Today I’m so thrilled to welcome Emily Ley to Live the fancy life. I met Emily when I was 5-months pregnant in December of 2010 at the Making Things Happen workshop in Florida. She too was pregnant and due just two months later. Everything about her is fresh and lovely. I asked her to be a part of this series for so many reasons, but the biggest reason is that she is such an honest encouraging mama on the web. Her blog posts about parenting are inspirational, encouraging and downright practical! Please welcome Emily! All photos are from the Emily Ley blog with credits to Gina Zeidler Photography.

Photo by Gina Zeidler Photography

I know a little about you already because I’m a lucky member of the Making Things Happen crew, but I want to introduce you to Live the fancy life readers. Tell us about you.
Emily: I’m a designer, wife and Mama to sweet Brady Ley. Becoming a mom really helped me solidify my true core and combine my passions together. I own the Emily Ley Shop where we sell products to help busy women simplify their lives and create joy for their families. We offer Great Day Plates® to celebrate good behavior and The Simplified Planner to help women streamline their many responsibilities and busy calendars and a few other items as well. I’m also a brand consultant and designer with Lara Casey (Making Brands Happen). I work with a small team of ladies to make all these things happen. I’ve intentionally scheduled my work time Tuesday, Wednesdays and Thursday so that I can be a full-time, stay-at-home Mama on Mondays and Fridays. It’s hard, but worth it. My favorite things to do with Brady are adventures. Every Friday we try to go on an adventure either just the two of us or with friends. We visit the zoo, the aquarium, take trips to the park or have lunch at fun restaurants. Watching Brady explore and learn new things fills my heart to its brim.

Watching Brady explore and learn new things fills my heart to its brim!

Photo by Gina Zeidler Photography

Jessica: Little Brady is just a few months older than my guy Bodhi. I totally get the love of watching him explore. It’s such a beautiful thing. Tell us about your family.
Emily: My husband, Bryan, and I live in South Florida. We have a little house on a corner in a beautiful suburb of Tampa. It’s bright white inside with big windows, lots of toys and entirely too many photos on the walls (I’m ok with that!). We have a giant bull-mastiff named Briggs who doubles as a pony for rides from time to time. Our son, Brady, is two years old. He’s amazing. :)

Photo by Gina Zeidler Photography

Jessica: So I know it all looks super pretty from the outside, but I also know that you are very honest on your blog about your struggles and joys as a mom. Tell me your number one tip for keeping things fancy with your little one or littles.
 At the risk of sounding like a shameless plug, the way I truly keep it all together is with our Simplified Planner. It’s a binder that holds our family’s calendar, important papers, grocery lists, weekly meal plan, etc. It stays open on the bar in our kitchen for easy access during our very busy days. I try really hard to keep our home very organized (everything has a place!) and running seamlessly. But, as we all know, that falls apart from time to time. My dad always told me, “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” And I really believe in taking an hour or two on Sundays (during nap time most of the time) to get my act together for the upcoming week: diaper bag packed, meals planned, house picked-up, laundry running, to-do’s written out in my calendar, etc. It’s all about setting yourself up for success.

It’s all about setting yourself up for success.

Photo by Gina Zeidler Photography

Jessica: With all the planning and organizing and LOVE, I know you are in a good place, but what is the hardest part of being a mama for you?
Emily: Mommy guilt. Hands down. I feel a lot of guilt about working at all. But I also know in my gut that I am a better Mama because I do what fires me up a few days a week. I am proud of the schedule we’ve built with a few days on and a few days off to spend time with just Brady. But that horrible Mommy guilt creeps up from time to time. I always hush it away and remind myself to be grateful for every moment I have with him.

Jessica: I can definitely relate. Any time I have to work late, I start feeling terribly guilty around 4 p.m. No fun! But it’s all worth it to have that balance of work, family and fun! What is the best part of being a mama for you?
Emily: Can I write seventy five paragraphs here? Seriously. The best part of being a mama, to me, is knowing that God chose me to shepherd this little man’s heart. I constantly remind myself that we are raising a man, not a boy. He is going to be a man one day. And hopefully, he’ll be just like his Daddy. I love, more than anything, knowing that we are responsible for teaching him manners, for showing him how a lady should be treated, and for teaching him about Jesus and Grace and everything else that truly matters in this world. Knowing that I can impact his little heart in this way, by the Grace of God, is amazing. AMAZING! There’s truly no better blessing in this world than that.

Photo by Gina Zeidler Photography

Jessica: Tell me something about you that others might be surprised to learn.
Emily: My husband and I struggled with infertility before Brady. For a little over a year. It was heartbreaking. I haven’t talked much about it, really, because it is still very painful. We have been trying make Brady a big brother for fifteen months now. We’ve been through surgeries, drugs, acupuncture, many prayers, etc. Before Brady, we found out that I have endometriosis and was born with only one ovary. But, even after all THAT, little B joined us by surprise when we gave up one month. God’s timing and plan is way better than ours, so we’re trusting our family will grow at the right moment, but it’s still very difficult to go through every month. I haven’t talked about this much, publicly, but have had it on my heart for a while that my story needs to be shared. There are SO many women who deal with infertility. One out of every six couples faces it. That statistic is astounding.

God’s timing and plan is way better than ours, so we’re trusting our family will grow at the right moment…

Jessica: As a mom who dealt with pretty severe Postpartum depression, I have to tell you that being honest about struggles as a mama really can help others. Thank you so much for sharing that. On a much lighter note, tell me what you keep in your mama toolbox?
Emily: Oh, I have a growing toolbox! My favorites are the LollacupSkip-Hop backpack (no more diaper bag for mommy!), iPad (believe it or not, this is how Brady became so good at puzzles!), my Simplified Planner and my fully-loaded Starbucks app on my iPhone. We go frequently — a little caffeine for Mama and a milk-box or apple juice treat for Brady!

Grace not perfection, friends. It’s so easy to want to be perfect as a mom but it’s just not real.

Jessica: I’ve been contemplating a skip-hop backpack for a while now and actually put it in my spring fashion for toddler post, mostly as a reminder to myself to pick one up soon. So cute. What one piece of advice would you share with new moms?
Emily: Grace not perfection, friends. It’s so easy to want to be perfect as a mom (or a wife, friend, etc) but it’s just not real. It’s not! Grace is so much more important and is sometimes even harder. Forgive yourself for not having a perfectly clean home and allow yourself to be grateful that a family lives there. Make messes. Go easy on yourself. Life’s just too short to be perfect all the time.

Jessica: Awww… Thank you so much for stopping by, Emily! You always inspire and encourage. Friends, you can find Emily in the following places. She is TOTALLY worth following. I find positive reminders in her work every week.


Have a lovely weekend! For more great mama reads, check out {Fancy mama Fridays} with Jenna of Eat Drink Pretty and Sharon of Cupcakes and Cutlery.

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