What I’m Loving {3}

Hey hey friends. So, when I started this blog earlier this year, I did this fun little thing where I would share what I was super into at the moment with you. And then, you know, life happened and I quit blogging and that was that. But now that I’m back (hopefully consistently!) I wanted to get back in the swing of things with another What I’m Loving post. So – on the the goodness!

What I'm Loving | Haven Gray {the blog}

Just Mercy

If you haven’t read Just Mercy yet, DO IT. I’m a little more than halfway through, and….just, wow. Fair warning – it is intense. Super intense. It’s though provoking. It’s infuriating. It’s heartbreaking. It’s enlightening. It’s really making me dig deep inside myself and look at feelings that may have been engrained in me so long ago that I didn’t even realize they were there. I haven’t talked about this here, because it’s SO huge and SO intense and SO overwhelming that I don’t want to open the discussion until I’m truly prepared, but racial reconciliation is something I feel very passionate about, and this book brings so many feelings to the forefront for me. Just read it. I don’t think you’ll regret it. I heard Bryan Stevenson (the author) speak at the Global Leadership Summit a few weeks ago, and wow. Look that guy up and listen to what he has to say. So good.

Parenthood

Y’all. Are you kidding me? I had NO IDEA this show was so dang good. The husband and I started it awhile back – maybe two years ago? – and just couldn’t get into it, so I wrote it off as “not for me”. Well, I finished Gilmore Girls and was sad and depressed and needed a new show to watch while I eat my lunch every day, and Netflix suggested Parenthood so I thought, I’ll give it a shot. OMG. It’s SO GOOD. I could cry. And sometimes I do. Give it a chance friends, it warms my heart every episode!

Hair Skin and Nails

I swear this isn’t a plug, but I am obsessing over this product. Yes, I started selling It Works a few months ago, and no, I’m not going to bombard you with sales-y posts, but, you guys. This Hair Skin and Nails is the real deal. I am (embarrassingly) a life-long nail biter, and my nails are always tiny, painful stubs that make me feel like a very unsophisticated child. I started taking these less than a month ago, and not even every single day like you’re supposed to, and my nails are loooong and stronger than they have ever been in my life. Like, they look like grown woman nails! I actually have to file them to keep them short enough to do stuff. I can’t get over it.

Sweet Tea

So, I am also a life-long coke (a-cola, let’s be clear) addict, and I gave it up back in May. Like, haven’t had ANY (aside from two in NYC, because there were basically no other good options). But once I ditched that habit, I picked up a new one, and it’s so very southern. I cannot get enough sweet tea. I’m judging restaurants by their sweet tea now, and if it’s not good I don’t even want to go back. And if they don’t have sweet tea? What is even happening, we’re in Texas for crying out loud! If you’re wondering, Gold Peak is really the only acceptable at-home version. No, I can’t be bothered to make it myself.

Haven Gray Kids!

This seems like another plug, but I swear it’s not! I am having SO MUCH FUN with HGK right now. My mom and I decided to expand and open a second booth location at Lone Star Mercantile in Allen, TX, and it has been a blast. Our first booth at Doozie’s Corner in McKinney is babies and boys clothing only – which is obviously what got us started – but we decided to branch out at our second location. So now we’re doing girls clothing, stuff for moms, a little bit of home decor. Y’all, I’m having a blast. We’re not selling online anymore, but we did start a private shopping group for people who aren’t local, so request to be added if you want to check it out!

There you have it! Alright, what do I need to know about? Tell me what you’re loving in the comments!

Healthy Snack Ideas for Kids That Are Always Hungry

If the kids in your home are anything like the ones around here, they’re requesting a snack about 75% of the day, every single day. We aren’t super strict on the amount of snacks that we hand out – I assume growing boys that are constantly moving and grooving need lots of fuel, so I’m not too stingy with how much snacking they do. However, I am a bit of a stickler when it comes to healthy snacking options. Below I’ll share a few of my favorite healthy snacks for the littles in your life. 

Healthy Snack Ideas

  • Strawberries & Grapes

My oldest isn’t a huge fruit lover (unless it’s frozen), in spite of my best efforts. However, my tiny guy LOVES it. Right now we are on a real Strawberry/Grape kick, and we go through at least a carton of strawberries a week. It’s definitely important to remember to cut these up into bite size portions, especially the grapes, since they can be a choking hazard. Plus, the more pieces they have to eat, the longer they spend eating the snack, the longer it is until I have to figure out ANOTHER snack, and so on….

  • Crackers/Apple Slices With Peanut Butter

My four year old has a new-found love for peanut butter, and since I’m always trying to find ways to push protein in his diet, I will put peanut butter on just about anything these days. Two things that work well around here are crackers (whatever’s the favorite at your house will do the trick) and apple slices. I put the peanut butter in a little serving cup and dish out a few crackers or apple slices and he’s a happy camper. 

  • String Cheese

Yet another sneaky way to get some protein in. String cheese is a real hit for us – even Mommy and Daddy tend to snack on it after dinner. We typically choose a low-fat version, and I’ll buy the organic option if it’s on sale or I decide to throw caution to the wind and spend $5 on a bag of string cheese. 

  • Smoothies

I have to admit, this is more of a Nana-thing in our world. Mommy has good intentions, but I super hate cleaning the blender so I’m not likely to make a smoothie unless it’s requested. However, if I weren’t so lazy, smoothies are an amazingly healthy snack for kids when done right. Our favorite way to make them is with almond milk, frozen fruit, and yogurt – maybe add a little honey for extra sweetness if we’re feeling crazy. Delicious and healthy in so many ways. Can’t beat it! 

  • Organic Frozen Pancakes

My boys are completely obsessed with Earth’s Best Frozen Organic Mini Blueberry Pancakes. I buy two boxes a week and we usually run out. They want them for breakfast every morning and for a snack throughout the day. The good news is these little pancakes aren’t half bad – they’re made with whole grains and are a good source of iron, zinc, and b vitamins. And apparently they’re tasty enough that the kids never even ask for syrup to go with them. Score!

  • Turkey “Rollups”

This is a hilariously easy snack that for some reason is a hit around here. I buy a pound of thinly sliced turkey at the deli counter most weeks, and literally take a piece and roll it up in a long strip for a snack. That’s it. Easy as can possibly be, relatively healthy, and again, protein. I even stick this in my Grayson’s lunch for preschool as the “main course” at least once a week when school’s in session. 

  • Cottage Cheese

Now, this could just be my kid, but it’s worth a shot! For some reason Grayson is a big fan of cottage cheese, which is totally fine by me. Protein, calcium, vitamins – you really can’t go wrong here. If you think your kids will be skeptical, there are a couple of ways you can dress it up – occasionally we will add honey to ours, and there’s always the option to add fruit. Give it a try!

  • Cereal Bars

I think my kids would eat several of these a day if I would let them – their favorite (for the moment) seems to be Earth’s Best Organic Strawberry Sunny Days Snack Bars. I know they love them because they’re sweet, but they really are a pretty decent snack nutritionally so I feel pretty good about handing them over when they ask for one. According to their website, these bars are a great source of calcium, iron, zinc and six B vitamins – not too shabby! I keep our snack bags stocked with these at all times. 

So there you have it! If your kids are getting bored with your normal snack options, try out a few of these. Also, I would love for you to share your favorite toddler snacks in the comments – we’re always looking to try new, healthy things around here! 

5 Basic Items Every Stylish Boy Needs in His Closet

It can be a serious challenge to dress toddler and preschool age boys – trust me, I’m practically an expert in this area by this point. The selection that you find in most stores includes jeans that don’t fit quite right, t-shirts with cartoon characters, and clunky shoes that are – great for playing in the dirt I guess? Since this is something I obviously care about (aka, the entire reason I initially started Haven Gray Kids) I thought I would help my fellow boy mamas out with a few tricks of the trade I’ve picked up along the way. So here are the five things your little man needs in his coset ASAP! 

  • Skinny Jeans

I know, I know, a lot of people seem to think that boys don’t wear skinny jeans. But I will have you know that I have been putting my boys in skinnies basically since birth, and I get more positive comments on their jeans than almost anything else. My theory is that they are so tiny that the typical straight leg jean that you find at most stores overwhelms their little frames. Instead of looking clean cut they look a little disheveled. My solution is to put them in skinny jeans, and I promise they instantly look more put together. 

  • “Cool Guy” Shoes

Something else I’ve been putting my boys in, literally since they could walk, are low top Converse Chuck Taylor All Stars. This style of shoe is perfect because it goes with nearly anything they will wear, and I love them in black because, well….boys get dirty. Pair these with skinny jeans (or leggings for little guys) and you’ve got an instant hipster baby on your hands. I also love the Tiny Toms – we’ve had several styles over the years and I’ve loved them all. Most of the Toms are also much easier to get on a flailing toddler than the lace up Converse, so I consider these a mama win.

  • Graphic Tees

Graphic tees are super in right now, especially for little guys. Funny sayings, cool designs – it all works. My top tips when buying t-shirts for boys are to avoid white tees (unless you don’t mind constant stains) and to make sure they have a slim fit. A lot of tees you’ll find out there have a boxy cut, and this tends to lead to a less put together look – much like the typical “boy jeans” that we already talked about. 

  • Button Down Shirts

A button down might seem a little bit preppy (and preppy we are not), but they are one of my favorite things to put on my guys. What I love so much about them is that you can dress them up or down. Pair them with khakis and nice shoes for church or a more formal event, or make them look super cool with rolled up sleeves, skinny jeans, and Chucks. In the winter they look cute underneath sweaters and cardigans, and they can even be worn in the summer with rolled up sleeves, shorts, and sandals. They’re pretty much the most versatile thing you can buy for a little boy! 

  • Sweaters & Hoodies

Ahh, sweaters and hoodies. Two of my favorite things that are absolutely essential in colder months – which is like, two months here in Texas, but still. I like to buy my boys sweaters and hoodies both to have more of a slim fit – no big surprise here. I buy them big enough for them to have a little room for growth and so that they can easily be layered with a button down or tee underneath, but slim enough that they still have a tailored look. A hoodie with a graphic tee, skinny jeans and Chucks is a fun, laid back look for day-to-day, and a sweater layered with a button down, skinnies and boots is an instant, classic outfit for just about anything that comes up. 

The amazing thing about building a wardrobe for your little man is that it’s SO EASY. You don’t need a million accessories, leggings, dresses, etc. – buy the basics and you are good to go! You can mix and match all these things however your little heart desires, and when you’ve bought the right items in a cut that flatters their little toddler frame, you’ve got an instant cool guy on your hands. 

Relaxation for the Stressed Out Mom

Ladies, I don’t know about you, but “relaxing” is something I’m pretty unfamiliar with at this stage in life. If you’ve got little ones, there is never a second within your day when someone isn’t needing something from you. It can be exhausting and overwhelming, and if we’re not careful, it’s easy to just get in that go go go mode and wear ourselves out until we’re running on fumes.

Something I’ve learned about myself {and I’ll bet there are some of you who can relate} is that I won’t relax until I’m literally incapable of doing anything else. There’s always something to do, some issue to fix or something to clean, so sitting down and just taking a second to breathe can feel impossible.

But something else I’ve learned is that it is positively ESSENTIAL to my health and well-being {and that of my family, too!} that I actually pause for a moment here and there and just relax.

Here are a few of my favorite, super simple methods of relaxation:

  • Reading

I love, LOVE a good book. From the moment I knew how, reading has been my absolute favorite way to spend my time. When I was a kid I always had several different books going, and now is no different. Unfortunately, now it takes me about two months to actually get through a book versus two days, but lately I’ve been making a major effort to sit down and immerse myself in a good book when the time allows. Usually after the kids are in bed and when the husband is traveling – I make it happen when I can!

  • Prayer

Prayer wasn’t a part of my life for many years, so the thought of prayer as a relaxing thing was foreign to me for quite some time. But what I’ve learned over the last year and a half is that talking to God can actually be super relaxing. Pouring your heart out to someone that loves you unconditionally, will never judge you, and will help guide you where you need to be – I’m learning that it can be so many things, and relaxing is absolutely one of those. I always walk away from time spent in prayer feeling refreshed and rejuvenated, so if I’m feeling extra stressed or overwhelmed I always find a way to slip away for a few quite moments.

  • Music & A Bath

I feel like surely everyone out there uses music as a form of relaxation, yeah? I’m not sure there’s anything that puts me in a relaxed state quicker than mellow music – add in a warm bath, and it’s positively blissful. What I listen to totally depends on my mood. Sometimes it’s Adele, U2, The Civil Wars, sometimes it’s worship music…and sometimes it’s hip hop or old school rock from when I was in high school. Gotta keep things interesting, friends.

  • Massage

OK, this isn’t the most simple option because you generally have to have someone else to perform the massage {although I won’t lie, in desperate times I find a way to massage my own neck and shoulders}. If you can afford an hour long professional massage, DO IT. If you can’t, find one of those places that will do a 10 minute foot massage or do a chair massage at the mall. If you have a significant other, beg and plead for them to help you out. When I’m super wealthy someday I fully intend to have a massage therapist on staff {along with my personal trainer, housekeeper, and part-time nanny} to give me weekly massages.

  • Vegging Out {aka, Netflix/Pinterest-coma}

This is a last resort for me, and this typically only happens when I’ve gone far too long without taking care of myself. But if you are just past the point of exhaustion, where even reading sounds like too much work, a good ole Netflix binge session or an hour or so of perusing Pinterest and blogs can sometimes be just the break that your brain needs.

Now you tell me – what are your favorite ways to relax? Is it easy for you, or are you a little high strung {ahem, like myself} and maybe you have to force it a little? I’d love to hear your tips and tricks!