What I've Been Up To!

On The Menu: Apple Chia Banana Baby Food Breakfast Muffins

On The Menu: Apple Chia Banana Baby Food Breakfast Muffins

    I guess it’s recipe week here on microliving! I just made this recipe this morning and had to share. My little guy loved them, and I think they’re tasty and filling too.   I was talking to a friend yesterday about some of […]

On The Menu: Japanese Omurice

On The Menu: Japanese Omurice

    I told you last week that I would lighten things up around here and give everyone a break from my pretty long-winded posts of late. What better way to keep my word than by sharing a short and sweet recipe? I hope you […]

Avoiding the Pitfalls of Being a Stay at Home Parent

Avoiding the Pitfalls of Being a Stay at Home Parent

 

 

*** LONG POST ALERT ***

 

This week, I didn’t realize just how much I had on my heart about being a full time homemaker. I guess I’ve been collecting ideas for a year or so now, so a lot just bubbled to the surface. While I think it’s a healthy and good thing to get it all on paper, I won’t blame a busy parent reader if he or she just skips to the relevant parts in these posts. Next week, I’ll try to lighten up the word count and post something a little less cerebral… for now though… here goes!

 

On Tuesday, I wrote a post about my personal pros and cons of being a stay at home parent. I also talked about how I prefer the term “homemaker.” For the sake of this post title, I decided to use a term most people use for my profession.

 

Not to hang you out to dry, I wanted to go over some of the pitfalls of being a full time homemaker and offer ideas for how to avoid, or at least mitigate, some of these concerns.

 

Everyone does parenting differently, so I’m not trying to persuade you that it’s my way or the highway. There are working parents, part time working parents, unemployed parents, and stay at home moms and dads. We each make the choices that fit best with our personalities, lifestyles, and pocketbooks.

 

I’m just offering some ideas for those who have already chosen to be full time homemakers or those who are curious about how my lifestyle works. Hopefully, this will help you avoid some of the common pitfalls I’ve found in this career. They’re not insurmountable, and I’d like to encourage you to give them a try!

 

If you’re in the depths of a total existential crisis about being a homemaker parent, know you’re not alone! In any career, I think we can all question our choices, our path, and just what the heck we’re doing. I have a one year old, and even I have had moments of burnout in just the past year. If this is a decision you’re firm about, try not to let temporary setbacks and discouragement cloud your judgment. Of course, if it goes on and on, by all means start thinking about changing things up! I just want to encourage everyone that it can get better.

 

I’m going to take you through some of the “cons” I’ve found in this profession and then some solutions and techniques I’ve found to make it go a little more smoothly. Here goes! In no particular order…

 

 

 

 

+ trackable and recognized accomplishments and successes

 

 

In this day and age, only about 30% of parents stay at home full time. Of that number, only 16% are dads. This makes it a slightly unusual career and lifestyle choice, one that’s pretty untethered from the usual accomplishments, successes, and milestones of a career in the workforce. That makes it hard to track your progress and know if you’re doing a good job.

 

I’m pretty closely tied to my professional and academic achievements and take a lot of pride in my hard work. It’s also not bad being recognized for this by others. If you’re that kind of person, being unmoored from external recognition can be particularly hard. As Lisa Simpson said in an episode of the Simpsons when she was sent to an alternative school with no clear benchmarks, “Grade me! Evaluate and rank me! I’m good good good and oh, so smart!” Ohmigosh, that is so me! So that was a big challenge for me in choosing this life.

 

I have found ways to work around it though and have found real satisfaction in the ways I’ve done that and in my current career.

 

I guess the first thing that’s helped me is setting my own benchmarks. Especially ones that aren’t tied to closely with my son. I do this because his timeline of walking, eating, talking, learning, etc. are totally on his schedule. I have an influence, but having that kind of pressure on a baby and on my parenting makes this problematic. I set standards for myself instead!

 

Some of the benchmarks I have center around cleaning and home routines. I love my to do list, and set a few daily, weekly, bi-weekly, and monthly tasks to keep me accountable. I use ToDoist, which gives points to tasks and offers tracking of previous accomplishments. Whatever floats system works for you though! I set personal goals, like taking daily Japanese lessons on DuoLingo and working out, as well as household goals like making my bed, putting away laundry, and doing the dishes. I can go a little overboard with these lists, but they are a nice way to track my progress.

 

I have also connected with some online communities that support my life choices. I love hearing “you’re doing a great job, mom!” underneath some of my more vulnerable posts. It’s cool to cheer each other on and connect with other homemakers who know the struggles. One micro pitfall to avoid with this particular suggestion is staying connected to a community that is unhealthy: full of negativity, complaints, mean girl drama, and scandal. If your online community of choice builds you up, inspires you, and makes you a better version of yourself, that’s one worth keeping.

 

I also set my goals around my “core desired feelings” (see my post about that here). I want to cultivate a feeling of peace and creativity and chill vibes in my home, so when I’ve worked toward that goal or achieved it in any given day, I feel successful. It’s these less tangible goals that really spur me forward.

 

Additionally, I follow a pretty unique parenting and homemaking philosophy strongly influenced by the book “Simplicity Parenting” by Kim John Payne and Lisa M. Ross. It’s also correlated with the philosophy and practices behind Waldorf Schools. This is something I tend to really geek out about. One important thing for me based on these ideas, for example, is getting my son and myself outside in the fresh air every day, rain or shine. It’s a simple goal, but it’s daily and trackable and makes for a happier home life.

 

If you love a particular parenting and homemaking philosophy, it’s nice to check in with yourself and evaluate how you’re doing. There are so, so many guides to faith-based parenting, raising high achieving children, arts-based childhood, French parenting, you name it. If one of those inspires you, by all means use that as a way to evaluate your progress.

 

 

 

 

+ professional advancement opportunities

 

 

Although some high schools include home economics courses as a part of the regular curriculum, the age of a homemaking major in college is long gone. There are hold-outs like Brigham Young University’s School of Family Life degree, that is certainly not the norm. When this kind of degree was the only option for women, that was pretty problematic, but now it’s not a part of any curriculum. I think that’s kind of a bummer. We homemakers need some education and professional advancement opportunities too!

 

One way to avoid the dearth of professional development is to get creative with how you improve on your position and advance in your career.

 

Lots of local cooking schools offer community classes to improve your techniques. I’ve seen a lot of blogs offering tutorials on meal planning, budgeting, home organization, and the like. There are a handful of Christian resources and curricula for stay at home parents, if that’s something that interests you. My local high school offers financial classes to keep things humming along in that part of your life.

 

If homeschooling is part of your plan, you can look at education classes at your local community college. I have my master’s in education, and I think the best crossover class for my new life was a human development course. Learning about Vygotsky and Piaget’s theories of childhood was so interesting! And reading journal articles about evidence-based parenting have helped me immensely.

 

There are also tons and tons of YouTube channels dedicated to professional homemaking. And don’t forget websites like SkillShare and Craftsy to learn all the other stuff you might want to learn like knitting, mending, baking, etc.. Even learning baby sign language online or in person can help a lot with raising tiny ones.

 

Just because my career doesn’t have a formal certification doesn’t mean there isn’t material available to help me along on my path. It takes some creativity and a can-do attitude, but it’s doable and realistic and doesn’t have to cost a lot of money.

 

 

 

+ self esteem 

 

Going along with not a lot of external recognition for my career is the real hit my lifestyle took on my self esteem. If your accomplishments have little to do with your self-esteem, good on you! I’m in the opposite camp. I strongly connect my profession and achievements and actions with my self-esteem, and I’m ok owning that. I have an inner Tiger Mom who won’t rest until I’ve done everything in my power to keep going and achieve, achieve, achieve.

 

When I accomplish things and learn practical skills, I do feel a surge of self-confidence. I remember the day I learned to change the oil in my car myself. This simple, practical skill made all the difference in my confidence. I think learning practical skills like this and setting your own benchmarks goes a long way toward boosting your self esteem. At least it does for me! I like knowing that I’m improving at life and adult-ing and parenting, and that’s a good feeling.

 

I often get my dreaded “so, what do you do?” question at cocktail parties and when meeting strangers. For me, saying “stay at home mom” can be a little cringe-worthy because people can have some negative stereotypes about who I am and what I do based on that. Like, I’m not a slave to the patriarchy people! And I do take showers… In that scenario, I have started to fake it until I make it. If I act confident and secure in my job title, it makes  me feel a little more confident and secure in my choice. Eventually I became a lot more confident as I practiced this. I also started owning the term “homemaker” after a lot of thought. It’s kind of a weird profession, but I feel secure in how that word makes me feel.

 

It’s also important for me to take pride in my appearance and in the appearance of my home. My son’s appearance can vary wildly depending on what he had for lunch… I cut myself slack there! His dress and messiness are more a reflection of his rambunctious joy rather than a reflection on my parenting.

 

For me, taking the time and effort to get up a little earlier, tidy myself up, and wear something I’m not afraid to be seen in outside of the house makes me happier and more confident. During my son’s nap, I like to workout, make myself a nutritious lunch, take a shower, put on makeup, and do my hair. This is a priority for me because it makes me feel better and more put together. Regardless of whether or not I’m out in public, I like to look tidy and professional (though my wardrobe has more leggings than blazers these days).

 

I think one the most important part about maintaining my self-esteem is realizing that homemaking is really just a job. It’s a job that has a pretty big impact on society, but so do medical professions, education careers, social work, you name it. When I’m having a bad day and my son is a teething, tantrum-ing mess, I remind myself that it’s just a job. Sometimes my “coworker” can be a total disaster!

 

My husband helped me see that. Thinking about things that way lets me put this career into perspective and helps maintain my self-esteem. It also means that I do some things that make it more of a job than I often see with other homemakers. For any jobs, breaks are essential.

 

In my job, I decided to hire a babysitter for 2-3 hours a week so I can take a breather. It’s the best $25-40 I spend every week! If you can find a friend or relative to give you a break during the day, that is good too. And once I’m done with my weekly “me time,” I start missing my son and feel refreshed about my job. It was important for me to do this during the day instead of placing this responsibility of down time solely on my husband’s shoulders. He needs a break too! Coming home from a demanding job to a baby who is freaking out gets old sometimes… So give yourself a break, cut yourself some slack, and remember, it’s a hugely important job… but it’salso just a job.

 

 

 

+ reentry into the workforce

 

 

Yes, reentering the workforce after a stint of homemaking can be a challenge. Not every employer recognizes the huge value a former homemaker can add to their company. Keeping a calm head in a crisis is probably my best crossover skill! I can’t change anyone’s impressions of my job though, so I try to adapt to how things are, rather than how I hope them to be.

 

I’ve taken my workforce sabbatical seriously and have kept my connection to my professional life alive by dipping into low commitment types of work that show I’m still alive professionally and haven’t fallen off the face of the earth.

 

I’m currently mentoring a group of grad students with their ESOL certification. I’ve worked extensively with international students and have been able to offer a little “in the trenches” expertise. It’s all online, by text, and by phone. It’s a cool way to stay relevant. I have also volunteered in the past in fields that tend to align with my workforce career.

 

It doesn’t take a ton of effort or time. Just stay engaged! You can also connect online through a blog, LinkedIn, Facebook, or meet ups with former coworkers. This is a very important part of my reentry plan and something I think is vitally important to making this full time homemaker thing work.

 

 

 

+ avoiding isolation

 

 

This is the really real-est pitfall of homemaking that I’ve found. This career can get really freaking lonely! Especially for an extrovert like me. When I was working in a high school, I loved the variety of perspectives and personalities I got to interact with on a daily basis. Between 800 students and 50 colleagues, I was hanging out with people all day long. I loved it! Even if you’re not an extrovert, things can get pretty lonely at home all day.

 

One of the better ways I’ve found to combat this isolation is connecting to other homemakers and spending time with them. A close friend of mine is a full time homemaker (and serious side-hustler!) who lives a few miles from me. It’s great to help normalize my struggles and get the heck out of the house. I also signed up my son for classes at the Little Gym, which helps him with socialization, and most importantly, helps me hang out with new people. I’ve started making a few friends that way.

 

Whether it’s gym friends, church friends, family, yoga class mates, school friends, neighbors, or whoever, making the effort to avoid isolation is worth its weight in gold. My once-a-week babysitter helps too! With those few hours a week, I can do pretty much whatever I want to maintain my sense of self and combat that isolation.

 

At first, you might feel like you’re ok keeping you and your family to yourself, but I think the isolation creeps in surreptitiously and sneaks it way into your psyche without you even being aware of it. The weeks when I’ve been like “I’m all good, I don’t need a babysitter this week” or “I’m all good, I don’t need my husband to take over for a few hours this weekend” I’ve felt that creeping depression as the days go by and have felt totally off as the week wears on. It also takes a big toll on my patience with my son. If I’m not making time for myself, I can be a raging monster if my son is being a sweet, but stubborn, coworker. Avoiding isolation and getting out there helps me maintain my zen. It’s also really fun to bring my son along wherever I want to go too! The art museum, church, shopping, the park, the library. He’s a pretty good traveling companion.

 

 

 

+ losing your identity

 

 

This sort of goes along with the isolation and self-esteem component. It’s really freaking easy to get sucked into parenthood being the only facet of my personality. Before I had my son, I was a pretty interesting and fully realized person. I mean, I wasn’t perfect, but I had all kinds of interests and passions and ambitions. Having a child didn’t make those disappear, but it takes work to keep my focus on Stephanie and not only my son’s mom. Being my son’s mom is noble and an honor and pretty cool, but it’s not all I am.

 

Early on, I decided to start this blog to remind myself that I’m me, fully me, apart from my family. Ok, I know now I’m blogging about being a mom today, but that’s pretty rare. I’ve made the time to create this blog to remind myself that I have non-mom interests, passions, pursuits, dreams, ambitions. One good side effect is that I can see my son fully as himself, not an extension of me. If I have a fully formed interior life, then I am more likely to respect and honor his. If I follow my own arrow, I can show him how to follow his. Pretty cool, right?

 

I’m working on adding more to myself as my son gets a little older. When I have free time, I like to pray in my church’s chapel and do some Bible journaling. That plugs me into the universe and a God who knows me by name. He’s good at realigning my view of myself in the world. On a non-spiritual plain, I’m also looking into taking weekly barre classes at a local gym. Sounds pretty fun and a good way to meet some new friends. This is a work in progress, but one I force myself to prioritize it. It’s just that important.

 

I also like to focus on the end game. For me, the ultimate goal of parenting is to make my position obsolete in about twenty years. By encouraging independence in my son, I’m kind of shooting to get fired at the end of this! Of course, he will only ever have one mom, but in terms of daily life functioning, I’d like him to be fully independent.

 

Focusing on that end goal helps me stay attuned to my own identity and where I want to be after this stay at home mom life. Eventually, I’d like to make my way back to the workforce in some kind of fulfilling vocation. That would be great! There’s a lot of legwork that goes into that, though. I’d also like to be the type of mother who recognizes herself in the best way at the end of the high-intensity years of parenting. Is there a way to avoid empty nest syndrome? I don’t know, but I’m sure as heck going to try! In previous generations, parents might live only a decade or two of their life after their children became adults. The average lifespan has expanded so much that we have a lot of good years left! Even us older parents… It’s important for me to focus on the end game to maintain my own sovereignty and identity.

 

 

 

+ unstructured days and dealing with overwhelm

 

 

When I was teaching, my days were insanely structured. Forty-five minute classes with three minutes in between classes. The warning bell rang at 7:50 and the last bell rang at 2:35. Every day. The whole academic year. Then the year was divided neatly into quarters and semesters. Even though I hated rushing, it was nice to have that kind of structure and routine in my life. I could plan on things and expect certain things in my days and weeks.

 

Many professions have a certain flow to them with busy seasons, regular hours, regular breaks, and a routine to fill your work hours. When you’re a full time homemaker in the very early stages, all of those time stamps in your agenda fly out the window. Babies can be really unpredictable! And they change so much day to day and week to week. Sleeping, napping, eating, crying, and diapers can all come at odd intervals. And just when you feel like you have the hang of it, there they go again changing things up! If you’re a lover of routine like I am, it can drive you a little crazy.

 

As my son has gotten older, I allowed that unpredictability to seep into our lives and was probably a little too casual with our schedule. Our nights have been pretty consistent since about three or four months, but I hadn’t let those routines seep into the rest of my day. Eventually, at about nine months old, my unpredictable days because really trying, and I found myself overwhelmed, burned out, and frazzled. I was losing my temper at the drop of a hat and felt really disappointed in myself and my situation.

 

I have a very low “fed up” threshold that I hit. After that, I did a bunch of research and found a schedule that worked for my son and I. I even printed it out and taped it to the wall. Sometimes we deviate from the script for things that might pop up, but for the most part, it’s kind of set in stone. Ohmigosh has this made my work life so. much. better. At first, I didn’t want to push my son into any kind of strict schedule, until I remembered that I’m his mom, and kind of his boss at this point, and it’s up to me to set the time signature of our days. I gotta work hard to conduct this little orchestra.

 

So I would recommend first of all, do your best to get into some habits and routines as early as you can. I know little ones can be very very unpredictable, but the more you repeat things (like bath then bottle then bed at night) the more they can get into the rhythm and anticipate what happens next. Whatever that looks like for you!

 

I also think as your kiddos get older that a schedule is even more important. You can have a weekly schedule written on a white board or just go through the next day’s plans the night before. When I was teaching, I noticed that even eighteen year olds thrive on routine and predictability. They might have laughed a little and teased me about it, but they actually started anticipating having a group activity every Friday, rain or shine.

 

Whatever your life looks like or however your little ones are, predictability and routine have helped me immensely toward my keeping cool head in the face of a few parenting disasters, ratcheted down my irritability, and helped me enjoy parenting a whole lot more.

 

 

 

+ keeping the romance alive

 

 

I didn’t mention this in Tuesday’s post because it slipped my mind. What does that say about where my head is in my relationship with my husband?! That’s why I’m glad I remembered today. One of the hardest things about being new parents and being a full time homemaker is keeping the romance alive in your relationship with your partner. Early on, my little one needed undivided attention from both mom and dad, so there wasn’t a whole lot of room for making each other a priority. But try we did!

 

Ever since we started dating twenty (yes twenty!) years ago, my husband and I have prioritized date night every Friday. When we were broke temp workers in our 20s, we might have had a very frugal date night (Taco Bell and free reading at Barnes & Noble were pretty common) but we kept it up and made the effort. Right now, date night often includes our son, but we’ve made space to get a babysitter some Friday nights to keep our tradition going.

 

It can be hard, really hard, to keep the kind of intimacy going I once had with my husband before my son was born, but by making a commitment to it, talking it through, and making time and space for that, we are really loving and appreciating each other even more than we did before. It takes some creative solutions, but I think it’s very well worth the effort.

 

It also goes along with keeping my self esteem and sense of identity intact. It’s easy to let self care take a backseat, but it’s been really important for me to keep that up. Even if I’ve had a rough day, I try to fit in a shower or even just put on some blush and tidy my hair to show my husband I’m making the effort. And he gets it. I know he appreciates that I’m thinking of him even on my worst days. This includes picking out something cute for date night or buying clothes that remind myself that I have a figure. Goodbye sweatpants and hello cute yoga pants! It doesn’t take a lot of time or energy, just a little to let your partner know you tried.

 

I also try to invest in my own identity and intellectual growth so I’m a good date! It’s fun to talk about our son, but I really try to do a little less child-rearing talk whenever we have a date night or some time to ourselves. I keep up with podcasts and articles and fill my days with interesting things, so I’m a good companion. I don’t want to spend my precious time with my husband griping about diapers and my parents and how little sleep I got this week. Ok, it’s good to be open and vulnerable with our spouses, of course it is. But it’s also important to balance those negative things with positives.

 

This might all be the case for general parent-life and not just relegated to full time homemakers, but I think it’s all enhanced and exacerbated when you don’t have the outside cues to enhance your self esteem, keep you looking your best, and reminders that you exist outside of your profession.

 

It’s also cool if you have a rough idea of your partner’s love language or how they work. My husband loves when I do simple things for him and accompany him on all of his adventures. I take an active interest in his hobbies and pursuits, try them out when I can, and do nice little things to let him know I’m thinking of him. Early on, it might have been making him coffee while he was pacing the floor with a crying infant. It was those little acts of kindness that show how much I appreciate him. Remembering he’s a person aside from just being a dad helps keep that romance alive and lets him know he’s a priority too. I’m also respecting and honoring his own individuality away from his role of parent. That goes a long way toward building up his self esteem along with mine!

 

 

 

Ok, I told you it was a long post! I hope you were able to have a better idea of how I’m avoiding some of the pitfalls of being a full time homemaker. I think all of these pitfalls are surmountable and take a little creativity, practicality, and trusting your instincts to make it work.

 

I’ve found a lot of joy and life and grace in my chosen career right now. I’m grateful and glad I’m on this path. I hope by sharing some of the solutions I’ve worked through that I can help you on your path or give you some helpful information if you’re considering the homemaker life. We are all so, so different, but I think listening and sharing with others is one of the best ways to get through this life with an open heart and a positive outlook.

 

I would seriously love if you would share your thoughts, comments, and suggestions below. I really enjoy listening to other perspectives and how other people make their path work for them. And in doing that, I’d like to give some room for differing perspectives and for people who think this whole scheme I have set up for myself is ludicrous. Although if you’ve made it to the end of this post, I’m guessing you’re a little more predisposed to my lifestyle than not.

 

Enjoy your choices, keep going, and make it work! It’s well worth the effort. I love my life and hope you do too.

 

 

 

 

 

For more tips, tricks, and inspiration head over to my Pinterest board , my Instagram, or my lifestyle and fitness Instagram.

 

 

Pros & Cons: Being a Stay at Home Parent

Pros & Cons: Being a Stay at Home Parent

  So far on this blog I think I’ve only written one article on being my child’s mother and there’s a reason for that. I’d hate to get pigeonholed into being just another “mommy blogger.” For the mommy bloggers out there who are hustling, good […]

Spring Cleaning: Detox Your Mind

Spring Cleaning: Detox Your Mind

  This week I had one of those days. You know the kind. Whether you’re a parent, spouse, single person, student, teacher, whoever, sometimes you just get sucked into a totally unhelpful loop in your head. These are the days that I really need to […]

Spring Cleaning: 5 Simple Ways to Make Your Home Smell Amazing

Spring Cleaning: 5 Simple Ways to Make Your Home Smell Amazing

 

All the crazy rain we had yesterday is reminding me that it’s absolutely spring here in Southeast Pennsylvania. It was just hammering rain last night and crazy windy. Even though it’s no fun being out in it, I think we’ve finally turned the corner on spring here. April showers bring May flowers, right?

 

Speaking of spring, this post is Part 3 of a four part series on Spring Cleaning. I love spring cleaning, so I thought spending two weeks writing about it would be fun and motivating for me. I’ve been doing a few projects here and there, but these posts are reminding me that I still have some work to do.

 

One thing I try to do every day is find ways to make my home smell amazing! Did you know that something like “clean” is really culture bound? In some cultures, “clean” is not touching your hands to anything physically unclean or even speaking about physically unclean things. In other cultures, daily upkeep and deep disinfecting until things are sparkly and shiny is the best way to keep clean. Some cultures have ritual baths so people feel clean inside and out.

 

Here in the West, especially in North America, we tend to equate “clean” with “fresh smelling.” Think about it: if true disinfecting were clean, then would something like Febreeze be in our laundry rooms? What about dry shampoo? I mean, I love shortcuts like those as much as anyone, but maybe they are just an excuse to put some pretty smelling things over the top of things that are unwashed. I know I’m all about the lazy clean…

 

I encourage everyone to get down and dirty with a spring clean, and actually wash things of course, but just smelling clean is a great way to get that spring cleaning lift and motivation. It’s also the first thing people notice when they visit, and first impressions are important!

 

Here are just some of my ideas and things that have worked well in my home!

 

+ sachets

 

I love making sachets out of rice, essential oils, and little burlap bags. They smell amazing and stowing them away in your dresser drawers is a great way to keep less-frequently-washed items like jeans smelling fresh. Any scent will keep it smelling great, but I like more traditionally “clean” scents like lemon and mint. You can also add a little tea tree oil to the mix to help actually disinfect that area. These need to be refreshed from time to time, so I like to shake out and air out unused clothing items whenever I add additional scent to the sachets. These are great in sock drawers, underwear drawers, hanging near suits and jackets, and in between folded pants. Look for sachets at a local craft store or online and any variety of rice will do!

 

 

+ essential oil diffuser

 

I couldn’t live without my diffuser! I’m actually considering buying a few to keep some areas of my home fresh-smelling more often. It’s fun to mix up scent combinations depending on your mood or the seasons. Look online for essential oil “recipes” for different seasons or even different stores… There is even an essential oil recipe for the Anthropologie store believe it or not! I can have reactions to non-soy candles sometimes and with a little one crawling around, I’m not super fond of open flames anyway. I feel like essential oils give the same fresh scent without the toddler danger. Of course, I lock up my oils so he doesn’t start ingesting those too… Don’t they get into everything??

 

+ room spray

 

I just posted a DIY for homemade Febreeze recently. It’s great to have a custom scent that doesn’t cost a lot of money. If you’re in the market for ready made, you can get less toxic room sprays from Mrs Meyers and JR Watkins at Target. I don’t like using artificial scents in my home so I can avoid my VOC levels going through the roof. There are so many good alternatives that are worth seeking out. If you want to make the air smell better than just using a room spray, try putting essential oils on a cotton pad and then vacuum up the pad. The exhaust from the vacuum spreads the scent throughout the room you are vacuuming. I just did that recently and it’s brilliant!

 

+ bring the outside in

 

Did you know you can clean your home with plants? Some plants are amazing natural air filters. Peace lilies, aloe plants, English ivy, and Dracaena are just a few of the plants that are known to purify the air in your home. And pure air = nice smelling air! I just picked up a Dracaena plant at Walmart for my son’s room that was labeled “air cleaner.” As the weather warms up, I plan on adding a few more plants around our house. If your plants are cleaning the air, it allows all those amazing scents in room sprays, diffusers, and sachets to stand out more. It’s also good to open the windows for a few hours every day if possible to allow all the nasty smells out. Cooking and pet smells can stick around homes that aren’t well ventilated. If you have a new construction home, you know how true this can be. By airing out your home every day, those not so nice scents can find their way outside.

 

 

+ baking soda for everything

 

I posted another DIY on using baking soda for a carpet cleaning powder. I use baking soda all over my house for a million different reasons. It’s especially important for my fridge and freezer. From time to time my ice cubes start smelling and tasting weird. I just pop in a new baking soda box, and those funky odors disappear. I like baking soda for kitchen disposals too to grab scents and rinse them away. You can also put a baking soda box in the bottom of your garbage pail before you put a fresh bag in. Natural charcoal works well too! Look for boxes at your local Asian grocery store or online. They haven’t quite caught on in the US yet, but they’re really worth seeking out.

 

 

Those are just 5 simple ideas to make your home smell amazing. I’m sure you have your own tips and tricks to add. Comment below with your great ideas!

 

 

 

 

For more tips, tricks, and inspiration head over to my Pinterest board , my Instagram, or my lifestyle and fitness Instagram.

 

 

 

Spring Cleaning: 8 Ways to Spring Clean Your Haircare

Spring Cleaning: 8 Ways to Spring Clean Your Haircare

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March Favorites

March Favorites

 

March was  a whirlwind punctuated by a seriously big snowstorm in the middle. It was teasing us with warmer temps and all the daffodils and crocuses started to bloom and then BAM, giant snowstorm! That’s ok though. We’re still at the very beginning of spring (and we kept our electricity!). I’m looking forward to it getting consistently warmer out so I can bring out my balcony furniture and start looking at outdoor plants.

 

I’m also looking forward to getting out on my bike! I haven’t ridden much since I was pregnant and then had my little guy last year. Now that he’s old enough, I can’t wait to get a seat for him for our bikes!

 

Before I jump too far ahead of myself, I better get going with these March favorites before this month totally passes me by.

 

 

 

:: March Favorites 2018 ::

 

 

+ things to check out

 

 

Pacifica ginger root volumizing spray

 

I recently ran out of my favorite volumizing root spray, and I was desperate to find a replacement. This fine-haired girl needed some volume stat! I stumbled on this root booster at Ulta in the clearance rack, and I’m in love. It smells great, does the job, and also acts as a heat protectant and scalp conditioner. Really really happy I found this.

 

 

Jesse’s Girl liquid eyeliner

 

A few years ago I tried the Ipsy Glam Bag box and found this great waterproof liquid liner pen. It was kind of hard to find for a long time so I used Lorac’s liquid liner, which is more than twice the price! I ran into Rite Aid the other day and found the whole line of Jesse’s girl cosmetics. What a find! I’m having a little trouble with transfer on to my top lid (I’m working on it…), but the color is really solid, doesn’t run into my eye corners, and the tip creates the prettiest fine or thick line depending on the pressure you apply. I can’t argue with a $6.99 eyeliner!

 

Almay best blend forever foundation

 

I have to admit, the Almay mascara I reviewed last time turned out to be a little goopy after using it for a few weeks. It didn’t have quiet the same texture I liked before. I did want to try another product from Almays relaunch, and thought I would give their Best Blend Forever foundation a try. I really like it! It comes with a sponge applicator which is nice, but I’m still using my eco tools beauty blender with it. The coverage is nice, it’s inexpensive, and it has SPF FORTY! That’s a win for me. I like having a high end foundation for the days I’m wearing more makeup and a lightweight inexpensive foundation for every day. This fits the bill.

 

 

atelier Catherine Masson soap set

 

My parents just got back from a trip to Disney World. My mom picked up these beautiful soap set from the France pavilion in Epcot. I love all the fun souvenirs she buys me when she visits. She has such good taste in all the little goodies she sends. She also knows that violet is my favorite scent and it’s impossible to find! I don’t know why violet notes in fragrances have really gone out of style. They are so pretty and classic. Anyway, she knows my long search and was able to find these adorable macaron-shaped violet soaps with included sachets just for me!

 

Zoya nailpolish

 

I recently got this gorgeous iridescent purple nail polish from Zoya. They are my very favorite polish brand because of their non-toxic formulations, nice brushes, and pretty colors. They were one of the original formulas that were five-free and didn’t include toxic chemicals in their bottles. If you’ve never tried this brand and are stuck on OPI and Essie, it’s really worth a try!

 

 

 

Daelman’s Stroop Waffles

 

It’s funny, I love food and never really review fun food items on my blog. A box of these stroop waffles really inspired me to include them. They are SO GOOD and totally addictive. The fun thing is that you can place them right on top of a hot coffee or tea mug and the caramel starts to soften and get a little melty. They’re the perfect treat for dessert and a really nice gift idea. Unfortunately, a giant box of 25 didn’t last long in our house…

 

boardroom spirits carrot vodka

 

Our next door neighbors are the entrepreneurs behind Boardroom Spirits, a local distillery that is starting to become more widely available in our area. We were able to attend one of their cocktail workshops recently, and had so much fun tasting and mixing new creations. Their flavored vodkas are really unique because they use Hungarian distilling techniques to infuse the vodka with natural fruit and vegetable flavors, instead of all the chemicals and artificial flavors of typical vodkas. This is a huge plus and really cuts the calorie count in their cocktails. We love their carrot vodka (how unique!) for Bloody Marys. It gives them a nice clean flavor and adds a little sweetness.

 

 

Asian grocery store matcha

 

Does anyone else love matcha and have the hardest time shelling out the cash for it? It can get really expensive, which kept me away from it for a long time. On a recent trip to our local Korean supermarket, I found a bunch of different brands of powdered matcha for smoothies, lattes, and desserts at seriously discounted prices. If you are a matcha addict like I am, try visiting your local Asian grocery store for deals.

 

 

 

+ things to read, watch, and listen to

 

Photo: Bethel Music

 

Steffany Gretzinger Blackout

 

Singles have started dropping recently as a warmup to the release of my very favorite worship artist’s second album. I couldn’t be more excited! Steffany Gretzinger is a powerful, powerful prophetic voice in worship music today. She is a creative songwriter and epic spontaneous worshipper. Steffany came on my radar years ago after binging on Bethel Music youtube videos (check out this totally bonkers spontaneous moment on youtube). Her style is unbridled, unrestrained, and unlike anyone else I’ve seen. I was lucky enough to see her live a few years ago, and ended up lost in a world of praise for almost three hours. I could have soaked there for another three, to be honest. Her new single, Save Me, is a vulnerable admission of her dependency on God, and her search for a rescue from her own limitations. Really powerful stuff.

 

Photo: Jonathan & Melissa Helser

 

the Jonathan and Melissa Helser podcast

 

I mentioned this podcast in a recent post and can’t express how much it has truly inspired me recently. It’s mostly a collection of their talks and testimonies at various workshops and in their own school called the Eighteen Inch Journey. I love their simplicity, honesty, vulnerability, and the grace with which they describe their experiences with God and all His graces and mercies in their life. Worth checking out for sure!

 

Photo: Kacey Musgraves

 

Kacey Musgraves golden hour

 

I am a really big Kacey Musgraves and her honest, ironic, and true Country Western style of music. Singles have been trickling out from this album, and I’m loving the fresh new style. She is hugely talented and has a way of making the lyrics sad and tough and joyful and funny all at the same time. The single High Horse is a special favorite so far (if disco country were a thing, I would describe that single as disco country).

 

 

Photo: Kylie Minogue

Kylie Minogue golden

 

Hmmm… must be a golden theme going around in the music world these days! Her first two singles that have come out from this album are a.maz.ing. Ugh. I love her so much! She headed to Nashville for this album and the country twang on top of her pop/dance style is such a great innovation for this epically talented perennial pop princess. I’m very excited by her new direction and to see how she will embrace this new incarnation on tour and in her music videos.

 

 

Photo: Longform

Longform 

 

I haven’t been reading many books lately, but have really been digging into some great long articles on Longform. I’ve read articles about cults, crazy tidbits from history, journalistic investigations, and all the cool niche things that interest me. It’s searchable by topic and includes pieces from publications like Vanity Fair, the Washington Post, and the Atlantic. I love that I don’t have to bother with logging in to various sites and can save them all on Instapaper for easy reading in the future. It’s great to set aside a block of time to really dig into a story. Longform has been a long favorite for me.

 

 

Photo: CMT

 

Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders Making the Team

 

I’ve been rewatching some old seasons of my very favorite tv show, Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders: Making the Team. It’s the only tv show where I will stop what I’m doing to catch each episode as they are released. I love watching the hopefuls as they go through the audition process and work through a grueling training camp before the Dallas Cowboys first home game. It might seem like being an NFL cheerleader is kind of a silly sideline gig to the game, but there’s some serious hard work, dedication, and talent that goes into each of their performances. Their uniform was recently inducted into the Smithsonian, and I think that shows how much we impact these young women have had who dance at the peak of their career and help show us that even small town girl dreams can come true. Every season is really inspiring, and gets me to start working my tail off at home and putting a little extra into my workouts.

 

 

+ memories

 

 

 

giant snowstorm

 

Is it just me, or is everyone losing track of all these winter storm names? I can’t remember what this Nor’Easter was called but it was pretty epic. It snowed for two days straight without a stop. I think it dumped about 10-14 inches in my neck of the woods. As someone who loves winter and snow, I was pretty excited! I love when the whole world shuts down, and I get to play in the snow with my family. I bundled the little guy up and took him in the snow for some snow angels and snowballs. I’m sad that the season is almost up for giant snowstorms, but am glad to start seeing a little more sunshine.

 

 

 

visit with my folks

 

My parents drove all the way from Ohio to come visit us here in Pennsylvania. It’s a long haul, so I’m very proud of them. They stayed for a few days, and were able to hang out with their grandson and make him laugh. I got to shop with my mom for a few hours, which was desperately needed! She’s a pretty good shopping companion. We also went to some favorite local spots for food and watched a few good tv shows and movies. They are very low key, so we didn’t have any big city adventures or anything. Just fun family time together.

 

 

 

little gym

 

We signed up for Little Gym at the end of last month I think, and have been having so much fun playing with all the gymnastics equipment. My little fella is kind of reserved in big chaotic settings until he gets more comfortable, so I’m happy to have this introduction to the wide world outside of my very chill home. He’s been having fun with bubbles, balls, balance beams, and somersaults. Its’s seriously the cutest.

 

 

 

 

blogging, blogging, blogging

 

I’ve been writing a lot more lately, so that has been a lot of fun. I’m trying to keep things fresh around here and provide a lot of good content for you. I enjoy writing and it’s good to have a fun outlet for it. Granted, my real intent is to keep some sanity in my stay at home mom life, but it’s also nice to get followers and feedback. I read every word! I’ve also been tweaking a few of my posts and design lately and learning all kinds of things about photography and website design. I’m happy to keep learning, and growing, and experimenting!

 

 

 

teatime with friends

 

One of my favorite activities is visiting  another stay at home mom friend nearby and her sweet daughter. We generally let the kids play while we spill the tea (literally and figuratively). She’s always making delicious baked goods and stocking her pantry with gorgeous tea sets and teas. Such a nice, relaxing time.

 

Formula One season opener

 

I can’t believe it, but I took exactly zero pics of a recent brunch our family attended with our friends who are also addicted to Formula One racing. We decided to put together some mimosas and baked goods to watch Ferrari race past Mercedes to start the season. I generally root for Max Verstappen, but I can’t help cheering for anyone who unseats Lewis Hamilton. Any other Fomula One fans out there?

 

 

 

our twentieth dating anniversary! 

 

My husband and I have been together for twenty years today! I am so grateful I got to grow up with this kind, patient, and sweet man. We were just teenagers when we met on a blind date for my sorority formal in 1998. We have built an amazing life together, and I couldn’t have asked for a better companion on this journey. I love him more every day.

 

 

There you have it! March favorites. I hope you’re able to enjoy some of these things for yourself, and look forward to all that April brings.

 

 

 

What are you most looking forward to this spring? Are you planning any outdoor projects?

 

 

For more tips, tricks, and inspiration head over to my Pinterest board , my Instagram, or my lifestyle and fitness Instagram.

 

 

 

What Bible Journaling Looks Like for Me

What Bible Journaling Looks Like for Me

  For Christians, this week is Holy Week, the final week in Lent when we remember Jesus’ last week of humanity and all the good and bad that went with those seven days. When we think about Holy Week and Jesus’ journey, it’s sometimes hard […]