Category: Mom

10 Favorite Winter Skin Products

10 Skin Products Square

Even though we are hopefully on the downhill slide of winter, I want to share with you my favorite winter skin products. In fact, I use these products all year round but they are especially important in the winter when my skin is much dryer than normal. Most of them work lovely with sensitive skin, such as mine, and help me to avoid that dry, flaky skin look that I have struggled with most of my life. If you haven’t tried these products, give them a try. They just might be the answer to one of your dry skin issues.

**I have included affiliate links to these products. Meaning that if you choose to purchase any of these products through the links I provide, I will receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.

1. Cetaphil Daily Cleanser

After trying so many different kinds of cleansers through the years I am seriously impressed with this one. It is gentle enough to not dry my skin out but strong enough to take off most of my makeup. I still use a makeup remover for eye makeup but I have to do that with pretty much any cleanser. The best part about this stuff? It costs like $11 and lasts for a really long time.

2. Cetaphil Moisturizing Cream

My skin is really weird and one day it seems super greasy while the next day it’s dry as a bone and flaky. I used to use an acne preventing moisturizer but realized it was really drying my skin out in the winter. So I switched to a super moisturizing night cream at night but used it during the day too because it kept my face so moisturized. Well, at $15 for a small bottle I was going through it really fast. I picked this up since I was such a fan of the cleanser and it was EXACTLY what I was looking for. A huge bottle that I use morning and night and it is seriously dirt cheap. $11 for a huge bottle that lasts forever. I’ve had mine for over two months and haven’t used even a quarter of it.

3. St. Ives Lotion

I am really picky about lotion because I hate the kind that is super greasy and doesn’t absorb but then there are also the ones that feel like they evaporate on your skin and leave it feeling dryer. This one seems to be an affordable medium ground. I use it all over my body everyday after showering and it keeps my skin smooth and moisturized. It’s only about $4 for a big bottle and smells delicious!

 
4. Body Shop Body Butter

I have a ritual when I get into bed. I ALWAYS put some kind of lotion on my feet to avoid cracking soles and heels. When I can afford it, I love Body Shop Body Butters. They are silky smooth, smell amazing, and a little goes a long way. This container is about $14 but I am yet to find a body butter that absorbs like these ones. If you know of a less expensive option that works great, let me know in the comments.

5. Burt’s Bees Lemon Butter Cuticle Cream

Cracking cuticles are the bain of my existence. Maybe it’s partly because wearing gloves to do the dishes is kind of a pain in my butt. Sometimes it just doesn’t seem worth it but my cuticles always pay the price. This cuticle cream smells amazing and it feels so good to massage it into my nail beds at bedtime or after cleaning. At about $7 it seems pretty pricey but a little goes a long way.

6. Super Glue

Here is an extra little tip for bleeding, cracked cuticles and any dry cracks on your skin. I use super glue on those cracks until they heal up. It creates this waterproof barrier that allows the skin to heal and stops the constant pain every time you dip your hands in water or the freezing cold air hits them. I’m not kidding about this. My husband works outside with horses all day and his hands always have several cracks in them. Super glue is the holy grail of healing them.

7. Oil of Olay Pro-X Microdermabrasion

After seeing all the raving fans talk about their clarisonic I was itching to buy my own. But at $150 there was no way I could justify that kind of a purchase. So I started looking for a cheaper option and after reading the reviews for this Oil of Olay Pro-X Microdermabrasion kit I decided to take the splurge for less than $30. I love it! Now to be fair, I can’t compare it to the clarisonic because I’ve never owned one, but it seemed to do the job for me. It makes my skin super soft and even and everything I put on afterwards seems to absorb and blend flawlessly. I use it a couple of times a week and the microdermabrasion product only once a week. My makeup always looks amazing after I use it.

8. St. Ives Apricot Scrub

When my skin feels like it has some buildup and I just don’t want to take the time to use the Oil of Olay Pro-X, I default to my oldie but goodie apricot scrub. It’s a quick exfoliation that removes the gunk and reveals softer, smoother skin. If your skin is starting to flake from dryness in the winter, use this and then a good moisturizer (like the cetaphil) and it is usually enough to stop that before it gets out of hand. For like $3 I would say this is a steal!

9. Bath and Body Works Shea Cashmere Hand Cream

This is another one of those, when I can afford it I love this luxury. This hand cream really does feel like cashmere, or what I would imagine it to feel like. If you can’t tell by now, I’m a super cheap girl and cashmere has never been part of my wardrobe. However, this stuff is like liquid gold for your hands. It smells absolutely incredible and feels amazing when your hands are dry and cracked from the cold. At around $9 for a small bottle, it’s an investment.

10. Burts Bees Lip Balm

I use this stuff religiously. Ask anybody who knows me and they will tell you I carry chapstick with me absolutely everywhere. Even in high school my friends made fun of me because I always had to have my chapstick. In fact, I think I’m addicted to it. For real. When I don’t wear it my lips turn into lizard scales and crack and bleed. I’ve changed brands a lot throughout the years but I love Burt’s Bees, especially the pomegranate one. And since I can find this on Amazon subscribe and save in a 4-pack, I literally get it almost every month and put each one in a different location so I’m never without it. Kind of pathetic I know. Did you know there is a Lip Balm Anonymous website for people addicted to chapstick? I can’t tell if it’s supposed to be for real.

*   *   *   *   *

Let me know in the comments below if you have tried any of these products and like them or if you have any other products you would recommend. We could all benefit from a little TLC this winter I think.

Signature Yellow2

 

11 Habits to Make Sure You’re Always on Time

Time SquareI am a chronically tardy person. Yes, I am that friend. The one you’re always waiting on. The one who always has an excuse. The one that you have to tell the movie is at 6, even though it really doesn’t start until 7. I am that friend that probably makes you wonder why you invite me to do things.

Let’s face it, punctuality can be a real struggle. Especially when you have kids (perfect example here). I look back and laugh at how late I was all the time as a single person. Now that I have kids, you can imagine how much worse it is now. However, being on time is really important to me these days and I have gathered together some important points about being punctual that I am striving to implement this year. Maybe you’ll want to try them too. Unless you’re a rockstar mom who always gets there on time with all kids in tow. If that’s the case, maybe you should be the one writing this post 😉

Here are 11 habits that will make sure you’re always on time and transform you into the punctual person you’ve always wanted to be.

 

Change your attitude

watchsquare11. Take responsibility 

The first step to changing your chronically tardy self is to be honest about it. For a long time I was really good about making excuses. Some were legit and others were not. This really stressed me out because I don’t like to tell lies, not even white lies. But I didn’t want people to think they weren’t a priority to me and so I would throw out some story about how the baby blew up his diaper as we were heading out the door and I had to change his clothes. First step in changing your attitude is to take responsibility for the times you are late. Even if it’s a traffic jam, admit you didn’t allow extra time for it like you should have. This kind of accountability stings and it will help motivate you to avoid being late at all.

2. Make it a priority

If you’re going to be on time, it’s going to have to be a priority. Tell yourself that when it’s time to be out the door, you are leaving no matter what isn’t quite done or ready. If that means your hair is half curled, too bad. If your kids’ shoes don’t match, too bad. If you can’t find your phone, too bad. We’ll talk about how to avoid these problems in a minute, but if the reality is one of these kinds of problems or being late, choose to be on time.

3. Notice the benefits

I have a sister who is always on time. I totally admire this about her. When we do things as a family, we rarely ever have to wait on her. We can almost always count on her being on time. She is dependable in her job and people respect her for that. Not only that, she never seems to be in a rush. On the other hand, I am constantly scrambling and still end up being late. The reality is, being on time eliminates so much stress in our lives. When we are chronically late to things, it can take a toll on our stress level. Make a habit out of being on time and you can get rid of that over-rushed feeling you constantly have.

4. Get rid of the fear of being early

My senior year of high school my friend and I aided in the office first hour and I don’t think we were on time more than 3 times the entire year. At one point, one of the secretaries mentioned, nonchalantly, that her father-in-law always said, “I’d rather be an hour early than 5 minutes late.” To which my friend replied, “Why would you want to waste an entire hour of your life being early?”

I have to fight myself to not agree with that statement. I always try to get as much done as I possibly can and I think that has been a major contributor to my tardiness. I would rather do something with the time I might just be sitting and waiting. So I came up with this: Always have something on hand that you can do while you wait. I love having ebooks on my phone so that I always have something to read while I wait. If you have kids, keep a coloring book and crayons in your diaper bag or the car to keep them entertained if you happen to have extra time before an appointment or event. Weigh your options, would you really rather run the risk of being late than having to wait a few minutes for being early? I doubt it.

Don’t underestimate how long it takes to do something

Timer25. Time yourself

Don’t underestimate how long it takes you to get ready, get your kids ready, or load up your car. There are certain apps out there to help you track how long it takes you to do certain things and record that for future reference. I use Time Journal for the iPhone. Or you could just use a timer. If you think it only takes you 10 minutes to shower, you may be forgetting about the time you use before and after you’re actually under the water. Set a timer and remember or record that for future reference.

6. Time your trip

If you usually go to the same places most days (IE school or work) time your trip in the car or bus. If you’re going somewhere you don’t normally go, check your maps app to see the estimated time for the trip. Check traffic and even the weather to time your trip accordingly. Don’t rely on your own estimations until you’re super familiar with the route. And in that case, be honest, not optimistic about how long it will take.

7. Allow 15 minutes extra

We all know there is bound to be a few interruptions along the way and we need to account for those. Most days, you’ll probably use up those extra 15 minutes without even noticing it’s happening. In the rare occasion you arrive 15 minutes early, don’t be afraid. Grab your book and savor those extra minutes.

Prepare ahead of time

Keys main8. Set everything out

The night before, or before you begin to get ready to leave somewhere, set everything out. Set your clothes out, any other items you may need for the day, and make sure your phone, wallet, and keys are by the door. Have your kids put everything they need in their backpacks, set them by the door, and set their clothes out too. This will eliminate the last minute scrambling to pack bags and find keys and missing shoes.

9. Get to bed on time

Establish a nighttime routine that includes setting things out and getting to bed on time. We all know how important rest is and how much easier it is to get out of bed when your alarm goes off if you’re properly rested.

10. Get up on time

Don’t you dare hit that snooze button! If you time your morning and you have to get up at 6 to make it on time, you haven’t accounted for those extra 10 minutes in bed. If you think you’ll be clever and set your alarm 10 minutes earlier so you technically can hit the snooze button and still get up on time, think again. Getting up when our alarm goes off sets the entire tone for our day. If you choose to hit the snooze button instead of getting up it’s like saying to yourself, “I know I committed to getting up at 6 but I don’t take commitments seriously, so I’m going to sleep a little longer.” How do you think that affects the rest of your daily commitments? Really, think about it. This could be one of those keystone habits that when you make it a habit, it improves all areas of your life.

11. Do the most important things first

If it is really important to you to be primped and perfect before leaving the house, allow enough time for that and make sure it’s the first thing you do. If it’s more important to you to leave your house clean, allow enough time for that and make sure it gets done first. Figure out your priorities and take care of those first. By doing that, you will never feel like your goal to be punctual interferes with what’s most important to you. Even if problems arise and you have to leave something undone, the first thing you do will already be done and the less important things can be skipped.

I don’t want to be embarrassed anymore by being that family that walks into church late and disrupts whatever is going on. I don’t want to be constantly scrambling to get out the door and screaming at my kids to hurry. I don’t want to burn with shame when I call the doctor’s office to tell them I’m running late because…well who knows what I’ll come up with. Can you imagine what life would be like if you arrived somewhere with a few minutes to spare? It’s such a rare occasion for me that it’s hard to imagine what it would feel like if that was my new norm. I’m willing to make these changes, are you?

*   *   *   *   *

Let me know in the comments below, I’m curious, are you punctual? How do you do it? If you’re not, what do you think is the most important change for you to make right now?

Signature Yellow2

50 Ideas for “No Light Hours”: Take advantage of the fall time change

Nighttime squareIt’s easy for someone like me, who prefers warm weather and being outside, to get depressed that the time has changed and winter is on its way. However, this time I am oddly optimistic about what I will accomplish with no outdoor distractions. After spending a summer outside building and painting furniture, fixing roofs, and gardening, I’m kind of looking forward to an excuse to stay indoors for a while. Here are 50 ideas to occupy your extra nighttime hours and keep you away from trash TV.

Take up a new hobby

1. Learn to crochet
2. Learn to play an instrument
3. Practice cooking more delicious and healthy meals
4. Go the other route and learn to bake delicious and indulgent treats
5. Read more
6. Take up writing or at least journaling
7. Learn to sew
8. Learn a new language
9. Take an online course
10. Learn to make and bind books
11. Take up scrapbooking
12. Learn how to coupon
13. Learn a new style of dance (maybe you could get your spouse to join in it with you)
14. Make jewelry

gamesMore Family Time

15. Play board games or other physical games like Hide-and-Seek
16. Do puzzles together
17. Go on night drives to see the Christmas lights, make sure to bring hot chocolate
18. Have movie nights at home with popcorn
19. Learn to ice skate together
20. Go bowling
21. Build forts in the living room
22. Exchange foot massages
23. Take treats to a neighbor
24. Learn some songs together and sing them to elderly folk at a nursing home or assisted living center
25. Plan and prepare Christmas for a less fortunate family
26. Just talk over a mug of hot chocolate

 

More Personal Time

27. Take a bubble bath
28. Have a spa night with homemade spa products
29. Go to bed earlier and reap the benefits of beauty sleep
30. Exercise or go on a night walk, just bundle up and wear reflective colors
31. Find a new podcast or audiobook to listen to while you clean or work on a project
32. Give yourself a manicure or pedicure
33. Take up meditation
34. Window shop or browse online shops
35. Think about and write down your goals
36. Write a real paper and pen letter to a friend and mail it

Work on indoor projects

37. Paint a room in your house (or all of them!)
38. Paint a small piece of furniture
39. Read this book and declutter your home
40. Fix things that you haven’t gotten around to fixing yet
41. Go through cabinets, drawers, and closets that have needed it for a while now
42. Sell stuff you don’t need online
43. Put together a cookbook of your family’s favorite recipes
44. Make all homemade Christmas gifts this year
45. Make an inventory of your stockpile or food storage, if you have it, and decide where you’re low
46. Organize old, printed photos and keep them in a safe box that will protect against aging and yellowing
47. Organize digital files and photos and back them up
48. Make a password reminder list to help you remember all the different usernames and passwords you have. Protect the document with an easy-to-remember password
49. Clean out your filing cabinet or make a filing system if you don’t have one
50. Organize your brain by reading this book and following through with what it teaches

Let me know if you try any of these and how it goes. Do you have any other ideas? What’s your favorite way to spend that extra time indoors?
Nighttime FB

6 Steps to a Productive Morning Routine

Morning Routine SquareThere are days when I start feeling completely overwhelmed with life, like time is just passing me by and I’m accomplishing very little to climb out of the never-ending hole that is my to do list. Those are the days I know it’s time to get back to my early morning routines.

There’s something magical about having a morning routine on autopilot that fuels your energy and ability to GET. CRAP. DONE.

“Lose an hour in the morning, and you will be all day hunting for it.”
~Richard Whately

There are definitely days I sleep in until the very last second before I need to be out the door and its my kids who end up getting me up. However, when I make my mornings a priority, I feel so much more inspired and ready to take on the day the right way.

I haven’t always been this way though. Like a lot of people, I used to stay up late and wake up too late to get much done in the morning.

After I had my son, I wanted to pick up running. Because of our somewhat unique situation, I had to exercise in the morning and I realized that if I wanted to run, it would have to be at 5am.

22788653_sLet me tell you, this was sooooo hard for me. I remember grunting every time my alarm went off and wanting, more than anything, to hit the snooze button. After I while, my body adjusted and I actually looked forward to getting up early. It was the only time I didn’t have to be responsible for anyone but myself. I could trust that my husband was keeping my son safe and I could actually be ALONE! It’s not that I didn’t love spending time with my son but I really missed my “alone time” to just be me and not have to worry, constantly, about anyone else. It was therapeutic.

Then I got pregnant again and after the birth of my daughter, I was in survival mode. Like most postpartum moms I would sleep in until the absolute last second that I had to get up and out of the house. That was fine for a while, until I started getting postpartum depression. I  contribute a lot of that to not getting any exercise and completely losing myself in trying to take care of two kids and my disabled brother all at the same time. Once my daughter was a little older and sleeping a little better at night, I made myself pick up my early morning schedule again. It has saved my life!

I am still working out the kinks and trying to decide exactly WHAT I want to spend this precious time doing. Although I’m still working on solidifying my morning routine, I thought it might be helpful to share some ideas for how you can create your own morning routine.

1. Write down the most important things you should (or want to) do in a day

Decide which of these items would best be accomplished in the morning, when your willpower is at its strongest and distractions are at a minimum.

17693241_s2. Plan out your ideal morning

Write out what your ideal morning would look like. For me, I love mornings. I don’t necessarily enjoy getting out of bed, but I love the time I have to myself once I’m up. For me, ideally, I would go for a run, read my scriptures and pray, write for at least an hour or two without interruptions, make and eat a big breakfast with my family, and get ready for the day. Plan it out and see where your priorities are.

3. Decide how long it will take to accomplish

This one’s easy, do the math to figure out what time you will need to get up in order to accomplish those things in the morning.

4. Prioritize

My ideal morning is, unfortunately, totally unrealistic. For one thing, my kids are usually up at 6. That would mean, in order for me to enjoy all the things I want to before my kids get up, I would have to get up at like 2am. Yeah, not gonna happen. So…I can decide how else I can order my mornings and take out something I feel like I could do later in the day if I had to. I have to take a long, hard look at my priorities and see that something will have to be done at a less idealistic time. This is where I’m struggling right now…but I have faith I’ll work it out.

15614704_s5. Get up at your predetermined time

Just do it guys. If you need to get up at 5 and you’re currently getting up at 8 or 9, don’t think that tomorrow you’ll be up before sunrise. Try 15 minutes earlier than your current time for a few days. Gradually increase your mornings in 15 minute intervals until you’re up at your desired time. It’s really that simple. If you have to put your alarm clock on the opposite side of the room, do it. If you want to use a really cool sleep app/alarm clock download this one, it’s seriously the best!

6. Get enough sleep

If you’re going to be getting up earlier, you need to be going to bed earlier too. You have to decide how many hours of sleep you need to work at your optimum level. I know, for me, I need a full 8 hours of sleep. This means that if I’m up at 5, I need to go to bed at 9. Most days this feels unrealistic which means I need to make some changes. Part of what I know will help me with my morning routine is establishing a well-oiled evening routine. More on that another day…

*     *     *

Making every hour of your day count is a difficult process. It won’t stay the same all the time. It’s continually evolving and changing with the different seasons in your life. However, you won’t believe the difference it will make in your mood, progress toward your goals, and your ability to take care of the little people in your life.

Morning Routine Vertical

Finding Contentment Through the Trials

Contentment

I grew up with an older brother that was probably comparable to many other brothers. John is 10 years older than I am.   With such a huge gap between us, he was more than mildly letdown that I turned out to be a girl. When I got a little older he would tease me until my blood would boil. “Does the baby need a baba? Does she need her diaper changed?” That incredibly annoying baby-talk tone still rings in my ears. I can’t lie and say it was all him; I was an incredibly difficult child.

Lacie & John

My brother and I didn’t become very close until I was an adult. I was always impressed at what an exceptional father he was; despite the fact he never had a great role model. He never needed a break from his two little girls. Never. I don’t know many fathers that would stay up all night with a sick baby without ever muttering a complaint. For as tough as he was on me, he was a sucker for those little angels.

John was the only one in my family who supported me when I decided to move across the country and get married. We had a heartfelt conversation and although he was protective, he still gave me his blessing, which meant the world to me.

Only months after that memorable conversation, I called him just to chat. He sounded different. I could tell something was wrong. He said he wasn’t feeling well and had thrown his back out. We had a short conversation and that was the last time I spoke to him before the bomb dropped.

After weeks of confusion and uncertainty, doctors finally discovered that John was suffering from a mysterious staph infection and his heart, among other organs, was quickly failing. They were scheduled to perform emergency heart surgery that night to replace one of his valves.

Nobody knew how serious the situation was but I knew I had to get home. My husband and I were driving when I called my mom the next morning to see how the surgery had gone and to tell her we were about halfway there. She was hysterical as she told me, between sobs and half-screams, that the doctor had just told her that John had suffered a major stroke and things looked “grim.” I had to pull over and my husband tried to hold me to keep me from convulsing. Every dark emotion that I had felt in my life suddenly flooded my body and I couldn’t do anything but scream and cry. Why didn’t I just fly home? Why didn’t I call him and talk to him before his surgery? What was I thinking living halfway across the country? How was my mom going to go on if John didn’t make it? He had never even met my husband yet! What about his little girls?

 John & Girls Fishing

Seeing my brother in a coma is an image that I wish could be erased from my memory. He was yellow, almost translucent, and swollen, with his head tilted back in order to accommodate the tube they had to insert in his throat. He looked lifeless. I had an overwhelming realization that I was never going to see my brother again. That he was never going to meet my husband and that his girls were not going to have a father to watch them grow up.

They say God works in mysterious ways. He allows us to endure a trial and then He blesses us with miracles and tender mercies. It would take an entire book to tell about all the miracles and blessings we received as a family. Suffice it to say that God brought my brother back to us.

Although he suffered considerable damage to his brain and has lost most of his physical capacity, the ability to walk, eat, or talk, he is still my brother, with all of his mental capacities intact. I take care of him everyday. I cherish the fact that we didn’t lose him that day when I thought for sure we had. He has even made miraculous improvements and recently found his voice and is able to communicate, albeit limitedly, through speech.

Maicee Hospital

My family has always been my most treasured possession. We have always been tight-knit and are even more so now that we have banded together to take care of John and his girls. My husband and I left a growing business in Texas. My sister sold her home for next-to-nothing. My mother left her home and transferred jobs. My younger brother is attending a university extension in our small community. All of these sacrifices were necessary in order for us to come together and make sure my brother has quality, 24-hour care at home, with his girls.

At times, it’s been extremely difficult physically, emotionally, and financially. We have gone through all of us living under the same roof, pooling our resources and helping each other graduate from college. We’ve been through pregnancies and births, changes in John’s care, and changes in jobs. Since then, I have become the primary caretaker for my brother during the day. I feel more connected and closer to him than ever before in my life.

Although it sure isn’t easy and even John and I argue sometimes, I wouldn’t trade my family for the world. I often have people tell me how unfair life is and how tragic my brother’s situation is. Sometimes I agree and other times I can’t help but think maybe this is the price I have to pay in order to be blessed with such an amazing and loving family. Maybe these kinds of things are what make families great. It breaks my heart that it has come at such a high cost for my brother, but this tragedy has brought us all together again.

Hospital Girls

Time is measured in our family on a different timeline now. It’s now “Before John got Sick” and “After John got Sick.” His experience has changed us forever.

We think twice now before complaining about things such as our weight, the taste of food, or how much we hate to exercise. We try to remember how blessed we are to have the ability to eat, exercise, or even walk. Contentment comes in these small gratitudes.

Finding contentment in life has nothing to do with material possessions, a striking physique, or the most prestigious honors man can receive. Contentment comes from true sacrifice, heartfelt gratitude, and genuine love for other people. Nothing has illustrated this better in my life than my brother’s experience.

I don’t try to explain why this happened or blame God for such a horrific trial for John and his girls. I don’t allow myself to replay it all very often or think about what might happen in the future. For now, I am content to hear my brother’s struggled but clear “I love you” and be exceedingly grateful that he is here and that I know he loves me just as I love him.

I Love You2