Mother’s Day Gift Guide

Let me start off by saying, Brian is a wonderful husband with many amazing qualities. He is great at picking out clothes for me and forcing me to spend money on myself, like getting a massage or a pedicure. He’s also really great at middle of the week, ‘I was just thinking of you’ gifts. The first month of Reagan’s life, he would bring me coffee and/or breakfast in bed before he went to work in the morning. He’s a keeper. However, his downfall is “high pressure” gifts on holidays; birthdays, Christmas, and Mother’s Day… Let’s just say his best gifts are the ones I send him a link for.

This list is mostly compiled of mostly small businesses; specifically businesses run by moms. I think there’s no better way to celebrate Mother’s Day than by supporting hard-working moms who somehow also find time to run successful businesses.


-For the minimalist: Made by Mary jewelry – fairly priced, customizable and sweet. Being a non-jewelry wearer besides my engagement ring, these are minimalistic enough that they go with everything and even I love wearing them. They always have some sort of Mother’s Day promotion. Keep an eye on their Instagram! **Bonus: they also have matching ‘mini-me’ pieces and their customer service is amazing. I further customized my necklace immediately after ordering it and they were more than happy to accommodate.

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-For the breastfeeding mom: Sacred Legacy Arts – definitely on the pricier side for a gift, but they do have some cheaper $150+ options. I would personally love to commemorate my breastfeeding journey (which is sadly coming to an end soon) with this beautiful ring. But I would be mad if Brian spent that kind of money ($700+ for this set) on jewelry instead of toward a family getaway. The struggle is real!

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-For the yogi: Gathre vegan leather yoga mat. These are beautiful, however, they won’t be shipped until June/July as they aren’t even made yet. This company also offers a mini-me mat, which makes for a really sweet gift set.

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-For the Fixer-Upper fan: Magnolia Table cookbook (just released April 24th). I recommend from Barnes & Noble as they currently have a discount code for 15% off.

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-For the green-thumb (or those that wish they were): Green house plants (Ikea and Lowes have great ones for great prices – FYI, Lowes will accept and return DEAD plants up to a year after you buy them, so if your woman is a murderer of house plants, this may be a great option for you).

-For the sentimentalist: The Night Sky. Also makes a great anniversary present. I bought ours as a surprise for Brian for our 1st wedding anniversary (which is paper, if you do the traditional wedding gifts. This was definitely not intentional. I’m not that organized.) For Mother’s Day you can make it for the night she became a mother. Look for discount codes on their Instagram, that’s how I scored 20% off ours.

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BONUS: For every home-making woman: Professionally cleaned home and/or carpet. We just splurged and got our entire carpet professionally cleaned last month and it makes all the difference. What person would not appreciate this??

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side hustles for SAHMs (no network marketing involved)

Last night, my 15-month-old-daughter had a rough night. This always happens after Brian comes back from an “away week”. She’s missed him and she knows he’s only a room away and only wants him. Last night she practically jumped out of my arms to try to get to him and I definitely pulled something in my back. So I am currently working while laying on my stomach across the bed. Dream life, right? Working from home.

I have had several new mom friends ask me over the past year about the transition to being a full-time stay-at-home-mom. Though there is nothing wrong with multi-level marketing jobs, they just aren’t for everyone and that’s all I will say on the matter. So I wanted to share some of the other ways I have been able to supplement our income to make living on 1 income work in California (though these can be done from any state!)

**Side note: I’ve been doing all these long before I ever was married, so they are nice ways to make extra cash while working/going to school.

  • Consignment Stores

I love Buffalo Exchange and Crossroads, but have also used Plato’s Closet in the past. Check online for local Consignment stores near you. There are even some consignment stores that buy children’s clothing, I just prefer selling them online as you get to name the price. These typically either give you the option to walk away with cash or receive store-credit, which worked best for me as my body changed so much after having Reagan that I was able to swap out styles that no longer work with my mom-bod.

  • Facebook BST pages, Local Marketplace, or Instagram
    For this, you will need an active Paypal account, poly shipping bags, a kitchen scale, (I linked the ones I bought) and shipping materials i.e. wrapping tissue, washi tape or twine, and regular packing tape. Well worth the investment for how much I have sold + shipped over the past few years!

All of the items shown below I spent a total of $8 on from thrift-stores while shopping for my daughter. Some brand new with tags. One made in Italy. I made about a $60 profit from this bundle of clothes alone and I definitely don’t price my clothes as high as I probably should (because I don’t know the environment they’re from).

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My favorite FB group for selling baby/kid’s clothes is: Gap, Old Navy, Zara, H&M, and Target BST. I’ve also had luck selling on several Anthropologie BST pages as well as different baby-wearing BST pages. I’ve sold 2 Wildbird ring slings for exactly what I paid for them because the demand was so high, but my biggest advice would be to find a BST group for whatever brands you want to sell. That’ll give you the best input into what you should price things at.

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I’ve also sold a lot of bigger/heavier household items on local Facebook BST pages. This is a little trickier living in an apartment building, but I can typically arrange a pick-up around the buyer’s schedule. Other local selling apps I recommend and use semi-regularly are Offer Up and Let Go.

  • Poshmark (Use code HBUI91 for $5 when you first sign up)
    My advice is take clear shots in bright light, model the pieces when you can (though I don’t ever), and when you can, try to find the original picture for the item online.

Poshmark is nice because you don’t have to deal with the hassle of making a label and weighing. They email it right to you after the sale is complete. However, they do take a percentage of your sale, so you do have to factor that into your price and the selling is typically very slow. I have sold over $500 worth of clothes on here in the last year. Slow and steady, but I really don’t have to do much work other than refresh my postings and add anything new to my closet that I want to sell.

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  • Mystery Shopping

I’ve listed three companies that I have worked for and are legitimate. I haven’t found a way to make a living doing mystery shopping, but it is nice supplemental income and you get to choose when and what shops you do. As a SAHM, it’s also really nice to have an excuse to get out of the house and not feel like I’m spending more than we’re making. What I do before accepting a shop is plan a day around that particular city or area so I’m not investing so much money in gas just to get there. For example, I will always choose to do a Best Buy shop in Burbank on a day I can have a date day at Ikea. I also schedule Disney Store shops when I have a few returns to make to the mall.

Bestmark – mails you your check 2 Fridays after you complete the shop

This company works best for people that drive a car in the Chevrolet/Ford family. You will basically never pay for any routine work to be done on your car ever again – in exchange for writing about your experience. Though we did get lucky once with a Lexus service shop, they are few and far between. Aside from car shops, which are the majority with this one, I have also done movie theater shops (reimbursed for 2 tickets, popcorn + soda) , dinners at Maggiano’s ($50 reimbursements), Best Buy shops (pays about $14 a shop) and so many online “car inquiries”. These only pay $3 a shop, but they definitely add up and don’t take a lot to complete.

My total income from all the shops I did over a 6 month span last year was about $400, which isn’t a lot in the grand scheme of things, but it was a lot of great (and free) memories for my little family. They also have a lot of other shops that I just wasn’t able to do with a toddler, such as new car dealerships and hotel stays, that definitely pay much more.

Amusement Advantage – long narratives, but often reimburses in additional tickets

Very involved shops and must be okay with writing long narratives about your experiences. It probably took me 2 hours to write up the one shop I completed and upload the receipts. However, they offer shops for Six Flags, the Zoo, bowling alleys, mini golf, and several museums all over LA; so if you’re into any of those things and are okay writing long narratives, this may be the company for you. All I really want is a Disneyland shop, too much to ask??

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Intelli-Shop – Sends $ via Paypal on the 20th day of the month after you complete

Lots of retail shops, which work best for me as a SAHM. I choose to only do the Disney Store shops (each time being reimbursed up to $20) and Famous Footwear. The fact that they pay a whole month later makes it a nice surprise once the money does come through because I typically forget that I had completed them. Other than retail, they also offer Hospital shops, Home Depot, valet parking at hotels/malls, and fast food shops.

  • Ibotta – use this code for a $10 bonus: jhmbdst

I cannot sing this app’s praises enough. It has revolutionized “couponing” for me as a SAHM trying to save a little here and there and they literally have on the app every store I shop at; CVS, Target, Costco, Trader Joe’s…etc. They even offer cash back on online stores/apps, such as Groupon, Old Navy, and even Uber! The way it works, is you type in the store name where you’re shopping and  type in the category of what you are buying. For example, you need a 6-pack of beer for a BBQ. You type in beer, and you choose from the list, many brands will give you $3-$5 off their beer. You add that “coupon” to your account, then forget about it. Once you get home from the store, upload a picture of your receipt and you automatically get credited the amount. Sometimes you have to scan the item to prove it. Once you get over $20, you can transfer the money to your Paypal. Make sure to look for the *25 cents off any purchase* and use that with every single purchase.

Literally so easy. It’s all done electronically, there’s no remembering to bring your coupon, and no having to worry about it expiring. You can even apply additional coupons in person, which is what I always do when I buy Huggies diapers from Costco (which are already discounted). The other day, I was ordering a bunch of clothes for Reagan on Old Navy and I double checked Ibotta and sure enough, 2% cash back on any order from Old Navy.  Score!

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Anyway, these are just a few of the ways I have been able to supplement Brian’s income. Last week alone I sold a dress and a huge stack of Dr. Seuss books I’ve accumulated over the years (the ones I truly can’t stand reading) on Facebook BST pages and made over $100. Though there is nothing wrong with donating these things, it feels so good to be able to contribute to our income. What else do I have to do to keep me busy during nap time? 😉

Hello Blogging World, It’s Me…Again

I can’t even say for sure what inspired me to get back on the blogging scene again, especially considering it’s been almost 4 years since my last post (eeek), but I decided that as a stay-at-home mom I need a creative outlet. Several blog ideas have popped into my head these past few weeks and since it’s not quite March yet, it’s definitely not too late to jump on a new aspiration for 2018, so here we go!

2017 for me was a year of a lot of hardship and change. In the fall of 2016, I got married and had a baby, so all of 2017 was pretty much just recovering from/acclimating to those big changes in my life. Childbirth wasn’t all that traumatic for me physically, (I will definitely share Reagan’s birth story at some point) but emotionally and mentally was one of the hardest things I’ve ever gone through. Postpartum is definitely not talked about enough, so it came as quite a surprise that I could feel anything but happiness and rainbows. More on that later.

All that to say, I am fully emerged from my ‘funk’ and 2018 so far has been hugely motivational and I feel nothing less than inspired to figure myself out again. It’s so easy to feel mom-guilt for taking time for yourself, but as much as I love being a full-time mom and wife, I know I will be better for doing this.

Writing has always been therapeutic for me and even though I’m not currently living and writing about my exotic, travel-filled, carefree backpacking across Europe days, my current adventure is “mama-hood in the ‘burbs”. Not as interesting, I know, but this is my new norm; and I hope you enjoy this journey with me!

xx
Hannah

i am from… celebrating heritage

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Sololá, Guatemala – circa ’93

I am from a brew of freshly roasted coffee.
From the smell of tea tree oil and the jasmine outside.
Cilantro home-grown and limón freshly squeezed.
From a triangular dining room table that seats fifteen people.
A house worn in with well-loved nooks and too many books.
I am from jacaranda trees in bloom and a rainy season that brings everything to life.

I am from failing at pictures, because we’re a small village.
From sleeping in the mountains to watch shooting stars.
From belly laughs, midnight feasts, and happy half-birthdays.
Odious matching dresses with my mom and sister (only kidding – they were lovely).
From mom’s pancakes every Saturday morning.
I am from grammar fiends and a shared love for music and literature.

I wasn't lying about the matching dresses.

I wasn’t lying about the dresses. That is produce on my dress, people. Produce. I know you’re jealous.

I am from fields upon fields in Illinois and Ohio.
From sweet tea and pulled pork in the deep sultry South.
From English truffles and pudding; and maybe a duke.
From volcanoes and cold in luscious Guatemala.
From heaven on earth in southern México.
I am from anywhere and everywhere in between…

I am from tacos al pastor, mole negro, and fresh conchas from the panadería.
From competitive game-players; a life without screens.
From seeing the world from a very young age.
From outrageous road trip traditions; people who enjoy traveling together.
From music to sports; and books too, of course.
I am from a childhood of scraped up knees and playing ‘lost kids’.

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I am from seventeen years spent in Latin America.
Fresh sushi in California to the snows of Colorado.
From the tropics of Asia to no home at all.
From awaiting my flight to the next far off place.
From an adopted family wherever I bed.
I am from life on the move and ecstatic reunions.

I am from regrets and mistakes made endlessly.
From exceedingly broken to truly redeemed.
From days I can’t face the world, to learning to trust.
From a family that supports and encourages when life gets hard.
From friends that become family when mine is far off.
I am from a Father who Loves unconditionally.

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(Inspiration for this post came from She Loves Magazine.)

holiday melancholia & choosing joy

Christmas hurts.

Scrolling through my Facebook newsfeed, there’s a steady influx of holiday-related posts; baby’s first Christmas, new traditions, old traditions, fancy meals and dresses, a time to reminisce, and families long apart – together again. I never knew something to make my heart feel such joy and sorrow at the same time.

It’s my second Christmas away from home, yet the ache I feel far surpasses last time.

My parents are moving to America.

This is the last Christmas in my childhood home – and I’m not there for it.

I’m losing something that I didn’t know I needed to say goodbye to.

It’s not that I’m sad about missing Christmas day, or even the Christmas season; it has and always will be about the people. Christmas is the one time of year I get to fly home to ‘my country’ and be with ‘my people’. People who have scolded me, watched me grow from a wee tot into who I am today, in complete support of me in any endeavor I pursue. The people who were my adoptive aunties, uncles, and grandparents; people who most influenced my life.They know what part I play in my family dynamics, they saw me through my awkward, embarrassing years, they know my talents and weaknesses, they care to know what I’m learning, and they constantly tell me how proud they are of me… they cherish me unconditionally.

I’m far from home this year, experiencing the holiday season in a different continent than I have before. It’s been so fun to see how a different culture does Christmas and get to spend this season with an adoptive family, but we’ve been so busy that it wasn’t until I checked a calendar this morning that I even realised today was Christmas Eve.

I found myself swallowing a lump in my throat I didn’t even know was there.

I’m grieving a season in my life I know to be ending very soon. Not a literal season, but a season of international terminals in order to go home on holiday; of sleeping in my own bed – not the guest bedroom in a strange house in a new state; of using different currencies on break; of being with the people I consider to be my family, who value me; to see my childhood friends – grown TCKs who are scattered all over and whom I’d never see any other time.

We don’t get a lot of say in the direction God takes our lives, but mine is going somewhere I hoped it wouldn’t… and damn it, it hurts.

Life. Goes. On.

I think God, in His divine Love, knew this would be a hard pill for me to swallow, so He orchestrated a way for me to go home one last time before the move. In October, I strongly felt that I needed to go home after I return from Asia; as my place to rest and figure out my life. I moved to the Philippines directly after graduating college and I haven’t had the mental capacity since then to plan out a blueprint of my next year. I found an affordable flight that would give me 6 weeks with my family before I’d move back to California. It was a month later that it became clear my family would be moving to Michigan in June, in order for my parents to take on a new role in ministry.

In other words, God had planned out for me to go home before we knew the move would happen. Are you kidding?? It’s humbling to know that unbeknownst to me, God loves me so much that He’d prepare in advance a way for me to get the closure I need.

That being said…

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Knowing my Creator and recognizing His plan to be the best, I hereby choose to not wallow in self-pity over the upcoming changes in my life; but instead to face them head on with my eyes mostly open. I might scrunch my face a little, because I do that sometimes…but I will rely on my Saviour, taking it just one day at a time.

So for today, at least — I am choosing joy.

Missionary Kid Envy

We spent a few hours this afternoon swimming in a spring located on a former SIL center about 10 km from our house. Not far for a quick escape on a hot day (yes, hot day on December 5th). As we were driving down the little dirt road that led to the property, visions of my childhood on our SIL center in Oaxaca creeped into mind. Then I found myself imagining what life would have been like had my parents chosen to be missionaries here, in Asia Pacific, rather than Latin America. After visiting this property, I’m telling you what — we, the missionary kids of Oaxaca, Mexico got GYPPED.

It was the most perfect MK stomping ground I’ve ever seen in my life. Orchards of fruit trees for the climbing, tall swing sets, rolling meadows of green goodness, and a clear, refreshing, and deep spring on the same property; complete with a diving board. All they were lacking was a rope swing! I am irrefutably jealous of the missionary kids who got to call this heavenly place home.

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This was my attempt at drowning the Moffit kids. I told them to stop moving so I could take a picture, but every time they’d stop moving, they’d sink. Muahaha.

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Neo’s new favourite face to make.

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Yes. This definitely ended how you'd think it would.

This definitely ended how you’d think it would. It hurts me to look at it very long.

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This picture pretty much encompasses the MK life. I love everything about it. All 4 kids passed out in the boot of the truck after swimming all afternoon.

¡Viva La Independencia!

I live in a country where people will find any excuse to have a party. I hate it. It’s not in my nature at all. However, I am finding myself a lot more inspired to find reasons to celebrate life! Because it is Mexican Independence Day, I’m planning a full-on ‘grito’ celebration for these Asian-raised children who may never get a chance to experience the real thing — unless I get my say in the matter of them coming to visit me in Oaxaca. So I am going to go out on a wire to celebrate my home country, though I am far away, with a few alterations:

  1. We do not have local beauty queens to sing the national anthem horribly off-key, (although we all know I qualify – puh-lease).
  2. We do not have enough people to make a parade worthwhile, no cowboys to ride into town on their horses, and definitely no impressive fireworks.
  3. Although it can be easily arranged, I have chosen to veto the tradition of smashing flour-filled eggs on each others’ heads. You’re welcome, Belinda. That alteration is dedicated to you.

This year, my family will be celebrating Mexican Independence Day from 5 different countries. I don’t know how much each of the family members outside of Mexico will be able to celebrate, but I (family rep for Southeast Asia) have planned a cultural immersion evening; latino music and a Oaxacan feast with all the food we would typically have on the night of the Grito. Horchata, tacos, churros, and platanos fritos (fried plantains)! It will be my first attempt at trying to make all these dishes from scratch and so far away from all the ingredients I need. With all the Asian twists I’ll have to give it, it’s not promised to be very authentic, but it will at least temporarily satisfy my cravings.

How can you not love how festive they are for special days!

How can you not love how festive they are!

Most MKs have difficulty answering the question, “Where are you from?” For me, that question is easy. No matter how long I’ve lived outside of Oaxaca, I have always considered it to be my home. Although I will confess, some days I don’t feel like divulging my entire story to a stranger when they’re just trying to be polite, so I’ve come up with a short answer: “About an hour north of LA”. The difficulty lies in when they ask further questions about my schooling and family, then I have to fess up that I only lived in Simi Valley for 2 years. When people hear I grew up south of the border and notice my skin colour, I just know I’m not going to get out of that conversation for a good 15 minutes; and truthfully, sometimes I just don’t want to talk about it.

Do you ever wish your life were more boring so people would be less intrigued??

I sometimes feel like I’m alone in that sentiment…

I miss my Oaxaca sunsets with all my heart.

Although I’ve seen my fair share of the world, nothing holds my heart like this place.

En todo el mundo no puedes encontrar a una gente mas patriótico ni mas amable que los Méxicanos, y me siento orgullosa de ser considerado uno de ellos. Extraño celebrar este día tan especial con los que amo mas en todo el mundo. ¡Un día regresaré y celebraremos el Día de Independencia juntos otra vez! ¡¡¡¡Viva México cabrones!!!!