Dear 2009 me…

So it’s been popular lately to post a before/after of the last decade as we round out the 2010’s (that feels weird to type!). There’s something so striking about these images and the transformation that can occur over a decade, but it also had me wondering about how these people had changed mentally, emotionally, and/or spiritually over the last ten years. You know, it’s on the inside that counts and so on and so forth, yada yada.

Well I can’t ask everyone that because people tend to think it’s too personal, so I did some self reflecting. At this point in 2009, I was a senior in high school. My hair was bigger, my waist was smaller, and I would say that I was only moderately satisfied with my life. There was a lot I was about to embark on and what a wild ride it’s been. So here goes…

Dear 2009 me, 

High school sucks. Mom was right when she told you not to peak yet (you haven’t, don’t worry). The rumors, the friendships, the betrayals – they feel like a lot now but soon they won’t matter. In ten years, everyone will be on the same playing field and no one will care anymore about who partied and who didn’t and who was “cool” and who wasn’t. It’s pretty nice, actually. You’ll discover that for the most part, everyone turns out to be a pretty decent human being.

I’ve got a secret though… pay special attention to the cute red head that is about to waltz into your life. Well, I already know that you DO pay special attention to him, but enjoy the moment. He’s going to set your life on a completely different trajectory. Hint, hint: you aren’t going to study theater in college and you will end up living down the street from mom and dad. As much as you think you’d like to live as far away from them as possible, this is much better.

These next ten years are going to be really difficult. Long distance relationships, ministry, loss, heartache. But it will change you. You will no longer care about things that you don’t need to care about. Your perspective will be eternal and that will be difficult at times but amazing at others. You will be angry at God (often) and He will always be with you. You’ll learn that He does give you more than you can handle and sometimes things don’t happen for any reason other than we live in a broken world.

The road to becoming a mom will look different than you want it to. Even after you have two precious girls in your home, your heart will ache for the babies who aren’t with you. You’ll learn about things like infertility, miscarriage, prematurity, and the NICU – words that I don’t think have every really crossed your mind.

Like I said, these next ten years will be one hard thing after another. But you’ll also learn what true unconditional, sacrificial love looks like. You’ll find amazing friends who rally around you. You’ll gain a husband that spoils you by doing things like cooking and cleaning the house. One day, ten years from now, your miracle two year old will grab your face, look you in the eyes, murmur a bunch of nonsense and give you a big sloppy kiss. And the rest of the world will melt away. Oh how wonderful these last ten years have been.

Here’s to the next ten.

xo, Rachel

P.S. Here’s my ten year comparison – oy!

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Tis the Season for DIY!

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Cricut. The opinions and text are all mine.

Y’all. I discovered Cricut machines last year and I was ob.sessed. All those cute DIY projects you see on Pinterest but thought you could never recreate?? YOU CAN! And you don’t have to have a creative bone in your body!

So naturally, I needed one of my own! I just received the most beautiful Cricut Explore Air 2 and started playing as soon as it came in. Here are five things I love about it so far!

1. Easy to use!

This machine is super simple. Turn a dial to indicate which material you are using, load the machine, and viola! It also has a fast mode which makes DIY projects 2x faster! I was a little intimidated at first but it truly does all of the work for you.

2. The variety of materials you can use.

This machine cuts over 100 materials! I most frequently use vinyl but I’m so excited to experiment with other materials for future projects! I think my next project will be personalized cardstock gift tags for Christmas…

3. Design Space

The Cricut Design Space makes it so simple to create designs from your computer OR an app on your phone or iPad. Design Space organizes your projects into mats and printing your design is as easy as plugging into the Explore Air 2.

4. The color!

It might seem silly to love the color of a machine but my Explore Air 2 is a beautiful emerald color that goes perfectly with other decor in the room. The color choices make your machine feel like it was made just for you!

5. The writing tool

Not only does the Explore Air 2 cut different materials, you can also attach a pen and it will WRITE FOR YOU! No more attempting pretty handwriting – all you need to do is load the pen and it will write in any font you select. This was a game changer for me.

Moral of the story, this machine is fantastic and you absolutely need one for yourself!

Do you have a Cricut?? Leave your favorite projects in the comments below!

Comments submitted may be displayed on other websites owned by the sponsoring brand.

a gift guide for the men in your life!

Men can be hard to shop for, but I think I’ve found some gifts the men in your life will be excited to open. Well, as excited as they get at least – which for Bryan means I’ll get an “Oh, cool!”

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1. Air Fryer // 2. Carry-On Garment Bag // 3. Neck Massager // 4. Cole Haan Sneakers // 5. Nike Vest // 6. Yeti Cooler // 7. Counterman Beard Regimen // 8. Grill Grates

1. Why are men so obsessed with fried things? Who knows, but this air fryer will be a huge hit for sure!

2. Ok I have a lot of friends whose husbands travel and Bryan has started traveling more now that Press is expanding. This Carry-On Garment Bag is classy AF and holds all of the things someone would need for a few days away! There’s a place for hanging clothes, shoes, folded clothes, laptop, etc.

3. Ok I found this Neck Massager through blogger, Dani Austin! It looks hilarious but gets amazing reviews! Bryan is literally always asking for a back rub so maybe I can get out of that now – ha!

4. Who doesn’t love a good pair of sneaks? These Cole Haan Sneakers are nice quality and can be dressed up or down.

5. Ok this Nike Vest is a little funky but occasionally I like to help Bryan think out of the box a bit!

6. I don’t really get the whole cooler phenomenon either but apparently getting a Yeti Cooler is THE gift for guys!

7. Men deserve great (and safe!) skin care too! A good start would be the Counterman Beard Regimen – and there are products for our non-bearded friends too!

8. Ok I asked Bryan for ONE recommendation and he said Grill Grates . Apparently normal grill grates have to be replaced and these are aluminum or something which essentially means they’re made out of grilling gold and will last through the apocalypse. So I think I know what I’ll be getting Bryan for Christmas!

 

Good luck shopping!

xo, Rachel

baby, toddler, + kid gift guides!

Have I mentioned that gifts are my favorite? Listen, I appreciate the sentiment of “Let’s focus on the reason for the season and go gift free this year!” but I also know that some people (hi, me!) love giving gifts. It’s important to focus on quality over quantity for me, but some people do tons of little gifts and that’s ok too. There is not a right or wrong answer when it comes to gift giving – do what is best for you and your family.

That being said, here are my favorite gifts for babies, toddlers, + kids!

*Disclaimer – some links below are affiliate links. That means I’ll make a small commission if you purchase via that link! Just trying to feed the family 😉 

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1. kyte baby sleep sack // 2. books books books! // 3. black and white cards // 4. walker // 5. sophie rattle // 6. baby essentials bundle // 7. bath toys // 8. activity table

1. This kyte baby sleep sack is THE COZIEST thing I have ever felt. It’s nice and long so I think it’ll definitely fit Emmy next year too. Did I mention it’s SO COZY???

2. I will never not suggest books books books! Yes, even for the little babes. Just the presence of books in the home has such a huge impact on student success later on. and there are so many good ones out there – we love “Beautiful Oops!”

3. Because baby’s sight is still developing, these high contrast black and white cards are perfect for your wee littles!

4. And as they start to grow and walk, this walker will be great! I love that it also comes with blocks so it’s multifunctional!

5. Need something to keep the baby entertained while you sneak a quick shower?? The sophie rattle will do that for you! I don’t know why babies love Sophie so much but I love that this rattle is more interactive than the regular Sophie.

6. Have someone who likes to buy practical gifts? The baby essentials bundle is perfect for that!

7. Bath toys are always a hit in this house! Be forewarned – these toys might lead to wanting to take a 45 minute bath!

8. Finally, this activity table has taken us through Lainey as a infant, transitioned to a regular table when she was a toddler, and is now back to an activity seat for Emmy! We love it so much, my parents bought one for their house too!

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1. wooden toy sets  // 2. nugget couch // 3. alphabet puzzle // 4. books!!! // 5. coloring book and markers // 6. wooden rocker // 7. dress up set or this one! // 8. tricycle

1. I might completely regret this but I think Lainey would love this wooden drum set! I love wooden toy sets  because they don’t clash with my decor – ha!

2. Ok, the nugget couch is a cult favorite and is often sold out! I’d suggest signing up for email notifications if you are interested in snagging one.

3. Lainey loves her alphabet puzzle and I love this one that comes with the upper and the lower case letters.

4. Have I mentioned that kids of all ages should be surrounded with books??

5. I found this coloring book and markers recently and fell in love! It’s wipeable so the kiddos can color to their hearts content and then wipe it off and color some more. Genius.

6. We also recently got this wooden rocker which is the perfect toy for Lainey to grow in to.

7. I just can’t with how cute these dress up sets are! I like this dress up set or this one!

8. Lainey could spend all day outside! I think she would love this tricycle!

 

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1. swing // 2. osmo for iPad // 3. magnetic tiles // 4. pogo stick // 5. books! // 6. ozobot // 7. pixel art kit // 8. puzzles and board games

1. You can’t beat some quality outdoor swinging time! Our neighbors have this swing and we sneak over and use it sometimes! It’s so fun!

2. This interactive osmo for iPad kit is a great way to use technology in a purposeful way!

3. Everyone in this house loves magnetic tiles (Bryan most of all)! They are another great gift for any age.

4. Did y’all have a pogo stick when you were growing up?? I used to love this thing and think it would make a great present this Christmas!

5. Am I a broken record yet?? You should get your kids some books! The DogMan series is extremely popular and the newest book is available for pre-order now. It comes out December 10 so it’ll be here in time for Christmas!

6. Want to teach your kids how to code? The ozobot is the best beginner coding robot for kids! You don’t need a device to operate it – just use the markers that it comes with. My students, kinder to sixth grade, all love it!

7. Got someone on your list who is into art? I love this pixel art kit because it has endless possibilities!

8. Finally, good ole’ puzzles and board games – you can’t go wrong! This tetris  puzzle could keep the kiddos entertained for a while!

 

Non-gift gifts: 

We are asking for gymnastics lessons for Lainey from my parents! Lessons can be pricey so it makes for a great gift!

Other ideas include:

  • a membership of some sort (zoo, museum, arboretum)
  • babysitting (ok this one is for mom and dad)
  • a subscription service like Literati, KiwiCo, etc.

 

Obviously this list is not exhaustive, but I hope it helps you get some ideas for the smaller people in your life!

xo, Rachel

IT’S GIFT GUIDE SZN!

Y’all. I love gifts. I love giving them, I love receiving them, I love picking out gifts. My love language is gifts (in case you couldn’t tell!) and I’m super PUMPED to put these gift guides together!

Over the next few weeks I’ll be putting together guides for…

  • Babies, toddlers, and kids
  • Grandparents
  • Teachers
  • The men and women in your life
  • Those who are impossible to shop for!
  • And obviously – gifts for you!

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GET EXCITED!!!

xo, Rachel

What do I register for?!

Big Things:

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Why this one? Well we originally registered for and received another stroller and ended up trading it in for the City Select when we were planning on fostering. The City Select has so many different options – one seat, two seats, standing board, car seat adapter, etc. It can comfortably carry up to 3 kiddos (two sitting and one standing) so it grows really well with you!

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The Snap-N-Go is great for quick trips when you are still using the infant car seat. It folds up well and is easy to open/close. I still use this a lot when I’m only with Emmy!

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I love this backpack diaper bag! There are plenty of pockets inside to stay organized, an insulated pocket in the front for bottles, and comfortable padded straps. I feel like it’s easier to carry than a one shoulder bag.

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I love that this monitor can be easily moved and attached to different places! We had both of the girls in our room before moving them and this can easily go back and forth. Before they can stand and grab, it attaches to the crib and once they are crazy toddlers that destroy everything at bedtime (what? I have no experience with this… ;)), you can move it out of reach.

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So the Dock-A-Tot has been great for both of our girls. I will say that they provide a message on safe sleeping that is very helpful and to consult a pediatrician if you have concerns. The AAP says baby should be alone, on their back, and in a crib. We do use the DAT to co-sleep with Emmy because she’s been such a colicky baby and it was safer than holding her all night. With Lainey we pretty much only used it for naps. It was also great while traveling on long flights! On the way to Hawaii, we just laid her across our laps and she slept most of the way.

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Did I know that I could be in love with a diaper pail?! Enter Ubbi. This thing seriously traps in oder like a magical diaper fairy and you can use regular trash bags with it.

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We use the Hatch for Lainey. It has a lot of fancy features that we don’t quite need yet (OK to wake, can be programmed to do different colors/sounds at different times, etc.) and it’s really pretty. Emmy doesn’t really use a sound machine but in the beginning we just got this portable hushh and it was great.

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This carrier is awesome. It is easy enough for anyone to use and it’s super stylish. I’m a fan!

 

Smaller Things:

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1. Nursing Supplies/Bottles/Bottle cleaning

Again totally depends on you and your baby but here are some of the things I love: bottles + breast milk storage, hands free pump bra, and a bottle brush.

2. Boppy

Great for nursing mamas. We also used for elevated tummy time or just lounging before they could really sit up well.

3. Swaddles

Which ones? Well, probably one of each unfortunately. And the one that works well for your first won’t work well for your second so just keep them all stashed until you’re done having babies!

4. Feeding items/cups

These are good for as your baby grows. Not breakable, dishwasher safe, fun colors.

5. Wubbanub

Makes it so easy to keep track of which paci belongs to which child!

6. Bath Items

We like this bath and this bath wash and these bath thingys and minimal toys.

7. Bedding

Hands down Burt’s Bees is my favorite ever.

8. Car Seat Mirrors

How did people survive without these?! So comforting being able to check for breathing every 10 seconds in the car too.

9. Books

All the books! Here’s a list of some of our faves.

10. DIAPERS/Wipes

If there was one thing I could tell you to register for it would be DIAPERS. Because it sucks to spend your own money on them! Use your own money to buy the fun stuff!

 

Things I thought I’d use but didn’t:

A crap ton of burp cloths/bibs – is there another piece of fabric close by? good enough!

Bumbo – maybe I’ll use it more with Emmy but I never used it with Lainey

Walkers – these aren’t recommended anymore. We did have a play table that we used occasionally but push walkers were more entertaining for Lainey.

Baby mittens or socks – can people actually keep those on?! If so, I’m impressed.

 

Favorite Girl Shops:

Baby Bling

MerciBowCoup

June and January

Smocked Auctions

Little Unicorn

L’oved Baby

 

xo, Rachel

3 Things I Love About My Wood Watch

I think one of the biggest marks of #adulting is owning a fancy watch, amiright?! Enter: JORD watches (pronounced yode which totally threw me off but I digress).

The watch I got is the Cassia series – Walnut & Vintage Rose. I love the coloring on it and how easily it can be dressed up or down!

  1. Timeless & Inexpensive: For $199, the Cassia is a timeless piece (ba-dum-chhh). My packaged included this cute little watch pillow and box for storage, a cleaning cloth, extenders (because life gets ya sometimes), and their own wood preserving brush! 

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  1. Customizable: JORD also has so many customizable options. The huge selection  and ability to customize  makes JORD a great place to look for gifts! Custom  professional sizing & personalized engraving is available on watch back plates as  well as cedar humidor display boxes. Generous returns and exchanges, free worldwide  shipping, along with great warranties make purchases for loved ones worry-free. I’m thinking of getting an engraved watch for Bryan for our anniversary next year (10 years together!!!).IMG_4627

     

  2. Unique Watch Features: My watch has a modern watch face with a vintage feel, making it very unique, versatile, and easy to wear on any occasion. The roman, concave dial and domed sapphire crystal also adds a distinct and beautiful touch to the wood watch that you wouldn’t typically see.IMG_4585

Overall, I’m super pleased and wanted to share the love! The best part?! You could win a $100 credit toward any JORD watch! Just follow THIS LINK to enter – super easy! 

Good luck! xo, Rachel

 

Nordstrom Anniversary Sale Knock-Offs

Ok, listen, your girl can’t pass up a sale so I did the thing that millions of basic girls did this week (insert eye roll): I went to the #nsale.

And you know what? I wasn’t that impressed. I found a few things that I liked but even on sale they were pricey and I’m just not at a point where I feel the need to buy a ton of staples that will last forever because “forever” with kids is like a week! That being said, I did find a few things that I think are worth the purchase and then a few things that are better as a knock-off! I’ll share things I found in store and online.

In store:

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Nikes from the sale – originally $130, on sale for $96 // Amazon Tennis Shoes – $32
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ECCO Soft 7 III Slip-on Sneaker – originally $150, on sale for $99 // Old Navy Leather Slip-on – $25
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1.State Celvin Sandal – originally $98, on sale for $$60 // Target Sandal – $25
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Blondo Lidia Bootie – originally $150, on sale for $99 // Amazon Booties – $25
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Madewell Stripe Top – originally $72, on sale for $48 // Amazon Stripe Top – $20
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Top Shop Cardigan – originally $68, on sale for $45 // Amazon Cardi – $35
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The North Face Rain Jacket – originally $120, on sale for $90 // Amazon Rain Jacket – $24
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Treasure & Bond Sweater – originally $79, on sale for $50 // Amazon Sweater – $20
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Thermal Henley Top – originally $59, on sale for $39 // Amazon Henley Top – $18
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All in Favor Twist Top – originally $29, on sale for $19 // Amazon Twist Top – $14
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Denim Mini Skirt – originally $55, on sale for $36 // Old Navy Mini Skirt – $25 + 40% off

Dark Wash Jeans: Rag & Bone – originally $250, on sale for $167 //  Gap – $70

Mid Wash Jeans: AG – originally $225, on sale for $150 // Gap – $70

Also Pictured: Amazon Headband, AE Shorts

Worth Buying from Nordstrom:

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1. Natori Bra – originally $66, on sale for $44 // 2. V-Neck T-Shirt – originally $15, on sale for $12 // 3. Spanx Undies – originally $24, on sale for $16 // 4. Hanky Panky Undies – originally $22, on sale for $17

Can you tell that I think undergarments are worth the money?! I think they are the key to looking good in any outfit. I also ask my mom for Hanky Panky Undies for Christmas every year even as a 27 year old woman. 🙂

Online:

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42 Gold Woven Loafer Mule – originally $79, on sale for $50 // AE Woven Mule – $15
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Gray Single Pass Curling Iron – originally $160, on sale for $107 // Hot Tools Curling Iron – $50
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Slip Silk Pillowcase – originally $170, on sale for $119 // Amazon Silk Pillowcase – $24
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Nadri Necklace – originally $85, on sale for $57 // Etsy Necklace – $18

And of course, Emmy had to do her own Nordstrom try on! She only got one thing – our favorite bows: Baby Bling!

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Happy Shopping! xo, Rachel

 

7 poolside must haves this summer!

1. A good sunscreen

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1. Beautycounter // 2. Think Baby // 3. Bare Republic // 4. Alba Botanica // 5. Supergoop!

Sunscreen is essential by the pool, lake, ocean, long walks, etc. I’m sure we all know someone who has been affected by skin cancer so put that sunscreen on! Also, who wants to look all leathery and wrinkly when they’re older?! Take care of the skin you have.

2. A good self-tanner

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1. Supergoop! Sunless Tan // 2. Coola Sunless Tan // 3. Isle of Paradise Tanning Mouse // 4. Isle of Paradise Tanning Drops // 5. Isle of Paradise Tanning Mitt

We know the importance of sunscreen, but we want to look sun kissed too. Enter: self-tanner!

3. A swimsuit that makes you feel like a rockstar

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1. Summersalt // 2. J. Crew // 3. Aerie // 4. Madewell

You ARE a rockstar. You deserve to feel that way no matter what you are wearing. I’m a one-piece fan but find what makes you feel great and rock that swimsuit, dammit!

4. Pool-safe glassware for your summer cocktails

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1. Wine Tumbler // 2. Pineapple Cup // 3. Teal Tumbler // 4. Silicon Wine Glass

Laying by the pool means you need something to help cool you down. Whether that’s a cocktail or mocktail, you’ll want to make sure your glass isn’t actually made of glass.

5. Post swim haircare

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1. O&M Surf Bomb // 2. Briogeo Replenishing Shampoo // 3. Honest Detangler // 4. Reverie Anti-Frizz Treatment // 5. Briogeo Deep Conditioning Mask

Chemicals in the pool can be harsh on our hair, so make sure you add plenty of extra moisture and maybe a mask after pool time.

6. Fun sunglasses + hats!

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1. Straw Hat // 2. Chambray Hat // 3. Rainbow Sunglasses // 4. Heart Sunglasses // 5. Tortoise Shell Sunglasses 

I’m a fan of fun shaped sunglasses, even though my husband makes fun of me. You do you, babe.

7. Reading material

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1. Kindle Paper white // 2. Again, But Better // 3. Magazine Subscription // 4. Pool Book Float

The kindle paper white is my favorite way to read poolside. The screen makes it easy to use indoors or out and you can connect it to your library card for unlimited book possibilities!

 

That’s it! Hope y’all are enjoying this summer heat! Xo, Rachel

Deals of the week!

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1. J. Crew Beaded tassel earrings – 50% off plus another 20% with code 1DAYONLY

2. Amazon Fire Stick with Alexa – $40 (normally $50!) and would be great for Father’s Day!

3. Old Navy Toddler T-shirts – starting at $4 – we have a ton!

4. O.R.G. Skincare Oxygen Cleanser with Collagen – $22 (50% off!)

5. Jesus Storybook Bible – $10 (normally $19) Lainey loves this Bible and it makes me cry every time we read it!

6. Basic kimono – $24 (originally $48)