Why your girlfriends are so important.

girlfriends maggie whitley

Three years ago, shortly after we moved to Los Angeles from Minneapolis, I found myself meeting up with Joanna. We hadn’t yet met, so you could say it was an “internet friend blind date”. (We had a mutual friend in Minneapolis that insisted we connect.)

One morning, while I was about 6 months pregnant with Maxwell, we met for coffee. And traditional to going on a blind date, I knew nothing about her, however per her confession (years later!) she had thoroughly read my blog beforehand ;) and knew everything about me!!!

Joanna and I met at a local cafe and settled in on their patio, which had many outdoor heaters. Many. (Extra emphasis on the many, because you know, southern California is cold in October.) With hot drinks in hand, we began chatting, and then said aloud to each other — at nearly the same time, Are you hot, because I am sweating!

And then we burst out laughing, knowing (I’m sure of it) that we were going to be the best of friends. #Midwestgirlsatheart

Not too much time later we both had a friend that “you just have to meet,” and suddenly we were a group of four. As someone who thrives on being in community, these women, Joanna, Rhiannon & Cristina, have become a lifeline to me in Los Angeles.

We talk about “all the topics” when we’re together, from pregnancy (and all it’s struggles), marriage, beauty, writing, travel, creativity, books, and finances. In fact, I’m sure people sometimes wish they didn’t overhear our conversations ;)

I’ve always trusted God to provide me with the right kind of community, exactly where we live, but to have it so continually — through all the highs & lows of life and parenthood and womanhood, has made me feel so cared for.

A time when I’ve felt the most-grateful to have this group of girlfriends? The first few months as I transitioned into my role as a mama of two babes. Those were hard months. I still remember. Obviously, because I hadn’t ever done that before, but also because there were so many hearts to be caring for, all at the same time — my heart included. Many times I fell back on this realization: the best way to get through “it” was to try and try again, but it’s so refreshing to have my girlfriends walk alongside me while I try. (Some things just need to be experienced, right? But that doesn’t mean we have to experience them alone.)

park maggie whitley

Our girlfriend group has grown from 2 kids to 6 kids, and as Cristina so perfectly explained it last week, it’s such a treat to know we can always count on seeing one other at the beach on Tuesdays. Once summer ends we’ll have to set up a new weekly date so we can continue to problem-solve together :)

“A friend is someone who knows the song in your heart and can sing it back to you when you have forgotten the words.”

PS. a fun (unplanned) fact: we all had babies in 2014! And can you believe Natalie will be turning One in October?

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A trick to having a smooth weekend (with kids).

zack maxwell maggie whitley

natalie maggie whitley

natalie maggie whitley

I’ve found a helpful trick to help our weekends go smoothly, while adding in a bit of fun: once the kids go down for their afternoon nap I get the diaper bag ready. It takes me less than a minute to add a couple water bottles, some snacks, check the diaper stack, and add in a blanket for Natalie. Then we have about two hours to ourselves while they sleep, which can be spent individually or together. When nap time is over we change diapers and get in the Jeep — and head off to a little adventure.

We usually go to the park to play, but splash pads, the Santa Monica promenade, or a family-themed errand (visiting “the camping store”), is also fun. Knowing we have a destination in mind, and we aren’t wasting minutes trying to figure out what we should do, is so helpful. Like, so very helpful. The kids are young, and while I don’t want that to be an excuse for not going out and doing fun things with them, I know it’s a little impractical to try to do too much with the time frames we have. (Every once in a while we skip Natalie’s morning nap and do something totally different, and I’m grateful she’s so flexible.)

Once we’re back home, dinner is on the table within 20 minutes because I’ve done some prep work beforehand. On Saturday we had crockpot chicken fajitas, so I made some Mexican rice while Zack bathed the kids. Then it was dinner, story time/quiet play, and bed.

That’s my plan: tire them out and feed them well, before sending them off to bed ;)

It works every time, and we all go to bed feeling so happy.

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Babies, books, and going on dates!

Natalie Maxwell maggie whitley

Where in the world have the last two years and four months GONE? Max and Natalie are growing like adorable weeds (comparison photo from last month) and more & more often at night I find myself choking up while putting them to bed. They are so precious and fun to be around, I am loving their current ages so much. I don’t know what’s better, seeing Max walk over to Natalie so he can cup her cheeks and coo in her face, or watching her eyes light up as Max talks to her. They are both absolutely amazing.

Natalie Maxwell maggie whitley

We’ve been going to the park in the morning nearly every day, which I’m all HELLO, three hour naps — for both of them! (#momwin) Their long naps mean I can sit down with a book and basically watch the clock tick by, a dream! I put together a list of recent books I’ve read, but I’d love to know in the comments below any suggestions you have for me to read next. For our August book club read we’re reading The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. I started listening to this via audio book and it’s pretty darn great. I can’t wait to go through our apartment and make some changes ;) Watch out Zack.

date zack maggie whitley

And speaking of Zack, he took me on a super fun date last weekend. We stopped for burgers & beer before grabbing an order of ice-cream and eating it on the beach. And you guys, what a treat it was to be alone with him for three hours! (We do babysitting/date swaps with friends.) During that time there were no diaper changes, no one ate sand, and no one fought over beach toys. But we did laugh a lot, and it felt like we were 18 again ;) I loved our date so much, SO MUCH HAPPY!

This weekend we’re heading to the beach as a family (any bets on who’ll eat sand first?), and I’m going on a solo run Saturday morning, which I’ve been looking forward to all week. How about you?

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The difference between Gussy Sews & Caroline-made.

caroline made gussy sews maggie whitley

I received a really great question on Instagram the other day about my two shops, and I thought it was so good that I’m going to answer it here on my blog.

What is the difference between Gussy Sews & Caroline-made?

Gussy Sews is my original handmade shop, the one I started almost seven years ago when we were living in Detroit. Nearly all of the products under this name include our signature ruffle, something I added back in the early stages as a way to set my handmade products apart from other shops/designs. I love the softness the ruffle adds to each product and that they are hand-ruffled (meaning I don’t use a Ruffle Foot on my machine to gather the material). Gussy Sews is an outward example of “you can learn and do hard things” inspiration. The fabrics I use are mostly quilting cotton, are full of color & vibrancy, and carry a cheerful vibe. Gussy Sews’ tagline: bright, colorful tote bags & accessories.

Caroline-made is the “big sister” shop to Gussy Sews and began in 2014. I had a vision for this shop for years prior to launching early last year, so it was a real dream to bring it to fruition while still living in Los Angeles. My goal with CM is to create a product that carries sophistication in it’s designs, while continuing to embrace my love for color. Simple differences, like stitching a suede label to the front side of each product and using (gorgeous) metal YKK zippers have been so fun. I use exclusive designer fabrics, something I absolutely love offering. Caroline-made’s tagline: pretty accessories for the modern, sophisticated gal. By the way, Caroline is my middle name and holds much of my inspiration for opening this shop.

caroline made gussy sews maggie whitley

The differences between the shop are small but mighty, for sure. I’m so glad a reader asked for more information because I totally agree, what sets Gussy Sews apart from Caroline-made may be unclear at first glance, but the overall aesthetic is hugely different.

Here are two more Cliff Notes differences: Gussy Sews features ruffles and a crazy (fun) amount of color, Caroline-made is a gorgeous mix of sophistication and style.

And in case you’re curious, I’ve written even more about my handmade story here, including how I learned how to sew, the moves my family has experienced (MI, MN, CA), and traveling to Tanzania, Africa with Compassion International in 2012.

PS. One of the products featured in this post will be released exclusively to my email newsletter community — exciting! To learn WHEN and HOW to buy, along with general Gussy Sews & Caroline-made shop updates, join here:

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