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!

http://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!

http://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.

http://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.

AsherKate Boutique with Betsy Guidry

There’s a new boutique in town or at least in cyber land and I’m super excited to tell you all about it. It’s been one of my main go tos for the last few months. I have had a lot of people ask me about my clothes and where I shop from so I figured, blogging about it would make this easy for everyone! My best friend and stylist Betsy Guidry is who dresses me and has agreed to work with me on this, so I hope you enjoy!

Betsy Guidry is originally from the bootheel of Missouri. She moved to South Louisiana a little over 10 years ago and is where she currently resides with her husband and two small children. She is a Fashion Merchandiser,  Esthetician, Aveda trained Educator, Etsy Shop Owner and AsherKate Boutique Stylist. She enjoys playing outside with her little ones, loves coffee, reading and the beach!

What is AsherKate?

AsherKate is an online boutique specializing in women’s clothing, shoes and accessories. It launched in September 2018 and is headquartered in Katy, Texas. In addition to helping you express your style, AsherKate provides opportunities for personal success through their Stylist program. AsherKate is also committed to helping women, children and communities around the word by donating 5% of every order to a featured charity.

Why did you become a Stylist for AsherKate and what exactly do you do?

I have known Gina, the owner, since she lived in Lafayette and owned a popular boutique in town called Artesia. When I saw that she was launching an online boutique, I was very interested! Even more interested when I saw she was offering opportunities for women to work with her and represent AsherKate. As a work-from-home-mom who has been passionate about fashion and clothing for as long as I can remember, being an AK Stylist is my dream job!

As a Stylist, I help women find AsherKate clothing and accessories that work best for them, just like a personal stylist would. I have a Facebook based Insiders Group where I share new releases, style tips, outfit ideas, promotions, giveaways and more! I also just launched what I call “Betsy, Dress Me” -an opportunity to have complimentary styling session with me. You complete a form that I will send, which includes your preferences and budget and from there I will handpick styles that I feel will work best for you!

As a Senior Stylist, I also get to mentor and guide new Stylists for AsherKate Boutique.

What is your favorite AsherKate piece that you own?

That’s a hard one– I really do love them all! I definitely wear my Jeggings the most..so a tie between my distressed Presley Jeggings and our new Sanai White Fringe Top. I can’t resist the pull-on stretch of the Jeggings and the top is so trendy and comfortable!

What do we have to look forward to from AsherKate?

So much goodness! For Spring and Summer we have released a lot of versatile clothing style options. Sunglasses, sandals, handbags and a lot of beautiful jewelry. We will continue to see new arrivals bi-monthly– more seperates, athleisure, accesories and a few other surprises! 🙂

What is a style you think people should stop wearing?

I really feel like these days, anything goes. If you love it and it makes you feel good, wear it! If you’re uncomfortable in it and are worried about it, then it’s probably not the best choice for you! I probably need to stop wearing my high school and college sweatshirts from 15+ years ago..but aren’t those the comfiest?!

How do you like to use color?

I have to admit that I love the color black myself, but I am really working to branch out using color for myself. I like pairing color with a muted pattern and colored jeggings are a fun accent right now. A pop of colored fringe earrings is a favorite of mine.

What is the most fun part to being a Stylist?

I really enjoy helping other women look and feel their best! I love the personal styling aspect and getting to pick pieces specifically for my customer’s needs and purposes. I also love each time we have new releases, it’s so exciting to share!

What would you never wear?

Never say never, but I don’t think I would wear a matching jacket and pant wind-suit ever again.

Your daytime uniform?

If I’m working from home, I’m most definitely in workout leggings and a tank. If I’m out and about- skinny jeans and a fun top or a simple dress with slip-ons.

Describe your style in 3 words…

Classic, Casual and Chic.

I would like to thank Betsy for taking her time to help me put this together. I really hope that you guys enjoy this write up. Betsy is not only a really good friend of mine but she is always my main go to whenever I am having a panic attack in my closet. She makes shopping and getting dressed easy and fun. Any questions I have, she is always quick to respond and if she doesn’t have an answer, she finds one! If you would like to reach out to Betsy for a styling consultation, learn more about becoming a stylist or would like to shop around, her links are down below:

Email: Betsyg.akstylist@yahoo.com

Website: http://www.betsyguidry.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/484902122006631/?ref=share

Instagram: @betsy.guidry.maker.stylist

When I grow up…

The one huge question that probably resonates with everyone is the almighty ‘What do you want to be when you grow up?’ I don’t really know if I had a solid answer for this growing up, I just knew I wanted to be happy and confident.

When I think about my childhood, I think about a lot of genuinely good times. Some of my favorites include my best friend and I playing in the woods until the sun was almost gone, making things in my dads wood shop with him, winning handstand competitions at Bela Karolyi’s gymnastic summer camps, talking on the air at my grandfathers radio station, riding around with my brother and his friends listening to “Gangsters Paradise” so loud my ear drums would vibrate long after we got out of the car and playing “chase” at church with my friends. Those are just a few of my favorites..I can continue writing this list for days.

Although I have an incredibly long list of amazingly happy memories..not all of my childhood was sunshine and rainbows. Just like any kid, I’m sure, we all start school and things change. Not all children are nice and all I can pray is that I instill a kind heart in my children so that they never inflict anyone with the kind of hurt that I had in school. Although, I know that at some point I will have to mend a broken heart or two.

I remember when I was in kindergarten, I used to take the bus to school. I was the first one on and the last one off. I would go back to sleep when I got on the bus and wake up when we got to school. One morning, I guess one of the older kids on the bus thought it would be funny to stick gum in my hair. I didn’t know until I got to school and I cried. The school ended up calling my mother to come try to get it out in the bathroom with toothpaste and peanut butter…and I still cried. That day, I earned the title as a cry baby and that name followed me until the day I graduated. I say I earned it because I cried…a lot.

Leading up to 3rd grade, I started wearing glasses and I spent the entire summer with my mom at my grandfathers house in South Louisiana and I basically ate REALLY GOOD the whole time I was there. Let’s just say that my glasses and my weight gain added to my really awesome cry baby resumé. Let’s not forget that the genes ran super strong for me to start a uni-brow very early in life. Que the facepalm.

I remember every year being incredibly trying but my 6th grade year really opened up my world for how awful kids can really be and also how school systems do not always do what they should do for their students. My mother picked me up at school that afternoon and immediately wanted to know what was wrong and what happened. This was the one time(besides the bubble gum incident) that I physically couldn’t hide what was wrong. I had scratches all over the sides of my face, some of them having broken the skin. I remember just wishing I could close my eyes and disappear because I just didn’t want to talk about it. I wanted it to go away. But, this wouldn’t go away and my persistent mother had to know what happened. And once again, I cried like a baby when I told her that several girls held me down in a bathroom while another used a toilet brush to scrub my face.

I would love to tell you that as a cheerleader, a top band student, a starter on the softball team, being a top student and having a popular football playing boyfriend that I had the perfect time and perfect life in High School. I will never tell you that my adolescence was perfect but I won’t tell you that it was absolutely horrible either. I tried really, really hard to deal with the hard times and I most definitely made the most of the good times. But..just as I did when I was five years old..I cried, a lot.

I didn’t tell you any of my stories so you would feel sorry for me or to get a rise out of you. I told you so that perhaps you could relate and understand that even though it appears like someone has it all or everything is so good..that’s sometimes very far from the truth. I want you to know where my heart sits with my life, my family and my children.

I wanted to be several things when I grew up but ultimately, I just knew I wanted to be happy. I wanted to overcome all of the things that I believed shaped me into who I was. I wanted more. I wanted better. What I didn’t know is that my mind is more powerful than I thought it was.

 “It hurts but that’s all it does. The most difficult part of the training is training your mind.  You build calluses on your feet to endure the road. You built calluses on your mind to endure the pain. There’s only one way to do that. You have to get out there and run.” -David Goggins

Take Action.

It wasn’t until very recently that I truly grasped that I was in charge and that no one was going to do this for me. I don’t know exactly what I had pictured but I guess I thought if I prayed enough that one day I would just wake up and I would just be happy. That’s NOT how it works. You don’t just wake up and everything is hunky dory. It requires a lot of daily effort and more than just praying. If you pray for something, you have to act on that prayer. God will open doors for you but unless you take a step towards entering that door then the door will just continue to be open and you’ll just be standing there..or maybe it will close before you decide to act.

Your life is on you. Just like my life is on me. I will not pretend like my life is perfect now, because that is so far from the truth, I am giggling as I type this. But I can tell you that my self discovery, self love and personal development journey has been the most invigorating and life altering experience I have ever had in my entire life. I know that a lot of the things that have happened in my life could absolutely break a person and I can’t count how many people have told me this. I know that a lot of my childhood and High School experiences were not all that great but they also helped shape me into who I am today. There’s something very powerful about being able to use what most people would use an excuse as fuel for your fire.

Stop making excuses. For yourself and for other people.

Learning to stop making excuses will empower you more than you could ever realize. A lot of the times we say,” Well, this happened so this is why I am the way I am” and that’s the end of it. We don’t move forward passed that point because we decide that there’s a period at the end of the sentence instead of a comma.. We decide that there is this permanent barrier there that we aren’t supposed to cross..but it’s so far from the truth. The comeback can be so powerful if you stop drowning yourself in the excuses you keep making. If it is important to you then you will find a way to make it happen, if it’s not, then you’ll make excuses. And don’t make excuses for the people in your life either, worry about yourself and how you want to be treated. Leave other people to deal with themselves. And if those people are in your way of your ambitions, do them and yourself a favor..boot them.

You are worth so much more.

It all begins and ends in your mind. When you decide that you are worth so much more than the setbacks you have been given, the shift happens. You begin to take control of your life situations when you put your well being first. I think as a mom, this particular nugget was incredibly difficult for me to process. As a wife, mother and homemaker, my whole world revolves around being a caregiver for my husband, children and home. And while that is still my role as a stay at home mother, I’ve learned to create healthy boundaries with it along with my relationships outside of my home. It’s been trying at times but so empowering. When you realize just how in control you can be, a lot of things change and for the better. Life stops happening to you, it starts happening for you. And when curve balls get thrown in your way, your mind set is well equipped to handle the play. And not only that, when you start living with your best self present, everything else has a way of being easier to handle. The pressure is off by trying to please everyone all the time. You see, I live for my family, no doubt..however one of my main struggles has been pouring from an undeniably empty cup. When I decided I wanted more for myself, I began shifting things that filled my cup. Such as girls nights once a month, gym time or even trips every few weeks to get my nails done to give a few examples. Little things like that that help me refuel. I can better take care of my family and do all the things once I am taken care of.

The truth is, I never felt popular or like I fit in growing up even though I tried with ever fiber of my being. I had this idea in my head that if I fit in with the in crowd then my problems would stop. If my name had a space on the roster where all of the popular kids names were, I would suddenly just find peace and happiness. It never happened like that. When it came time for me to decide what I wanted to be when I grew up, sure, a few things that I loved came to mind and I pursued them..but none of them are as fulfilling as learning how to become who I am today. If I had known then what I know now, I wouldn’t have cared about fitting in or any of that. I would have focused on living my absolute best life.

I think about my girls and how I felt when I was in school. I’ve continued to see myself as the same timid little girl who’s anxiety level was through the roof. And ultimately, who thought that all of those things just broke her as a human being. I want my girls to know that they can be strong and do better than I did. And in order for them to learn it, they have to see it. They have to see a strong mama. I have to be strong for them..and myself. It’s a learned behavior and I want them to know from the beginning just how enough they are. I want them to know that experiences they have in their life, don’t have to define who they are. Unlike their mama, they don’t have to be a cry baby.

 

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