4 Ways We Are Surviving Pre-K

I thought I felt my heart actually breaking the weeks and days that led up to my oldest starting Pre-K. I felt sick to my stomach. I was losing sleep. I was having anxiety about following such a strict routine because, let’s face it, I have been a stay at home mom with no real schedule for years. I was crying at the drop of a hat. I was making myself miserable..and I was making my child miserable too. I know all the regulars who have been doing this for years are literally laughing at this right now saying,” Come on Mom, get it together!!” Don’t worry ladies, after about six weeks into this, I have the swing of things down and I want to share some of the things that have made this a fun transition for us.

For starters, let me just say that the first day of school was actual trauma. Seriously, if you go to a dictionary and look up the word ‘trauma’, our first day of school story will be written there in big bold letters. Going back to the part where I said I was making my daughter miserable, I realized that I really hadn’t said much about how much fun she would have or how many friends she would make. I spent our days cuddling her, playing with her and telling her how much I would miss her. Don’t get me wrong, I did tell her should would have fun and she would make friends but there was far more emphasis on how much I loved her and how much I would miss her while she was at school. Looking back now, I realize I should have swallowed my sorrows and built her up more to prepare her for her first day. The truth is, she was only as excited as I was to send her to school, which wasn’t very much.

The Heart.

The second day of school, I knew I had to do better and I had to be better for her. If she was going to go to school and have any kind of fun, I was going to have to instill some form of hope in her. I prayed and prayed the night before for her and for myself so I could be better for her. While I was making her breakfast that morning, suddenly it just hit me. I grabbed a marker out of my craft room and I drew a heart on the inside of her wrist and mine. I told her to look at it every time she missed me and I would look at mine too. A friend of mine on Instagram had mentioned a particular book I needed to order on Amazon to read to her about going to school so I think that might have been what sparked the idea. I, unfortunately, still have not ordered the book. Ally and I still have a matching doodle on the inside of our wrists every day and it is special to us. I know the book is probably the best thing since sliced cheese but to me, this is ours. It’s one of the ways we have survived this transition. Now my youngest likes to have something drawn on the inside of her wrist and occasionally when my husband is home in the morning, he gets a matching drawing on his wrist too.

The Blanket.

Also starting on the second day of school, I did something I remembered my mom doing for me when I was little. The house I grew up in was at least 100 years old and high off the ground. The least bit of a chill in the air would make the house freezing. My mom would put a blanket in the drier or draped in front of our lit fire place to wrap me in to keep me toasty while I ate my breakfast. Typically this was a Winter thing only but considering my house thermostat is set on arctic temperatures at all times, it kind of applies every single morning. My daughter looks forward to her warm blanket in the mornings. And the little girl in me smiles inside because I remember the safe and loved feeling it gave me when my mom would snuggle me up in a fresh warm blanket.

The Cinnamon Rolls.

Several of my mom friends who have children in school already warned me that my kids would be exhausted by Friday afternoon, for us so far, that happens to be by Thursday. When they come home from school, they are whipped. So much that they hit the hay early and have a hard time getting up the next morning for their last day of the week. So, I started getting up even earlier on Friday mornings to pre-heat the oven and bake some fresh cinnamon rolls. Usually the kids hear me stirring around in the kitchen and wake up just before it’s time. But they’re immediately excited because the smell of sugary cinnamon fills the house and they typically stand at the oven watching them back until they’re done cooking and ready to eat. It’s crazy how changing up the breakfast to something a little more exciting gets them a little bit more eager for the day. It’s like a sweet little incentive for making it to Friday!

The Sunday Snack Ritual.

I had been buying tons of snacks at the grocery store every week and before the second or third day, my stash was nearly gone because the kids were going through them so fast between school snacks and after school snacks, then before bed snacks. I mean, this snack issue was a real issue! Coincidentally, I had a box of cake mix that was going out of date if I didn’t bake it soon and clearly, my kids love to watch things bake in the oven so one Sunday evening, we baked mini cupcakes with no icing and it turned into their snack for the week. Making messes seem to be one of the main things that feeds into their joy, so this was actually a really fun little thing for us to do together. And my snack stash didn’t disappear within five seconds that week! I was like..okay…so maybe this could be a thing! So now, we bake on Sundays. Even if its just a tube of nestle cookies, we do it together. It doesn’t matter how messy it is or how un-chef like they look. It’s the gesture itself of simply making them with the girls that makes it fun and the girls just “know” that they’re making their snacks for the week.

I know that I am probably setting my expectations high for the kids and maybe things won’t always be this way. I guess the way I see it is, they’re only little once and soon enough, these things will only be a distant memory and they won’t want their warm blankets, hearts on their wrist or to bake with mama anymore. It does make for a little extra planning and sometimes it makes for a bigger mess than I really feel like dealing with but the laughs and their smiles are so worth it.

I’d also like to add in that sometimes reading things exactly like this make me feel very less than. As if I don’t measure up and I’m not doing enough with my kids. If you’re that mama, please hear me, we are all doing the absolute best we can. Even if it means you could barely roll out of bed in the morning because the baby didn’t sleep last night or all the snacks for the week are store bought. No one is judging you and if they are, they aren’t your friend. You do what’s best for you and your family. There are no rules or guidelines to follow when you’re doing what makes your role in motherhood easier or flow for that matter. Keep your chin up and smiles on those littles faces. You’re doing a great job!

Boltfarm Tree House

If you need a place to completely disconnect from everything and re-center yourself, reconnect with your spouse and get some rest..this read will be such a treat for you! My husband and I visited Boltfarm Tree Houses near Charleston, South Carolina. It’s tucked about 30 minutes away from the city in a secluded area just off of the water. There are so many beautiful oak trees towering over the grounds that you lose count. You truly get lost in how serene it is, which is exactly what my husband and I needed.

Nick and I did the math while sitting on the deck at the treehouse..so between my husband being a Lafayette Firefighter and owning and operating his own Dirt Contracting business, he works roughly 102 hours per week. Guys..there’s 168 hours in a full week! That’s insane right? And as for me..well, I’m a full time mama, blogger, influencer and beauty guide. So if there’s only 168 hours in a week, that basically means I work at least 1,714 hours a week. However, I have the ability to juggle all of my responsibilities but I can always count on there being zero breaks when it comes to the girls. Even when they should be sleeping, they don’t. Long story short, my oldest barely believes in naps anymore and my youngest is the most nocturnal little being I’ve ever known. Not the good kind of non-sleeper either. Moms, you know what I’m talking about. It gets rough sometimes but I manage to find the beauty in between. I like to think she’s the one who will teach me patience. I guess we can call this a “blesson.”

The ability to view a lesson as a blessing..

Needless to say, my husband and I desperately needed a break. We didn’t want the kind of vacation where we were on the go constantly with an itinerary. We wanted to be able to sleep in, relax and essentially do nothing since we are always doing something! I don’t know how the treehouse could have been anymore perfect. Tori and Seth Bolt poured their heart and souls into these treehouses. Every detail was so well thought out and didn’t go unnoticed on our part.

As soon as we arrived, we drove up on the most beautiful iron gate in the shape of all of the oak trees you see covering the entire treehouse farm. We drove up to The Honeymoon Treehouse and were greeted by Jared who is the General Manager of Boltfarm Treehouses. He gave us a quick tour of the treehouse we were staying in, explained all there was to do and encouraged us to unplug and enjoy each other and our time there. Afterwards, we swung on the hanging chairs on the balcony of our treehouse and just marveled the beautiful grounds and all that the treehouse had to offer.

The Honeymoon Treehouse featured a copper bathtub on a platform in the main room. The back wall in front of the bed was covered top to bottom with charming antique mirrors. The bed was probably one of the most comfortable beds we have ever slept on. When it comes time for us to replace our own mattress, we will probably be ordering the same Sleepy mattress with a pillow top like they used. On the side was the kitchen area. It was finished with an above counter copper sink, a miniature retro style refrigerator hidden behind the stained wood cabinetry and a dining area for two complete with an antique China set. Let’s not forget the old style record player complete with a basket full of old records to play, adult coloring books, pillows to sit for meditation and prayer, a legit picnic basket filled with everything an outside picnic would ever need and a little fireplace. Sounds like a dream right? That’s just inside the treehouse, that’s not counting the amenities outdoors!

Outside there was a gorgeous view of the water with oak trees giving the perfect amount of shade. Double bicycles, outside grill, pizza oven, jacuzzi, fire pit fit for snuggles and s’mores, outdoor shower and screened in room with a swinging bed complete with a screen and projector to play movies. Don’t all of these things just sound like heaven?

Every single thing I named made the Treehouse every bit of the experience we were promised. But every ounce of alone time, relaxation, peace and quiet with my husband was the best part of all. It was exactly what we needed in our 10th season of marriage. The Bible says in 2 Corinthians 4:18,

So we fix our eyes not on what is seen but what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary but what is unseen is eternal.

I felt this verse fit perfectly for everything I wanted to end with. Everything was serene and absolutely perfect at the tree house and we are literally chomping at the bit to plan our next stay. But it wasn’t just beautiful scenery that we enjoyed, it wasn’t just the quiet time we needed and it wasn’t just the opportunity to be the big kids we know we are at heart; it was the unseen that sparked magic because of the seen. Does that resonate? I think we can all agree that life happens every single day and we all fall short in allowing it to get in the way of the things that mean the most to us. Making time for your partner and the things that matter most to you will be one of the greatest investments you can make in your relationship. God and each other. I think the best love story is to be able to fall in love with the same person over and over again.

Being able to be with my husband where he was only my husband for a few days was bliss. I’m sure he would agree the opposite for me. We could just be our true selves for a few days with zero responsibilities except pouring ourselves into each other and reconnecting on a level that we haven’t been able to in years. It’s truly amazing how doing nothing is absolutely everything you could possibly need. We swung outside and enjoyed the views, took naps on the swinging bed outside, we showered outside during the daytime and nighttime under the moon and starts, we listened to Calming Guitar Playlist on Pandora; I highly recommend that soothing playlist by the way. I have listened to it every day since we have returned. It almost as if I was able to bring the tree house experience home with me. Not to mention, growing up as a musicians daughter, my father was always playing his acoustic guitar at random times throughout the day. It was an enjoyable part of my childhood. This kind of music is medicine for the soul. We also made our own pizza, we roasted s’mores, rode the double bicycles, drank wine, walked down the lane full of oak trees and got to see lightening bugs for the first time since each of us were children. That may seem like nothing but it was truly a magical moment for me, at least. We took the time to visit Charleston one afternoon and had lunch at a tavern that was downtown. Which was incredible by the way.

Writing all of these things and telling you how insanely mind blowing it all was just brings me back. Even though it was just a few short weeks ago, the thought of being there and what it did for my heart and soul has stuck with me. Like the unseen I mentioned before, it wasn’t just an experience, it was purifying and healing. I will never forget what that trip did for me and I cannot wait till we go back. Matter of fact, if you’d like to mention that I recommended BoltFarm Treehouses to you when you book your stay, you will be upgraded to a complimentary VIP experience..and We will be too upon our next stay!

www.boltfarmtreehouse.com

This content is not sponsored by BoltFarm Treehouse or by Seth & Tori Bolt.

15 Non-Candy Easter Basket Ideas For Kids

I remember being little and being so flipping excited when Easter would come. I would wake up to that HUGE Easter Basket completely wrapped in cellophane from top to bottom and completely filled with every jelly belly, chocolate rabbit and peep that God ever created. Weren’t those the days y’all? My living room floor was the equivalent to Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory.

Now that I’m a mom, I find myself being a little more reserved with the whole candy thing. Don’t get me wrong, my kids LOVE candy just like any other kid but my Easter baskets are probably a little different from others. I’d like to share some non-candy ideas but still equally as exciting for kids! (or at least mine love it!) I will also be sharing what candy we do get for our baskets!

1. Kickee Pants

Or any set of pajamas, really. My kids are obsessed with pajamas and it’s probably my fault that I started getting them Kickee Pants or some kind of bamboo fabric pajamas since they were born. A new pair of pajamas have pretty much always been a staple in our baskets and the girls love them! One of the places I love to shop for their pajama’s and clothes is Melodi’s Belles & Beaus in Lafayette, Louisiana. The owner is super sweet and always helps find the perfect outfits for all of her customers!

www.shopmelodis.com

 

2. Bubbles

Because…bubbles. What child doesn’t love bubbles? Mine are pretty much obsessed and this is a super cost efficient filler for your little ones basket. There are so many options that range from the Dollar Store, Walmart, Walgreens and the dollar bins at Target. You can even find them with really cute Easter looking graphics on them to really seal the deal.

3. Stuffed Animal

This year I got those little wind up bunnies out of the dollar bins at Walgreens. They hop around when their wound up. I didn’t go all out on stuffed animals this year because my kids have enough already but I know those little nuggets will make my toddlers happy.

4. Stickers

What little person isn’t obsessed with stickers? This is a super cheap and effective way to keep your child entertained for hours, no doubt. Supply some construction paper or a clean arm..or leg and you’re totally set.

5. Hair Bows

Bows are life when you’re a little girl. I love to get my bows from a couple of Etsy Shops. Bows by JoJo and ArdenShaw Handmade. They’re both crafted by hand by some really sweet and beautiful mama’s. I will link their profiles below so you can get your orders in before the Easter Bunny comes!

https://www.etsy.com/shop/BOWSBYJOJOW

https://www.etsy.com/shop/ArdenShaw

6. Cup Labels

This may be more exciting for us parents. I’ve always struggled with keeping up with which cup belong to which kid and also always having to rewrite their names on the bottom of their cups. Until Personalized Labels happened. This is definitely an Easter Egg I found on Etsy also and I will link their shop down below. This has helped SO MUCH with sending the girls to school. Not to mention, the girls can keep up with which cup is theirs because of the color and little custom shape I had put on their labels. I LOVE these!

https://www.etsy.com/shop/3DKoalaLabels

7. Crayons/Markers/Sidewalk Chalk

Let those babies color! Throw in a new coloring book if you’re feeling extra fancy!

8. Bath Bombs/Bubble Bath

My girls are obsessed with all things bath related. Bonus points if the bath bombs have a little toy inside. We get the little bath bombs and bubbles from Target often, but the girls swoon over Prim Bath and Body products. Those are the most colorful, beautifully scented and well constructed bath bombs in Acadiana and I love to support local and my friends. Plus, they don’t stain my bath tub and my skin feels softer than a newborn after I get out of the tub. Yes, I enjoy them just as much as the girls do, maybe even more! Prim is located in Grand Coteau, Louisiana.

www.primbathandbodyco.com

9. Tooth Brush

Might not be as exciting for some children but my kids freak out every time they get a new tooth brush. You have to change them out regularly anyway, why not make it a gift from E.B?

10. Sun Glasses

If your children are anything like mine, they practically live outside when the weather is nice. Aubree is always blocking out the haters with her shades. You can find sunglasses relatively cheap anywhere. Walmart, Target, Dollar Store, Home Goods/Marshalls, Nordstrom Rack or even Amazon. Prime Dat!

11. Summer Gear

I actually got this idea from a friend who does this every year. She always gets her kids their full line up of swim wear every year. The goggles, swimsuit, towel(monogrammed if you want to be extra), sunblock, pool toys..all the things you might need for Spring Break or the upcoming Summer season. You’re going to buy it all anyway!

12. Play-Doh

This is perfect for those days you’re stuck inside, whether it’s a rainy day or a sick day. It’ll undoubtedly keep your kids happy and busy for hours.

13. Slime

It’s all the rage these days. My kids don’t even know what it is yet and I would like to keep it that way for as long as I possibly can. No shame for the kiddos that love it, my kids are just accident prone and I don’t want to have to cut it out of their sweet little curls just yet. But none the less, it’s a great basket idea! You can find slime in decorative eggs at Walgreens!

14. Confetti Eggs

My grandparents are probably going to hate me after this holiday is over. I found some breakable confetti eggs at Walgreens a few days ago and I snagged them up for my kids and my niece and nephews. They come in an egg crate of 12 and supposedly you throw them down and they break and confetti comes out. Sounds a lot like those little poppers from the Fourth of July but Easter Edition..and a lot less racket..maybe a little messier-ish..heavy on in the ish.

15. Rain boots

Every toddler in America is obsessed with rain boots or at least every toddler I know has some kind of deep obsession. Maybe it’s because we live in the south and it doesn’t matter what season it is, rain boots are always a staple in someone’s daily attire. Maybe it’s because we are all raising some country kids, who knows. But rain boots are a great additive and if your little isn’t into those, go for the next size up in their favorite kind of shoe or flip flop!

What about the Easter Candy?

So where is the candy option, lady? My kids need some kind of sweets in their baskets!!Don’t worry, I didn’t forget. We always get our chocolates from a local place in Lafayette called Lolly’s Chocolates. Their chocolate is fresh and downright delicious. All of it, whether its a chocolate dipped strawberry, chocolate covered oreos, pecans, marshmallows or just plain molds…they’re amazing! I think my favorite will always and forever been the almond clusters. I discovered this place the day after I had Ally. I was in the hospital and they came to the Mother’s Suites and they were passing out chocolate covered pretzels and strawberries. They’re truly an amazing local company! They also have locations in New Orleans and Mandeville, Louisiana.

Happy Easter!!!

 

Aging Gracefully

They say diamonds are a girls best friend..and then Botox and Juvederm happened.

I can finally say that I am the proud owner of a smoother forehead and some full, even lips. If you know me personally and you’re like everyone else who already knows..yes, I got injections. Yes, I know I didn’t need it but I wanted it. I’ll dissect that a little bit by telling you that in High School, I was the back spot on the cheer leading squad. One day when the flyer was doing a liberty, she lost balance, fell and I got kicked in the lip..since then, I have had a lot of scar tissue on the left side of my bottom lip. With that said, my lip appeared much plumper on the bottom left while the rest of my lips were thin, uneven and less full. My forehead and crow’s feet..that’s just the result of sun exposure, age, collagen breakdown and more than likely, hormones.  Here are a couple of before photos so you can see what I was working with.

It really isn’t that bad but let’s be honest, we are all our own worst critics and it was definitely something that bothered me! So, I went in for a consultation at  Dr. Duplechain’s office next to Laser Skin Care of Louisiana. We talked about my skin and my concerns. I will not lie to you for one minute, I was so nervous. He will more than likely remember me as the lady who has sweaty palms because I was literally sweating bullets when I first arrived. There is no one in the world more afraid of needles than I am. He and his staff made me feel incredibly comfortable and confident about the procedure.  We began by taking a few different photos of my face in different positions. I scrunched my forehead, opened my eyes and lifted my eyebrows as high as I could, smiled and frowned. Ultimately, the idea behind doing this was to monitor the changes in my skin and to see where majority of my existing expression lines and wrinkles were. We decided that we would do a few units of Botox in my forehead and a some of a syringe of Juvederm into my lips to even them out. So the next step after that was to numb my face in preparation for those needles..que the sweaty palms again.

The Nurse then applied topical anesthetic to my forehead, between my hairline and my eyes and my lips for about 10 minutes. It was a really interesting sensation! Dr. Duplechain returned and he further explained the structure of the face, what muscles did what and what he recommended for the characteristics of my face, which were to ultimately smooth my forehead, smooth out my crows feet and even out my lips. My main fear that I expressed that I didn’t want to end up on Botched or look too plastic. Dr. Duplechain was incredible at calming my nerves and assuring me that he would address my concerns without over doing it. One of the things he prides himself in, is his work. One of the things he said to me was that he would never allow me or any of his clients to leave the office looking unnatural, that’s not his goal.

The first injections were done on my forehead and on the temple area with Botox. To be honest, I could tell he was poking me but I felt zero pain. Which is crazy because I am a total pansy when it comes to pain. Not to mention, the needle is super small but he worked quickly, efficiently and even gave me a few breaks in between to breathe. The concept behind Botox is actually quite intriguing. It works by temporarily relaxing the muscles that contribute to fine lines and wrinkles. By keeping those muscles relaxed, wrinkles do not form. This was important to me because my fine lines were beginning to bother me in general, not to mention, it doesn’t matter what brand of makeup I wear or what steps I take to eliminate the problem..it always settles into the creases.

Next up was lips. Now, before I dive into this..anyone else a cheek biter? No..just me? It’s a horrible habit I have had..honestly for as long as I can remember. So, with that said, I have smile lines leading from my nose to the outside corners of my mouth, the left side being a little more superficial than the right. The goal wasn’t to eliminate the line but to just smooth it out some.  This was definitely the most painful part of the entire procedure. I wouldn’t call it downright pain but I did have to take more breaks and breathe through it. What’s great about Juvederm is that it actually has a numbing agent in it. So not only are your lips numb from the outside, but the product being injected numbs as it goes inside. I only had one injection site that I thought I might actually levitate from the chair but I braved it out. Juvederm is perfect for filling lines and wrinkles on the face, adding volume to the cheeks, chin and under-eye area, adding fullness or shape to the lips or correcting your nasolabial folds( laugh lines or in my case, those “cheek chewing” lines.)

I felt so rejuvenated after my appointment. I’ve never had injections before so this was something completely foreign to me. Just looking in the mirror after we finished to see my lips even literally choked me up. The Botox would take up to five days to relax the muscles in my forehead, by day four, I was already starting to see it! Just compare the top collage to this one, it’s insane just how much change I have seen in my face in just a week!

Dr. Duplechain’s office is located by Lafayette Surgical Specialty Hospital in Lafayette, Louisiana. He is one hundred percent committed to his patients satisfaction. Not only does he have decades of experience but he is also a part of the National Education Faculty for Allergan injectables, including Botox and Juvederm, and he frequently lectures nationally and internationally. If you’ve had injections on the brain, you should definitely give Laser Skincare a call at (337) 456-3282.

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by the office of Dr. J. Kevin Duplechain

 

Why You Need A Girls Night

Raise your hand if you are a wife, mother or a full on career woman who often finds herself just needing a break? Heck, what if you are all three! Charting patients, changing diapers, washing the mounds of laundry and dishes, kid’s practices, grocery shopping, meeting deadlines and everything else on that never ending to-do list. Life, while it’s amazing and fulfilling has tendencies to take a ghastly toll and while we may not realize it, a girls night is just the ticket to refuel your soul. Where you can go and simply have fun, spend time with other women you adore, have a glass of wine, laugh until you cry..or pee your pants and flat out, enjoy yourself or refill that cup that we always pour so freely from.

Who can honestly say that they make time for themselves now a days? I can honestly say that I did not make time for that until this year. I always talked about it but I never actually followed through with a plan. My excuse was pretty much always related to Mom Guilt, which by definition is the feeling of guilt, doubt, anxiousness or uncertainty experienced by mothers when they worry they’re failing or falling short of expectations in some way. My mom guilt was always a version surrounding the concept of letting someone else, even my husband..yes..my own husband, my children’s father take care of them. Not that he couldn’t take care of them, I just couldn’t let go of full responsibility. Even hiring a sitter was out of the question for the longest time. In my mind, my children were my responsibility, day and night. While they are, what I didn’t quite see was that I was beginning to slowly drown myself in motherhood.

My brother and sister-in-law probably don’t realize but they were honestly the ones who inspired me the most to make this a priority in my life. They take turns every few weeks and have a guys night/girls night. I always just looked at this rewarding night as if it was a major goal but something definitely out of my reach. Not that it wasn’t deserved or much needed but I saw it as something that I would just be able to enjoy some day.

So what was the paradigm shift? What made me decide that it was time to start treating myself? I can proudly say that the motivation came from listening to a lot of personal development, Jesus, podcasts, blogs and books. When I started grasping that life is in session..a light bulb went off and I started thinking to myself that I truly deserved some down time. My cup is always pouring into everyone and everything and yet I am the one riding on the back row of the struggle bus. I needed a time where I could relax and re-charge with a few friends, eat a dinner that I didn’t prepare, where I could eat with both of my hands( if you’re a mom, you totally feel this..) and not have to constantly argue with a tiny army that I created to sit down, be quiet, eat their food and wipe ketchup off their face. I do have a few adult friends who get a little messy but on nights like this, you are on your own, sister! I kid, I kid…maybe.

What’s even better about committing to this girls night? Your husband will have a new found respect and appreciation for you. He will see, ten fold, what you do on the daily. This speaks heights for all of my stay at home mama’s out there. He will see first hand all of the things that you put up with, all of the things that you do, are and how gracefully swift you rock this motherhood gig. Even though on even the best of days, it probably doesn’t feel like that. Let’s be real for a sec, motherhood, while it is so undeniably fulfilling in every facet of itself, it can be so overwhelming and exhausting.

So now, I prioritize this night. Sometimes it’s super last minute and other times, I plan days or weeks in advance. The first month, we decided to go eat boiled crawfish because, well..I’m a swamp queen and that’s what us swamp queens do. The next month, we decided about two hours in advance to meet at a bar and have a few drinks to unwind. And this month, I decided to host a movie night featuring the one and only, Rachel Hollis with her new movie, Made for More. Because, let’s face it ladies, WE WERE MADE FOR MORE!!!

Every girls night is different and different women are there every time but that’s the beauty of it. No hard feelings, no strings attached..just an evening for everyone to unwind and refill their cup so we can continue to give so freely like we all always do. I think the hardest concept I’ve had to work through is that it’s okay for me to do this. It’s okay to refuel. It’s okay to refresh yourself and remember who you were before you became a mommy. But since I’ve started, I have had a much easier time doing all the things. I can wife better, mom better, work my business better, friend better and even sweep my dang floors with a little pep in my step.

We as moms deserve this time. Make an effort to make it a priority. You won’t regret it.

Laser SkinCare of Louisiana

It’s no secret that I am a thirty something year old mama. I’ve literally been pregnant and/or breastfeeding for the last five years, even though it feels like it’s been longer than that. Before that, my youth consisted of basically getting all of the sleep and sun-kissed skin that I am certainly missing out on now. Did you even live in the 2000’s if you didn’t pay monthly fees to live in the tanning beds? Were you even doing it right if you didn’t have the little kissy lips , heart or a playboy bunny tan line along your panty line? Let’s not forget about all of those tanning accelerators that made you feel like your skin was going to explode at any moment. I can’t count how many times I nearly baked myself to death in a tanning bed or laying pool side. Being tan was in and what can I say..I was with the times.

Being a mama to two little angels who have each nursed for almost two years each and also hate sleep, being 30 and only in the last few years taken up on a good skincare routine have all caught up with me. While I am happy with my skin and over all appearance, I sometimes find myself looking like I feel. Tired and worn out…kinda like the perfect baseball glove but not exactly the look I’m going for or at all really.

Some of you may know this but you are super limited to the things you are allowed to do while pregnant or breastfeeding. I’ve been restricted on what all I could do, use and take for forever..until a few weeks ago when I finally got my two year old to stop nursing. Que the hallelujah choir! To celebrate not breastfeeding anymore, I contacted an old friend of mine who works at Laser SkinCare of Louisiana. I wasn’t exactly sure what I wanted to do or what my skin really needed so I sent her a few pictures of my skin and let her decide what I could benefit from the most.

We landed on a procedure called an IPL which is Intense Pulsed Light or also known as a photo-facial. It’s a type of light therapy that’s used for treating and tightening wrinkles or fine lines, sun damage, skin pigmentation, freckles, birth marks, varicose veins and age spots. With each pulse, a bright light passes through the uppermost layer of skin called the epidermis. It draws out the pigment producing cells and disperses the uneven pigment. This procedure can be done anywhere on the body but is most popularly done on the face. It’s gentle yet effective and a long-lasting solution with zero down time.

I was SO excited to try this procedure. Like I said, I’ve developed a lot of freckling over the years from sun damage and least we forget that being pregnant can sometimes lead to developing hyper-pigmentation or “pregnancy mask.” And then Jessica introduced me to this little machine called a Visia. It captures multi-spectral photos of your face. It examines your complexion for enlarged pores, fine lines, wrinkles, rough texture, evidence of bacteria, UV spots from overexposure to the sun and pigment changes in the skin. This sorcery completely blew my mind!

I set my face inside of the Visia, it rotated around my face and began taking photos. When I looked at the screen on the side I was in complete awe at the amount of damage I have on my skin! But sadly, I believed it. Like I said, I knew I didn’t take the best care of my skin for the longest time.

From this point, we moved to the treatment room where I’d be doing the IPL. The treatment bed was super comfortable, I think they actually call it the “Cadillac.” Jessica began by cleansing my skin and prepping it with ultrasound gel for the procedure. I was actually pretty nervous that this was going to hurt but it honestly wasn’t bad at all. No worse than being lightly popped with a rubber band and even that’s over exaggerating.

We focused on my more prominent freckles for my first appointment. Sometimes it only takes 1-2 treatments and other times it needs more than that to eliminate all of the damage. It really just depends on your skin and the frequency used on the machine.

Over the past week I have watched a few places on my face develop into darker spots and begin to simply flake off. Some spots are still a little dark after seven days but I’m confident they’ll be following suit in the days to come. I’ve also noticed that my complexion is brighter and more even in general!

Photo on the left is the first morning after the procedure. Photo on the right is seven days after procedure.

Laser SkinCare of Louisiana offers a variety of procedures and treatments. Dr. Duplechain and his amazing staff are driven towards providing you with only the best of services and helping you fall in love with the skin you’re in. Call today(337-237-1116) to get started and ask about the special of the month that I received or upcoming specials!

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by the office of Dr. J. Kevin Duplechain

 

How To Take Control Of Anxiety & Depression

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Suffering from anxiety and depression means living on the edge..with basically everything. The tiniest things trigger you and cause a lot of mental chaos. It means overplaying scenarios in your mind on things you could have said or done but for whatever reason, you didn’t. For me it meant a lot of days spent in bed under the covers with the curtains and my eyes closed. It also meant a lot of nights of silent crying. You know the kind of cry where you curl up in a ball, you feel the ache in your chest and throat, then tears just come uncontrollably? The kind where you can’t breathe anymore but somehow you breathe through it because you don’t want to wake anyone in the house and being upset about it is easier than explaining it. Because let’s be honest, that’s way easier anyway since we don’t even understand it ourselves.

I’m going to tell you about some of my  struggles and how I internalize them. I want you to know that what I tell you might help you but it might not either. Each of our journeys are beautiful and unique in their own way. Even if we don’t see it that way at the time. The times that hurt or put us through hurt, those times aren’t necessarily beautiful but it’s how we react to those situations that mold us into stronger beings.

Blaming yourself.

I won’t tell you things happen for a reason and I won’t tell you ALL things happen according to God’s plan even though I’ve been raised to believe it all of my life. Or maybe a broken heart was all apart of God’s plan all along, who knows..all I know is the number one thing that set me back the most were those two phrases. At thirty years old I can’t come up with one solid reason that makes sense for why I was bullied in school, why I’ve had five pregnancies but only have two children, why my mother drank herself to death, why my father-in-law was murdered or why anything negative with friends, family or people in my life could go so incredibly sour. Trust me, I’ve taken a long hard look at myself in the mirror(quite a few times) and tried to figure out what was wrong with me and how these things could keep happening to me. I asked myself what I had done in my life to deserve these things. I beat myself up over these things because I’m a huge believer in what goes around comes around. Surely I did something somewhere along the way to deserve this kind of pain.  Perhaps I did. I have done so much bible reading, self-care reading and discovery, therapy, journaling and praying…I know my faults and I have worked and still work so hard on them to better myself. I know I will never be perfect and I never want to wear that kind of crown. But getting through my anxiety and depression is a constant run on the hamster wheel. Waking up happy doesn’t just happen. Something to factor in is that I didn’t choose depression or anxiety, it chose me. If it chose you too, you have to give yourself credit where it’s due. You did whatever you had to do to stay alive today. Even if it was as small as changing from one pair of pajamas to the next or showering, getting dressed and showing up to work, keeping your children fed and happy…you’re doing it! You’re doing what you have to do to keep going!

The reason I said I won’t tell you that all things happen according to God’s plan is because I think a lot of us tend to forget that there’s a fallen angel out there who’s only goal is to rip every good thing from our lives until we feel like we have nothing left to live for. Satan wants nothing more than to control our hearts and lives and bring us the most utter and sick sorrows. I think God’s plan for us would never intend to bring us such hurt or pain. The bible says in Deuteronomy 31:8 ” The Lord Himself goes before you and will be with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid. Do not be discouraged.”

This might not be what you think or believe and that’s okay.

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Writing it all down.

One of the number one things that helped me was journaling. Something about putting it all down on paper helped to get it all out of my system. At the time, I wanted to write it all down because I didn’t want to forget anything that happened. Whether it was a dream, something that happened, how I was feeling..you name it. Anything and everything had fair game in my journal. It’s interesting to look back and read now. I still feel everything that I wrote down years ago but it’s inspiring to see how far I have come since then.

Learning to say no..and yes.

I think we all know darn good and well when we really ought to say yes and no to things but for whatever reason, we just don’t go with our gut. We do things we don’t really want to do for fear of upsetting someone or letting them down. In turn, we really end up letting ourselves down. Or those times when we know we should say yes because whatever it is, could be good for us but again..we do the opposite because fear of the unknown is a safer space.

The powerful and uplifting feeling of saying yes and no in the right times is key in my opinion. It can be incredibly uncomfortable especially when you know you’re letting someone down but when you finally do something positive for yourself for a change, those people get on board with it eventually. Not to mention, if these people truly care about you and your wellbeing, they’ll either understand or move on to the next person who lets them use them. You have to stick to your guns. Shutting out all sources of negativity helps you get through those dark seasons. It’s also incredibly uncomfortable saying yes to positive opportunities that could let some good in but it also brings in sources of light in for future seasons. Which is a good thing! Being able to say yes and no in the right times gives you the opportunity to take control back on your life.

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Stop comparing yourself.

I still struggle with this all the time. I will not sit here and lie to you about that. One of the number one thief’s of joy is comparing yourself to other people. People who are prettier than we are, funnier than we are, have things we don’t have, do things we can’t do, have more money, drive a fancy car, have a bangin’ body, have more success, go on vacations..you get the idea. You already know what I am talking about it. We are all guilty of doing this at some point or another. It is so bad for us yet we do it all the time. But why? Is it because we aren’t satisfied with what we have? Is it because we want more but aren’t motivated enough to do anything about it? It probably has a lot to do with social media these days if you ask me. Everyone’s lives appear so perfect when you only see their highlight reel. Proverbs 4:23 says ” Above all, be careful what you think because your thoughts control your life.” If we applied this daily, we would stop stealing our own joy from ourselves. If we are constantly comparing ourselves to other people and wanting what they have, it makes us lose our sense of self and who God made us to be. Remember, God rewards those who are faithful with the gifts they are given. It’s not about what you have or you don’t have, it’s what you do with what you have that’s important.

Stop complaining.

I seriously wish I could go back in time and kick my younger, childish self in the rear end..all thanks to Facebook memories and TimeHop. I didn’t realize how negative and whiny I was until this cute little feature became available. I wish I knew how complaining would get me no where. It just drug out a super long and super sad process of nothingness. Instead, I wish I would have thought of it as what kind of lesson God was trying to teach me or tried practicing being grateful for what I did have over what I didn’t. I catch myself a lot these days falling into old patterns where I focus on everything that’s going wrong. This step is hard but if you practice on even the tiniest things that make you happy and how many of them there actually are, it gets easier to stop focusing on all the negative. Trust the process and remember not to beat yourself up about it.

Discover your why.

Finding your why gives you reason for everything. So I’ll cut straight to the chase here…my children saved me. That’s not to say the family or friends I have or my husband didn’t, they did but only to a certain extent. Those people gave me meaning to keep going but my children gave me my purpose to keep living.

My mother’s mom, whom I never met, left my mom when she was six years old. She chose to be selfish and do…whatever she did after she left without ever looking back or questioning her decision. Even when my mom tried to give her the opportunity to meet my brother and I when we were born, she wasn’t interested.

When everything happened with my mother, I couldn’t help but blame this person who I should have been able to call my grandmother. It’s like she set up this really screwed up domino effect. After my mother passed away, there I was, the next domino in line. It only made sense that I would be broken since the two generations of women who I should have been able to admire and learn from were both quitters.

And then I had my babies. I thought I knew love when I said I do, I thought I knew love when I had positive pregnancy tests, I thought I knew love when I felt their little flutters in my tummy..but it wasn’t until they laid them on my chest and I got to look in their eyes and see what my purpose in life was. My girls. My husband and I reconnected on a level like we hadn’t in a long time and it has been so beautiful and life altering. We both needed them more than they think need us.

They’re my why. They’re my reason for everything. For standing up every time I fall, for pushing through all the hard times, for bettering myself mind and body, for working to be successful with my businesses and for fighting my anxiety and depression like my life depends on it. Because it does matter. I matter. I never want my girls to know the kind of hurt I’ve felt. I never want them to know what it’s like to have a mama who gave up on them. It stops with me. I’m worth it and you are too.