Self Reflections


All photos via my instagram account (@enlovewithlife)

Maternity leave has been such a gift. I call it that because not everyone is able to afford to take maternity leave. Personally, my employer did not provide any type of short term disability or paid leave for my time off, so Husband and I worked hard to save up the equivalent of three months salary in advance so I could enjoy this time off without stress. So to me, it really has been a gift that we gave ourselves and our baby that I cherish every day.

It has also been a gift because it has really been a time of reflection for me. Honestly, I have never had this much time off before. From as far back as I can remember I have always been working away, nose to the grindstone, trying to prepare for the future. In high school I was in all advance classes and working reserve college credits so I could "get into a good school". And then in college it was all about learning my craft and building my resume so I could "get the good job". And then after I got my job it was about working as hard as I could to "get the promotion". All of which would eventually lead to a happy life. Now I'm not saying that plan didn't work out. I am happy with where all my hard work has gotten me. But what I will point out is that even on summer vacations I spent my time working to save for school or get job experience, so having three months off with the only focus being enjoying life and time with my family has been absolutely amazing. I have finally caught up on my sleep (ironic, I know), started organizing my house, spent days doing nothing but watching netflix and snuggling my baby and puppy, and really just savored every moment.

What I have discovered about myself during this time has been invaluable. I am a much different person now than I was a year ago. And even more so than I was two years ago. I think my journey to discovering my authentic self started when I signed up for Stella & Dot. And before you think this is a post that is going to talk about why everyone should join my team (which you all should by the way - it's awesome), this isn't about recruiting. I bring up Stella & Dot because it was the first time I did something just for me, regardless of what I thought I needed to be doing for my day job. See before this, all of my 'extra activities' were things tied to my day job. Volunteering for professional societies, attending networking events, reading research papers, etc. Signing up for Stella & Dot was the first thing I did just for me, and quite honestly because I needed to find something to spend time on that wasn't in any way tied to my day job. It was also my first time working with a group of primarily women. As someone in the STEM field, my day job and college education (heck, even a lot of my high school classes) were primarily full of men. And while I don't mind working with them, I didn't want to allow myself to stand out too much. It may seem silly, but I was scared to wear leopard print, or lipstick, or high heels, or admit that I don't know much about football, because it would highlight that I am different from them. And there seems to be this weird thing where people assume if you enjoy fashion and being girly then that means you can't be good at math and science. Finding an outlet where I am surrounded by strong women encouraged me to start being myself. My true self. And that person enjoys wearing hot pink lipstick and jewelry and leopard.

It also allowed me to really identify things that I do enjoy, and things that I don't. I am not going to start listing out the things I discovered were causing stress in my life, because I don't want to dwell on that kind of stuff. But I did discover that aside from fashion, I like lazy days with nothing to do but snuggle my family. I like organizing my house and decluttering. I really really enjoy my instagram account. I have so much fun taking pictures. Its such a creative outlet for me. And I love my blog. I love creating a space of the internet  that is just mine. And I love cute stationary. I mean, it's not practical - I don't need monogramed thank you cards, but I love them. And I love custom notebooks. And planners. And I love going to the bakery. Not super healthy, but I don't really care.

It's also allowed me to reevaluate the way I view myself. At one point I was so focused on my size. Lets be honest ladies. I think we all have been there. I shouldn't eat this donut because I need to be a size zero instead of a two. But really, why does that matter? Now I am not saying you shouldn't be healthy. I am working out. I am eating fruits and veggies. But I also eat donuts. And if after I drop my baby weight I end up at a four or a six, well then okay. I just want to know that I am working out, have a strong body, am healthy, and am enjoying life. Because that's all I need to do. My body is here so I can hug my baby, go for walks on the beach with my husband and family, and enjoy life. And I am pretty sure I don't need to be a size zero to do that. Right now I am just focused on getting in shape so I can be at whatever my post baby size is so I can buy some clothes. Nothing fits. And I have a new job to go to (more on that later).

I've also had a lot of time to think about what I want the next thirty years of my life to look like. I want to have a good job (or jobs in this case, because I have my day job and my Stella & Dot). I want to have time to spend with my family. And I want it to be good time. I don't want to be stressed out and unable to enjoy life. I want to really, really be happy in the moments we spend - not worried that I am behind on something else I should be doing. I want to sleep in on the weekends. I want to watch movies. And I want to wear pink lipstick when I want to.

People always say having a baby is life changing. I just assumed they meant because now you have this precious life to care for and that it meant your time would be spent differently now. Where you might have gone to the club before (although I never really went to the club, but just stick with me here...), now you would be home with bath time for your little one. But I think what having baby has meant to me and why it has been life changing is it has really allowed me to reevaluate what I thought was important before, and reprioritize. I have a new vision of life. A new idea of what I want it to look like, what I am willing to sacrifice, what I am not, and how I plan to create the life I want for me and my growing family.

And now if you'll excuse me, my sweet baby needs more snuggles and kisses. I need to soak up all the lovings I can get before I go back to my day job. Seriously though, I think she gets about 100 kisses a day...

Why You Won't See My Baby on Social Media


Well, I've been gone for a few months. My guess is you can figure out what happened. Blogger gets pregnant, nine months pass, and then she disappears for three. We had our beautiful baby girl! I had every intention of keeping up my blog while I was out on leave, but you know... life. Dirty dishes, lack of sleep, lack of showering, etc. I just haven't had a chance to sit down at the computer. Actually as I type this our little one is sitting next to me (propped up against the couch, but in a seated position) staring at the computer as a type. Just us girls. We are going to do some online shopping next. You know, really introduce her to life's greatest pleasures. But before we move on to that, I feel like I need to chat with you about something. Something important. I need to talk with you about why you won't be seeing her on my blog.

As a lifestyle blogger, this has been a bit of struggle for me. I have really enjoyed sharing my life with all of you, connecting with you, and creating this space of mine on the interwebs. It was one of the first things I did for myself that really felt like a step towards being authentically me, and not the me I felt like my profession required (i.e. super serious and not at all fancy and sparkly). So this blog means a lot to me. BUT, I have reservations about putting my little girl on here. Basically what it comes down to is that while I love sharing my life, I haven't had a chance to ask her if she feels the same. Does she want her whole life documented publicly? She might not care at all. Or she might feel like something was taken from her she had no ability to control.

While I love blogging and I love this community, I've decided to leave that decision to her. Something for her to choose when she is older. I have to admit, life was a lot simpler when I was a kid. I'm not talking about walking uphill both directions to school in the snow without shoes type of thing. But it was really nice to not have the internet as prevalent and for there not to be social media when I was young. Would I want all the bad decisions I made as a kid documented? That said, I was pretty much a goodie goodie, but I did have some not so great hair and wardrobe choices that I am glad you can't all see! This is something Husband and I will have to talk with her about as she starts to grow up and wants to have her own Facebook, Instagram, Twitter (do people still use Twitter?). But for now, she's an infant. She just like to snuggle and sleep. And that's fine with me.

So while I will continue to share my life on here and create new friendships, I hope you can understand why you won't see our baby. She may make appearances here and there in a Christmas photo shoot or family outing. We will see. But she won't be on here much. It doesn't mean we don't love her and she isn't with us wherever we go and totally being spoiled. It just means we chose to keep that part of our life separate.

I'm glad we had this chat. I feel so much better knowing we can just lay it all out there and be honest with each other. You are all such great friends.


Merry Christmas


Happy Holidays everyone! Husband and I wish you a very Merry Christmas filled with love, family, and good food!

The Holiday Spirit


Well, my house is officially decorated! The tree is up, the stockings are hung, I went a little crazy at the Dollar Store, and I made an ornament wreath! Not too shabby for someone who had no desire to decorate a week ago. Essentially I woke up Sunday and I was like, okay holidays... I AM READY!!! We went on our nature excursion to get our tree, I went to the Dollar Store and bought a TON of ornaments, and spent the whole day decorating, crafting, and getting our Holiday Cards ready to mail.

Truth be told, I was ALL READY to go to the hardware store and buy a fake tree. I'm eight months pregnant and whole idea of stomping around in the woods to find a tree was just not sounding appealing. BUT, it was super important to Husband that we cut our own tree. So we compromised and went to a farm where you pick your own and they cut it for you. Generally, this works by flagging someone down who cuts your tree and carries it to your car, but after waiting for 10 minutes Husband was having none of that so he cut it himself and carried back to our truck. How cute is he? Also, Wilbur had a strong sense of pride when he found our tree. Probably my favorite part was watching wee little Wilbur try and bound over the twigs through the brush to hunt for trees. He was trying SO HARD to jump high and move fast. It was hysterical.

Behold my homemade wreath :) I am quite proud. I followed this tutorial and it was SUPER easy. I think all said and done it cost me around $15 to make? The wreath shape was around $3 at Joann's and then I bought around 100 ornaments at the dollar store. WAY more cost effective than the pre-made $70 ones I was seeing everywhere...

Guys, I think this may have created a crafting addict. I really really want to make another one. I just need to find a spot in my house...

What kind of holiday decorating have you been up to??

Jamberry Challenge


{ Day 1 // Day 5 }

So several of my friends have been raving about Jamberry. If you haven't heard of it, it's essentially a nail decal that covers your whole nail and used instead of polish to provide a manicure. I have several friends who are Jamberry consultants now, and they always post the cutest pictures. Personally, I've always been really attached to my Essie nail polish (I have a giant box full), but when my friend Britta offered to send me a sample of Jamberry to try I was like, I mean why not? I am SUPER hard on my nails, so I put it to the test.

Here's what is on each nail:

Thumb: Revlon Gel Envy
Pointer: Jamberry
Middle: Revlon Gel Envy
Ring: Essie
Pinky: Revlon Gel Envy

I've always loved the idea of industrial strength nail polish, so I thought I'd give a gel polish a try. I thought about trying the salon quality gel polish (I looked at Gelish) but WHOOOOOO do those smell toxic when you open the bottle. It's like walking into a can of fumes. I might try it after our baby comes out, but I was no way no how going to use those while pregnant. I know, I am paranoid. So instead I testing Revlon Gel Envy (which does NOT smell like an industrial manufacturing plant) in addition to my tried and true Essie and the new Jamberry.

So here are the results....

The first photo is Day 1. You may be able to tell, but in case not, my Essie polish chipped RIGHT AWAY. As in like an hour later. FAIL. I'm actually wearing Essie again today, which I painted yesterday, and half of my pointer finger nail polish is GONE. Ugh.

The Gel Envy held up okay I suppose. I started to chip eventually, but more like three days in. My nails tend to chip more the longer they are, and this is with them a wee big longer than normal, so I am sure that didn't help much. So the wear I can expect out of the Gel Envy was around three days for me. This is with the Gel Envy base + color product and the Gel Envy top coat.

The Jamberry nail actually held up quite well. I was really surprised. The only thing I noticed was so lifting of the decal at the end of my finger nails. Now, I do tend to be hard on my nails. I like to scratch Precious Baby Wilbur while he naps next to me, do dishes, peel stickers, and all kinds of other things I am sure are not good on my nails. I had a problem with the ends lifting an hour after application, but then I went back and noticed that it wasn't flush with my nail end (it was overhanging). I trimmed it down and that took care of it for a few days. About three or four days in I started to have some fraying at the end of my Jamberry nail. I tried to file it down (which kind of worked), and is what resulted in the ends looking "chipped" even though it isn't. Its showing nail because I filed it at an angle. I talked to a few friends of mine and they recommended that when you apply them, you wait to trim your nails until AFTER the decal is on. That way when you trim it the nail and decal end at the same point. I trimmed mine right before adding the decal, because I always trim before painting, but this makes some sense. They also said you can zap them with heat in the morning to re-bond them to your nails or touch up and lifting you have to prolong the wear.

So what's the skinny?

Pro Jamberry:

1. They wear really well, as in they don't chip and your nails still look perfect several days in.
2. They take NO time to dry because you apply and are done. I think it took me like 10 seconds to do a nail and then I was off folding laundry.
3. Preset patterns. As in you don't have to get at tooth pick out and try and paint a reindeer. It's already covered.

Con Jamberry:
1. You only get one wear out of them. So a typical bottle of nail polish costs me around $10. I get multiple uses out of this one bottle. A set of Jamberry is $15, and I only get one use. However, it lasts longer. So pick your battle.
2. Lifting of the ends. It's a bit annoying. But then again, so is walking around with half a nail worth of polish chipped off... so...?
3. Limited patterns. Guys, I can't wear some of those patterns to work. I work in a corporate office. My managers would look at my nails and be like.. dude.. whats going on with your nails? So I pretty much have to rock the solids. I WISH I COULD WEAR LEOPARD NAILS!!! (add that to the "to do list" for maternity leave)

So whats my verdict? I like them! I don't think I will use them every time on all my nails, but I have a list started of the ones I'd like to use as accents!! And maybe as a special treat??

Here are the ones I've picked out...

(okay - so maybe I could pull off one leopard nail at the office??)

Have you tried Jamberry before? What do you think??