I’ve talked about her before and will again and again in the future. Tiffany of Taste{full} has become one of my best e-friends! We email each other photos of things when we are at stores, send each other ideas or deals, frequent each other’s sites and encourage each other on a weekly basis or more. I honestly have no idea when this friendship started or completely how it began, but it’s been on for a while and I am just SO grateful for this friendship on a daily basis.  And we are finally working together on a little project for the coming months that we hope you will LOVE! Please give a super warm welcome to Tiffany who took time to stop by today.  

Photos by Simply Mella Photography

Jessica: Oh my dear friend! I’ve been lucky to learn a lot about you over the past year? And my readers have met you in one way or another, but can you just start by telling us a bit about you?
Tiffany: I’m married to my college sweetheart, Joe and reside in the ridiculously cold North East. (Can you tell I’m ready for spring)?!  I’m a corporate HR professional turned stay at home mama to two lovely little ones- Genevieve (3) and Nadia (18 months). My journey to being a stay at home mom started when I volunteered to be laid off while I was pregnant with Nadia. Had I not volunteered it would have meant a raise and a promotion (due to the restructuring of my company) so that was a hard pill to swallow and a sacrifice. During our pre-marital counseling, a couple I love and admire advised us: if you want to stay home once you have children, live on just Joe’s income now and throw your income at school loan debt or savings. Did we listen? No! I’m not even sure I wanted to or thought I could be a SAHM at the time (I was only 24 for cryin out loud!) and I honestly didn’t think living on one income was possible. Now that we see other young couples in our church community heeding that advice I realize that it really would have been possible (though totally counter-culture).

But once our circumstances changed, we realized we really did want one of us home with our girls and I was happy to take that role. I feel like I’m a bit different than some of the SAHMs in my circle because I had a career that I loved. I joke that I eased into it slower than anyone (I still used daycare for Genevieve for a while after I had Nadia. It was heavenly). I have a master’s degree and really enjoyed corporate America (believe it or not)! I loved contributing financially to my family and though Joe and I never split things 50/50, I liked the fact that I earned an income just like he did y’know? I never felt like I was born to be a SAHM but we try to live a life of faith and really believed God was ordering our steps and leading us in this direction.

It can be tough but let’s face it—being a mom is tough regardless of whether you work in or outside of the home—but is so super rewarding.

Now, I wouldn’t have it any other way. It can be tough but let’s face it—being a mom is tough regardless of whether you work in or outside of the home—but is so super rewarding.  I love being the person my girls spend the most time with. However, it’s  important to me to have other interests outside of being a wife and mom.  My blog Taste{Full} (find me on twitter here, facebook here, and pinterest here), photography, and party planning are all creative outlets and things to call my own.  I’m also a paid contributor to another blog/business called Tall Clothing Mall– a collection of shopping resources for tall men and women (I’m 6 feet tall by the way) and its sister site Tall Snob. What else? I love shopping, baby clothes and me clothes (although that was easier to love pre-baby if you know what I mean!), and finding a bargain. It’s exhilarating to me! I’m also a big proponent of being real and true to myself even via social media. I honestly don’t want it to look like my life is perfect or that I have it all together. Because it’s not and I don’t. I feel like being in a community with other imperfect people is way more fulfilling and inspiring than trying to keep up with the Jones’!

I honestly don’t want it to look like my life is perfect or that I have it all together. Because it’s not and I don’t.

Wow that was a lot. Did I mention I’m long winded? Next question?

Photos by Simply Mella Photography

Jessica: Love it all! You have a lot of good stuff going on and I can definitely relate to how hard it is to leave a stable corporate job for something super hard that you know very little about. ;) Tell us about your family.
Tiffany: I mentioned my two girls Genevieve and Nadia. Aside from my husband, they are the biggest blessings I could have hoped for. They make life so interesting and fun. Just yesterday after staying after church for cake and snacks, we’re on our way home and Genevieve burps and then says “I just had a yummy burp! I just had a cake burp!” Joe and I just died laughing. Just listening to them talk is wildly entertaining and now that Nadia is starting to be more vocal it’s so fun to hear their little “conversations.” It’s also exciting to watch their little personalities develop and watch them become best buds. Speaking of best buds, my husband and I will have been married 9 years this June. It’s amazing how fast that happens! Being married is a blast but can also be challenging (anyone else noticing a theme: awesome but hard?!). We try to go to Family Life Marriage conferences, called A Weekend to Remember, every other year or so to keep us connected. If anyone wants info about them, hit me up! We’re big fans. We’re very into “family,” but we’ve been pretty boring over the last couple of years. Now that our girls are getting to easier ages, we’re pumped to do more fun things as a family. This summer we’re going to try camping for the first time. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t just a tiny bit terrified!

Photos by Simply Mella Photography

Jessica: Your girls are just gorgeous! And it sounds like they have personalities to match. Tell me your number one tip for keeping things fancy with your little one or littles. What makes life easier for you regularly? 
Oh, how to keep things fancy. As someone who likes all things pretty, this can be tough with little ones. I know clean doesn’t equal fancy but it’s hard to feel fancy in disarray and chaos. So in an attempt to keep things neat I use the app “Home Routines.” Home cleaning and organization don’t come naturally to me.  I’m one of those people who clean one room and go to place an item in another room and then start cleaning that one. Repeat. All over the house. Home Routines helps me stay focused and organized.

I also take lots of pictures. The reason is twofold—I want to remember the good times and the sweet moments. But it’s also motivation to clean the girls’ faces, put them in something cute, or do something fun with them. I try to photograph them for holidays (either with little props—think bunny ears for Easter– or in holiday attire) and sometimes I’ll make cards with the photos for family who isn’t close by. Years from now, when I look back at all these photos, I’m hoping I remember more of the sweet, fun, and cute moments than I do of the stressful I’m-home-all-day-with-two-toddlers moments! In the keeping it real vein, last night I was taking a cell phone picture of Nadia after bath. She was sitting on my lap in a cute duck towel and I thought “Oh this’ll be the perfect close up.” And then she peed on me. So yeah, it doesn’t always work out. ;)

Years from now, when I look back at all these photos, I’m hoping I remember more of the sweet, fun, and cute moments than I do of the stressful I’m-home-all-day-with-two-toddlers moments!

We also play dress up. A lot. I’m seriously considering raiding Goodwill for some grown up dress up clothes because Genevieve always wants me to dress up with them.  It makes for fun times and good photos!

Lastly, I use Pinterest for meal planning too. Usually the day before I go grocery shopping I browse my recipes and choose a few new ones to add to my shopping list.  Then I’ll get a few from my favorite cookbooks (I love Rachael Ray 365 and Express Lane Meals) and at least have a handful of yummy recipes as fillers between the easy meals we end up having every month.

The last thing we do to stay fancy is have a monthly date night. Before kids, I would have thought a monthly date night would be pretty easy to swing. After kids I realize it’s not and I’m pretty proud that we make it happen, most of the time. It gives me an excuse to dress up and even though we always say we’ll go the cheap route…when you only go out once a month there is a certain pressure to make it count! So we usually go someplace a little fancy.

Jessica: Oh the elusive date night! We also thought it would be a breeze to sneak out every week or two before kids. We have family nearby and still don’t get out even once a month. We’ve made a really strong effort this year though, and have had better luck. You should be so proud of you and your hubby for making it happen. Well, let’s get to the juicy stuff. What is the hardest part of being a mama for you?
Tiffany: Well my nature is I want it all. I want to be a SAHM. I want to live like I work full time, make a salary, and feel respected. I want to be hot and skinny (can I get an amen?) but I want to make yummy snacks and meals that make me feel good and make my husband adore me. I want a sparkly clean house but I want my kids to feel free to have fun (and I’ll be honest; I want time to edit pictures or stalk my friends on facebook). I want a Pinterest house. But I don’t want debt or to live in constant comparisons to an unrealistic standard. I guess what I am saying is that I struggle to be content. It’s been a struggle long before I had kids so it’s not new, but being a mom takes it to a different place. The grass is always greener so it’s easy to look at people without kids and the freedom they have…or the people whose kids are older and the freedom they  have…or the “perfect” facebook mom (I bet someone you know came to mind right?!) that I can’t measure up to. I don’t necessarily have the answer to this conundrum but for me personally I try my hardest to have a heart of gratitude. I also try really hard to remember that today will only happen once. I don’t want to waste it looking forward to tomorrow. I’m reading a book right now called “The Resolution for Women.” It’s comprised of 13 resolutions and the first is a resolution to be “surprisingly satisfied” with the statement “I do solemnly resolve to embrace my current season of life and will maximize my time in it. I will resist the urge to hurry through or circumvent any portion of my journey but will live with a spirit of contentment.” I try to say it aloud to myself every day.

Slamming each other isn’t going to make any of us a better mom and it isn’t going to make any of our kids more or less precious than they already are.

And I know this is a touchy subject but I also find the comparisons we make to each other to be hard and discouraging. We moms are our own worst critics. I once read an article where the author described the decision to stay home with one’s children as “infantile.” It made me so angry. There’s always a mommy wars battle raging (breast vs. bottle, work vs. stay home, attachment vs. parent directed, etc, etc, ad nauseam ad nauseam) and I can’t say I never engage in these (who of us doesn’t want to reassure ourselves that our choices are the right ones)?!  But I have to say I don’t think they’re helpful.  I read an article on the topic where the author said the thing that matters most is that there are children without mothers at all.  The article focused on orphans and kids in foster care and said the true outrage and battle should be on this topic. I agree. Slamming each other isn’t going to make any of us a better mom and it isn’t going to make any of our kids more or less precious than they already are.

Photos by Simply Mella Photography

Jessica: I’m totally with you. But, I feel that way about parenting, religion, politics and most other things. Can’t we all just get along? Oy! Well, what’s the best part about being a mama for you?
Tiffany: I don’t know if I would describe it as the best, but maybe the most important is the fact that I get to shape a little life. I get to be one of the main influencers of who this tiny tot will become. I get to help my girls develop character, intelligence, and even wit. That just astounds (and scares!) me.

Another thing is their unconditional love. Today Genevieve was singing a song she sings often “I love my mommy. I love my daddy.” She threw in a new line “…because they are nice.” And she has this special way of saying “I just love you mommy.” That I can’t get over.  And Nadia…I just look into her sweet eyes and I melt.  And now that she’s talking she even tells me she loves me, usually as she wraps her arms around my neck. They are just so sweet and special and I’m blubbering because there really aren’t adequate words to describe the joy they bring. Parenting can be difficult. It’s different than life before kids, but man… the joy. I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

Parenting can be difficult. It’s different than life before kids, but man… the joy. I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

Photos by Simply Mella Photography

Jessica: Tell me something real about you.
: I had a miscarriage before Genevieve. For some reason I didn’t even know to be concerned about that outcome so it came as a total shock to us. It was one in a string of disappointments and I found myself fighting hard to not ask “why God?” In my head I had faith and was just grateful that I had a clean bill of health and no “real” fertility issues but my heart felt differently. It hurt. We worked through it though, our faith grew, and Joe and I became closer through that ordeal.  Within a year we were blessed with Genevieve and we conceived Nadia very easily 12 months later so I truly believe God turned our mourning into joy. That said, I have great empathy for women who do suffer through fertility issues or have suffered from a miscarriage and I have a heavy heart for those who have lost a baby (or child) after delivering.

Jessica: Tell me what you keep in your mama toolbox?
Tiffany: I was nervous about this question because I’m not a product person and much to my chagrin, oftentimes I look into my diaper bag and can’t believe I forgot the [insert basic baby care item here]. But there are a few things I do/have that help.  For one, I always keep an extra change of clothes, diaper/undies, and bottle/sippy cup for the girls in the car. I think I’ve only needed it a couple of times but during those times I wondered what I would have done without it. I always have snacks on hand—usually something both the girls and I can eat (an apple and/or a granola bar for instance) because there’s nothing worse than getting caught between meals with nothing. And food is a nice distraction that will buy me an extra 15 minutes in Target!

Speaking of Target whenever I go there or the mall or anywhere where 30 minutes passes way too quickly, I try to bring a snack that the girls can feed themselves like puffs, cheerios, or animal crackers (these cups are great and this one is good for older toddlers) that will buy me time.

As for travel the one item we always bring is a white noise machine. There are much fancier ones, but we have two of these. They come in handy when you’re sharing small spaces to drown out the noise and allow the girls to nap. When Nadia was a baby (wow, I can’t believe I just said when Nadia was a baby!) someone got us this one and we brought that with us everywhere (and bonus—it’s adorable!). We could put her in her infant carrier facing away from the crowd and turn it on right next to her and it would help her get to sleep.

As for “big” items, a friend bought me the Skip Hop city chic diaper bag and I LOVE it. Even though I have like five (I mentioned my shopping habit right), I always defer to this one! It’s roomy, has lots of pockets, is glazed so its’ stayed clean and the little detachable wallet is clutch. I still carry it just so I can swap it in and out of purses/diaper bags.

I also really love this umbrella stroller!  It’s a little taller than average which is good for me. It’s also a little sturdier but still folds fairly small and is easy to travel with. There’s a detachable cup holder which is rare with umbrella strollers. And it reclines almost all the way down which is awesome. I love the Timi and Leslie print on it.  Super cute!

Jessica: What one piece of advice would you share with new moms? 
This is totally not original but hopefully if you hear it enough you’ll take the advice: Don’t be so hard on yourself! One of the fancy mama’s interviewed mentioned the mommy guilt as a hard part of parenting.Isn’t that the truth? No matter what we do or how hard we’re trying we can find fault. You are only one person, you’re doing the best you can, and guess what? Your baby will be okay!

Don’t be so hard on yourself!

I read a blog post recently asking for advice for new moms and one respondent wrote that her personal motto was “Having a baby: It’s so easy even a caveman can do it.” I laughed aloud. Of course it’s not easy but the point I took away is that we tend to overanalyze it.

So be easy on yourself. Take a deep breath and know that it will be okay.

I’m worse than anyone.  I’m type A (and love sleep) so I wanted my babies on a schedule like before they were out of the womb. Shocker: I spent a lot of time frustrated. With baby number two I calmed down a bit (she got to wait a whopping 2 weeks before I started the schedule ;) and it was easier to enjoy the journey. Until the colic set in. But that’s for another interview another day. So be easy on yourself. Take a deep breath and know that it will be okay.

Thank you so much for the interview, Tiffany! I am so thankful for your friendship, honesty and your ability to find the best deals around and send them to me! I’m SO looking forward to our friendship growing.

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