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SIMPLICITY WITH EMILY’S MAMA, STEPHANIE COWAN

September 24, 2013

my Mama!) has been an elementary school teacher for 30+ years. She teaches third grade at an arts magnet school in Pensacola, Florida. Growing up, everything in our home had a place and every day had a routine we tried to stick to. I cherish that simplicity so much now. Her dedication to our family and what matters most is why I do what I do – and why those things are so special to me as well. I’m going to make my Mom blush, but one of my favorite things my Mom taught me is the value of tradition. Traditions create a sense of comfort, familiarity and security. My childhood was FULL of fun traditions and even now, when my family gets together, we keep those traditions alive. My favorite? It’s a toss up between candy bars for breakfast the day before school starts or back-to-school shopping at Hello Kitty for matching, personalized supplies. :) So, without further ado… my mom! My Mama loves cooking (that part of her DNA missed me, sadly), gardening and, of course, spending time with the most adorable grandson in the whole wide world. :) Images by Michael Newman Photography.

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Notes from Emily in pink…

EMILY LEY SIMPLIFIED DATEBOOK: Okay, so I admit she IS my daughter but this Datebook is the greatest thing ever invented! As a teacher, I can keep track of conferences, testing schedules and HOLIDAYS, as well as personal appointments, meal planning, and BRADY VISITS! Everything is all in one place and it can be easily thrown in my purse so I can have it with me at all times.  I’m always on top of things when I have my Datebook!

I’m blushing, Mama. :) My mom’s going to get an advanced copy of our brand new Simplified Planner™ soon!

TIGI CATWALK YOUR HIGHNESS ROOT BOOST SPRAY:  I have short hair and live in Florida.  The humidity can play havoc with my hair but this adds just enough lift without making my hair feel weighted down with product or cause my scalp to itch.

GIADA DE LAURENTIIS CAST IRON DUTCH OVEN: A few years ago my son gave me this for my birthday.  I love to cook and I use this pot for everything! You can use it on the stove-top and in the oven. It’s perfect for soups, pot roasts, and my-son-in law’s favorite lasagna sauce! I loved it so much I want back to Target and bought the smaller one to use as well.

I totally second this favorite!! My mom and dad gave me this white dutch oven for Christmas a few years ago and I use it every time I cook. LOVE. It’s super easy to clean.

DEHUMIDIFIER: As I’ve said we live in Florida and although the beaches are beautiful, I hate the humidity.  My husband purchased this without my knowledge.  When it first arrived I was skeptical but now I can’t live without it.  We keep our thermostat set at 78 and are saving on our electric bill every month.

Bryan and I followed suit with our dehumidifier. If you live in Florida, it’s amazing. It’s so humid down here this humidifier sucks the water right out of the air and into a bottom basin  It also protects things in our house from humidity damage. And when you run a paper shop from a home studio, well… you get the idea. :)

HOME GROWN HERBS: I feel so accomplished seeing my basil, parsley, chives, and rosemary growing on my back porch.  I do not have a green thumb, but boy can I grow herbs!  We pick up the plants at Lowes or our local farmers’ market, plant in pots, add a little water every week, and watch them grow. People are so impressed to see them growing as well as when I snip them to use in our favorite recipes or to add as a garnish. I haven’t a clue what I’m doing, but don’t tell!

SCRUB DADDY:  Okay, stop laughing! I thought it was ridiculous too when I first saw it on Shark Tank, but now I love this thing.  Yes, it does all the things it says it does, but my favorite is that cheese and other sticky foods don’t stick to it. Everything washes right off. No more dirty scrubby sponges in the kitchen.

THE SIMPLICITY SERIES features busy gals, in different stages of life, making what matters happen and tips and tricks they’ve found to be helpful. Simplicity is about building margin into your life and spending time on and with that which fuels your heart. While we love to share products and services that help us day to day, but simplicity is about HEART and intentionally choosing the thing that matters most (your TREASURE) more than anything money can buy. We wear many hats and we know you do too, so we’d love to hear your thoughts as well! 

For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Luke 12:34

DISNEY WORLD WITH A TODDLER

September 22, 2013

First of all, I am a big Disney fan. I love how much thought they put into making your visit truly magical. I’m not, however, a Disney Veteran like my Mom and Mother-In-Law. They LOVE Disney and have visited a gazillion times, I’m sure. They know all the ins and outs, every hidden Mickey and the secrets to navigating the parks successfully. I went to Disney with Bryan and Brady a bit of a novice. Normally, I don’t like to plan everything out when we visit Disney (Brady has visited three times prior to this starting when he turned two in February; this was his first overnight stay) but this time I wanted to make sure we made the most of our three day trip.

TipsForDisney

MAGICBANDS: I was excited to find out about Disney’s NEW MagicBands. We were selected (along with a lot of other guests this weekend) to test out this new system. About a week ago, I received a letter in the mail inviting me to personalize our MagicBands and begin planning our Disney Experience online. I chose colors for our bands (they’re really nice rubbery bracelets you wear throughout your stay) pink for me, blue for Bryan and (his favorite) red for Brady. They came in a really nice presentation box with our names on them. But, these bands are really magic. They carry around our resort reservations, FastPasses, dining reservations and even our account information if we’d like to charge purchases to our room. Don’t worry, those things require a secret PIN only we had access to. Overall, they were AWESOME. We could even unlock our room door with them at Disney’s Beach Club!

DISNEY’S BEACH CLUB: Speaking of Disney’s Beach Club… WHAT A PLACE. We are fans for life. When we arrived to our resort, we walked in with a sea of other guests checking in. A cast member approached us and asked me if I was Mrs. Ley. Bewildered, I said yes. And he immediately bent down to shake Brady’s hand. “Welcome to Disney World, Brady!” he said. I cried. Why do I ALWAYS CRY at Disney World!? I’m so impressed by them. But mostly it was Brady’s face that got me. He was excited they knew his name. Our room was wonderful (we got the standard view and it was fine!), the sand bottom pool was bliss and having an ice cream parlor (Beaches & Cream) on the bottom floor is never a bad thing. We took the resort transportation (boat and bus) to and from the parks every day and that was super convenient. More than anything, there’s something magical about staying on property. And because we have annual passes, we got a GREAT rate on our room.

THE “MY DISNEY EXPERIENCE” APP: This app was amazing. I loaded it onto my iPhone and used it throughout our visit to find attractions, book or update FastPasses and make plans. While we were on the bus to Fantasmic on Friday night, I overheard someone say that Disney was now allowing you (if you had a MagicBand!) to book a FastPass for the Electrical Parade at Magic Kingdom. We were planning to stay and watch that parade on Saturday night, so I hopped into this app and reserved a FastPass. Because we had this, we were able to have access to a special reserved section right smack in front of the castle on the curb for the big parade. Brady LOVED IT! The parade is late at night and all the dancers and floats are covered in lights. Very fun. For the record, only ride rides when you have FastPasses. Those lines get LONG and we were able to hop right to the front with ours! Brady’s favorite… hands down… It’s a Small World.

SIPPY CUP: Mom-of-the-year here forgot to pack Brady a sippy cup, so the minute we got to the first park we picked one up and filled it with water. Thank goodness because it was HOT. Way warmer than I expected. I even got a little dehydrated on Saturday morning and that was no fun. Brady stayed hydrated and cool with his sippy cup. A good $5 investment.

BAG OF SEMI-HEALTHY TREATS: Brady must be growing or something because he is starving ALL. THE. TIME. In anticipation of “Mama can I have a banana/grapes/raisins/cookie/sandwich/chickennuggets,” I packed his dinosaur backpack with Ella’s Kitchen organic squeeze packs (we like the green ones the best – peas and pears), yogurt raisins, organic fruit strips and these new organic PBJ sammies I found at Target. This was one of the smartest things I did. Disney’s made an incredible effort to offer healthier food choices, but to save a little cash, having these on hand was awesome. And I’m pretty sure he ate every last thing I packed.

BRADY’S STUFFED MICKEY: I don’t know how much longer this trick will last, but we brought Brady’s stuffed Mickey (that he’s had for about a year) with us to Disney World. He got to carry it around from time to time and this helped us avoid any toddler tantrums over must-have stuffed animals that are perfectly positioned outside of EVERY ride and attraction. We did buy him a Donald Duck stuffed animal after he fell in love with DD during Mickey’s Philharmagic, but Mickey got us through two parks successfully. :)

And now that you’ve all seen my happy Disney pics here and on Instagram, here’s a few behind the scenes moments. When traveling with a toddler ANYWHERE, know that there WILL be a giant, harry, hysterical meltdown or two along the way. Especially when they’re overstimulated and overtired. Don’t be surprised if it happens right smack in the middle of your best-made plans. In front of Cinderella’s Castle. Right on top of your perfectly chosen fancy Fast-Pass parade seats. For everyone to see. Pick up the pieces. Life goes on. :)

SO, what tips and tricks do YOU have? We have annual passes, but only take one big trip like this a year. We’re planning on one more one night stay later this Fall plus maybe a few Saturday morning trips. (It’s kinda nice living 1.5 hours away from Orlando!)

xo,

Emily

PS: Thanks, Disney, for crafting incredible memories for families. Watching Brady be brave on the Winnie the Pooh ride (what he calls his “first roller coaster”) and seeing his eyes LIGHT UP as he stalked Donald Duck through our character breakfast at Cape May (culminating in the BIGGEST hug ever) filled my heart to its brim. He hasn’t stopped talking about our experience since we got home.

PPS: Lots of friends have asked where I got Brady’s adorable personalized Disney tee shirts. I ordered them from a sweet gal in my hometown. She has a Facebook page called All Ears Sewtique. I was referred to her by my friend, Heather, after I saw the tees she had made for her precious little girl and their recent Disney trip! :)

 

Filling the well and the best six minutes

March 07, 2013


Bryan and I had THE. MOST. INCREDIBLE. trip to the Dominican Republic for my thirtieth birthday. I was on E (crazy eye problems from staring at a computer screen every day type of EMPTY…) when we left. E for empty. I was tired, grumpy, spent, all the words you can think of for EXHAUSTED and DRAINED.

I wasn’t even as excited as I should have been to escape to a tropical island for nearly a week. But the trip was incredible. I hate leaving the little guy just as much as the next Mama, but gracious did I need it. A few days at the spa, many hours (ouch, sunburn) at the pool and on the beach and bottomless margaritas, yes please. Not to mention fun friends, birthday celebration after silly birthday celebration and precious time with my sweet hubby. Lots of fun photos over on Instagram.

I forgot how much I liked him! I mean, don’t get me wrong, I love him to death, but I like him so much! Don’t look at me weird! You know what I mean! :) We had a blast, seriously, and he scored major points with his surprise bottle of wine and birthday cake in our room after a day of snorkeling (ps: panic attack. I hate snorkeling. I can’t breathe!)

Every time I leave (leaving again on Sunday for the Making Things Happen 2013 Conference!) I get super anxious and sad to leave Brady. But every time I return I am so refueled with JOY and happiness and love that I’m overwhelmingly ready to get back to what matters most.

And that brings me to the point of this post. You (yes, you!) stop it. You can’t do that thing (you know the one!) from an empty well!! Hello, Mamas, I’m talking to YOU! You just simply can’t. It’s a matter of physics. Full well = lots of water to give. Empty well = no water to give. Dry. Bone dry.

You don’t have to escape to a tropical island to do this either (although I sure do wish I could!). You just have to remember what FILLS your tank, what FIRES you up. I love reading. I love old literature and good books (Favorites: Love Does (buy it), Paradise Lost (the best) and, most recently, The Power of Starting Something Stupid, by Richie Norton (love you, Nat and Richie). Richie’s a friend of ours – more on his REMARKABLE book later this week. I love taking care of myself (getting outside and sweaty [though I detest it before I’m doing it], massages, pedicures [ok, admit it, you do too!]. I love accoustic music and good wine. I love laughing with Bryan. I LOVE laughing with Bryan :) No one makes me laugh like him. I love being with my parents and soaking them up. I love my girlfriends. I LOVE spending time with Brady.

Today was a long day. It was great, but long. Tonight I decided to take Brady on a date. We went to Surf Shack for Taco Thursday, Starbucks and Target. He was so well behaved (2+ years old and restaurants DON’T always get along these days, but tonight they did!) and said “HIIIII!!!” TO EVERYONE he saw (no, seriously, everyone). And after his bath, I sat down in his rocking chair with him, like I always do, anticipating the 2.5 seconds he’d sit still and then say “Night, night, Mama… pillow” and want to get in his bed. But tonight, he just let me rock him. In silence. We sang a few rounds of Happy Birthday Elmo/Maggie (McKay’s dog)/Daddy/PopPop/Choo-choo, and the Itsy Bitsy Spider then he just settled in and closed his eyes.

You know those moments as a Mom when everything is just so PERFECT and PRECIOUS and you just want time to stop? Then you start trying to shut down any other thoughts that creep into your head? Like the laundry or your work day, or that call you forgot to make for your dog’s grooming appointment? Yea. Oh it was precious. I shut them all down and just rocked. For six glorious minutes. The six best minutes ever. I think they were better than any six minutes I sat on the Dominican beaches with an umbrella’d drink in hand. This is an old photo from when Brady was about six months old, but it’s one of my favorites. Thanks for this Gina :)

And after I put him down and shut the door, I thought… “aahhhhh, my tank is full.”

You can’t draw anything good, ANYTHING GOOD, from an empty well. Fill ‘er up. Do what matters. Ease up on yourself. Soak them up.

xo,

Emily

copyright 2018 emily ley