Monday, August 15, 2016

The one about sticks and stones

Um, hi. I am just looking for a cool new bumper sticker.

I want it to say, "My child is an honor student pulled a stick today."

How many other parents would be interested in purchasing one?

It was inevitable. I knew it would happen sooner or later. No child is perfect, and my years in the classroom taught me that even the best and brightest will slip up and "pull a stick," "flip a card," "clip a strip," "clip down," "lose a star," or any other cute way to say, "You slipped up."

When my eyes met Noelle's after school today, she was already fighting back the tears.

"I pulled a stick today," she sputtered.

I threw my arms around her and pressed her cheek into my heart. My first thought was not anger or frustration or defensiveness.

I honestly felt relief.

You see, on the first night of school, when I was reviewing the classroom procedures packet that her teacher sent home, I felt a twinge of anxiety. It's not that I disagree with the idea. I used a similar system with both my 4th graders and my preschoolers. I just knew that my sweet, perfectionist, sensitive 6 year old would want to "end on green" each day of this school year, which is a pretty steep  goal. When, not if, she would fall short, she would surely be devastated.

So, I was relieved that we hadn't built a 174 day streak that would be broken by an ill-timed giggle or forgotten end-of-year assignment. Just shy of two weeks into 1st grade, and we are starting over tomorrow.

Of course, my heart broke for Noelle. I didn't delight in her pain, and a part of me had to fight back the Mama Bear that was trying to come out. This is uncharted territory for us. Noelle provides a lot of challenges to us as her parents, but in school she is typically 100% golden. I didn't exactly know the best way to handle this situation, and with Luke on a camping trip in Canada until next week, I was left to handle it on my own.

The offense -- talking to a friend when she wasn't supposed to be -- was minor. And not surprising. Girlfriend loves to talk! In fact, she has been struggling with passing her 1-minute math fact quizzes because she likes to stop after every problem and chat with herself about how she got the answer or admire the way she writes each digit. Getting dinged for talking was bound to happen sooner or later.

Just because I wasn't surprised doesn't mean I wasn't disappointed. Was I thrilled that she wasn't being a model student? No. Was I annoyed that she allowed something so easy to control to interrupt an otherwise fantastic start to the new school year? You bet. On the drive home, I lost myself somewhere between wanting to bring on additional consequences at home or buy her a puppy to make her feel better.

I settled on having her write a letter of apology to her teacher with a promise to do better, and a strong warning that if she pulls a stick again, she will lose TV privileges.

We went about our night the same we always do. I helped her with her homework, which included studying her spelling words and reading to me. I made dinner while the girls damn near killed each other played sweetly together. I got them to bed at a decent time (and by decent, I mean an hour earlier than normal because the Law of Mondays and Out-of-Town Husbands prevailed).

After the house was quiet, I reflected on the day's events and truly began to understand my role in all of this. As my children continue to learn and grow, they will continue to make mistakes. They will talk when they shouldn't. They will laugh when it's inappropriate. They will say bad words, tell a mean joke, and realize that many times it is simply easier to do "the wrong thing." And it will cost them. Cost them sticks. Cost them recess. Cost them TV and iPads.

It is not my job as their mama to protect them from these mistakes. It is not my job to fight their battles or question their teachers' every move, either. It is, however, my job to be there. To steadfastly be there. In all weather. In all seasons. In all triumphs and tragedies. To be consistent. To be predictable. To be firm when necessary, tough when it's called for, and maybe just a little bit rough in spots. To be cool when they run a little too hot and to be warm in the palm of their hands.

Like a stone.

Some days I am granite, all pulled-together and polished, and other days I am gravel, just a shitstorm of clutter on someone's driveway, but I am always their stone. And it will always be that way, no matter how many sticks they pull.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

the one about how she couldn't

Another school year is upon us, and I am pinching myself as I realize that it was one year ago when I was dropping my oldest child off for her first day of Kindergarten. I remember trying to swallow down the lump in my throat to the point that it physically hurt. Tears burned my eyes as I put on a brave face and smiled and waved and blew kisses and wished her well.

First Day of Kindergarten

An entire school year, and an entire summer later, and here we are....about to do this whole thing again. We have spent the past few weeks preparing for this day. Shopping for school supplies, picking out to new shoes, ordering new uniforms, and filling out paperwork...the process has been mostly enjoyable as I see how excited Noelle is to return to her beloved school.

Last Day of Kindergarten

But tonight, as I was packing the first of many, many lunches for this year, I thought to myself, "I should put a note in her lunchbox."

I didn't do this last year because...well...she couldn't read. Every now and then I might slip a post-it with a smiley face or an I Love you, but I never did a note because I knew she couldn't read.

But now she can. Now she reads.

So, with tears in my eyes, I folded up a card and tucked into her pink and purple leopard print lunch box with a sequined tie-dye heart (as you might imagine this was not the one I wanted her to pick, but I'm rollin' with it...).

It struck me just how much she couldn't do last school year, but now she can.

She couldn't write her last name, but now she's got all 11 letters of that sucker down pat.

She couldn't tie her shoes, but now she's a pro.

She couldn't remember her address or her phone number (and by that I mean my cell phone number because...home line? what's that?)...but now she recites them to a peppy little tune she created herself.

She couldn't put her head (or chin for that matter) under water in the swimming pool, and now she jumps off the diving board.

The list could just go on and on and on and on.

Children are just amazing. They learn despite the circumstances. They succeed despite the failures. They run despite the fatigue. They smile despite the fear.

We have so much to learn from our children if we would just let them teach us.

And honestly? It scares me a little to think of what she can't do right now, but will be able to do by the end of this year.

But it's a happy kind of scared. A proud kind of scared. An excited kind of scared.

I have always said that we aren't raising children, but we are raising adults, and heading off to school is just one step in that process.

So here's to Noelle, and to your child, too....and all their couldn'ts.

Friday, July 1, 2016

the one about why you shouldn't try Rodan+Fields

You might remember from a few posts ago that I am a consultant for Rodan+Fields skincare. In that post, I explained my reasoning for joining this company, and I shared my first set of before and after photos. I was nervous to put all of that out there-- not only show my skin in its naked form but to also say, in essence, "Hey, I am another person selling something!"

I am the first to shoot down most network marketing companies. My friends and family know this about me...which is why it was probably confusing as to why I would join such a company. For me, the reasons are simple. I use the products. I love the products. I want to share the products. I should make money for sharing these products. I WISH Target, Starbucks, and other businesses that I LOVE would pay me to use and share their products. But they don't. And that doesn't keep me from keeping them financially afloat each month, lemme tell ya.

So here I am, a full two months in from my starting date in April. Honestly... it has been better than I could have imagined. I don't feel pressured to sell anything. I am inspired by really strong, business-savvy women on my team, but I don't feel like a failure because my numbers don't stack up to theirs. I feel encouraged, supported, and challenged.

When I decided to leave my teaching job at the end of this year, I started to have the same feelings I felt when I left my first teaching job 3 years ago. Identity crisis. Who am I now that I am not a teacher? Money worries. Will I need to "ask" Luke for money for everything now that I am not making my own? (our marriage doesn't work like that anyway -- but the thought was there) Fear of burnout. Will I really feel happy with my days if they are spent completely with my children?

The R+F business side helps to fill these voids for me. I still feel like a human being. I set my own goals, and I challenge myself to meet them. I am supported and praised when I achieve these accomplishments. Financially, I am making more money each month than I was teaching preschool, and I am not leaving my house or my children to do it....or throwing that money back into the classroom by buying books and classroom supplies.

I have talked to many people about the R+F products. I have gotten lots of "yes," and probably more "no." So, I thought I would center this post around the top 3 reasons why people turn me down.

1. It takes too much time. / There are too many steps. // I never wash my face. /// I am too lazy at night.

This was definitely me before I finally become so sick of dealing with relentless breakouts. I totally understand. However, my mom's voice came ringing in my ears, "If you do what you've always done, you get what you've always gotten." And true confessions...I don't wash my face EVERY night or EVERY morning. I try to, but life gets in the way. Some nights, I am seriously too tired to deal with it. Thankfully, I am not layering my face with lots of makeup anymore, so if I skip a night, my face handles it just fine.

I timed myself when I used my 4-step Unblemish regimen today, and it took just under 3 minutes from start to finish. This is my face completely clean and fresh after using the products. The marks you see are freckles, sun spots, and just a few post-acne marks...but no new blemishes!

2. It is too expensive.

Again, I totally understand this thought. Yes, the R+F products are more expensive than what you can buy at Target, CVS, Walgreens, etc. But honestly? You cannot compare the R+F products to these drugstore products. You just can't. They are clinically studied, clinically proven products, developed by the same dermatologists that created Proactiv. When I used to use the cheaper stuff, I would use so much of it at once just to feel like it was working, which meant I was replacing it quicker. Did you know that R+F regimens (systems) last at least 3, sometimes 4 months? The price you pay is not a monthly fee.

When I would occasionally buy the more expensive brands at Ulta or Sephora, I was spending as much, if not more, than I spend on my R+F products, and I still never got the results I was wanting. I have tried so many brands and so many products.

And because I feel attached to all the money I have spent on these items, I tend to just keep them in a little graveyard in my bathroom. There are easily $250 worth of products in this basket that didn't work for me, and I am just hoarding them because I can't fathom pouring that money down the drain.

In hindsight, I should have just returned them when I realized I was unsatisfied, but many places only give you 30 days to return beauty products, and some of them won't take them back if they are opened. To me, 30 days isn't long enough to know if a product is going to work for you. Being honest, it wasn't until after the 30 day mark for me that I noticed my blemishes REALLY disappearing with R+F. You have to give things time to work, but you also shouldn't have to wait forever. R+F believes that if you don't see results you like by 60 days, you can return what's left of products for a full refund. Not store credit. A refund.

Let's also talk about the money I am saving by not applying 4 different layers of makeup so that I can feel confident enough to leave the house. Do I still use concealer under my eyes? Yes, some days I do. Other than that, my routine consists of a very light mineral powder, maybe a touch of bronzer, and then my eye makeup. No BB cream, no foundation, no powder foundation, nothing. Do I love makeup? Yes! Do I still love Younique? Absolutely! Do I love the feeling of a fresh, clean face on hot summer days? More than anything.

So, yeah, you might end up spending more on your skincare than the $6.99 special on Cartwheel at Target, but this is going to work for you or you are going to get your money back. I like those odds.

3. I want to do something about my skin, but just not right now.

We always think we can put things off. We always have a list of other things to buy and do before we take care of ourselves. We put the needs of our children, spouses, jobs, community, other family members, friends, pets, etc, etc, etc, above our own. We think there will be a better time in the future to invest in ourselves.

We are aging every single day. We are exposing our skin to harmful sun rays and environmental irritants. We coat our kids in sunscreen because we know it is good for them, but we forget that we still have skin to take care of, too!

For me, I wanted to show my girls that I could be confident in my own skin. I wanted to begin to reverse years of not washing my face, not protecting it from the sun, and simply thinking that the only way to feel beautiful was to be layered in makeup. It was starting to get out of hand. They would watch me apply makeup and ask, "What does that do Mama?" "What is that for Mama?" "Why are you doing that Mama?"

Ya'll know my husband is a family doctor. Well, when he was on his dermatology rotation, he was fascinated by the damage we do to our skin, and he was highly motivated to begin some sort of prescription cream because he wanted to keep his skin looking young. He is a 30-something guy's guy who likes to camp, run, play sports, and otherwise be a stinky boy. He is not vain, but he knew that he wasn't doing all that he could to prevent lines, wrinkles, and sun damage. So, rather than use the prescription stuff, he has been using the Redefine regimen, and he absolutely loves it. We both can tell a big difference in his skin, and he believes that this stuff will keep him looking young.

So, as you can tell, I really believe in these products and the company that stands behind them. If I have inspired you to try any of our regimens, Unblemish, Soothe, Redefine, or Reverse, or any of our other products, please don't hesitate to contact me.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

the one about an accident and a gorilla

Disclaimer: This is my blog. I save my most heartfelt, from the gut thoughts for this space as opposed to Facebook because I feel like if you clicked on my link and came to my "house," then you knew what you were about to get yourself into. Just like when my friends come to my real home, they know it is going to look like a bomb exploded, a tornado spun through, and a hurricane just blew over all at once. I'm not sorry that they see it like that because they knocked on my door. Same thing applies here. 

If you have read my blog for a while now, you know that I write in phases. There are times when the posts keep coming and the inspiration is plenty, and there are times when it is radio silence because my mind can't download all the thoughts that are pumping through. And that's ok. You're here now, and I have my motivation to write, since it has been a couple of weeks.

It started with a gorilla.

Yeah, you're thinking another post about the gorilla in the zoo. (see my disclaimer above) If it bothers you to read something else on the topic, let that red X button be your friend.

Let me first lay something out.

I am not an animal lover. I respect animals. I admire animals of great beauty, size, and strength. I think animals are vital to our planet, and I would never wish the intentional harm of an animal that was otherwise doing absolutely nothing wrong. I don't have pets. I don't know if I will have pets. Pets to me are something else to clean up after and feed, and we are about to capacity over here with those needs.

In other words....I don't want to see anything bad happen to an animal, but I also don't kiss animals on the mouth.

Maybe this mindset sets me apart from the large majority of people weighing in on what happened at the Cincinnati Zoo over the weekend, but I am who I am.

And I am not a perfect parent.

Not even close.

I am actually a parent who is not very good about supervising her children 100% of the time.

There. I said it.

Call me crazy, but when my girls play with their cousins or friends their age, I tend to let them play. I let them go outside to our 3/4 fenced in back yard, and I let them play on our swing set while I fold laundry or prep dinner. Of course, I check in on them. I watch out the window. I listen for screams. But I don't watch them like a hawk 100% of the time.

I know the dangers of children in public places. I also know that there is one of me and three of them, and yes, there are times when my back might be turned for 2 seconds when I am loading child A into the car and children B and C are waiting their turns. I do my best to keep them safe, of course I do. But if I told you that I was able to load and unload a cart full of groceries and three children into their car seats without ever once turning my eyes, head, or back away from them, I would be a liar.

I have more stories. Some that belong to me and some that belong to my friends and family. And because this world is full of litigious spectators who think they are immune to mistakes and accidents, I am going to use the old elementary standby of "I know someone who" as I share these next moments of parenting failure.

I know someone who left their sleeping kids in the (not hot) car in the garage or driveway so that the children could get in a good nap.

I know someone who let their child walk him or herself all the way to the opposite side of the park to use the bathroom by him or herself.

I know someone who momentarily lost his or her child in a department store and had to be paged to the front to be reunited.

I know someone who thought his or her toddler was with the other parent in the backyard but was really being brought back up the front yard in the arms of a caring neighbor.

I know someone whose kids went missing at the beach for several excruciating minutes.

I know someone who didn't know he or she was being followed into the pool by his or her child and that child suddenly could no longer touch the bottom and went under.

I know someone who allowed his or her child, with a large group of other children, to run up ahead of the adults they were with at the zoo.

I honestly could go on and on. I have seen and done so many things that would be considered incompetent or risky that I lose count.

Am I proud of it? No.

Am I human? Hell yes, I am.

We lock our doors at night. We have smoke detectors and carbon monoxide alarms. They are buckled in appropriate car seats. I make them eat vegetables. They go to well-checks and get immunizations. They wear helmets when they ride their bikes or scooters. They wear life jackets on boats.

We play by the rules. We respect laws. We do our freaking best to make sure that our kids are safe, healthy, protected, and unharmed.

But we. are. human.

We turn our backs when we shouldn't. We get distracted by conversations or phone calls or thinking about what happened at work that day. We look away.

And when our most human moments don't result in an incident that becomes a national media frenzy, we are damn lucky.

In any one of those stories I shared above, I can see it as a headline of a newspaper. I can hear it as the lead in on the evening news.

When something scary happens, I use it as a learning experience. I remember how we got into that situation, and I do everything I can to make sure it never happens again. I hug my kids tighter, and I thank God that they were kept safe from harm.

And I thank God for His grace and forgiveness as I navigate these treacherous waters called parenthood.

My point in sharing all this is that I am in no position to weigh in on these parents who "allowed" their child to crawl into the gorilla exhibit at the Cincinnati Zoo which lead to the subsequent death of Harambe, the beautiful 17 year old endangered gorilla and the traumatization of the 4 year old child.

Maybe they told the kid, "Hey, I have an idea! How about you break into this exhibit and go play with that big guy down there. He looks cuddly!"

Maybe they told the kid, "No. You may not climb that gate. No. You may not get in that bush. No. You may not touch that fence."

Maybe, just as the dad was telling the mom, "Hey, we gotta move. This kid is getting really antsy over here," the child somehow found his way into the enclosure and into harm's way.

All of these are maybes because I wasn't there. And even if I was there, I still wouldn't be qualified to say what really happened. Not my kid. Not my parenting. Not my place.

What I can say is that we have a membership to the Indianapolis Zoo. We go several times a year. Many times, I go alone with my three girls, or I meet a friend or family member with their small children. We usually look like a band of gypsies, just roaming around singing and looking for food. I know that it is very difficult to keep an eye on all of them, but we do our best. We take head counts. We run the zone defense. We zig when they zig and we zag when they zag.

But we are no better than the parents of this child who got into that enclosure. We are no better.

I have seen moms sit and drink Starbucks and chat while their kids stick their fingers in the monkey cage.

I have seen dads on their phones checking sports scores while their kids smack the glass and agitate the tigers.

I am no better than those people, either.

And neither are you.

In my opinion, what happened at the Cincinnati Zoo was a tragic accident.

But these days, accidents no longer exist. Everyone is looking for someone to blame. Blame makes us feel better.

It's not good enough to assume that we will learn from our mistakes. We have to humiliate people. We have to make sure the world knows that those people are stupid idiots and we are all better because we have never and would never do something like that.

(and don't think for a second I am saying that there's no use for a legal or justice system-- I won't engage in dialogue about that)

So, I am here to say that I feel sorry for Harambe the gorilla. I feel sorry that his life was ended due to circumstances beyond his control. I also feel sorry that he was in the zoo to begin with, but that's a different issue.

I feel sorry for Harambe's caretakers. I can't imagine how hard it has been on them.

I feel sorry for the parents. They were caught with their pants down and what might have been a near-miss for other parents has become a horrible nightmare for them. I would guess they are embarrassed. I imagine they are ashamed. They might be wondering who their real friends are and if their family will still claim them. I am sure they are relieved their child is alive, and I can bet since they were most likely admiring that gorilla that they feel really bad that he had to die.

I feel sorry for the child. He is young. He was scared and probably still is. The world has seen the video of him screaming in terror. I am sure he has physical and emotional injuries that will take quite some time (and therapy) to heal.

But mostly, I feel sorry that he has to grow up in this world where our worst moments, our mistakes, our accidents are publicized, shared, discussed, and memed for the amusement of the worst kind of Monday morning quarterbacks.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

the one about standing on the other side of Kindergarten

I'm just pissed, Guys.

We are a magical 15 calendar days away from the last day of Kindergarten, and, on this day, I screwed up and apparently did not order a lunch for Noelle like I thought I had. Her school handles lunch menus a little differently, and you have to preorder the lunches you would like for the whole month, and then you need to keep track of that on your own calendar at home. We let her eat a school lunch once per week (so she can have normal food like nuggets and hot dogs). I had circled today as a school lunch day, but apparently I was hittin' the wine a little too hard the night I made the selections and messed it all up. 

Long story short, I got a phone call from the school while I was at a super rare and secret destination (cough, Target, cough). So, I whipped through the Subway drive-thru at 8:55 a.m., got her a kids meal, and dropped it off at school. 

The point to all of this is that I was really hoping for an A+ in remembering lunches for the whole year, but I ruined it with such a short time to go. 

I think, as parents, we have such high expectations for how a school year will go, and are expectations any higher than in Kindergarten? It's our child's first official school experience, and we just need the year to be full of rainbows and apples and teachers in denim vests with school bus buttons. 

We need our kids to be full of enthusiasm and excitement for school. We want them to learn to read and write and 'rithmetic. We want field trips to the fire station and Christmas concerts and very first best friends.

But...we forget. We forget that our children are human and the teachers (and parents!) are, too. The newness will wear off. The excitement will ebb and flow. There will be days when the chore of making a lunch seems equal to scrubbing a toilet. You'll forget to check the papers in the folder. You'll forget the permission slip. The teacher will stop wearing the denim vest with school bus buttons. Why, Teacher? Why?

There is no such thing as a perfect school year streak. Someone will drop the ball, and it will probably be you. You'll dream up a Pin-worthy snack and end up sending a box of Cheerios instead. You'll want to be a part of every classroom party and end up sending the plates and napkins every time. You'll no doubt make that walk of shame down the hallway to deliver the forgotten lunch or the cans for the food drive or a coat for your child because the weather man is a liar. It happens to the best of us. I hope.

Your child will make mistakes, too. She will forget to do her homework or practice reading her book. She will talk when she isn't supposed to or make a poor choice with a friend. It is all part of the process, in my opinion. We are raising adults, not children, and it's a marathon, not a sprint. Few skills are mastered in one school year, and it is important to remember that.

So, here I stand, (nearly) on the other side of Kindergarten, and I am struck by how insanely fast it went and how much my child has grown since August...physically, emotionally, academically, and spiritually (Catholic school for the win!).

Pat yourselves on the back (and pop a cork), fellow Kindergarten parents. We did it! Even if it wasn't a perfect year, we did it all the same. 

Monday, April 25, 2016

the one about my obligatory introduction to rodan + fields

I am sitting here with a knot in my stomach.

Call it nerves.

Call it excitement.

Call it too much pizza for dinner.

I'm pretty sure, however, the knot has something to do with the fact that I just agreed to be a consultant with Rodan + Fields skincare, and it is now public knowledge.

So what about this is scary?

What if I fail? I don't like loathe failure. Even a rock-paper-scissors dual gone wrong can tick me off for an hour. 

What if I look silly? Who really needs more selfies in their newsfeed?

How could I possibly help anyone with skincare? My husband is the doctor, not me.

But, as Kendra, the friend who inspired me to try the skincare simply by sharing her own personal results, told me -- it is simply sharing what you like with your friends and family. That is all.

And I already do that here on this blog. I've told you how I fill in my nearly invisible eyebrows with this brow set. I've shared with you that the only way to get Noelle's hair detangled is by using this cream. I've shared where we rent our strollers at Disney World, and, hell... I've told you where to pick up your child's birth certificate (when she is already 8 months old).

I am probably a bit of an over-sharer.

Like the time I told you my cervix sucked. Or I'm sure you remember when I drank poop-flavored water.

So, I guess sharing is my thing.

I like to talk. I like to buy things. And when the things I buy do what they are supposed to do, I like to talk about that. I suppose it's a match made in heaven.

You may be wondering why Rodan + Fields? Why now? Why sell it when I can just buy it like a regular customer?

Or you may not be wondering any of that, and that's cool, too. I'm glad you stopped by anyway.

I think I have shared (hehe) with you that the year 2015 was a bit of a cluster for me. I don't look back fondly on it. I don't have many fun memories. All I remember are a series of events that lead to emotional stress in my life, and when I am stressed, my body tells the world, "HEY GUYS! SHE IS A FREAKING MESS! LOOK AT HER FACE! LOOK AT HER HAIR! LOOK AT THE WEIGHT SHE HAS GAINED!"

Yes, it's true. My hair was falling out. My body was not happy living on Starbucks and Chick-Fil-A and Snickers bars. My skin was erupting into a series of grouchy volcanoes. All I could do was stare in horror as my complexion looked as bad as I had ever seen it.

You know what else wrecks your skin? Having babies. Lots of babies. Like 3 babies in 4 1/2 years. Hormones don't help, but lack of sleep, lack of water, and survival eating (you know, like eating that remnant of a chicken nugget from your kid's Happy Meal because WHY WOULD SHE LET THAT GO TO WASTE?). It all adds up to a yucky, dull complexion that started to take a toll on my confidence.

I tried a lot of different things to help my skin. Do you all remember when I put coconut oil and apple cider vinegar on my face? I really liked the way it made my skin feel, and I did notice some improvement in my breakouts, but I got tired of the mess of my homemade skincare. There's just nothing luxurious about scooping some coconut oil out with a spoon and shmearing it on my face, and then removing it with vinegar. I got bored with it and went on to the next thing.

I tried Ava Anderson nontoxic skincare in addition to Beauty Counter, another natural skincare line. While I saw brief success with these brands, I quickly realized that my skincare needs far surpassed what these natural products could do. (I do still really enjoy the Beauty Counter lustro oil from time to time when my face feels especially dry)

I tried face washes from the drug store, and my skin just became extremely dry and sensitive. I was basically all out of ideas when Kendra posted her own personal before and after photos of her skin now that she uses Rodan + Fields. I was extremely surprised and honestly impressed that she posted something that had made her so self-conscious for all the (Facebook) world to see.

This is something I have never been able to do -- go bare-faced in public. I always, always, always have makeup on my face, and I have always, always, always been envious of the women who I perceive to be natural beauties. They don't wear makeup, and if they do, it is very light and minimal. I am sure it doesn't take them as long to get ready in the morning, and I am sure they feel so free knowing that their skin is glowing without the help of a shimmery powder (not that there's anything wrong with shimmery powder. I freaking love shimmery powder).

My girls watch me get ready in the mornings, and they see that it takes a layer of primer, foundation or BB cream, concealer, and powder to make my skin look remotely acceptable (in my eyes) to be seen. This process not only is time consuming, but it also brings about a lot of questions from my girls.

"Mama, what are you putting on your face?"

"Why are you doing that?"

"When can I wear makeup?"

"I want to cover up my freckles."

I always say, "You're beautiful enough without makeup," but this message inherently says, "but Mama can't be seen without it."

This isn't the message I wanted to send to my children, so I decided to get over myself and my general disapproval of things people sell on Facebook and just try the skincare that gave Kendra her impressive results.

And the rest is history.

I would have 60 days to try the skincare line, and if I didn't see the results I wanted, I could send it back and get a refund.

By the time my 60 days were up, I was hooked. 

Can you tell why?

Picture on left - Feb 2016; Picture on right - April 2016
No makeup on my skin in 2nd photo except for eye makeup (and my brows, duh.)

I didn't want to send my products back for a refund. I wanted to try more! I wanted to see what the other products could do for me. 

So how do I know this time, it's different. That this time, I won't just jump ship to the next skincare fad that I am into? 

Well, to put it simply, this stuff works. There's no need for me to switch to the next big thing. I am seeing results, and I am finally feeling more confident in the skin I was born with. With Summer right around the corner, I don't want to be a slave to my makeup routine. I want to be able to throw on some sunscreen and enjoy my day with my girls. I don't want to "put my face on" to head to the pool. 

And, for the big question. 

Why sell it?

Well...why not? I love it. I buy it. If nothing else, I can get a little discount on my own products, and if I am feeling ambitious, maybe I will meet a few new friends along the way. I am at a time in my life when I feel like a 'tween again. I'm going to be 32 years old in July. My younger, irresponsible years are over, but my older, slow-pace years are far away (I hope). I feel a little too young to be old and too old to be young right now, and this feeling leaves me a bit itchy. Itchy for some new experiences. Itchy for some new people. Itchy for some new challenges.

What might you expect from me from here on out? Really, nothing different than what you're used to. I will share with you how I feel about these products, and I will share with you how I feel about french fries. 

It's called balance.

And if I can help another person feel better in his or her skin, I suppose that's all I can hope for.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

the one about how I don't need more children

No. More. Kids.

This is the message I received loud and clear this morning.




Who told me to stop having kids?

Well, my own self-doubt. My own self-pity. And probably my own children, under their breaths.

It was just another epic morning at our house. My husband had to leave early for work, so I was responsible for dropping my Kindergartner off at school and then taking my younger two to preschool with me. Typically, Luke takes my daughter to school, so this was an added responsibility this morning.

Our dining room was a sea of Cheerios on the floor, a gathering of ants around a piece of dinner from last night, random winter gear that had been dragged out from its drawer in the coat closet, and a stack of school papers that still needed to be sorted, signed, or tossed.

My oldest needed her hair braided.

My youngest needed more breakfast.

My middle needed pants.

I was barely dressed, teeth narrowly brushed, and, although I desperately needed it, I didn't have time for concealer under my eyes.

I could have used a shower, but that whole process would eat up an hour of time we didn't have, so the trusty ponytail would have to do. Again.

After a parade of constant mess, constant noise, and constant questions as I was trying to put the finishing touches on the gourmet lunches I was preparing (HA), I lost my cool. Like I do.

Where is your sight word book? Do you have your lunch box? Help your sister get her shoes on! Please, please, please... go get in the car!

It hit me in that moment that this family needs no more children.

You can barely care for the ones you have.

Only patient, calm mothers deserve lots of children.

You should get a dog instead. 

I shook these thoughts just long enough to pull it together and get everyone to school. I have a strict, "No one goes to school angry" policy, because after events like Sandy Hook and other true horror stories, I refuse to let my children leave me for the day with "Hurry up! We're late!" playing through their minds.

So, as I opened the van door to let Noelle out, I held her face in my hand, slightly squeezed her freckly cheeks, and kissed over and over again, right in front of the man who helps escort the kids to the door each day. I told her I loved her. And to have a great day. And that I loved her.

As I pulled around to exit the parking lot and enter the Starbucks line 22 seconds later, I told myself again that I did not need any additional children.

Does coffee make things better?

Are you actually going to try harder to have patience?

Say you're sorry all you want, but you can't un-ring the bell.

That nagging voice of negatives tore away at me for a few more minutes while I listened to the news on the radio.

Another murder.

Another kidnapping.

Another burglary.

Another presidential candidate threatening this and promising that.

And then it came to me.

I may think I don't need more children, but this world needs more children.

There are bad guys (and girls) out there. We are inundated with news of the horrible happenings in cities across the globe. We feel fear. We feel anger. We feel sadness.

But when I look into the eyes of my girls, I feel hopeful.

Sure, sometimes I say, with a tone of dread in my voice, "I wonder what the world will be like when our kids are grown up." But there's something about the way they smile, or laugh, or get excited over the littlest things, or passionately sing a song they love, or pray about what is worrying them, and I realize that these girls have an amazing future ahead of them, and I can't wait to see who they become.

I see a cardboard box, and they see an airplane.

I see a blizzard, and they see Elsa.

I see a "no way," and they see an "I'm gonna."

They see the good in everyone and everything.

And coming from teaching children of all ages for nearly 10 years now, I can tell you that most kids are like this.

When does it change? When do sweet, innocent children turn into murderers or burglars or kidnappers or abusers or users?

I don't know exactly, but I think it starts when they lose hope. When they lose their smile. When they lose excitement. When they lose passion. When they lose faith.

And while I can't guarantee the type of adults my children will become, I can promise that I will not go one day of my life without helping my children deepen their hope...share their smiles...spread their excitement...fuel their passion...keep the faith.

That, I guess, is all any of us can do for the children we have...the children we hope to have...the children we teach...the children we care for...the children we see playing down the street.

Deepen their hope.
Share their smiles.
Spread their excitement.
Fuel their passion.
Keep the faith.

(and freak out less in the mornings)