Nutrition helps with that! 

You can use the code EFFORT50 for 50% off your order! That's huge! 

Thank you to WM Nutrition for sponsoring this post. Thank YOU for supporting the brands and companies that support Beautiful Effort!

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Self Care Series: Teeth

I've decided to start this Self Care Series to remind myself (& hopefully give you some ideas) of the things that I can do for myself that make me happy. Sometimes I get so wrapped up in being "Matt's wife" or "Kess' and Manning's mom" that I forget that I'm "Kierra" - not that I would trade those titles for anything in the world, but being "Kierra" makes me "Matt's wife" and "Kess & Manning's mom." 

The best gift I can give my family is a happy mom. Being a happy mom requires a little bit of self care.

So I thought I would start with something super basic. My mouth. My teeth. My smile.

When I was in high school I had a lot of extra time to pamper myself. I always had time to whiten my teeth, but really struggled with sensitivity. I even have a 1 small spot that hurts extra bad because it's the tooth where I always cracked open my sunflower seeds with. Softball probs.


Between my schedule getting busier and busier I stopped whitening my teeth. Somewhere in the middle of Manning's pregnancy - I felt like my smile was super dull. I fondly remembered the days when I had time to whiten while I practiced doing my makeup in different ways. But now... I throw in my Smile Brilliant whitening trays while I shower or after the kids go to bed and Matt & I are reading before bed.

Smile Brilliant sends an impression kit for you to do at home. Then you send in your dental impression and they make your custom-fitted whitening trays. The whitening process is super easy. I just put a ribbon of whitening gel into my trays, pop them in and read in bed while Matt and I wind down from our day. I usually whitening for 20-25 minutes and definitely still see progress after each whitening session. I'm so happy with how bright my smile is becoming.

While I still struggled with a little bit of tooth sensitivity, I found that if I use Smile Brilliant's Desensitizing gel right before bed - I went to sleep and woke up with next to no issues and pain. I always try to follow it up with this toothpaste, because I think it keeps teeth stains, sensitivity and plaque at bay, too.

I'm super terrible at flossing (my dental assistant sister will not be impressed with my confession.) I think flossing is so annoying. But I know the importance of it, so I bought these super handy flossers so I don't have to deal with the dang string wrapped around my finger deal. Does that bug anyone else? Ha! We keep these in our cupboard and it makes flossing a breeze!

And last but not least... this is my most favorite toothbrush. I got it from my dentist after a cleaning and a few months later I bought Matt one because he had serious toothbrush envy. ;) My teeth feel so much more clean if I use this toothbrush versus a manual brush. I truly don't like using a regular toothbrush anymore... I just can't. I'm a toothbrush snob now.

There it is. My clean/white teefer (mom life) round up! I feel a million times better if I have a white & bright smile. 

This is just the first post of the Self Care Series so get ready for some more fun!

Ok before I go-

Smile Brilliant is offering a a 15% discount to YOU! Just use the code beautifuleffort15 at checkout.

And a GIVEAWAY. Winner will get $149 Smile Brilliant credit.

Enter here ---> *Giveaway will close April 26th. 

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