The Cutest {At Home} Daddy/Daughter Date

I received the item mentioned in this post in exchange for an honest review. 

Last weekend I surprised my daughter, Adalynn, and my husband, John with surprises “from one another.” She had an early Father’s Day present for him (…that I obviously picked out; I just couldn’t wait any longer!) and I had set up a tea party and park time for Adalynn and him to spend some quality time together.

Oh my goodness, you guys! It was even cuter than I imagined it would be! First up they had a tea party and that’s when Adalynn gave John his surprise, a JORD watch. And then they shared some tea and cakes afterwards.

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He works really hard and they don’t get much time together during the week or weekends. He is typically off for two days, every twelve days so every second they get together is very special. Their time together is beautiful and I thought, “what better way to remember all their special times together than with a watch!”

When getting his watch I chose to go through JORD because I had gotten him a watch from them before and I was impressed! Their watches are unique, classy, and beautifully crafted! And I love that his is formal enough to be dressed up, but casual enough to wear everyday.

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After their tea party they headed to the park, walked around, and then headed back. (Unfortunately the park in our neighborhood doesn’t have a playground!)

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Hugs for Daddy!

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“Bird!”

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Worn out from a great day…time to head home…

Aside from having a tea party or going to the park, there’s lots of things that would make a daddy/daughter date perfect! Here’s a few ideas:

Go out for frozen yogurt/icecream

Go see a kid-friendly movie

Go to the children’s museum or zoo

Have a picnic

Attend a kid’s paint night

…or paint pottery

Go to a carnival or fair

Dance together (whether it’s a class or one you make up in the living room)

Send her on a scavenger hunt

As you can see, these are all kid-centered. That’s why it’s a nice touch to be able to include a gift for Daddy! Of course, we were fortunate enough, thanks to JORD, to be able to give Daddy a really nice gift, but something like a homemade card or handprint art would be just as nice!

Now it’s time for you to plan a perfect day for someone special in your life – whether it’s a daddy/daughter date or something else! I can kick start that for you with an awesome giveaway!

JORD has been amazing enough to let me offer my readers the chance to win A FREE CONWAY WATCH! Click here to enter! (All they need is your name and email!)

And no worries, if you don’t win the watch, YOU STILL WIN a $25 gift card code!!!!

This giveaway ends on 6/4/17!

And for those are you who are just too impatient to wait to hear the giveway results,  here’s a 15% OFF CODE: andtheuscsx6

Shop John’s watch here, the men’s collection here or the women’s collection here.

Best of luck!!!!

XOXO

 

 

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Watch Gift Ideas

A Letter to my High School Self

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For those who don’t know, I work part-time with a school system. I am an instructional mentor for 16 teachers, across 4 different schools, one of them being a high school. Nearing 30 years old, this is my first time being immersed in high school culture since I myself walked the halls of my high school.

Watching these teens walk around, play around, and joke around is making me smile, reminisce, and quite frankly, cringe.

It is making me remember so much of how I was, yet how differently I viewed myself. I have a deep urge to grab some of them as they push past me in the hallway and tell them all they have to appreciate now and all they have to look forward to later.

But instead, I’ll write a letter to myself in high school…and maybe leave it lying around somewhere…

To my high school self –

Hey you, slow down for just a second! I have something important I want you to read and I promise it’ll be worth it!

First of all, stop rushing through life. You’re so ready to be older, so ready for the next school year, for college, for adulthood, just slow down, you’re going to look back one day and not have a clue where it all went. Enjoy each moment, each and every day. These days are going to do a lot of the shaping of who you are and who you will become. They’re going to go fast enough, stop hurrying them along.

Speaking of hurrying, why are you in such a rush to get out of this small town? I have an inkling that it’s because a lot of your friends are saying that. It’s okay to be happy here. After all, it’s where you’ve experienced the most life and where you’ve met some people that you’ll hold dear the rest of your life. It’s okay to be happy here and not want to live here forever. Don’t wish it away because it’s the cool thing to do.

And start respecting your parents a little more. I know they’re not super strict with you, but when they do put their foot down it’s because they have your best intentions in mind. I know you’re not thrilled that they did some of the college choice narrowing themselves, but the one they picked truly is the best choice of the three you’re looking at. You’re going to love it there!

And sorry to be another person saying it, but you really aren’t always right! Suck it up buttercup. Everyone else thinks they’re right most of the time, too. Learn some grace. It’ll make life easier, I promise.

Speaking of grace, let go of the grudge you’re holding on to with your ballet teacher. She was in the wrong, but big deal, people make mistakes. YOU are making a mistake right now. You’re losing months worth of training and that very well may be the reason you don’t make the dance company when auditions roll around your freshmen year of college.

Oh yea, and about that freshmen year, it’s going to be downright terrifying being dropped off at college but you are about to change and and smile and cry and laugh and learn so, so much and have so, so much fun and grow so, so, so much. I know you’re worried about your best friends, you guys are super close and you’re all scared to say goodbye. Especially you. These girls are your best friends, they’re your sisters. But know that if they feel the same way, just because you’re all at different colleges and going your separate ways,  doesn’t mean you’ll lose touch. If they’re true friendships, these big changes will make you even closer.

Take everyday for what it’s worth and put your all into it. Study hard – no, even harder. Put your all into dance. If you put more effort into it I really think you could be something. Stop worrying about your friends. Or your boyfriend. Be happy with who you are. Be happy with where you are and where you’re going. You’re driven and one day you’ll look back and be glad you took a little advice from someone who knew what they were talking about.

You got this! Keep your head up and keep smiling!

-Your future self

Take Care of Your Skin!

May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month!

I am honored to be partnering  with Shedo Lane and SwimZip to bring awareness and to help you keep your skin healthy!

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When I first learned that I would be working with Shedo Lane and SwimZip during skin cancer awareness I jumped on it! Cancer is something that hits close to home so any and every way I can help, I will. I also know I am so guilty of not taking care of my skin the way I should – risking my health to get that perfect tan!

First, I wanted to take a second to share some facts and tips with you! It is so scary!

  • Melanoma is the most serious type of skin cancer.
  • Each year $8.1 billion is spent treating skin cancer.
  • Over the last 30 years, more people have had skin cancer than every other cancer combined.
  • In the course of a lifetime, 1 in 5 Americans will develop skin cancer.
  • Every 54 minutes someone dies from melanoma.
  • After 5 sunburns, a person’s risk of melanoma practically doubles.
  • Sadly, it is estimated that 9,730 people will die this year from melanoma.

{Facts from skincancer.org}

While those are super scary, skin cancer is a very easy thing to lower your chances of getting! Here’s some great tips I found, as well!

  • Always use sunscreen, even when it’s cloudy. And don’t forget to reapply at least every two hours!
  • Wear a hat and sunglasses, if possible.
  • Limit your time in the sun, especially between 10:00 am – 4:00 pm.
  • Use lip balm and lipstick with SPF.
  • Practice the shadow rule: If your shadow is shorter than you the sun ray’s are at their strongest.
  • If possible, wear clothing made with sun-protective materials. The longest the sleeves and pant legs, the better.
  • Don’t only think about this in the pool or at the beach! Think about taking care of your skin anytime you’re outside – at the park, going for a walk, a picnic, you name it!

{Information from cancer.net}

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Our shirts are from Shedo Lane

As I said, I’m so honored to be working with Shedo Lane and SwimZip to bring awareness to skin cancer. The owner has had many personal experiences with skin cancer so she wanted to create a company that would keep her family safe in the sun, hence the UPF 50+ fabric, while also being fashion forward, hence the super cute designs.

Here’s a few more pictures of the pieces Shedo Lane and SwimZip sent us! Thanks again, for keeping us safe this summer!

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**Keep your eyes peeled the next few weeks because we are partnering again to host two separate giveaways on Instagram! Yay! In the meantime, comment below for an additional 10 entries, and tell me at least one item you would be interested in buying if you win the shop credit!**

xoxo

Why I’m Always Happy

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I had a friend look me in the eye the other day and genuinely ask me, “How are you always happy?”

Well let me first begin by saying that I’m NOT always happy.

I do ALWAYS try to be happy though.

I do so by choosing to be happy. It’s a conscious decision day in and day out. No one else has the ability to make you happy. It’s always all on you.

It’s your perspective, your patience, your joy, your choice.

I think this world is a hard place to be. It is scary, it is evil, and there is so, so much to be negative about, to complain about, and to worry about.

But there’s even more things that are beautiful and wonderful. Things that are so very positive, things to rejoice, and things to celebrate!

There’s many ways to become a person who’s “always happy” and since my friend was genuinely looking for an answer, I’ll let you in on my secret!

It’s Jesus.

It’s always him.

But here’s the thing. My friend is a Christian. Why isn’t she happy?

She is someone I admire, someone I pray with, someone who I know and believe trusts every word in the Bible. She exudes the grace of a strong God-fearing woman. But here’s what’s also true, she falls.

We all fall.

And just because I’m the one writing this post doesn’t mean I don’t fall.

When people comment on my smile, my joy, my grace, and/or my faith, I am so humbled. When I receive those comments it makes me feel that that’s why God put me here on Earth. To remind others that there’s always something to smile about.

But again, that’s not to say that I’m always smiling.

Honestly, these days joy comes naturally to me, but hasn’t always. Somewhere along the line you have to start consciously deciding to see the good in things, you have to start smiling even when you don’t feel like it.

There truly are so, so, so many beautiful things about this life! Give it a chance!

I make every effort to pause and think of the good when something bad happens. My friend Sara made a comment a few weeks back about seeing the good in spilling orange juice and I loved it! I’m sure I’m changing a bit of what she said, but her gist was that she had spilled orange juice all over her kitchen floor but she took joy in finding that there was still some left! That because of it spilling her floor is extra clean now. That she’s fortunate enough to even have orange juice and the refrigerator that it fell out of.

Let me put some things in perspective, if you’re letting spilled orange juice – or milk 😉 – ruin your day maybe you should think about someone who would give anything for a glass of juice, maybe you should think about someone who’s never even had a taste of orange juice!

I know it may sound silly to see so much good in spilling orange juice, but until you do, you’re not going to see a change in joy.

And if the “God thing” isn’t really where you’re at right now, that’s okay. Choose joy over all else, anyway.

YOU are the one that decides how your day is going to go, not the person that cut you off on your way to the store or your boss with his short, snippy emails. As I always told my fifth graders, who do YOU need to worry about? The answer is YOU!

YOU choose joy! YOU choose to see the silver lining! YOU choose to smile! YOU choose to remember that God put you here for a specific reason and it’s time you embrace this beautiful, crazy, awful, amazing, chaotic life!

You have to choose joy, consciously and intentionally, every single day, because believe me, it’s not going to come looking for you!

xoxo

Domestic Travel: 5 Things to do on a Day Trip to Savannah (Baby Friendly)

This trip actually started as a weekend vacation to Hilton Head, SC, for a wedding. Since it was for a wedding, though, we were busy most of the time we were there. This one particular day was completely free so my friend, Kassie, and I decided to venture to Savannah, GA since neither of us had been there. We left early and spent the day there and soaked up as much as we could. My 11 month old goddaughter was also with us so everything we did was baby friendly!

Enjoy!!!


1. Sit on the bus stop bench where Forrest Gump sat…but you have to get creative

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The famous bus stop scene from Forrest Gump took place in Chippawa Square. When we got there however the bench was not there (and apparently never was). I was told that it was a movie prop and now sits in a museum. I was a bit disappointed, but aside from the bench not being there the backdrop is exactly the same, the big James Oglethorpe statue in the middle and everything! It was neat walking around right where such an important part of the movie was filmed. And there were still benches that look just like the one from the movie so we went ahead and snagged a pic anyway!


2. Walk down River Street

You could spend the whole day doing this! There are lots of restaurants and bars and tons of neat shops, including an amazing candy kitchen we spent way too much time in! Haha The view of the river is simple and gorgeous and the stone road and sidewalks are so pretty! This is also a easy place to find restrooms and ATMs if you’re on the go!

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3. Eat shrimp and grits at Tubby’s Tank House

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Both this dish and restaurant were suggested to Kassie and I and we knew it was a must-do! I have a weakness for food that’s specific to an area and was told that shrimp and grits in Georgia is a must! Well, let me tell you what, I’m not a shrimp fan and I’m not a grits fan but this was delicious! The crab dip appetizer was also fantastic! We sat outside, even though it was hot, because the riverwalk atmosphere was so fun and the view was so relaxing!


4. Take a stroll (by vehicle or on foot) through the spanish moss lined roads

This may have been my favorite thing about the area! This was actually the one and only thing I had on my bucket list before venturing into Savannah. There’s something simple charming and beautiful about the oaks and cypress trees that the Spanish moss hangs from. It looks like you’re driving through a movie set on a film set in the south years ago. Just so whimsical! (I don’t necessarily suggest stopping your car in the middle of a road for a picture though, like I did)

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5. Soak in history in the Colonial Park Cemetery

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I’m awful when it comes to historical facts but I love historical buildings, replicas, cemeteries, etc. When we stumbled across this while walking through Savannah we couldn’t help but have a look around. There is a stone walkway through the cemetery so it is easy to navigate which helped since we had a stroller with us! The cemetery was established back in 1750 and there are several Revolutionary War veterans buried there. If I remember correctly it is the oldest cemetery (well, documented one) in all of Savannah. (I didn’t take any photos once we were inside the gates of the cemetery, but in the above photo you can see some of the tombs and headstones on the other side of the fence).


 

Have you ever been to Savannah? Or live there? Would you add anything to the list?

xoxo

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To: My Friends Without Kids, From: Your Mom Friend

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To: My Friends Without Kids –

You know who you are and I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart! You’ve stuck by me in a phase of my life you don’t understand and quite frankly, neither do I! I want to take a few minutes to thank you and, honestly, to beg you, more or less, to not stray. I promise deep down I’m the friend you met and knew long before I was a mommy.

I want to thank you for inviting me places. I may not have been able to make it the last two, three, or eleven times you asked me to hang out, but please keep inviting me. I desperately need time with my girlfriends! And even though being a mom is one of the best roles I’ve had in my entire life, it isn’t my only identity.

And while we’re chatting about getting together, on the rare occasion that that does happen, please pardon my poop, breastfeeding, and/or runny nose talk. Feel free to defer the conversation when I ramble on too long about my kid, but please don’t be annoyed, I don’t have much else going on right now.

I also want to thank you for helping me. I know you’re not a mom yourself and my life seems so chaotic (it is!) but any help is so greatly appreciated. It doesn’t go unnoticed and I hope you know that. Especially in those early days! Those probably seemed the least rewarding in terms of me thanking you, but I am so grateful for everything you did. Every meal, text, and visit. Every load of laundry and dish you washed! I love you and you’ll never know how much a single spoon being washed meant to me.

I also want to ask for forgiveness. I want to ask forgiveness for things I’ve already done and things that haven’t even happened yet! I may be late, I may be scatterbrained, and I may be forgetful, but I promise I’m trying really hard. Thank you for your unwavering patience.

And lastly, please stay friends with me. I know we are at very different points in life and I may not be showing it very well, but I truly appreciate our friendship. Motherhood is a full time job, stay-at-home mom or not. I don’t mean to be more absent from our friendship than normal, but unfortunately our friendship can’t be my top priority right now and honestly, probably never will be. I truly hope you understand.

And if motherhood isn’t in the cards for you, that’s okay! You’ll forever by an aunt in the eyes of my children. And motherhood is something in your future, when that day comes I hope you know I’ll be there for you as much I can. Even if it does take you over a week to simply respond to a text message! I’ll understand. I promise.

Thank you for being with me in this chapter of my life. Thank you for being in my kids’ lives. And thank you for loving me! I love you more than you know!

Love: Your (Mom) Friend

 

 

xoxo

Have Blog, Will Travel

I’m so excited to be adding a part of my life that’s so, so special and important to me and quite frankly I can’t believe has never been part of this blog before!

If you follow me on social media you know I talk about traveling being a passion of mine. If you know me personally you know I have a slight obsession! We have traveled little to not at all since Adalynn’s been born (August 2015). I always just knew that she’d be jet setting at an early age but life’s been a bit chaotic in not the best ways the past year or so and it’s just been something that’s been put on the back burner.

But no more! Traveling is a hobby of mine and is something I thoroughly enjoy. It truly rejuvenates my soul. And even if it’s a small trip somewhere here in Virginia, I intend to be doing a lot more of it soon.

Every six months or so Continue reading

The Apology That Changed Me as a Mother

{My daughter was six months old at the time that I wrote this and motherhood was very fresh and new still. It was originally titled “I Don’t Have Mom Guilt” but I learned quickly enough that mom guilt takes on many different forms and I no longer felt the title to be all encompassing. Hence the change. While I still don’t feel like I carry much mom guilt, that’s a topic for another day!}

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It was early Thursday morning and my daughter had woken up a little later than normal and was soaking wet when I went in to get her. I hated when I’d come in to her all wet and messy, but she never seemed upset about it, just happy I’d come to get her. Without another thought, I picked her up, stripped her down, and drew her a bath. She had been doing so good sitting up recently that I decided it was a great day to take out the infant piece in her tiny bath tub. She was even holding on to things beside her to help her sit upright so I had little worries about this next big step.

I filled the tub with warm water, a few bath toys, and got the washcloth and soaps ready. I was telling her the whole time how excited she was going to be and that I had a big surprise for her (even though she is six months old and I could have told her she would be bathing with an alligator and she wouldn’t have known the difference). I was getting so excited to see how much she would enjoy sitting in the bathtub. I just knew she was going to love it. I sat in the floor next to her bathtub and lowered her into the water. She bent her legs, sitting down ever so carefully onto her tiny bum. I slowly let go of her so she could sit up, staying close to help her hold onto the sides if she needed. Boom! In a split second the slippery tub and her naked heiney collided and she slipped into the water, slightly hitting her head on the tub, and going almost completely underwater. I scooped her soaking wet self into my arms immediately, thoroughly wetting my clothes, and held her close. She was crying a bit but quickly calmed. She seemed to be content since she was now in my arms.  “I’m sorry sweet girl,” I told her, “Mommy’s never done this before. I’m doing the best I can. I love you.”

And suddenly my childhood flashed before my eyes. All at once I smiled and got tears in my eyes. I had heard those words myself as a child and now here I was saying them! My mother used to say that when I was growing up and I finally understood why.

All moms make mistakes, my mom made mistakes. I don’t ever remember specific things she did “wrong,” but I’m sure there were days when she felt like she was struggling at the trying role of motherhood. What I do specifically remember, though, are the days when she would say to my brother and I, “I’m sorry. I’ve never done this before.” I always remember wondering why she would say it, but I also remember understanding what she meant.  She’d never been a mommy before; this was all new.

As a mother those words run so very deep now. We are all new at this, whether we have one child or ten, everyday is new, every stage is new, every second is brand new. And every time another child is born into a family it is a brand new dynamic. Every day is a day in the life of that mom, and those children, that has never presented itself before. There are going to be challenges, there are going to be struggles, but give yourself a break mamas, because after all, you’ve never done this before.

XOXO

This post was originally written for & appeared on Balancing Pieces in March 2016.

Throwing an Easter Party {on a Budget}

Thank you to Oriental Trading for partnering with me on this post. As always, all thoughts and opinions are 100% my own. 

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If you’ve followed me for any amount of time, you know I love planning parties! You also know I loveeeee a good deal! This past weekend our family hosted a Easter event at a local park and it was honestly one of the best days of my life. We had such a wonderful day! I wanted to give you some tips on how to host a similar event, especially since you still have a few weeks until Easter!

First, I thought of the aspects of an Easter party! An egg hunt was a must! Almost all of the children that were invited are around Adalynn’s age – 1 year old! I knew this egg hunt could be super simple and the kids would still love it! I searched Oriental Trading for egg fillers and found just what I needed!

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Bubbles, stickers, chocolate carrots, bouncy balls, and gummy bears (well, rabbits hehe)!

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They also had the cutest mini Easter baskets which were perfect for those little hands!

Since our yard isn’t huge and we were hoping for good weather we decided to host it at a local park. That park also has a walking trail and a playground so that was an added bonus! After the egg hunt, we decided we’d have a picnic style lunch. I arrived early and claimed some tables and each family brought a dish! It helped me so much that all our family friends were so willing to do that! I can’t imagine lugging all that food to the park and then dealing with clean up! Yikes! I also packed a few simple decorations in my bag to make it feel even more festive!

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FREE printable of this sign at the end of the post!

Next, I hid the eggs and then the kids were off! For most of these kiddos they were too little last year, so this was their first Easter egg hunt ever! (insert huge smile and mama tears here)

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See how those baskets from Oriental Trading were just the perfect size? I loved them!

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SUCCESS!

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Shop Oriental Trading now! They have the best Easter goodies – from basket stuffers to home decor! Andddd they’re having a huge sale right now that you don’t want to miss!

Happy {early} Easter!!!!

As promised, you can download your Easter themed “Thank you” sign here!

 

xoxo

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Five Fitness Items You Need Right Now!

Items mentioned in this post were provided in exchange for a review. All opinions expressed are 100% my own.

Hey hey! Aren’t you glad spring is here?! One of my favorite things about this nice weather is that I’m so much more motivated to WORK OUT!!!! It’s nice running weather, I don’t have to convince myself even harder to get to the gym, and the warmth of the sun reminds me that summer and bathing suit season are right around the corner! Aside from the nice weather, fitness gear, whether you wear it or otherwise, always motivates me! I feel confident and happy and it makes all the difference.

Below are five of the best fitness related items I’ve found out there. And the best part is that not only are they all affordable, but many of the companies provide a special discount for you!

Check them out and let me know what you think!!!!


Sweaty Bands 

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I couldn’t believe there was actually a headband in this world that stayed put! These do! I  also am a big fan of neon/bright clothing for working out. Colors excite the mind, but even more seriously, I train on a busy road and I like wearing bright clothing to ensure drivers and other people see me. Sweaty Bands has so many awesome styles and colors as well!

Use code: chelsea for 20% off


Momentum Jewelry

This has to be one of my favorite products that I have ever seen! I completed my first half marathon back in September and it was one of the biggest accomplishments of my life. I had to train for weeks to run those 13.1 miles and did everything I could to motivate myself each day. Glancing down and seeing this bracelet from Momentum makes a huge difference! They also have a variety of other items, including shoe jewelry (footnotes hehe), shirts, and hair ties, that also have inspirational words.  So awesome!

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Use code: AndThenLife15 for 15% off


Qalo

I quickly became obsessed with this product because I hate running and lifting with my wedding rings on. When I run, it slides all over my finger, and when I lift, it hurts. This ring is made of silicone and they offer a ton of styles and colors. I LOVE it! I even got my husband a Qalo ring for Christmas, as well!

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Enjoy Leggings

Is there anything better than a good pair of leggings? And how cute are these? I also love that they are subscription leggings. Yes, you read that correctly! I don’t know about you, but new work out clothes always motivate me, so I love that with the Enjoy Leggings subscription you get a brand new pair each month.

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Use code: THENLIFE for 25% off your first month’s leggings


Pura Stainless

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I’m a bit of a nature freak so I really, really hate when people buy water bottles that they toss once they’re done. I’ve also heard my share of all the terrifying side effects of BPA, so no thank you to the plastic, again. Enter Pura! They have an amazing line of stainless steel water bottles. And as if that wasn’t awesome enough, they have a variety of different bottle sizes and sleeve colors.


What are YOUR fitness must-haves??

Also, I am hosting a GIVEAWAY with one of these products this week on my Instagram page! Make sure you are following, so you don’t miss out!

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