Hands Free Mama: Month Two

I may be behind on recapping, but I’m totally caught up on reading Hands Free Mama and I have to tell you, this book is doing amazing things for me. I’m really enjoying it and it’s helping me be so much more conscious of how I spend my time and what I focus on.

Today we’ll talk about chapter two (which I read way back in February) – it’s all about making purposeful connections. She talks about opening up about your “hands free journey” with the people close to you, focusing on hands-free time when you’re with your spouse (not just with your kids) and looking for little moments of down time (like in the car) to connect rather than be distracted.

This chapter was big for me because I had to work on opening up about how I’m trying to reduce my time and being honest with Corey about where I’ve struggled and where I think I’ve failed in my hands-free attempts. I honestly didn’t really talk much to him about it until just recently, so it’s had a bit of a delayed effect on me, I guess you could say. The section on being focused/not on the phone in the car wasn’t something that really applies to me much yet (since Jackson and I can’t exactly have conversations while I’m driving) but it was a fantastic reminder to me that I need to be working on my habits now so that Jackson doesn’t ever have to know me as a distracted, always-on-my-phone mom and will only ever know me as someone who is focused on him and connecting with my family as much as possible!

After reading this chapter, here are the three big take-aways that I had, and what I still need to work on:

– I am constantly distracted in the car. I’m not good about just relaxing with my own thoughts and as soon as I get in the car I typically think about who I could call to chat with while I drive. I’ve been trying to spend more time just listening to music, singing, and chatting with Jackson (even if he’s not talking back). I got rewarded for this in a big way one day when my favorite song came on the radio, I turned it up and started singing along and glimpsed Jackson giggling and dancing in my rearview mirror – I want more moments like that!

– I want to be more open with Corey about what I’m working on and I want to ask him to hold me accountable. If he doesn’t know that I’m consciously trying to reduce the time I spend on my work email while I’m at home, he can’t remind me that I should put my phone away when I bring it out for the zillionth time. I need to make myself accountable for what I’m working on, and even though I’ve made a lot of progress towards not being distracted in the evenings, I’ve still got a long way to go!

– One big take-away for me was that as I reduce my technology time, it’s likely the other people around me will as well. The more time I spend focused on being with other people (and not being distracted) the more I notice how much time people actually spend with their nose in their phones! It’s a good cycle for me, because the more I notice that, the more resolve I have to not be like that anymore.

Is anyone else still reading along and working on being more hands-free? I can’t wait to chat about chapter three, because it was my favorite so far!

Our Easter Weekend

Ahhh, I love a long weekend! Corey and I both had off work on Friday, so we got some extra time to enjoy as a family – I’m grateful because Corey’s weekends are booked solid for the next month or so with all of the extracurriculars he does!

We spent Friday relaxing, running errands, and just hanging out. We went out to eat at one of our favorite local diners – Jackson had his first bit of hamburger and was obsessed. He got so excited and ate almost a quarter of Corey’s burger – and would have had more if we would’ve let him!

We also got Jackson’s hair cut – it was his second haircut ever and he had just as much fun as the first time…thank goodness he thinks haircuts are hilarious! We had her style it into a faux hawk and now I’m determined to figure out how to do it myself – there’s nothing in this world cuter than a toddler with a ‘hawk!

On Sunday we went out to my parents’ house for Easter lunch. It was the first time (maybe in my life?) that we’d had Easter anywhere other than my grandmother’s house, and it was strange. She passed away in November and little holidays like this are the ones that I remember being so special at her house – I’m hoping that over time we can create that same feeling of excitement and nostalgia for Jackson at my parents’ house.

We had a giant lunch and then hid eggs for the kids – well, more like laid eggs on the ground for Jackson to grab, and actually hid eggs for my nieces. He got super into it (he loves putting things into other things right now, so this activity was sure to be a hit!) and I think he could have kept going all afternoon!

Oh, and we also took our bluebonnet photos this weekend! We’ve been anxiously waiting for the field near our house to fill up so we could snap some photos, and I was so excited to cross this off of our to-do list…it’s hilarious because I never cared about bluebonnet photos before having Jackson but now they’re a must-have!

How was your Easter weekend? It was so fun this year to have Jackson actually participate in some of the traditions!

Life Lately

Oh, hi there! You may have noticed the site disappeared for a few days – whoops! There were some issues on the back end but it’s all taken care of now and we are up and running!


I’m not going to apologize for disappearing for a month – I know that’s annoying and sometimes it just happens! But I do want to take a moment to remind anyone who is interested that I’m blogging very regularly over on Hellobee as Mrs. Garland. It’s hard to keep up with both blogs, so this one may fall to the back burner occasionally, but if you really need your Jackson fix you can always get it over there. 😉

We’ve been incredibly busy over the last few months. Corey took on a lot of extra responsibilities with his job this year and that has meant a lot of late nights working and several Saturdays with him gone all day. Jack and I have gotten some good quality time together, but it really makes it hard to stay on top of everything when I’m doing things solo so frequently. Let’s just say I’m greatly looking forward to this summer. We’re almost to less than 40 days of school left! Eek!

So, what have we been up to lately? Not a whole lot other than work. Oh, and being sick. Over the last six weeks either Jackson or I have been sick for about five of them. First we both got pinkeye…

Then I developed a sinus infection and was a zombie for two weeks. Just as I was getting over my sickness, Jackson ended up with a double ear infection, a ruptured eardrum, and a sinus infection of his own. We ended up in the ER for a 105.5 degree fever and he spent almost a week home from daycare.

We finally all got well again in time for spring break (thank goodness!) and had a lovely time. We went to the children’s museum, went to a library story time, spent some time in the park, and just generally had a wonderful week at home. Spring break made me look forward to summer so much more! Jackson is at such a fun age right now!

Oh, and speaking of fun ages…we have a walker! Jackson started walking around a month ago, and he hasn’t looked back since. Since the day he started walking he decided crawling was for babies and he’ll only ever drop to crawl if he’s on super uneven terrain. He’s still so cautious and it’s so sweet to watch. I can’t believe I have a toddler!

I have plans to catch up on my Hands Free Mama monthly posts (I’m still reading!) and share a few other things with you guys over the next few weeks. Thanks for sticking around through my spotty posting schedule!

What’s new in your life lately?


Our Upgraded Ikea Play Kitchen

I have a problem.

My kid has a nicer kitchen than I do.

If you follow me on Instagram you’ve likely already seen a billion photos of this kitchen because it’s where Jackson now spends 90% of his time. Seriously – if this kid is awake, he’s playing with the kitchen.

I’ve had a lot of questions about it, so I figured it was high time I do a quick post giving up the details. We decided to get Jackson a play kitchen for his birthday for no other reason than we thought he might like it. We didn’t want to get him more random toys (he has plenty of those!) and we wanted something that was high quality and would grow with him. After looking at a lot of play kitchens online and not finding anything I was willing to place square in the middle of my living room, we landed on the Duktig kitchen from Ikea. It’s affordable and essentially a blank slate – perfect for customization!

We debated colors and styles for a long time before deciding on anything for sure. I really wanted the accessories to be gold, and Corey really wanted it to be something other than white or gray. We also wanted something classic that would fit in with the rest of our living room, since that’s where it would be going. After much back-and-forth, we ended up with navy on the outside, and leaving the white parts as the are.

We also added in some cute drawer pulls we found at Hobby Lobby to look like stove knobs. Jackson loves to twist them, and I think they add a great touch and make it feel more “real”.

One of my favorite parts of the kitchen is that it has little feet that can be added on the top so it grows with him. I think it will be usable for many years – the model that we looked at in the store was tall enough for an elementary-aged child!

We got a ton of play food from various people for his birthday, so his kitchen is always well stocked. Our favorites are some cans and a cookie-making set from Melissa and Doug, and a shopping basket full of pretend versions of the store brand food from our local grocery store – it’s so cute to see mini versions of the food that’s actually in our pantry!

I’m glad we took the time to spruce the kitchen up, because it’s visible from just about everywhere in the house. I love that because it means I can always keep an eye on him when he’s playing with it, and I actually love how it looks in the house.

Now if only I could get my actual kitchen to look half this nice!

Hands Free Mama: Month One

If you missed it, I’m reading through Hands Free Mama this year, one chapter a month, and I’m working on becoming more present and reducing the amount of time I spend on my phone. This month was all about setting aside certain times of day that are “hands free” and becoming more aware of what’s distracting you from the important things in your life.


This chapter wasn’t anything revolutionary for me. I’ve been working on reducing my social media consumption and internet usage for a few months now, so this was just a reinforcement of that. It did make me think a bit more about when and why I’m using my phone or laptop, and made me a bit more conscious of putting it away during the down times.

I read an article last week in Real Simple about boredom in children and how little they actually have a chance to experience that anymore. The article cited several studies that talked about how important boredom and down time actually are for fostering creativity, and it really rang true for me. Anytime I don’t actively have something to do, I tend to pull out my cell phone and start browsing. Rarely do I just stand in an elevator and wait or sit quietly with my thoughts while I’m waiting to meet someone out. It’s so funny because when I was a kid, I didn’t have a phone and so I was much better about having nothing to do. But now? I’m terrible at it!

I have been making a concerted effort to put my phone down when we’re at home, especially when Jackson is awake. My ultimate goal is no cell phones/internet while Jackson is awake – I want to be totally focused on family time and him. And if he’s playing by himself, I don’t want to immediately go for my phone – I want to get some cleaning done, or read a book, or just sit and think. As of right now I’ve been pretty consistent with not touching my phone from the time I get home from work until the time he goes to bed (and on the weekends, I do from his second nap until bedtime). It’s silly how hard of a habit it is to break, but at this point it’s something I do without even thinking about it!

I’m hoping that over the next few months I can reduce my phone usage even more when I’m at home. It’s not like I’m reading or learning anything revolutionary when I’ve got my phone out – I’m just checking Instagram for the 70th time that day. And do I really need to read all of my work emails within 5 minutes of getting them? They can wait until I get back to work! I’m very conscious of the fact that Jackson is going to be watching us and learning what social norms are from what we do. I don’t want him to learn that it’s okay for anyone to constantly be distracted by some handheld device, and I don’t ever want to give him the idea that Facebook or Pinterest is more important than him.

So that’s where I am after the first month reading the book. I found that it was surprisingly easy to keep up with reading a bit of the chapter each week (they’re very short little sections), but this month I might try to read each section a few times throughout the week, because it was easy to forget to focus on it if I only read it on Saturday and never re-visited it.

Anyone else reading along with me? Even if you’re not, tell me what you think about reducing your distractions from the internet!