Self-Care is Important

As a stay-at-home mom, I spend my entire day, everyday, mediating arguments, teaching, cooking, and cleaning. When that’s you’re entire life, and even when it’s not, it’s easy to lose yourself. It’s easy to forget to take care of you. We forget that we matter just as much as those we love and place our needs on the back burner.

Putting myself on the back burner is something that I did for several years. Both my mental and physical health suffered tremendously because of it. It took so long to get out of that pattern, but I finally did a couple of years ago.

These are five things that I like to do to give back to myself after a long day of giving my all to everyone else:

1. Wash My Face

Washing your face isn’t just a matter of good hygiene and removing makeup, it’s a necessary ritual. Even if you don’t wear makeup, washing your face is such a refreshing thing to do. It fights off acne, helps remove all of the dirt, oil, and germs that have built up on your face throughout the day, and aides in removing dead skin cells. Though it seems insignificant, it’s one of the best things you can do for yourself each day.

2. Drink Hot Tea

I love a good cup of hot tea, even during the warmer months of the year. It’s one of those things that really helps me wind down at the end of the day . In addition to tasting absolutely delightful, hot tea also comes with a handful of benefits to your health, including:

  • Enhancing your eye health.
  • Reducing your risk of stroke.
  • Sharpening your memory.
  • Preventing tooth decay.
  • Improving your digestion.
  • Reducing your blood pressure.
  • Strengthening your immune system.
  • Curbing your stress and anxiety

If that’s not self-care, I don’t know what is.

3. Read a Book

I love books and I have so many of them. A little of a year ago, I was dealing with some pretty awful insomnia. In my quest to find things to help me sleep, I came across an article about reading a book close to bedtime. Not only does reading involve doing something I truly enjoy, I found that it also helps reduce my anxiety, making it easier to get to sleep at night. Since I suffer from an anxiety disorder, anything that helps ease it without adding more pills to my medicine cabinet is a win.

4. Journaling

Even if you’re just writing down thoughts that have nothing whatsoever to do with your day, journaling is good for the soul. It has been known to boost memory, improve penmanship, and relieve stress. Keeping a journal also helps relieve stress, improve your writing, and keep your thoughts organized. All of those things are great reasons to make journaling a nightly ritual.

5. Meditation

This is a big one for me. Meditation. Sitting down at the end of the day, listening to soothing music or a guided meditation, and just relaxing. It has become one of those things that I really rely on for so many reasons. There are times when I will even go sit by myself in my room during the day to meditate and get my bearings. If that’s not enough, here are a few science-backed reasons to give it a try:

  • Reduces Stress
  • Controls Anxiety
  • Promotes Emotional Health
  • Enhances Self-Awareness
  • Lengthens Attention Span
  • May Reduce Age-Related Memory Loss
  • Can Generate Kindness
  • May Help Fight Addictions

Remember, even if you do something entirely different, something that isn’t on this list, it is important to take care of yourself. Self-care isn’t selfish. It’s extremely necessary.

Plant Wish List!

With the recent addition of new plants to my collection and items removed from my wish list, I started thinking and putting together a new wish list of what I want to buy. I love plants. In my own opinion, they brighten up the home and make it feel…cleaner. Here are my top ten most wanted plants!

1. Philodendron Gloriosum

2. Anthurium Magnificum

3. Calathea Eclipse

4. White Knight Philodendron

5. Monstera Variegata

6. Pink Princess Philodendron

7. Alocasia Reginula

8. Bird of Paradise

9. Watermelon Peperomia

10. Hoya Tricolor

Things My Kids Do (That I Don’t Understand)

Think back to when you were a kid. All of the silly things you did that made sense to you even if they made no sense at all to anyone else..

What came to mind?

For me, it was eating chocolate syrup straight from the bottle. I enjoyed it.

Flash forward a couple of decades and you’ll find me sitting here, fingers massaging my temples, wondering why my children did whatever crazy thing they just did.

In this episode, we visit what happens at the dinner table when parents decide to have dinner on the couch for an evening.

So, the husband and I decided to sit on the couch to have supper while we watched something on TV and talked about our day. The children sat at the dinner table just a few feet away, talking amongst themselves. Suddenly, an argument began.

Jack was doing something questionable to Ava’s food.

My husband and I listened for a moment prior to involving ourselves. Ava was really mad and, in my opinion, with good reason. Messing with someone else’s food is something you just don’t do. Reach your hand towards my plate and you just might pull back with marks from the tines of my fork. Simply put, keep your hands off of other people’s food.

As I stepped in to stop the argument, I started thinking back to when I was their age. My own mother did not sit with us every single time we ate, but we didn’t mess with each other’s food. We ate our food, talked, giggled, and occasionally flung peas at the ceiling, but we didn’t mess with each other’s food. That’s just something you don’t do.

While I say that, I think of all the times one of them has decided they’re full and shoved all of their food off of their own plate onto someone else’s. They know not to just get up and throw it out, so they came up with an alternative.

Honestly, the things my children do amuse me, occasionally infuriate me, and, more often than not, make me reflect on things I did as a child. Sometimes, it is in an effort to compare and contrast between them and myself as a child. Other times, it’s just a matter of reflection and, in some ways, nostalgia.

We all did silly things as children. Now, we have the pleasure of sitting back and watching our children do those things. We get to laugh and wonder where they came up with the idea to do those things.

Being a parent is weird.

My Favorite Healthy Recipes

Having children can make it hard to eat healthy meals regularly. Children tend to be picky eaters and finding healthy recipes that they actually like can be a challenge. Thankfully, I do not have picky kids (they even like tofu!) and it’s easier to find things they’ll eat that aren’t Happy Meals from McDonald’s.

Here are some of my favorite kid-approved recipes for healthy family meals:

Easy Turkey Quinoa Meatloaf

We love meatloaf in this house. I’ve made so many different kinds, including a barbecue chicken meatloaf (Recipe here: The Clean Eating Couple). Their favorite recipe, no matter how many I’ve tried, is this Easy Turkey Quinoa Meatloaf. They love it and so does the husband. It is juicy, full of flavor, and very filling. My kids like it so much that it has become a regular in our meal planning.

Quinoa Stuffed Peppers

I don’t know if I’ve ever met anyone who doesn’t like stuffed peppers. They’re incredibly easy to make and they taste amazing! These peppers are even better. Prepped ahead of time, they can be frozen and pulled out when you’re looking for a meal that won’t result in you spending a lot of time in the kitchen. Simply pull them out of the freezer, put them in the slow cooker, and forget about them for a while! The result is a delicious, easy, and healthy dinner that your family will love!

Chicken Burrito Skillet

My children love Tex-Mex. I mean really love it. Tacos are a fairly frequent request for dinner in our house, but I like to mix it up and not always just make tacos. This Chicken Burrito Skillet is a great alternative. It’s super cheesy (which I love!) and absolutely delicious. I try make a lot of it because my kids always go back for more.

Chicken Bacon Ranch Casserole

This is another one that’s loaded with cheese. We love cheese in this house. If you keep prepared bacon on hand like I do, this casserole is even quicker to make. The best thing about it, though, is that it’s very versatile. As far as veggies go, you can use pretty much anything you have on hand. I’ve made it with broccoli, spinach, zucchini, summer squash, and so many other different things. Because it takes very little time to throw together, I make this one regularly. It pairs really well with fresh steamed green beans or riced cauliflower and fills you up quickly.

What are some of your favorite recipes for healthy family meals?

5 Makeup Bag Must-Haves

Every girl has things in her makeup bag that she cannot live without. These are my top five staples. They are the things I will absolutely purchase again and again without hesitation.

e.l.f. Keep Your Curl Mascara

I’ve tried so many different mascaras. Some had low price points, some were definitely splurges. The one that I finally decided to stick with, though, was Keep Your Curl. It does such a good job at enhancing your lashes without clumping that I cannot see much of a reason to pay more for something else. At around $4 a tube, it has a highly appealing price point and it works far better than a lot of the high-end products that I have used in the past.

Too Faced Born This Way Foundation

After seeing so many influencers use this foundation, I cannot believe it took me as long as it did to finally try it. I purchased it for the very first time earlier this year not knowing what to expect. As someone who has found a lot of foundations to be far too oily, causing them to slide around my face throughout the day even with primer and setting spray, I set my hopes high that this self-proclaimed oil-free foundation wouldn’t disappoint me like so many others have. To my delight, it stayed in place throughout the day without drying out my skin like so many “oil-free” foundations do. As a result, I make sure I keep this stuff in my bag.

EcoLips LipScrub

I almost always use a matte lippie just as a personal preference. In my own opinion, they look far better than their glossy counterparts and they don’t have the sticky feeling that comes with glossier products. They also stay put far longer, making for less time spent reapplying. The down-side to that is that a lot of them tend to dry out your lips quite a bit. That’s where EcoLips comes in! The sugar in this scrub buffs away dry skin while coconut oil, olive oil, and jojoba moisturize, leaving you with perfectly soft lips. As a bonus, it is organic and is never tested on animals.

Haus Laboratories Liquid

So, the first time I saw this eyeliner, it was in a Nikki Tutorials video. She did an entire eye-look using products sent to her from Haus Laboratories. Y’all, I fell in love with this product watching her use it. It was so opaque in the very first swipe, that I knew I had to have it. It’s a bit pricey, but I don’t care. I cannot not have this eyeliner.

e.l.f. Matte Magic Mist & Set

Another cheapy but goody. Simply put, it does its job. It sets my makeup perfectly without drying out my skin or breaking the bank. I just can’t see myself spending $30+ for something that does the same thing that this product does for $5.

What’s in your makeup bag?

Top 10 Favorite TV Shows Right Now

Staying up at night just to have a moment alone has given me a great deal of time to binge shows on various streaming platforms. Sometimes, that means watching something I haven’t watched before. Other times, it’s watching through shows that I’ve seen every episode of but still love to watch. These are my top ten favorite shows to binge at bedtime right now.

1. New Girl

Honestly, it doesn’t matter how many times I’ve watched this show, I’m still going to watch it again and again. Jess has a quirkiness that I completely identify with. I adore her. The entire group, as a whole, is fun to watch. Their big moments still give me all of the feels, even after watching every episode at least four times. And yes, that includes Coach and Alli, who aren’t pictured here.

2. Gossip Girl

I’m still pretty new to Gossip Girl, only having reached the middle of season three, but I like it. Maybe it’s the clothes, maybe it’s the scandals. I don’t know. I can tell you, however, that I absolutely love Chuck Bass. What started out as a sketchy character has come to be someone that I genuinely love watching.

3. How I Met Your Mother

We all have our opinions about this show’s ending (I think it was predictable), but I still love the show. Sometimes, I’m bothered by Lily’s constant “big life speeches”, but I enjoy watching the gang’s shenanigans too much to care. The Lily and Marshall break-up where he’s sitting on the stairs in the rain will never not choke me up.

4. Pretty Little Liars

Let’s just go ahead and address the fact that, yes, it’s full of plot holes. That aside, however, Prettly Little Liars is one of my all-time favorites. Those beautiful girls and their wonderful moms (not you, Jessica DiLaurentis) will forever hold a special place in my heart. And so will the guys. Especially Toby.

5. The O.C.

So, this show is a definite throwback to my teenage years. I started watching it religiously in my junior year of high school when the series first launched. No, I didn’t identify with a single one of the characters, but I think that’s what made it so great. Minus the drinking and overdosing, it was a life I dreamed of back then. Having it all, including the infinity pool. Being popular instead of hiding in the library with a book at lunch. I lived in a small town in North Carolina back then and the OC provided some escapism from my otherwise average life. I still watch it now because, well, nostalgia.

6. Gilmore Girls

UNSPECIFIED – JANUARY 20: Medium publicity shot of Lauren Graham as Lorelai and Alexis Bledel as Rory. (Photo by Warner Bros./Getty Images)

I’m still extremely new to Gilmore Girls, but I like it so far. It was a recommendation from a friend, so I’m slowly working my way through it. That’s easier said than done when watching several different shows.

7. Supernatural

I adore these men. Absolutely adore them. And Castiel, too. I cannot get over the fact that the show is ending. All good things must come to an end, of course, but oh, how I’ll miss them. I’ve watched through the first fourteen seasons a few times and I will continue to watch through the entire show over and over after it ends. The boys go from simply “the family business” to a much bigger purpose and I’ve loved every bit of that ride.

8. Lucifer

Lucifer is another show that I am new to. I have a friend on Facebook who has just been going on and on about how much she loves the show, so I had to give it a try. Honestly, if she posts about it as often as she does, it must be worth the watch, right? Well, so far, I’m really enjoying it. It is a show that is easy to get sucked into. And his accent helps a bit too.

9. Grey’s Anatomy

Goodness, this show. My niece suggested it when I found myself out of things to watch recently when another show that I loved came to an end. I was bored and on the hunt for something new. In comes Grey’s Anatomy. I watched the full first season in one night and started on the second before finally passing out. Thankfully, it was my husband’s day off, so I was able to get some sleep. All-nighters are a terrible plan when you’re in your 30s and have kids. I am on season six now and still trying to get over George’s death. My daughter started the episode, which I had been putting off, without me even realizing that we were at THAT episode. I’m still heartbroken. I know problematic characters are usually doomed and George was definitely problematic, but I still loved him and I’m still not over it just yet.

10. Game of Thrones

Yes, I know how it ends. Yes, “The Long Night” was much too short and should’ve lasted MUCH longer. They rushed it. I agree. They were in too much of a hurry to tie up loose ends. I agree with that, too. And no, I still do not understand why, aside from honor, Jon Snow had to return to The Wall if Grey Worm wouldn’t even be there to care. And yes, Bran Stark is the king that no one wanted. And, again, yes, Dani going nuts was way too predictable. However, I love the show as a whole and still crave more. Perhaps it has something to do with exactly how rushed that last season was. It tied up loose ends, but it didn’t give us enough story in between tying up those ends. Either way, I still watch because I still crave the story.

What are some of your favorite shows right now? Give me something new to watch!

Homeschool and Other Adventures

In March, the children went on what would become the longest Spring Break in the history of Spring Break. Expecting them to return to school at the very end of March, when I should have also returned to work from maternity leave, school was, instead, transitioned to Zoom meetings and Google Classroom assignments. I, of course, left work behind to stay with them because daycare costs would have been astronomical.

When the whole thing began, I thought it would be simple. I expected to have my kids sitting at the table each day, quiet and focused on their work. We planned out a schedule that included lunch and time for science experiments and art. In my own naive mind, it would be simple, easy. Flash forward a few weeks and it became clear that it wasn’t anything like I had imagined.

I admire teachers. I applaud them. They should be paid far more than they are, even if just for having to teach my own children. What should have been focused, quiet moments was more like being in the audience at a wrestling match. My children, as wonderful as they are, became exceedingly bored with each other and suddenly every minor offense became a great injustice worthy of a shouting match and the occasional knock-down, drag-out fight.

We were two months in, approaching the close of the school year, and I was already excited for the following school year when they would return to traditional school.

That day still hasn’t come. Towards the middle of May, my son had a seizure. A full-blown, on-the-floor, tonic-clonic seizure. I was cutting his hair when it happened. Never in my life have I ever been so terrified. I thought it was my fault. But then, two days later, he had another one while he was sitting down in the living room. Obviously, this one had nothing to do with me.

Two months and two appointments later, he was diagnosed with Epilepsy and given a host of other appointments and new medications. In addition, his pediatrician and neurologist recommended he participate in distance learning instead of returning to traditional school. Because of the circumstances, I have continued to stay home and decided to do virtual learning with my daughters as well.

Our days are much the same as they were back in April. We have a schedule, but they spend much of the day arguing over simple things. One of them sat where someone else wanted to sit. One of them unplugged the other’s Chromebook overnight, so it isn’t fully charged. The list goes on.

Homeschool isn’t at all what I imagined when I heard others talk about it in the past. It is being a teacher, a principal, a hall monitor, a mediator. It is being all of those things in addition to everything that we already are as parents. And, some days more than others, it’s rough. I commend teachers everywhere for the work they put in shaping our children into productive members of society.

Other Adventures

In adjusting to being a stay-at-home mom, I’ve looked for things to fill my free time while kids are studying and the baby is asleep.

With the rising cost of food, I decided to take up gardening. It is much too late in the season to grow anything substantial, but I do have some things successfully growing.

In the kitchen, I have celery, which I started from the ends of some celery that I used for dinner. Outside, I have an herb garden. I started it around mid-August, but it is doing really well. It is filled with things like Sage, Thyme, Oregano, Lemon Balm, Basil, Dill, Chives, and Chamomile.

When I started, I didn’t expect to have so much fun. The result was me falling in love with plants. Since then, I have started a delightful collection of everything from herbs to houseplants. I purchased several plants this week, some of which will arrive tomorrow. Philodendrons of assorted varieties, umbrella trees, Monsteras, Wandering Jews, mums, and spider plants; there are so many coming within the next week.

Homeschool isn’t all bad. I have more time with my children and I have found a deep love for gardening.

34 Looks Good!

Today is my 34th birthday. And I feel better than ever.

It’s cold today. Unseasonably so for early September. The temperature outside will barely rise to 50 degrees and it is expected to rain most of the day. An early Autumn is amazing birthday present. I really do not have much to complain about.

The house is warm. We actually had to turn on the heat as overnight temperatures reached the low 40s. I’m wearing comfy pajamas and cozy socks as I sit here sipping hot tea. I’ve come to love hot tea and quiet wee morning hours when everything is silent and still. As a stay-at-home mom teaching home-schooled children, the silence is appreciate. It’s peaceful.

Yes, 34 looks not just good, but amazing.

We moved into a new house over the summer. It’s beautiful. The windows are enormous, allowing for lots of natural light. The backyard is considerably sized as well, giving my children lots of space to grow. It is a massive step upward from where we were before. With all of the light that comes in, I decided I needed plants. I accumulate more by the week, telling my husband that I just “need” them. I do. They bring me happiness.

We put in a flower bed to wrap around the back porch where there was nothing but grass. The neighbors gave me a few discarded tires as they were moving out, along with an old wheelbarrow, and I turned those into planters as well. I’m not finished with them yet, but I’m getting there.

Turning 34 feels fantastic. I have a clear vision of where I want my life to go at this point; of what I intend to spend the next few years doing. I’m happier than I’ve ever been. And that’s really saying something.

With that being said, here are 34 lessons and aspirations for my 34th birthday that I want to share with you:

34 Things I’ve Learned and Aspire to Do (Before my next birthday):

1. You absolutely have to be comfortable being alone.
2. Kindness is a wonderful legacy to leave behind.
3. Fear kills more dreams than failure ever will.
4. Authenticity over anything else. People will love you for it and, if they don’t, they’re the wrong people.
5. No matter how many times you fall, get back up.
6. Forgive for yourself. Inner peace matters more than pride.
7. Speak up when people hurt you.
8. Do what you love.
9. What other people think of you is their business, not yours.
10. You’ll never know everything and there’s nothing wrong with that.
11. Real love will leave you feeling freer and more satisfied than you ever have.
12. Uplift your partner. Their success and happiness is just as important as your own.
13. Being happy is a choice.
14. Growth sometimes means leaving things and people behind, no matter how much you thought they’d always be there.
15. Keep your circle small. Friends are awesome, but they’re rarely authentic.
16. Self-confidence is powerful beyond words.
17. Hold onto the people who stand by you no matter how hard life gets.
18. Keep going, even if your progress is slow. Quitting won’t speed things up.
19. Action is the best possible way to destroy procrastination.
20. Sticks and stones hurt, but words can too.

21. Become a CNA.
22. Start school to become an LPN.
23. Write every chance I get.
24. Become the healthiest I’ve ever been.
25. Read at least one book per month.
26. Put at least $1,000 into an emergency fund and leave it alone.
27. Become my most confident self.
28. Be the best mom I can possibly be.
29. Be a strong partner in my marriage.
30. Love those around me as hard as I can.
31. Reach my highest spiritual self.
32. Let go of any negativity or self-doubt that is holding me back.
33. Improve my credit score by at least 75 points.
34. Accept life’s lessons and experiences and grow from them.

Have a wonderful day, love. I’m going to go celebrate my 34th with my precious family.