Archive - 2018

1
Clean Beauty Round-Up
2
Review: Desert Essence Anti-Breakage Shampoo
3
» Kitchen Remodel: IKEA Butcher Block Installation
4
» REVIEW: Tuft & Needle Pouch (Chair)
5
» The French Cottage: Renovation Series
6
» Making a Home
7
» Love Heals: The Cafe at Thistle Farm
8
» Asleep by 8:00
9
» The Fight Against Screen Time, Summer Picks, and Giveaway!
10
It takes a village: Summer Safety

Clean Beauty Round-Up

I spent years paying little attention to the products I used on my skin and face. I slathered on foundation without ever turning the bottle over to read what was actually in the bottle. When we began to have children I cleaned up our personal products, cloth diapered and made many of the cleaners and household items we used regularly. I remember a time when  Seventh Generation was the only decent brand I could find in a store and even that was a bit questionable! The interesting thing about this big transformation is that it wasn’t until the past two years that I considered my make-up and skin care routine. I don’t wear gobs of make up but I love a good BB cream, mascara and black eyeliner. I also love playing with make up if I’m headed to dinner or somewhere special. It was definitely time to turn that bottle of foundation over to read what was really lurking inside. Fragrance (AKA, the beauty industry’s secret code for whatever they want to put in here, unregulated), Parabens, Triclosan, Formaldehyde, Lead… and a whole lot more. To get the full picture click here and read all about it.

For our purposes I’m going to skip ALL the details of the scary story and instead share the GREAT products I’ve found to avoid this yuck. Because here’s the thing… even if you don’t care that your make-up and face products can carry cancer and neurological risk maybe you’ll care that they are actually aging your skin and making you look older. 

I have tried, at length, each of the safe products suggested below and fully recommend them. Please read the notes in order to decide if it’s the right product for your needs. Each product name is linked to their website for shopping ease if you decide you just HAVE to try it.

Foundation/Powders/B.B. Creams:

Juice Beauty: PHYTO-PIGMENTS FLAWLESS SERUM FOUNDATION

This is a really good medium coverage foundation. It moisturizes the skin and does not set on top of the skin or look cakey. I prefer to wear this with a dab of loose powder on top to set the look and make things a bit more matte. If you prefer a dewey look just skip the setting powder. This also contains an anti-aging serum! (tip: shake the bottle well every time you use it)

Rejuva Minerals:  CONCEALER POWDER AND LOOSE FOUNDATION POWDER

Rejuva minerals makes several foundation items but these were stand-out winners and the items I employed over the last week to create a daily clean make-up look. This was my first go with concealer powder and I don’t think I could go back to a stick concealer again. This organic, mica and titanium dioxide free powder is really easy to apply and target areas like dark circles without pulling against the skin or causing further damage. The coverage is excellent and buildable according to the look you want to create. As a bonus, their packaging is really quite cute. Use coupon code goodb to receive 15% off your order.

Crunchi: BEAUTIFULLY FLAWLESS FOUNDATION 

Crunchi is a fairly new MLM company but they have made a big splash with highly educated consultants. Their Flawless Foundation is a great choice if you like a very full-coverage look. It really lives up to its name.

Lowens: IN YO FACE! NATURAL, VEGAN BB CREAM

This wonder-cream firms and protects your face and just feels wonderful. This BB cream is not tinted and works well as a pre-make up moisturizer or on those days when you skip the foundation and just throw on some mascara. (Which is me four days out of seven) As a bonus, this cream also provides sun protection!

Mascara:

W3LL People: EXPRESSIONIST MASCARA

Mascara is a must for me. I pretty much always have it on. And the blacker the better. The brush included in this mascara is the key. The formula is great, but man, the brush is the best. It’s super skinny and firm and it lengthens lashes beauty without any clumping. Allure magazine endorses it, so you know it’s good!

Rejuva Minerals: MASCARA MEGA LASH, LENGTHENING & THICKENING

Mega Lash has a mega brush included. If you like a fat, fluffy brush that adds a lot of fullness and depth to lashes you’ll adore this one. The formula goes on easily and leaves lashes channeling snuffleupagus from Sesame Street. This is not a water-resistant formula so definitely skip it on pool days. Rejuva also offers a volumizing formula but I have not personally tried it yet, grab some and let me know what you think! Use coupon code goodb to receive 15% off your order.

 

Blush and Bronzer:

Juice Beauty: PHYTO PIGMENTS BRONZER AND ILLUMINATOR DUO

This bronzer and illuminator duo is pretty fool proof. Bronzer is a favorite “make up tool” of mine and I do have some trouble with powder versions. This smooth, gel-like formula is easy to apply and blend in if you make a mistake. The color also works well with almost any skin type. The illuminator looks lovely applied at the top of the cheeks or corners of the eye.

Rejuva Minerals: PAPAYA PRESSED BLUSH POWDER

This blush has a universally flattering color and is buildable like many of Rejuva’s products. It’s definitely not a blush you can cake on OR overdo. It’s just a sweet pop of color that warms up the skin and leaves you with a summery look. It gets points for being fool-proof and natural looking. Use coupon code goodb to receive 15% off your order.

Lips:

Lowens: LOWENS LIP BALM

Lowen’s Lip Balm comes in 17 fun and delicious flavors. Some of our favorites are Funky cold camelina, Iced mini doughnut and Lime in da coconut. Yes, I’m a total sucker for fun product names but the performance and flavor is equally great. These smooth and tasty lip balms are full of fair trade ingredients (even coffee for some flavors!) like shea butter, rosemary oil and beeswax. Each flavor has it’s own list of special ingredients! This product is a hit with the whole family and must at the end of summer days in the sun. Hit up our instagram to win some for yourself.

Juice Beauty: SATIN LIP CREAM

This satin lip cream is FULL of color. It’s rich, deep and buildable. It’s not long-wearing but my lips feel great when I use it. If you don’t mind reapplying this is a great choice. To be honest, I’m pretty certain that long-wearing lipsticks don’t have great ingredients, including some of the popular ones that make some pretty big claims.

Body Products:

Lowen’s: BUBBLE PASTE

Oh. My. Goodness. This stuff won some awards in our house. First of all, it’s somehow more fun to put paste into a bath than liquid. Second, the blood orange scent is just SO good. Third? We are just really in love with the Lowen’s company and their commitment to really good, nourishing and safe ingredients. Their sweet stories about the products and how they are related to their daughter Lowen really win us over. I have complete and full confidence in every product I use from Lowen’s, not only because I trust their business model but they also have great EWG ratings which takes all the guess work out of the equation. Grab some bubble paste for yourself and give the kids an enjoyable bath you can feel good about.

Lowen’s: BUTTER BALM

This magical salve is like a fix-everything wonder balm. Too many words? Maybe… but it is really good. Lowen’s Butter Balm is completely free of petrochemicals, artificial preservatives, colorants or scenting agents. We have used it on everything from bug bites that didn’t want to heal, to cracked cuticles and rough puppy paws. Basically, if something is irritating your skin, slather some of this on and you’ll be on your way to fixing the issue. It comes in a generous sized tub and kind of melts in your hand as you apply it. We are in the thick of summer activities and this seems to be the most requested item after days full of bug bites, scrapes and barefoot running. I’ve heard it’s great as a diaper rash solution as well!

Acure: BRILLIANTLY BRIGHTENING FACE SCRUB

Yes, I know. I’ve written about this one before. But if it’s not in your life yet, go ahead and make sure it is. This scrub gently exfoliates with things like sea kelp and French green clay. It’s like a 2-minute spa day and I promise your face will feel refreshed and detoxified. I keep this on my amazon subscribe and save because I can’t. stop. using. it.

And there you have it! My current favorites, all with the highest standards  and practices. I’m really thankful for these companies and the ethical practices they employ. The result is high performing products that don’t have shady or irritating ingredients. All products can be verified on the EWG website if you want to double check me!

 

Review: Desert Essence Anti-Breakage Shampoo

We began switching our personal care products to natural, socially conscious brands several years ago. We quickly discovered that not all natural products are created equal. Especially when it comes to shampoo. I tried dozens of “natural” shampoos that left my hair dry and dull.

For the past few weeks I’ve had the opportunity to try out Desert Essence Shampoos with my family and we’ve truly been impressed. Their Anti-Breakage Shampoo performed well with our varying hair types, thin and straight to thick and curly.  After using it consistently my hair seemed calmer (no frizz!) and it had a nice shine that wasn’t present before using the shampoo. I also really enjoyed the conditioner. It’s on the thiner side and absorbs quickly into hair unlike thicker/creamier conditioners. The smell is very mild in both products, it has a mild herbal smell with a bit of tea tree mixed in. I can’t wait to see how my hair continues to improve with continued use!

My son has very dry, tight curls and we added the Desert Essence Anti-Breakage mask to his weekly routine. His hair felt so silky after the first use and we had a much easier time detangling his hair that after his bath. I’m hopeful that with continued use his dryness and manageability will improve even more.

About Desert Essence:

This is my first experience using Desert Essence products but they have been around for quite some time! For 35 years Desert Essence has been sustainably sourcing the purest and highest quality ingredients from all over the world. They do not use artificial colors or fragrances in any of their products. As a company centered around making a difference since 1978, Desert Essence is a certified B-Corp Corporation. This means that Desert Essence meets the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance, public transparency and legal accountability. If only more companies operated under these standards! Additionally. Desert Essence donates a portion of their sales to help girls in impoverished areas get access to education.

More about Desert Essence Anti-Breakage Shampoo:

  • Infused with an exclusive blend of Country Life Maxi-Hair® plus Biotin, this breakthrough formula with Keratin and Pro-Vitamin B5 helps reduce breakage up to 61%.
  • Rich in nourishing Jojoba and coconut oils, aloe, and saw palmetto, these ingredients smooth and fortify hair cuticles, and revitalize hair strands to minimize breakage.
  • The botanical oils and radish seed extract provide incredible shine.
  • The aloe and moisturizing shea butter in the Anti-Breakage Conditioner help detangle and condition hair.

Desert Essence is currently offering 30% off all Gluten-Free hair products. You can also snag a free lip balm with your order of $30 or more! Use code DELovesMomsMeet to get 20% off the rest of their amazing products! Click here to shop! 

 

 

I received this product for free from Moms Meet (momsmeet.com) to use and post my honest opinions. Compensation for this post was provided and this page may contain affiliate links.

» Kitchen Remodel: IKEA Butcher Block Installation

Last week I made the dreaded trek to IKEA because, lets face it, no one can beat their prices on kitchen counters and shelving. I highly regretted the choice after we rounded the third hour in the waiting Q for them to bring our items from the back… but alas we ate the meatballs, bought the randoms and made it out with our dignity intact.

Our new home has asked a lot of us during these past few weeks but we have risen to the challenge. This week ushered in new downstairs flooring and a refreshed (in-progress) kitchen. Once the flooring was in we got to work on our new butcher block counter tops. Thankfully my dad joined in and the whole process was much smoother than I originally anticipated. During our trip to IKEA I selected Karlby butcher block counters in birch. I also grabbed Ekby shelving and brackets to create a slightly industrial looking open shelving area in the kitchen. These brackets are really cool and could be used with any type of wood to create the look you want. Without further delay I’ll take you through a basic idea of how our installation went down and how we are feeling about everything as we finish up our kitchen remodel and refresh.

The first step was to demo and pull out the existing laminate countertops. This was easy enough, with only a few challenges in the sink area. Calvin also took this opportunity to change out the water line and drain hose for the dishwasher, thus the face down appliance in the middle of the floor. We also installed some additional bottom cabinetry because the kitchen needed a bit more counter and storage space to accommodate our family of six.

After demo-hour we measured and measured again and came up with the plan for our cuts. Making that first cut was a lot less nerve-wracking because we had so many eyes on the project. (A big thanks goes out to my dad who came to help and lend his tools!)

We saved the corner, where the sink lives, for very last. There were two angles to consider with this piece and we wanted to be sure we were satisfied with the adjacent counter cuts before proceeding. It turned out beautifully! We are currently working on finishing up the plumbing in this area and will be able to share our experience with IKEA sinks and faucets soon! For now it’s sitting there while I figure out all the things.

We used a mixture of sawdust from the cuts, gorilla wood glue and wood filler to seal up the places where the counter pieces meet. After all the counters were in I sealed them all up with a wood conditioner. I’m still contemplating whether I want them to remain natural or if a stain would be preferable. Next week I’ll be adding a coat of Coastal Blue Milk Paint by General Finishes to the lower cabinets and Antique White to the uppers. Until then… it’s a whole lot of wood to look at.

The counters all went in better than I had hoped. It took roughly four hours to do all the cuts and install. They seem to be durable, but only time will tell. I’ll be sure to update here in about six months to give you an update. Stay tuned for paint, backsplash and hardware coming next week. It’s going to be so much fun to share the completed kitchen! The current debate is whether to stay on trend with white subway or to take a departure and do something fun with patterned white tile. What would you do?

 

 

» REVIEW: Tuft & Needle Pouch (Chair)

For the last few years, I’ve worked from home. I’ve slowly created a workspace that fits my needs for function and design. My space isn’t quite large enough for a couch so I went on the hunt for the perfect chair. So when Tuft & Needle asked us to review their new Pouch chair, I knew it had potential for the home office! Tuft & Needle has already been known to disrupt the mattress market with dozens of other brands following their lead. Now they’ve introduced what has become my new favorite seat in the house.

A few days after placing our online order, our UPS man delivered the Pouch right to our doorstep! The box required both Calvin and I to get it to the right spot. Be ready, these chairs weigh approximately 70 pounds! As you’ve probably imagined, there is no assembly required. Just open, unwrap, and patiently watch the Pouch expand before jumping on. I love the design of this couch, it is nice enough for any room in the house, not just tucked away in the corner of a bonus room.

 

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The Pouch.

It’s a bean bag but it’s the size of a large comfy chair. Just like their mattresses, the Pouch is delivered in a tall box right to your doorstep. This makes the Pouch a whole lot easier to bring upstairs if needed.

Specs

  • 48″ W x 48″ L x 48″ H
  • Filled with Certipur-US certified T&N Adaptive foam
  • Soft, quilted cover with locking zipper
  • Made in the USA (yes!)
  • 100-day trail
  • 3-year warranty
  • Available in 3 colors

I love to sit on it with my feet propped up on a nearby ottoman or coffee table. Our kids love to get a running start and dive into this “giant fluffy cloud” as they’ve described it. Speaking of kids, the cover is completely removable and machine washable in case a child (or a pet in our case) does the unthinkable. We’ve already moved the Pouch to different rooms in the house but I think the office is where it’ll stay.

Conclusion

I love the sturdiness and quality of the Pouch. Some folks may think the $450 price tag is steep but it is nowhere near the $850 price tag of a similar product by Lovesac. Even with heavy use, I imagine the Pouch to last in our house for at least five years.

Tuft & Needle website

buy Tuft & Needle on Amazon

 

 

 

 

I received this product from Tuft & Needle to complete this review, but the opinions expressed here are my own.

» The French Cottage: Renovation Series

I have been obsessed with this idea of living in a cottage or a bungalow for quite some time. I think that obsession is what fueled the desire to downsize into a cozier home. That… and the desire to not spend my life cleaning square footage. Our new home has a cozy kitchen that I initially dubbed too small, but after ripping our flooring out and pondering and staring at it, and staring at it some more… a few very warm and comforting feelings have come over me. Maybe it’s a good thing to have a just-big-enough kitchen where you bump into each other as you brush past to unload the dishwasher or boil the pasta water. And so, I have embraced those intimate cottage feelings and now have a direction for the low-key styling and renovation of this home. It started with the cement tiles I laid in the entryway after work this week. My kids were all at camp for three days and it seemed like the best project to knock out. I didn’t want to fuss at them if they accidentally stepped on it before all was dry and set. Thankfully Lowes now has a pretty good selection of tile, and I made a decision quickly. Click here if you want to connect with that exact tile yourself. The Lowes website classifies the tile as “bathroom tile” but I envisioned our entryway, which is small, shouting a big hello. This tile certainly does that. I think this would look awesome in a hallway or laundry room as well. In fact… someone please put this in a laundry room, it would be amazing.

Back to the subject. I tiled. And I was super nervous because although I have tiled a backsplash or two, this was different. It was a bit daunting to know that we would walk on top of it for years to come. For this reason I was extra careful and meticulous with the job. First I laid the hardy backer and screwed it in, with probably more screws than I needed, and then I carefully laid out each tile with spacers and made all the cuts I would need in advance. I used a little tile cutter and a wet saw.

Once I had the pattern laid out and cuts made I took the bravest step and used thin set to spread out on the floor and lay the tiles. I am certain that no one is messier than me when working with these materials. I was covered in thin set by the time I finished. We have some awesome guys working to put a covered porch out back and they looked a little astonished when I came out to get some air. They were busting concrete and digging up dirt and were cleaner than I.

After the tiles had time to cure on the thin set (is that even the right phrase? I don’t know) I added the dark gray grout. I just love it. I never in my life, ever, want to clean white grout. Even if it was the inest thing to ever be in. I will always choose dark grout. After the grout had time to harden and do its thing I cleaned the tile off and sealed everything up with a spray sealer. And Ta-Da! This is what 4.5 hours gets you. My knees and back are definitely feeling it today!

So what’s next for our faux-French cottage? Definitely some flooring for the rest of the house. We went wild and pulled everything up, because we really needed to, and are currently walking on subfloor. I am hopeful that the rest of the flooring will be decided upon and installed this week. Additionally, as I mentioned, an amazing porch is being added behind the kitchen and my heart is just so full when I envision that space and the people that will hopefully fill it for cook outs. I am also planning what I call a “kitchen refresh.” This will include adding some bottom cabinetry to what already exists, floating shelves and possibly some IKEA butcher block. But… first floors.

» Making a Home

A series of interesting events led us on a bit of a detour/adventure this past year. We had high hopes that didn’t pan out. But God’s plans really are better than high hopes. In fact they are a heck of a lot more solid than hopes. Any discomfort or displacement we may have felt during this time, and now, are for the good He is continuing to orchestrate. I say this with confidence, but if you have talked to me lately you might question that resolve. I haven’t cried this much since I was pregnant. Whew.

Home is so important to me. Building and curating a place of welcome. Stocking a fridge with things that aid hospitality. Yet I’ve been dreaming about a downsize and in our culture less room seems to spell less room for people. This year when everything shifted and left us scrambling to sell our home of ten months and buy another, in an extremely crazy market, we were forced to downsize. Sure we could have extended a bit, added a bit more to the payment, compromised on our budget. But all the signs pointed toward actually doing what we’ve felt led to do for years: downsize and create room for others nonetheless. And so, we did it. We bought a house that was considerably smaller but checked many boxes for our family of six. It needs work and it apparently has a history of heartbreak. It has stretched me… it has made me uncomfortable. Mostly because the A/C unit promptly went out when we moved in. (Please kick in home warranty!) It’s embarrassing to admit all these first world thoughts and problems. But our struggles, no matter how frivolous are sharable. Perhaps for you, but perhaps for me as well. Sharing puts my heart on display in a way that helps me examine it for what really lies inside, it helps me throw out the clutter and refine what needs to belong.

As I moved into this house my friend and co-laborer (because she doesn’t just live in this world, she’s works in it) handed me a beautiful emerald book that said so many things that I want my heart to feel and accomplish consistently. In The Gospel Comes with a House Key Rosaria Butterfield states that hospitality is not just moral posturing. Hospitality is loving your neighbor at every opportunity and at every cost.

Whoa. Holy cow.

In my tears, the loss of space, and dirtiness of current space and disfunctionality of space… all things that will be fixed… were directly associated with my desire to be hospitable and open with my home. But if hospitality is loving your neighbor, that has little to do with what your home looks or feels like.

The second is this: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
There is no other commandment greater than these.
Mark 12:31

The list of DIYs is long. And yes, I still want to curate a beautiful place to sit with others through whatever joy or trial they are facing. I want to create a space that my children come home to and bring others with them. But above all I want to do what God requests of me. Create in me a pure heart Lord, one that loves my neighbor well and opens my table to a stranger. If my home can be a peaceful resting place along the way, then so be it. I hope you’ll come along for the ride as we work on this space, and our mission, as a family.

 

» Love Heals: The Cafe at Thistle Farm

As Charlotte’s ninth birthday approached we began to scheme and plan the ultimate girls day out. We continue to choose experiences over parties and presents in our home and she had her sights set on a day that included pampering, one-on-one time and perhaps a steaming pot of tea.

Thankfully we discovered that The Cafe at Thistle Farm recently moved to a beautiful new location and offers an afternoon tea service, by reservation, from 1-3pm every afternoon. Thistle Farms was founded in Nashville and offers women hope and healing through a holistic residential program, employment with one of their social enterprises, and a growing national and global network dedicated to changing a culture that allows human beings to be bought and sold. They also make a Global impact by distributing and selling handmade items and creating economic opportunities for women in ten different countries.

They are doing great things and we were more than happy to check out their beautiful cafe and shop as part of Charlotte’s special day. The Cafe was bustling when we entered and we spied lots of delicious salads, soups and sandwiches being delivered to tables. We gave our name and were quickly escorted to a reserved table just for the two of us. It was already set, beautifully, with saucers and dainty tea cups. We chose our tea from a nicely curated list and took some time to fawn over the tea things that were placed before us: natural sugar cubes, a pot of honey, a container of thick cream and slices of lemons.

Within a few minutes a steaming pot of tea graced the table and we fixed our cups to our liking. We chatted and worked on keeping our pinkies pointed while we waited on the rest of our afternoon tea service. Moments later our kind waitress delivered a 3-tier cart to our table that contained plates of scones, mini quiches, chicken salad, brownies, cookies, egg salad and other delicious treats. Each bite was delicious and oh so cute. If you are hoping for a full meal during this time you can also add a soup and salad to your reservation.

We also popped into their beautiful shop on the way out to grab lip balm, candles and natural bug spray!

After our delicious afternoon tea time, which we suggest you go ahead and book for a fun girls day, we headed over to Escape day spa for pedicures. Charlotte eyes lit up as we entered the spa and she whispered, it’s a REAL spa. Why yes, my dear, they certainly are. Escape offers everything from therapeutic soaks to coffee scrubs but they still treated Charlotte like the princess she is. We took advantage of their relaxation rooms and enjoyed several cups of mint tea before and after our nail service. The spa is truly gorgeous and one of the most relaxing places I’ve ever been. The staff is also friendly and ensures that you receive the pampering experience you expect when booking a high end spa service.

After our nails were fresh and our legs revived from vigorous massage and peppermint oils, we were ready to take on a bit of thrifting and treasure hunting in West Nashville. There is so much to discover in the Charlotte Pike area! We didn’t buy anything, due to our upcoming move, but I definitely found plenty of vintage items to drool over. One shop owner, after discovering Charlotte’s birthday situation, pulled a tray of dainty antique silver rings from a case and allowed her to choose one on the house. I definitely tried to scheme a way to procure the white couch pictured below. But alas, it stayed in the shop for another treasure hunter.

It was quite a day, one that we won’t soon forget. We owe a huge thanks to The Cafe at Thistle Farms and Escape Day Spa for helping us pull off such a meaningful celebration for the sweetest gal in Nashville.

 

» Asleep by 8:00

There were days on this parenting journey that would leave us sound asleep in a child’s bed by 8pm. Those were the days of one more drink of water, one more story or I’m scared of what might be in my closet. After an early morning out the door, a long day of work, a healthy home-cooked dinner and family time there wasn’t much left of us. And so, on most nights, we would find each other sprawled out in a bed, snoring, with a baby or toddler either sitting fully awake on top of the sleeping parent OR completely asleep in a way that we couldn’t risk waking them.

Those days were pretty good and I’m finding that although I enjoy relying on my kids to wipe their own bottoms now…  I long to hear their voices call out with funny made up words and lispy f’s and r’s. Our kids are still young, ranging 6-10, but the baby has all but worn off. They are growing long and lean, with firm calves and arms from dance and soccer. They have budding plans and good friends. They have ideas and projects and personalities.

Lately, we’ve found ourselves falling asleep at 8 and 9pm again. We work so hard to fill the hearts and minds of our children with the things we value as a family. We toss them around to tire out their tireless bodies, because the boys seem to need pure exhaustion to fall into a peaceful sleep. We read the Bible and cook together. We apply essential oils and talk over their days. We pull them close when they are angry, trying desperately to show them that love always trumps anger. We discipline, often, because they are incredibly naughty and have developed some interesting ways of expressing their displeasure with our guidance.

And we question ourselves constantly, understanding that we are molding small people who will become big people in an even bigger world. I’m thankful that we can trust Jesus with our children because we will always fall short!

We fall asleep at 8 and 9pm because we know that these years are so very short. Just as we miss the squishy legs and lispy voices, we will miss ornery 10 year olds who don’t like to put away their laundry but let us brush the hair out of their faces at night and kiss their foreheads. We survive through the valleys and challenges of parenthood so that we can be blessed by the sweet crest of the hill, the tender moments that bind our hearts together.

» The Fight Against Screen Time, Summer Picks, and Giveaway!

We’re only one week into summer and have already called a family meeting to create a schedule. My kids constantly want to play on an iPad or watch Netflix. And I’m starting to annoy myself with my long-winded statements starting with…when I was your age. I wish I had read these summer tips (Boundaries, Routines and Early Bedtimes) from lovewhatmatters.com a few weeks ago. In addition to the great article mentioned above, we’ve added a few specific things to maximize our summer and battle screen time.

HEXBUG

We’ve transformed the year of less into a lifestyle of less. Don’t get us wrong, our kids still want the ‘stuff’ they see in Walmart and Target isles, we’ve just provided jobs around the house to earn money to buy it themselves. My kids have been eyeing Hexbug remote control powered toys, specifically the BattleBots!

Does anyone remember watching this show as a kid on Saturdays? If there’s a sibling quarrel, now we can settle it in the arena! The tiny remotes are so fun and simple to use.

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The kids got things going in no time. In addition to the BattleBots, they loved their BattleGround sets that in some ways, combine BattleBots with Laser Tag. The obstacles can be moved in any design so you can make a unique playing field every time. Also check out AquaBots, remote controlled fish! Perfect for the long lazy days around the pool.

Long Cow

We typically reserve Friday nights for game night but now when it’s blazing hot outside at noon, we like to break out a board or card game. Long Cow is by far one of our brand new favorites. The goal of the game is to build the largest herd of cows. Extra points if you have the longest cow, hence the name of the game. My kids favorite rule in the instruction manual is having to say Your Moooooove when your turn is over.

Gamewright also makes a ton of other games including Tiki Topple, Sushi Go!, Loot, and many others.

Puzzles

Puzzles seem to be a thing of the past. I can’t remember a time in my childhood when we didn’t have a puzzle in progress. I’ve discovered that my kids’ interest in a good puzzle all depends on the art. We recently found these awesome Disney-themed puzzles that are bright, colorful and keep everyone’s attention.

Library

Weekly trips to the library can be therapeutic. We love being a part of the local library’s summer reading challenge and checking out a huge stack of books for the week. Run-ins with friends make things extra fun. Our local library is next to a playground so for us, it’s easy to plan a couple of hours here.

GIVEAWAY (ends June 8, 2018)

Maybe we can help you fight screen time, too! Head over to the Instagram page and enter to win this set. We’re giving away:

(1) BattleBots Rivals Set
(1) Loot Card Game by Gamewright
(1) Raising Grateful Kids in an Entitled World book by Kristen Welch (this one’s for the moms!)

It takes a village: Summer Safety

Remember the kid who ended up in the gorilla pit? I have one of those kids. I remember reading that story and all the outcry and thinking, it’s a good thing we weren’t at the zoo that day because there would have been two kids in the gorilla pit. Kids can be impulsive, unwise and make idiotic choices. They are learning the world, testing boundaries and pushing all the envelopes they can get their grubby hands on. As parents we are here to keep them safe, but we only have two eyes and two arms… despite the rumors about what’s on the back of my head.

Today at the pool while my eyes checked in on one of my four, another mom spotted Liam doing some… shall we say unwise… jumps near her seat. “Don’t jump like that on the edge of the pool little guy, you are making me very nervous!” she exclaimed. I looked over as she said it and gave her a nod and proceeded to back her up. She shouted across that she was sorry, but she just couldn’t keep quiet. My reply? ALWAYS tell my kids to stop if they aren’t safe!

Friends, parents… can we get together on this? If my kid is being unsafe, if your kid is being unsafe let’s let them know. I don’t care who you are or how harsh you are, if my child is being disrespectful, unsafe or unkind in your earshot or line of sight please say something. Alert me if you’re not comfortable, but please don’t stand by if safety comes into play. Of course unkind things may be said between children, and honestly, sometimes they need to just work that out but you’re an adult and maybe a parent and you know when enough is enough. 

Safety talk is on autopilot for me. Especially with boys in the house. Don’t run with sharp things, don’t run on the side of the pool, don’t throw rocks at each other (I’m not kidding) and on it goes. I think my kids are as immune to my utterances as I am! A fresh voice telling them not to make stupid unwise choices every once in awhile might be just what they need!

Bottom line. None of us have this on lock. It’s summer and kids are feeling wild and free as they should. Let’s recognize that we all hold a little power to reign them in from time to time and help another momma or daddy out! As I said two eyes, four kids… something is bound to happen and I hope someone will have my back when and if it does.

All Content © Erica Ho, Goodbye Normal