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!

13 Reasons Why…You Need A Hollywood Laser Peel:

I know you’re already wondering what the heck this is, so I will make this quick and painless, just like the procedure!

The Hollywood Laser Peel is a fancy way of saying Carbon Laser Facial. It’s also known as the Charcoal Facial or Charcoal Peel. Liquid Carbon is applied directly to the entire face, then the laser is used to remove it. When the laser goes off, it blasts the carbon away. The carbon absorbs contaminants in the skin, so when the laser zaps the carbon off, it removes that too! And that is reason #1 why you should get one of these peels!

#2: Your skin will get a much needed exfoliation. Proper exfoliation removes dead skin cells from the surface. Meaning it can unclog your pores and leave a fresh new layer of skin that’s more accepting of the moisturizers you use. It makes the products you use, work much more efficiently!

#3: It will improve the skin’s texture. Skin texture can often end up damaged or uneven due to the sun, scarring, dehydration, lack of the right vitamin usage and even season change among other things. This peel will immediately improve the way your skin looks and feels. It will make your makeup application look much smoother too!

As you can see here, I have a few breakouts on my forehead. This is what I was looking forward to treating. I don’t break out very often! The one above my eyebrow was so intense and painful!

#4: You can expect your fine lines to be reduced! The laser is actually pretty warm when you feel the surge go off so it causes the skin to contract and it stimulates collagen! This means you will see your skin be much firmer and have a more youthful appearance.

#5: Your pores will shrink. This was a huge one for me and definitely one of the main things I noticed about this treatment. My pores aren’t really large or dilated in any particular place. However, my nose seems to be one of the only areas that I will regularly get whiteheads. My pores are just wide open there so it makes sense that they just accept dirt, oil and bacteria with open arms…you know what I mean. It’s been several weeks since I received this facial and that’s one of the biggest changes I have seen in my skin. My nose doesn’t have pot holes all over it anymore. Stop laughing, it’s not funny. But seriously, if larger pores are a thing for you, this is your jam!

#6: Zero Downtime! Let’s be honest, we live in a fast paced world and we often want to partake in things that give us fast results. There aren’t many things in life that offer a quick fix, but this service will offer immediate results afterward and the days following. Imagine if you continuously received this service once a month and how much your skin and complexion would thank you!

#7. With that said, it isn’t painful at all. I wouldn’t even go far as to say it’s uncomfortable. It definitely does have a sensation though. It’s almost like when your arm or foot goes to sleep and then it starts to tingle. It’s like quick little zaps of tingle. If that makes any sense!

This photo was taken about a week after the treatment. This photo has not been edited or altered in any way. The breakouts were gone and the one I worried about the most above my eyebrow had disappeared and I was left with a soft, smooth surface. No bumpy scar tissue or anything that causes your makeup to cake up on top of in efforts to cover.

#8. It’ll set your acne straight! Having a breakout is actually a prime time to get the treatment. Since it blasts out all the bacteria responsible for the acne, it can minimize and diminish those bad boys within just a few short days. Whether your skin is acne prone in general, you have hormonal breakouts, reactions to medications…it’ll help!

#9. The regenerative results with your collagen and elasticity in the skin continues for weeks and months to come and there’s an even higher success rate with following the recommended treatment schedule.

#10. This treatment is a quick and easy way to achieve bright, smooth and beautiful skin just before prom, a photoshoot, a wedding or any type of special event where you’d like to show up just a little more extra than normal. Even if you have no events coming up and you’d like to sport the best skin you’ve ever had…consider this!

#11. It’s what a lot of celebrities do!  A-list celebrities such as Kim Kardashian, Jennifer Aniston and Angelina Jolie do this treatment very often and their skin is gorgeous! They also probably benefit from many other treatments and procedures but this particular charcoal facial promises plump, soft and radiant skin!

#12. This treatment is well suited for many skin types and skin conditions. I will say that if you are sensitive like me, you should do just fine. However, you’ll be able to judge best upon consultation with your skin care specialist.

#13. You deserve some Red Carpet pampering. If you are a mom and you are reading this, you know just as much as I do, you aren’t getting enough sleep. You’re probably not drinking enough water. You’re probably not filling your cup regularly like you should. You’re probably not taking care of yourself or your skin like you want to. Cut to the chase and splurge on yourself because you deserve it!

I enjoyed this treatment and I look forward to my next one! You can schedule a consultation or appointment by calling Laser SkinCare if Louisiana at (337) 237-1116. They will be happy to assist you and tend to all of your questions and concerns.

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

VBeam Me Up Scotty

So, a few weeks ago, I had a lot of things going on that really just drug me down through the dirt. Don’t worry, this isn’t going to be one of those sappy “poor me” blog posts, I promise.

Long story short, I got sick back to back..to back. I went to doctors, I was prescribed all kinds of medications and I had an awful allergic reaction to some steroids. You know that game kids play called bobbing for apples? I looked like I had gone bobbing for french fries in a deep fryer. It was so embarrassing. And the hardest part was having to wait until it was all out of my system, which took several weeks. Being a beauty influencer, I rely on my face to be the billboard for my brand and my business. In many cases, makeup could easily cover any flaws or imperfections but this was so far from either of those things. It was bumpy and bright red and while a lot of spots went away, not all of them did.

I went to my trusted skin care specialist, Jessica Darbonne at Laser SkinCare of Louisiana, for a treatment and ended up getting something other than what I went in there for. I was going to get another IPL like I wrote about a couple of months ago, but my skin couldn’t even handle that.  I thought the spots that I had left on my face were still left over from the allergic reaction that I had but she told me that those left over spots were actually scars left over from the reaction. F A N T A S T I C…. just what I need, scars on my face. I know it’s not the worst thing in the world that could happen but dang it..I did not want this!

So she switched me to another procedure called the VBeam Perfecta. This type of treatment will safely and effectively remove all types of discoloration in the skin. This includes sun spots, age spots and freckles. Those who have stretch marks, warts, psoriasis, scars, rosacea, port wine stains, facial veins or even leg veins would benefit from this treatment as well! Jessica mentioned that the beam is actually targeted towards the color red in general, so this procedure was going to be perfect for my new, unwanted scarring.

Pictures above are before procedure.

The way this treatment works is by using a Pulsed Dye Laser to disperse bursts of light into the skin. The light is then safely absorbed into the skin and treats the abnormalities. It is safe, effective and has zero downtime. Some people even notice results right away! For me, I started noticing within a few hours that the redness was going down significantly..can I get an AMEN?

For this treatment, I had to go to a different room than a typical facial room. This particular machine has it’s own special suite. I got cozy and ready to start the treatment. Jessica put my hair back and goggles over my eyes, then put her hands over my face and said,” I am Buzz Lightyear, I come in peace….” Just kidding, I just wanted to make sure you were really paying attention. I swear, one day I will stop making references towards my toddlers and their infatuation with Disney movies, but today is not that day! Seriously though, Jessica started the procedure by working from one side of my face to the next and before I knew it, the procedure was all finished. I know you’re probably wondering..”So…you get zapped by this really intense flash light..and then you’re just fine afterwards?” The answer is yes. Have you ever been unexpectedly sprayed by a water hose that’s on full force? It doesn’t exactly hurt but its a surprising sensation? That’s sorta what this is like except this sensation comes from a much tinier source and of course, it’s not water, it’s light. That’s the best way I can explain it. Not painful, just a surprising little zap.

Pictures above are three days after procedure.

Like I mentioned above, I started noticing the redness and inflammation in my skin going down in the hours following the procedure. Days and weeks after, they’re all gone! This treatment more than exceeded my expectations. I know that my skin doesn’t look all that bad in these pictures but imagine what it could do for someone who has a lot more going on than I did!

You can schedule a consultation or appointment by calling Laser SkinCare of Louisiana at (337) 237-1116. They will be happy to assist you in choosing your next skincare treatment!

Picture above is twenty days after the procedure. Smooth, glowing skin!
Disclosure: This post is sponsored by the office of Kevin J. Duplechain.

Rules For Wearing A Swimsuit

I know I don’t have an in-shape body. I wasn’t in great shape before pregnancies, during pregnancies, after pregnancies and I gained more weight while breastfeeding than I did while my babies were baking in the oven. I have stretch marks, I have cellulite, I have empty tube sock tee-tahs and I’ve gone a mean muffin top. My thighs are full of thunder and lightening. My arms could come in a close race with Drogon’s wings on Game of Thrones. My double chin game is strong and up until last year…I wasn’t confident sporting any of that in a swim suit. Over the last year I’ve talked with a lot of women about body image and swimsuit season. I’ve compiled a few key things I think are important for swimsuit wearing this season.

R U L E S F O R W E A R I N G A S W I M S U I T:

1. Have a Body. Love your body and teach your mind to respect it! Workout because you love yourself or don’t if it’s not your thing but love your body either way. Love the scars, the shape & curves, the stretch marks, the size..all of it; from head to toe. Love your favorite parts and your not so favorite parts. Love every square inch of the body that you wake up in every single day. Love the body that God gave you. Don’t let the world tell you what kind of body you should have or strive for. Your body is also just a part of who you are, it isn’t EVERYTHING you are. And last time I checked, I don’t think fluffy or out of shape is the absolute worst thing you can be in life. Be proud you have a body! Be proud of the things it’s done and will do!

2. Wear the swimsuit. Wear the swimsuit. WEAR THE SWIMSUIT. Wear the one that you feel lovely in. Wear the one that makes you happy. Wear the one you’ve been eyeballing for months. Wear the one that you love before everyone else starts saying what they don’t like about it. Wear the one that you and your subconscious are aggressively in love with. Stop comparing yourself to women on the internet. Stop worrying about the women on the side of you and what they’re wearing or how their body looks. Stop worrying if they’re looking at you or whispering things. That’s their character and their problem, not yours. Worry about yourself. Keep your eyes on your own paper. Stay in your own lane, even when the traffic sucks.

3. If you have children, rule #3 is for you. Mamas..we only have 18 delicious summers with our babies. What summer are you on? How many summers have you spent worrying about your swimsuit body while your children beg you to play? Forgive me if I’m hitting a sensitive spot but you need to hear this. Your children do not care about any of the things that bother you about your body. They care about your time and attention with them. Whether you are splashing in a pool with them, running through a tunnel of spraying water or hunched over building sand castles. Those are the memories they want and need. They will unfortunately learn about negative body image through tv and magazine but it’s our job as their parent to teach them to love their body no matter what. You’re the only person who’s worried about your body and what it does when you run, squat or bend over. Stop worrying about it! Teach yourself to love the skin you’re in. Make those memories with your babies. They’re only little once. They’ll remember the fun over the flab. I promise.

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.

The Barn.

My husband and I just celebrated our 10 year wedding anniversary. Holy macaroni, you read right, TEN WHOLE YEARS. How time passed so quickly, I don’t think I will ever know but as our anniversary date approached we started planning and trying to figure out what the best trip would be. We knew we didn’t want anything in a big city..or city at all really. We knew we didn’t want to be busy the whole time. We knew we didn’t want there to be a lot of people or really any people for that matter. We wanted simple, we wanted to be secluded, we wanted total peace and quiet. Which is what led us to our first stop on our vacation. The Barn.

The Barn was a lucky find on Airbnb. I say lucky because I searched for what felt like weeks for a good hideaway and it was hard finding a place that could accommodate us on such short notice. I wanted something that wouldn’t be too far off of our main route to the Boltfarm Treehouse, which I will be blogging about next. My first few searches were in some small towns in Alabama. There was a really cute Caboose…yes, a train car, an actual caboose that was completely converted into an adorable tiny living space. Then there was this house thirty plus miles from the nearest anything but the views were gorgeous. Lastly, there was a Yurt we found on a campground overlooking a lake. All of them were beautiful and different, just like we wanted but none of them seemed like the perfect fit so, I continued to look. I found myself looking just south of Atlanta along our route, which led me to The Barn.

As soon as I saw it, I knew this was it. I immediately showed pictures to Nick and he was like YES!! It’s basically everything that Pinterest, Rae Dunn and Farmhouse dreams are made of. The owners put every little detail into thought when they created this space. From the beautifully landscaped grounds, the outdoor grill area, to the screened in game room, the pool and hot tub to all the homey details of the inside of the barn. I was definitely taking notes for our new home in Breaux Bridge! As we told friends one of our stays was at a Barn, the looks we got were hilarious. They were like,” …..you’re staying in a what?” It made me laugh, they just didn’t know how good this was going to be.

The whole space is incredibly dreamy. The Barn is actually situated in the owners backyard but it’s off set and there’s a lot of privacy. It’s not in a big town but it is about 40 minutes south of Atlanta. I say it’s not a big town, it’s much bigger than what I’m used to over here. The Chick-Fila and Burger King look like five star restaurants (seriously) compared to how they’re constructed down here in Louisiana! The town has a lot of places to shop, restaurants and antique stores. To be honest, even though the town has all of those amenities, it has a lot of country to it too which is what we were mostly interested in. With a short drive, you can easily get to a lot of beautiful hiking trails that have lovely sights and waterfalls. We went to Chochran Mill Park which was about 20 minutes away from The Barn and it was amazing! We only hiked one of the trails but one of the first sights was a gorgeous waterfall.

Back to barn though, when we arrived, we were greeted by a deer in the driveway. Which totally reminds me of going home. Back where I grew up, it was nothing to drive up and see them in the driveway or in the yard somewhere. Sounds cliché but this was definitely a home away from home experience. What made the experience even more personal was a little letter board in the hall welcoming us to their Barn and the owners wishing us a happy anniversary. This is the part where you say ” aweee!”

Even though we did go hiking and out to dinner one night at a local Sushi restaurant, we spent all of our time soaking up the barn and each other. My husband and I are both entrepreneurs and are both always incredibly busy. He is also a Firefighter meaning, even when he is sleeping, he is working. I am a stay at home mom, raising our two sweet girls ages 4 and 2. While that is a lot in general, I am also a Director and Certified Mentor for LimeLife by Alcone and I blog. All of it makes us super happy but just like anything else, sometimes you need a break. The Barn was perfect for this. I like to think we are simple people and simple things make us very happy and that’s what The Barn delivered for us. An opportunity to slow down, get some rest, reconnect with each other and enjoy each other which is something I think every modern day couple can definitely appreciate these days.

We sat in the hot tub, we played pool, we laughed, we played the large sized Jenga, we napped on the outdoor swing, we laughed some more, we caught up on some of our favorite Netflix shows, we hiked and it was the most fun My husband and I been able to have in a while together. I think my husband would agree. We basically got to be the big kids we are and have fun! Having kids and hustling to have thriving businesses are definitely some of the best blessings life can offer but it was so nice to disconnect for a minute and just be. Just enjoy time and each other. Jesus says in the book of Mark 6:31,

Come away with me to a quiet place and rest awhile.

And that’s exactly what we did. We both loved our stay and highly recommend The Barn in Newnan, GA. It’s such a fantastic getaway! I’m just glad I gave AirBNB a try before booking a hotel room somewhere along the way because there is absolutely no way any hotel, five star or not, could ever top our experience here. I don’t know when our next trip would be but if I can help it, The Barn will definitely be a part of our stay any time we travel on that side of the country. This AirBNB is perfect for a one night stay, a weekend stay or even a week long stay for any occasion. Thanks again to Mona and Brent for allowing us to come and experience your little piece of heaven!! We will be back!

Check out the link to The Barn here: https://abnb.me/6WHs3w3T5W

 

Less Stress, More Facials.

Anyone else love a good facial? Let me introduce you to the Cadillac of facials, the Hydra-Facial. You know when you get a facial, the first thing you do afterward is feel your skin and you’re so excited because of how soft and smooth it is? Imagine that except you can also immediately see a difference in your skin too! Sign me up, right?

A hydra-facial is a revitalizing treatment that promises long term healthy skin and isn’t targeted towards only one type of skin, it’s meant for all skin types! Yes, you read correctly, even the most sensitive of skins can benefit from this fancy facial. There is no downtime and you’ll instantly feel and see gratifying results. This treatment removes dead skin cells from the surface, extracts impurities( a.k.a dirt, oil, pimples, white heads, black heads, etc..) and cleanses, hydrates and moisturizes the new skin. So basically, this facial cleanses not just only the surface but it cleanses below the surface as well. KA-CHOWWW!! Sorry, I have toddlers who love the movie, Cars.

The first thing you’ll do is have a consultation with your skincare specialist. You will discuss your skin and your concerns and that will help customize your service, down to what types of cleanser, serums or moisturizers to use. From there you’ll be set up on the facial table, your hair will be tucked away behind a towel so your hair doesn’t get wet and the facial will begin.

Your skincare specialist will begin by cleansing and exfoliating the skin. A ‘deplaning’ tool will be used to help open up the pores and sweep away the uppermost later of debris and dead skin cells.

After that, we did a minor acid peel. The peel used in this treatment is usually a glycolic or salicylic acid. These typically don’t leave the skin feeling like it’s on fire, for me, it just gave a tingling sensation. Glycolic acid is the holy grail of exfoliation meaning it removes the outermost layer of dead skin. It will leave your skin brighter and noticeably fresher! It’s also used to treat signs of aging, discoloration in the skin and scarring. Salicylic acid is super beneficial for helping to dissolve skin debris that clogs your pores and causes acne. Together, these two form the perfect team for glowing skin.

The next step is every pimple poppers dream..well..kinda sorta. Instead of manually removing all the ooey goodness out of pores with the tips of your fingers or an extractor, a special tool is used to basically vacuum the skin. The sound this little tool makes kind of reminds me of the little suction tool that’s used inside a dentists office but I assure you this little fella stayed on the surface of my face. Getting back to every pimple poppers dream, the best part of this whole enchilada..there’s this little secret cup attached to the backside of this machine used to do all of these magical things. This cup, stores all of what came out of your skin. Mine actually wasn’t that bad but I googled some and I saw some that looked like it came straight out of a gumbo pot. Not the meat of course, just the juice, ha ha.

Lastly, the serum application. This step infuses antioxidants, collagen and hydration back into the skin using a vortex-fusion tool.

Your skin will be glowing immediately after the treatment is over. Generally there’s little to no redness following the facial, my nose was a little red but by the time I made it to my truck in the parking lot, the redness had subsided. I definitely recommend this facial for anyone who is looking for a facial with immediate results. You can get this treatment once a month with results that last typically 5-7 days or longer. I’m at almost the two week mark and my skin is pretty much looking the same, just saying.

Interested in a facial with immediate, fresh and glowing results? Call Louisiana Skin Care of Louisiana at (337) 456-3282 to schedule today!

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

What does it mean to really live?

Last night was the first time ever that my husband and I ever had the house or the night completely to ourselves, kid-less. I was kinda shocked because both of my kids voluntarily left to stay at their grandparents. Mostly shocked at my youngest because she’s such a homebody. But none the less, it happened and I was looking forward to lots and lots and lots of undisturbed sleep. But that didn’t happen.

No, it’s not what you’re probably thinking. I’d like to keep this post as PG as possible, ha ha. I actually had a nightmare that felt like it lasted all night long and it would not stop.

In September, it will make ten years my mother passed away. It’s nothing out of the ordinary for me to have dreams about her. For the first few years, I have only dreamt of her being sick, looking sick and not speaking to me. Every time she would visit me in my dreams, I wanted a visual of the real her, I wanted her hug, her laugh, her smile and her voice. It wouldn’t be until about two years ago that she would start to appear more normal in my dreams but she’s never happy in any of them.

Before I go into the debilitating nightmare I had last night, I will share one of my last dreams of her.

We were in my grandfathers house, this is where majority of my dreams take place. Not just of her, just..all of my happiest childhood memories are there so I guess that’s where my subconscious takes me. In this particular dream, my husband and I were upstairs asleep with the girls. The girls were restless and we were tired of struggling to get them to sleep so we came downstairs. On the way downstairs, I could hear sobbing. I came around the corner and into the side bedroom. (In real life, that used to be her bedroom.) As I’m walking in, I see my mother sitting at the edge of the bed, gripping my Erin Condren Life Planning Calendar to her chest and she is sobbing so hard. I walked up to her and asked her what was wrong and she would only shake her head. (Remember, my mother doesn’t speak to me in my dreams..) I asked again and again and she would only shake her head, until finally she started repeatedly telling me she was sorry. I told her it was okay and she held up my calendar to my face and said,” No, Christen, I’m so sorry, I changed everything. I’m so sorry.”

When I woke up, I was so overwhelmed with emotions I didn’t understand. In my dream, I knew she wasn’t alive but she was right in front of me. I was happy I heard her voice, finally. I was upset because it was just another nightmare that I had to wake up from. I was crippled at the details of the dream itself. She was gripping my calendar and she said she changed everything. Was this a real message from her? Was it just my mind playing games with me? No matter what the real answer is, I like to believe that it was really her coming to me and apologizing for how her orchestrated death truly altered the rest of my life.

My dream last night had somewhat of a crippling affect on me this morning. You know how sometimes you’re in the middle of a dream and you wake up and you try to go back to sleep to see what happens next? But that never happens? It happened to me last night. I was in and out of this dream all night long.

In last nights particular dream, I had already dealt with my mother’s death once. Only, she wasn’t buried and in the ground. My mother’s first death was everything about her fading out to nothing. Her smile was gone, her charisma had vanished, she wasn’t present anymore, she lost all love for people including her family and her life. She was basically a potato. She was alive but she wasn’t living. If that makes any sense.

When I heard the words,” Your mother died again” in my dream, it shattered me. The pain I felt was the same as the day I actually did watch her die. As I held her hand, as I watched the monitors numbers drop lower and lower by the minute, as I sunk to the floor, as I lost all feeling in my entire body inside and out and began to cry to the point I couldn’t breathe anymore. I felt that same hurt in that nightmare.

When I got up this morning to my husband already being gone to work and my children away at their grandparents, I was just as alone as I felt in my bad dream and on the real day she died. I got dressed, I got in my truck, I went to the gym..and in between sets, I had an epiphany.

How many of us suffer multiple deaths? I know you’re probably thinking, um..we only die once lady. Hear me out, I’m talking hypothetically, how many of us only have a pulse but no passion or purpose? How many of us stop living because life gets too hard, we go through the motions or handling all of the things is too much to bear? How many of us settle because we are too afraid to pursue the steps that it takes to get us to the next place in life? How many of us quit because we can’t take the heat?

How many of us can actually answer that question honestly and say I am still living up to my absolute best potential and I am showing up every single day? Not for her, not for him, or any of them..but for you. How many of us can actually say with pride that you have the ability to push with stride when things get hard?

Are you even living? Who is really living before they punch that clock one last time? I don’t know about you..but I want to live.

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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!!!

 

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.