Happy Third Birthday, Skylor!

Three years ago I waddled into the labor and delivery room at 8pm, praying I was over 5cm dilated. I had been walking around at 4cm for two weeks and taking care of a toddler like that is exhausting! Sure enough I was at a 6 and admitted. About 4 hours later with a push, a laugh and a smile you were here! Born at 37 weeks you were a whopping 8lbs 6 ounces! I was in awe at how easy it all was this time around!

From the beginning Sky has always been an easy, go with the flow baby. He was easy to feed, easy to soothe, and easy to put down for bed.  I wore him everywhere we went, he rarely got upset and took Tracen's 2 year old rough housing like a champ. He will play in his crib for hours, reading books, and playing with his stuffed animals. When he's ready he will yell for you to come get him, giddy with excitement he always says I SO HAPPY TO SEE YOU!

His personality shines through his smile but he's very mellow kid (this may sound like an oxymoron but it's not!) He hates the sun, is very much a homebody, quite the opposite of a true Leo baby! His emotions are big when he is enjoying something, he will squeal with excitement about it being soooooo good or sooooo fun! When you're not expecting it, he will say I need a hug and hug you so hard and smile afterwards. He loves Ducati and Jerek the most, would lay around on the couch with them for days if he could. 

Sky is sweet and light hearted, a lover of food and smiles! Everyone always says Tracen looks like Jerek but it's uncanny how much Skylor and him look alike at this age! The days go by so fast and I remember this very moment as if it was yesterday! I can't believe you are already three baby Sky Sky!

Sometimes I wonder why I do this to myself! Rummaging through all the old photos and videos makes me so incredibly emotional! But also SO happy that I've been documenting it all and not just via photos but through videos too. Videos show stories and emotions that can sometimes be lost in photos years later. We are having his party on Sunday and surprising him with a new helmut and scooter! Like most things with second kids, he gets a lot of hand me downs. I figured hopefully something shiny and new will up his excitement and maybe get him to walk again. He got his cast off last week and has yet to walk, so fingers crossed!

Happy birthday Skylor Vance, to the littlest of my house of boys!

A Weekend in Nashville

At the beginning of June I planned a belated 30th birthday trip for Jerek and I to go on. His birthday was the day before we left for Mexico and since we were busy getting ready I felt like we didn't properly celebrate. Having a destination wedding and already having kids we didn't have a 'normal honeymoon' like a lot of people do. We had an amazing wedding and trip as a family but I knew we would want some alone time for a couple days so I planned a little get away!

I looked into a ton of different cities but kept coming back to Nashville. I had been watching Alex's vlogs while she lived in Nashville and had been chatting with Helene about places to go and decided Nashville was it! I wanted a place we could drive to in a weekend but really was hoping to score some cheap flights. For some reason flights out of Michigan were hella expensive so we drove. Jerek didn't know where we were going until the day before we left. It was SUPER hard keeping it a secret too!
We dropped the kids off at his parents Thursday night and we drove half way and stayed in Columbus for the night. We got up bright and early and finished the drive and arrived in Nashville just in time for lunch. First stop was The Flipside. Helene had raved about the Bloody Mary's here but we were starving so we ordered lunch and a beer and enjoyed the open windows and sunshine.
I had most things for the weekend planned out like a pure nutcase. I legit had all the places I wanted to eat and drink at for every meal, snack and cocktail! I knew that I didn't want to play our standard 'where do you want to go? I don't know, where do you want to go?' game because we ALWAYS play it and no one wants to do that on a vacation with a limited timeframe!
We went down the road to have a cocktail at Urban Grub which was cute, trendy and hipster all at once, that's a thing right? After a delicious grapefruit craft beer we headed to our cute little Airbnb to check in and drop our stuff off.

We swam and relaxed by the pool for a bit and then got ready to go back out to the bars to listen to some live music and grab a bite to eat. I didn't have any specific plans for dinner (shocking!) so we wondered in and out of restaurants listing to music having a drink and then moving on to the next bar. Basically we bar hopped and I don't really do that anymore but it felt great! It was nice not to have to shovel food down your throat because someone is about to loose their shit!

There was a downpour for a bit so we posted up in a bar and waited the rain out; chatting, cheers-ing beers and indulging in apps. I got a little drunk and thought it was absolutely insane that you could walk diagnal (IE: Jay walk) and had to vlog us doing so but kept calling it "digitalling." You can watch the vlog here to laugh at me further! We called for an uber (get a free ride when you click the link and sign up) and were back in the Airbnb by midnight; party animals I tell ya!

Saturday morning we woke up and got ready to head out, I had the entire day planned. First stop was a coffee shop that people always rave about called The Frothy Monkey. We got there just in time because the line was out the door once we got our coffee! After we were caffeinated we headed downtown to a place called Another Broken Egg where I got THE best black bean bendict!
Downtown Nashville was amazing in the morning. The streets were insanely clean and live music was being played everywhere, even at 10am, it was awesome! We walked around and popped in an out of shops. We jumped back in our car and headed to Cumberland Pedestrian Bridge where we long boarded under tunnels and over bridges. This was also where I jumped off my longboard going way too fast, slipped on the dewy grass and gashed my knee up really bad. I taped a women's pad around my knee and we kept going #bosslady.
We headed to John Seigenthaler bridge for a standard Nashville tourist picture and within seconds of taking the photo it started to down pour so we ran back to our car and headed to Centennial Park to see the Parthenon replica. We walked around for a bit and stumbled upon a cute college bar called Jeds, where there were games of bags being played and cute dogs lounging on the patio. We had a couple cocktails and again, soaked in the sun and the fact that we weren't rushed to be anywhere at any time.
We headed back to the 12 South area for a late lunch at Bar Taco. A place I kept hearing about and the tacos were as good as I expected. They reminded me of Imperial in Ferndale (if you live in Southeast Michigan and frequent that fine fine establishment you'll understand!) We attempted to ride off all the food we ate by renting city bikes and headed to Las Paleta’s for a home made Popsicle, those also didn't disappoint!
Back to the Airbnb we went to take a nap, shower and get ready for dinner. If you're wondering if we did anything besides eat the answer is yes, we also drank. As I've gotten older my absolute favorite thing to do is to enjoy good food and good company and I'm pretty partial to Jerek so the two went hand in hand. We weren't really feeling the downtown Nashville bar scene (IE: grandma status) again so we went to a beer garden and burger joint called The Pharmacy. The outdoor seating area was what everyone dreams about. Bistro lights hung in all directions, large picnic tables and greenery everywhere, it was glorious. We hailed an uber back and face planted in bed since we had to be up early for the long drive back home.

Sunday morning wasn't glamorous, we packed up and started the 8 hour drive back home to the boys. Thankfully we didn't hit any construction or traffic, which I'm still not sure HOW we pulled that one off but we did!

Over all the trip was exactly what I hoped it would be! It was fun and relaxing, romantic and semi spontaneous and exactly what we needed, a weekend just devoted to Jerek and I. If you haven't seen the travel vlog of the weekend you can check it out here or below to see everything I talk about but with your own two eyes!

I hope you enjoyed our weekend recap, although its been almost two months, sorry about that! If you are contemplating spending a weekend in Nashville I highly suggest finding an Airbnb, they are MUCH cheaper than any hotel you will find downtown. Take Uber's, so you don't have to pay for parking or fight the masses to find spots downtown. It costs us about $5 to and from our rental; much cheaper than a DUI or parking tickets! Go with plans but also be open to wandering around the beautiful city and taking in the charm Nashville has!

We'll be back Nashville and with a whole new list of places to eat at!

Weekend Wrapup

Every Sunday without fail, we will utter, but I don't want the weekend to end! This weekend was no exception. I started Friday off by not putting clothes on for work and working at home since Skylor isn't going to daycare till his cast is off (5 more days!) I only had one lash appointment to do Friday so I was done by the time Jerek and Tracen got home. We savagely ate some pizza on our patio and then headed to downtown Birmingham for some froyo and park time before bed. Shain park was filled with kids, first dates and some major Pokemon Go freaks, just head deep in their phones running into fountains and shit. I posted our wedding video with photos on Friday if you haven't seen that you can check that out here. I will have the last Mexico travel video up sometime this week before I get knee deep in wedding's I'm shooting these next few months, so stay tuned!

Saturday we headed Home Depot to grab some random stuff for the garden and flooring that Jerek is working on. I know I can be pretty damn bias'd but Trey and Sky are literally the cutest! Sky kept saying he was cold and the next thing I know I turn around and Tracen had his blanket wrapped around him. I had to stop pushing the cart real quick and snap the photo because I mean, why wouldn't you! I spent the rest of the day hanging out with girlfriend and her son, cleaning the house, doing all the laundry and keeping the kids busy while Jerek worked on the flooring. I think I mentioned this before but we are re-doing the back family room. He's been working on the flooring and has one more small section to finish up but it's looking AMAZING!!! I can not wait to show you before and after photos!

I scooped up some amazing Nordstrom anniversary deals online that I'm excited about! Unlike most store sales, it's not the summer stuff on sale, its the stuff for the fall as a hey here's a preview of the fall stuff, buy me now before it's full price type thing. So I snagged this, this and this! Basic I know, but I have been rocking the capsule wardrobe for 6 months now and if I've learned anything it's to accessorize with hats, shoes and jewelry to change up outfits.

Sunday we got up and headed out to a (free!) splash pad/park with Jerek's sisters and kids to let them all play in the amazing weather we've been having. Since Sky broke his leg I try to not say we can't do things because of it. I found this waterproof cast bag at Walgreen's so I got one and we've been putting it on any time he plays with the water table, goes to the pool, takes a bath or in this case, goes to the splash pad!

We brought our smaller stroller and wheeled him all through the water. He kept saying I having so much fun in da water mommy! He was so genuinely happy it in turn made me really happy. We try and take him to the park and put him on the slide and catch him, walk up the play structure, get him involved and play as much as he can. It's been a very humbling experience and I've realize how lucky we are that this is only a temporary thing, that he isn't permanently unable to walk. We headed to Mbrew for a cocktail on the patio because hashtag summer, and if we're going to be frank here the food was blah and I can buy any Michigan beer they serve at a local store. I don't think we'll be back, with or without kids, sorry Mbrew. We finished off the night with Sunday family dinner at Jerek's parents and I was in bed by 945pm fast asleep!

Hope you had a great weekend, enjoyed the weather and had a patio cocktail or two! I have 3 weddings to film the next 3 weeks so I'm going to be a tad busy but I love it! Don't forget to subscribe to my YouTube channel to be notified when the last Mexico video goes up this week!

xx Chel

This is 30


A massive, huge and ginormous thank you for all the birthday love yesterday, it was greatly appreciated! We spent yesterday getting a new cast for Sky's leg, dropping some serious dough on all new kitchen appliances (#adulting), had a little shopping trip at the mall and then out for dinner and drinks. It was just us two. Nothing elaborate, just us, enjoying time together. 


I had a video edited to go up yesterday recapping the last 10 years but sometimes words are better read than heard. And sometimes it's the opposite, but this time I wasn't feeling the video I created.

I turned thirty yesterday. 

And turning 30 is not something we should fear. We should be excited, thrilled that we’ve gotten this far. As recent events have given us any indication that sometimes getting to thirty isn't promised to everyone.

I think there’s a stigma attached with age and status.
That we should be doing this or having that by a certain age.
And that’s just not reasonable to think that way; it will drive a person crazy.

10 years ago if you asked me where I thought I’d be I’m not sure I really knew.
I was a 20 year old girl in college with a long distance relationship, 18 credit hours every semester and working three jobs just to get by. 
I was pretty sure I knew what adulting felt and looked like at that point in life.

I thought by 30 I'd probably have kids; possibly married.
I never could have imagined it would look like this.
It's better than I thought.

My 20’s were learning years.
They were hard years, but fun years too.

I trucked through years of a separation turned divorce of my parents and a selling of my childhood home. I came home far less then most college kids; home just didn’t feel right to me.
I threw myself into work, school and Jer.

I learned that working three jobs and going to college full-time was exhausting.
School has always been extremely hard for me. No matter how hard I studied and prepared I never seemed to come out on top.
I doubted my ability to graduate college on a daily basis.
But some how I did.

Upon gradation I had no direction of where I wanted to go or what I wanted to "be".

I moved home and I had a internship I worked for free 4 days a week along with 2 paid jobs. I moved in with Jerek and his family and while I was forever grateful for the hospitality I ultimately felt so lost in life.

I broke up with Jerek and moved to California thinking it would help me find myself.
I had no direction left in me, like a compass spinning aimlessly.
I learned that sometimes you need to lose yourself in order to find yourself.
So I packed up my things and ended up moving back home.

A few months later we reconnected and he gave me another chance.
It was what I was looking for the entire time.
Something I had all along but was so lost and plagued by life events I was blinded by it all.
He was my rock. The foundation to my being. He was that last puzzle piece that you thought you lost under the table 
but some how you found it.

A puzzle complete, a smile on your face.

I told my mom I was pregnant on my 25th birthday.
I still didn’t have that career like everyone thought they’d have after college graduation.

We welcomed Tracen into our world a month early and with huge hearts. The NICU tested our ability to think clearly but we managed to get through it.
We started 2011 with a new baby.
We had more bills and less money than we ever had but we were so happy...we had each other.
We both worked multiple jobs to ensure the best life we could have together.
This got us into our careers we have now.

At 26 I had a miscarriage
One week I feared what having 2 under 2 would look like and the next everything was just...gone.
Fear was replaced with sorrow.
Finding the silver lining seemed almost impossible.

I had just turned 27 and then Skylor was born. It was life changing.
Joy was restored after heartache the year before.

Our careers have been on an incline over the last few years and we managed to scrounge up some money and buy our first home together.
A home that feels so good to be in every morning that I open my eyes. Something I haven't felt in a very long time. I've moved every single year since I was 17, I was use to the change. 

So what's next. 

I keep asking myself that very question.

I think my 30’s will be better than my 20’s, in the sense that I’ve gone through a lot of the tough learning stuff already.
But in my 20’s I brought 2 lives into this world and got married...topping that is going to be hard.

In my 30’s I want to travel more. a lot more.
I want to practice patience, lord knows I’ll need when the teen age years hit me.
I want to cook more, be better about what is going into my body.
I want to pay down or better yet pay OFF debt. 

Debt holds you back from living life.

I want to keep dating Jerek. The moment you stop, is the moment you forget why you started.

But most importantly I just want to be present in the moment.
In the day
the hour
in every second. 

Stop saying some day and make today that day.

Cheers to the next ten years.

5 Easy Ways To Save Money


Having kids is expensive! Living in a house full of boys is hella expensive considering they eat so.much.food! I'm also crazy enough that I want to bring more mouths into this house to feed so there's that.

Something I've prided myself on since I moved out of the house at 18 was being savvy on how I made money and also saves money. I'm REALLY good at spending money but I'm also really great at finding ways to cut costs. In college I would sell clothes, return bottles, work extra overtime, anything I needed to allow me to do the things I wanted to do. It's very easy to just cut certain things all out together for the biggest cost savings but I've always patted myself on the back that I was still able to enjoy life and do things that made me happy.

Today I wanted to share with you 5 easy ways I save money but still enjoy luxuries like manicures, cocktails and so much more!
I've become a pro at painting my nails at home. Sure I LOVE to get a mani/pedi from time to time but to shell out $30-$60 once a month or more is something I just can't do. If you want to see my nail polish collection and DIY storage rack you can see it here. Recently I've invested in this gel polish kit that doesn't break the bank and legit ANYONE can do it! It last a good 1-2 weeks before I start picking and peeling it off! Since I can't use regular nail polish for the gel kit I look for BOGO deals at Ulta, Sally's and Target to buy colors I wear all the time. I don't buy colors that I will wear "just" for fun, I invest in the colors I'll wear month after month IE: White, grays, black and reds. You can mix and match any brands with this kit so you are not limited to just buying this brand. I will splurge and get a pedicure a few times a year but 90% of the time I do these at home as well!
Trader Joe's is famous for its 3 buck chuck and Meijer has boxed Sangria that is about $12 for 3 liters! I love making wine spritzers with La Croix and a bunch of fruit in them! Not just because it taste is good but because it also makes the wine last longer. Taste and savings all wrapped into one! And we all want that wine to last longer don't we!

I love the way I look and feel when my skin is nice and golden. Tanning salons are not something I participate in any more, but I do love a great sunless tan! I can't believe the amount of time and money I spent in tanning beds, it's disgusting really. My go to for the last few years is hands down Loving Tan. I've done a whole post here on the color, application, and tips and tricks if you fancy a read. Save your money and your skin and stop going to the tanning booths and get yourself some Loving Tan! A bottle for me last a good two-three months! If you use the code 'eastwillowgrove' at checkout you get a free mitt (something you don't need to buy then too!)
I cut all the boys hair in this house. I've been cutting Jerek's hair since before I can remember and it was a natural thing for me to just keep it going with Tracen and Sky. Sky just got his first proper haircut this past weekend and he looks like a straight up little man, I can't handle it! I worked in a salon years ago as a receptionist and watched so.many.haircuts that I kinda just taught myself, along with the help of YouTube, duh. I use hair clippers with the 1 or 2 guard on for the back/sides and then I point cut the top for all three boys. With all the money I save on their 3 hair cuts every month I get my hair done at the salon about every 10-12 weeks, its a win win! I drag my hair appointments out so I'm not in the salon every 8 weeks, rock the roots baby!

Facials are amazing for your skin but can cost a pretty penny. I keep a few different masks at home on hand at all times so I can pamper myself while I lay on the couch worthless watching Netflix till 2am. I use this, this and this in my regular rotation and when I want to splurge I use this and this. As I age I realize how important skin care is and I'm no longer that 20 something year old that can go to bed with a face full of makeup on and not breakout like I use to be.

As you can see all of these things are luxuries, things you don't need to do to live but they sure can make put a smile on your face and make you feel like a human! Whether you're a broke college student or an exhausted mom doing things for yourself can give you a reset when times get tough. What is not needed is the cost that is associated with these expenses! Perhaps you use to get your nails done every month but are saving for a house, these are ways you can still have your cake and eat it too!

Weekend Wrapup


What a week it's been! Last Saturday night Skylor and Tracen were playing on the trampoline and Trace landed on top of Skylor and to make a long story short, I spent all day Monday between the doctors, X-Ray and ER. He is currently in a full leg, like up to his crotch, cast. We have an appointment Friday and are praying he can get a smaller cast then as long as everything is healing well. SO, our week has been a little chaotic trying to get things figured out as he won't be going to daycare for a month.

Thankfully I have this week off work so I'll be on super mom duty to make sure that guy is the happiest that he can be!

Speaking of Sky, his birthday is at the end of this month as I've mentioned! I've been trying to figure out what we're going to do since our back family room is still torn apart and don't really feel like hosting at our house this year. I started to look into parks but now I'm not sure if he'll have his cast off by then I just don't know what to do. I will probably wait till we hear from the specialist on when he will be cast free to maybe plan something. With it being the middle of the summer I know 99% of the pavilions will be booked so I'm thinking of popping up a few canopy/tent type things and just having it at the park so kids can play, we can enjoy some food and have it be low key. Can I just do that or do I need to check with a park? In my eyes it would be no different than me bringing a picnic lunch, right?...

Jerek started on the back room floor and we couldn't be more excited! He decided to go with a tile that looks like wood since its on a slab and concrete flooring currently. Here is a sneak peak, if you follow along on Snapchat you would have already seen it though (@eastwillowgrove)

Summer is in full swing and I'm jonesing for ice cream and Popsicles EVERY.SINGLE.NIGHT. I've bought cheap molds before and end up tossing them because they suck but these ones have gotten amazing reviews so I'm contemplating ordering them! (Anyone use them and have success??) We went to three BBQ's this weekend and I made these easy vegan pinwheels. I love me a good Minimalist Baker recipe and it seemed like everyone else did too!

I turn 30 on Friday and after Skylor's doctor appointment I want to go have a day date and drink cocktails on an outdoor patio somewhere. That's literally our favorite thing to do! Food, cocktails and good company, what could be better. My mom and Tom got me this great camera bag and oddly enough, without me saying anything I had been looking at this exact one last week! Great minds think alike.

This weekend was fueled by fireworks, friends and full bellies! Hope you had a great long weekend and if you are off this week as well, enjoy!