Head Lice Bugging You? It Earnestly Bugs Me.

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Please note, I am not selling or promoting any specific products for profit – I only recommend what I use because I am sure of it’s quality and effectiveness. Also the recipe included is not certified to treat head lice, it only helps with prevention.

When I was in the 7th grade I got head lice so bad that my mother (bless her heart) cut my long hair above my ears with kitchen shears. I cried, I remember holding my ponytail recently separated from my body through blurry sobs. In 7th grade I knew not to share hats, brushes, sweaters or lay next to friends for worry I may get head lice – but I got it anyway. So I showed up one day after all the dreaded “Head Lice Memos” went home, with a boy’s haircut (we went to a pro once I was all cleaned up from lice). I was mortified, I had such bad head lice that I still cringe at the nick names I received from the whole experience, ‘lice queen, lice hotel,’ and other creative names I do not care to mention. My 7th grade self is still petrified of getting head lice, and now that I have a long haired daughter starting school – I have worries, naturally.

Before my 7th grade experience, I got head lice for the first time, in Kindy; I remember sitting to get my bum length hair french braided and sprayed before school. I can still taste the mist of that choking aerosol spray we used to help prevent any louse wanting to get to my scalp. Of course, I ended up getting lice and my first experience with that nasty, stinky shampoo and painful nit catching comb. God bless my mother, she had 4 girls and head lice was quite an event in our house.

I know when I was in school there was a lot of myth and misinformation about lice, and today I still hear the same stuff. Here are some facts, head lice are:

  • 1 of the top 3 reasons kids miss school
  • Extremely common! Between 6-12 million U.S. kids 3-11 years old get head lice each year
  • Not dangerous, but are contagious (and SO annoying)
  • NOT signs of unwashed or unclean hair – they thrive in clean hair
  • Unable to jump, fly or swim
  • Unable to live on your pets
  • Unable to live in your environment (couch, carpet, furniture, pillow, sheets, mattress, car, movie theater, airplane)

Now, I also know that there are A TON of sprays and solutions out there that promise prevention and they are CRAZY expensive so I am going to share my recipe that is super easy and effective, but also will not break the bank. I will also share the prevention tips I follow and so far so good while my littles have attended PreK, VBS and play dates!

Lice Prevention Spray

Recipe:

  • 4 oz Distilled Water
  • 1 tsp alcohol free witch hazel
  • 8 drops dōTERRA Tea Tree Essential Oil
  • 5 drops dōTERRA Lavender EO
  • 5 drops dōTERRA Rosemary EO (optional)
  • 4 oz glass spray bottle (I recycled this one from Urban Oreganics Rose Water Spray)
  • Shake well and spray on wet or dry hair before and after styling.
  • I use this daily with my kiddos, lice can attach to any hair that is 2 inches or longer so if you have young lads with longer hair they can use the spray too!

    Witch hazel – Since head lice do not like clean hair, my kids wash their hair every two/three days, a very small amount of witch hazel can help reduce oil build up

    Tea Tree Essential Oil (melaleuca) – anti-fungal and antimicrobial properties make it effective for preventing lice, treating dandruff and seborrheic dermatitis. It can clear the follicles and allow your hair to breathe; also moisturizes the scalp while preventing buildup of excess oil on the scalp.

    Lavender Essential Oil – has antimicrobial and antibacterial properties, which can prevent head lice and improve overall scalp health. Lavender is also known for properties that can generate the growth of cells and reduce stress.

    Rosemary Essential Oil – can counter hair loss by stimulating blood circulation in the scalp, which, in turn, promotes hair growth. Its high nutritional value and anti-inflammatory properties make it an excellent ingredient for nourishing the hair follicles and soothing the scalp. It is also known to aid in lice prevention.

    Other oils that are good for preventing head lice – eucalyptus, peppermint and neem.

    Lice Prevention Tips:

    • Weekly lice checks, not sure what to look for? Google human lice/louse/nits
      Wash hair infrequently
      Style longer hair in braids or ponytails
      Use above spray daily before going to school/activities
      Encourage children not to share combs, brushes, hats or shirts
      Keep on the look out for frequent scalp itchiness or complaining of tickling feeling on scalp/hair

    Good luck mamas! If your kiddos end up getting head lice take a moment, breathe and do not panic. There are several ways to treat, kill and clean lice from heads and home. It can be quite a task but worth the work of preventing re-infestation; some natural and OTC treatments may not work as some are resistant; if necessary feel free to call and see your child’s practitioner.

    Please know, and I speak from experience, that parental reaction can have long lasting effects and staying calm, reassuring and supporting to your child who has lice is worth it’s weight in gold.

    You’ve got this!

    x. earnest mom

    The Middle Matters. An Earnest Book Review.

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    “Because grilled cheese without the middle is just toast.”

    – Lisa-Jo Baker, The Middle Matters

    Having been a fan of Lisa-Jo Baker since Surprised By Motherhood, I was thrilled to receive her recent book to review.  Lisa-Jo has an amazing way of storytelling that takes your life, intertwines it with hers and once you put one of her books down, you feel forever connected.  The Middle Matters: Why That (Extra)Ordinary Life Looks Good On You definitely delivers true to Lisa-Jo form.  It is honest, loving, filter-free and raw; when I read that last line of the final page, I closed the book and again, felt connected forever.

    This book consists of truth-telling letters/essays to the middle parts of Lisa-Jo’s life; from the middle of her muffin top, to the middle of her failures.  She shares stories of motherhood and marriage that will leave you in tears; laughing tears, sad tears, happy tears and realizing you are not alone tears.   Lisa-Jo takes the hard parts of life and makes them bearable, especially when you know someone out there has experienced the same.  I love the idea of building villages by sharing our stories, this book was made to build villages; villages made up of all of us here in our middles.

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    I remember as a teenager Chicken Soup for the Soul books were all the rage, they were the books I read at my beginning – I love food so this will be a food metaphor – Chicken Soup for the Soul was like my appetizer in life and The Middle Matters is the main course, right in the middle of appetizers and desserts.  It is a hearty helping of comfort food that is necessary in this middle life of ours.  A warm serving of exactly what we need to remember, the scale is not the boss of us and we are the boss of our own emotions.  It brings delicious satisfaction to read Lisa-Jo’s words and know that she has been there too sister, and together we can all get through it.  This middle part is not always easy, often quite busy but is so worth remembering.  She reminds us not to rush through the middle just to get to the end, we must finish our main course before the dessert.  Slowing down to try and see the days as they pass is totally worth it.  Worth every moment.  Lisa-Jo dedicates the book to her late mother whom she says taught her: the harder the moment, the greater the story.  I love this.  Let’s savor those hard moments so we can share great stories with our fellow and future middle mamas.

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    This book is one I wish I could buy for every woman I know, whether in the beginning of the middle, the middle of the middle or the end – we all need a book like this.  The Middle Matters is everywhere you can buy books, get out there and grab one for yourself and a few girlfriends!

    Stay tuned to my Instagram for an (extra)ordinary giveaway next week!!

    x. earnest mom.

    The Middle Matters is published by Waterbrook and Multnomah and is on bookstore shelves now. I received a free advance reader copy for my honest opinion.

     

    It’s Happy Here. An Earnest Anecdote.

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    “It’s happy here!” My oldest earnest little cried out amongst the laughter at the dinner table. As we all laughed together trying our best “dad” jokes, my heart leapt when I heard those words.

    As a mom, I am constantly bombarded by the world, social media, parenting books telling me who and what I should be. That is all well and good I know, I do glean what works in our earnest home; but there are times I cannot help but look to those picture perfect Pinterest-Insta-Worthy pictures and compare.

    Maybe if we did more crafts.

    Maybe if we did more alphabet practicing.

    Maybe if we played more sports.

    Maybe if we ate more organic.

    Maybe if I was more, more, more!

    It is sometimes overwhelming to try and be more than I could ever be and in those moments, those self-doubt enemy of my peace moments, I need to tell myself “I am ENOUGH.” And when I cannot voice it to myself, the Lord does through my kids.

    “It’s happy here.” Just three words but oh, the weight they carry. My children do not look to me and think “I wish you were more (fill in blank).” No, they run to me with huge open arms, squeeze me so tight sometimes I lose my breathe. It is incredible how they see the world – happy. They love me, as I am, whether my hair is combed or not, whether there are boogers on my shirt or not, whether I am perfect or not. Which I will tell you reader, the latter I am most definitely not.

    “It’s happy here” is now my mama-motto. (Seriously, I had vinyl stickers made up and stuck to my kitchen door!) Remembering no matter what, in our home, or wherever we are together, it is happy here.

    I do not know what it is in your home that will make you want to shout out “It’s happy here!” as my eldest did, but I charge you to find it. Seek it. Welcome that happiness with open arms, do not let the “picture perfect” ideals take away the happy time you have together. These sweet, sticky and delicious summers fly by in a flash. Find your happy, and keep it there. Sometimes, just ten minutes of happy a day can change the entire year; that is 3,600 minutes of happy in one year. You got this mamas, one day at a time, let’s look around and find moments that cry out “it’s happy here.”

    x. em.

    The Heart of the Matter. Our Earnest Miracle.

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    Photo Credit: stock.adobe.com

    It has been one year.  A full year since my otherwise fit, happy, energetic (and adorable) husband AKA earnest dad suffered a massive heart attack.  I remember watching the doctor in a cold fearful fog as she said “ma’am, your husband is experiencing a cardiac event.”  I will never forget the way she said those words: cardiac event.

    It was a typical Wednesday afternoon, we have bible study on Wednesdays and so from 3:30 – 5:30 pm is becomes a mad dash to get kids, myself and dinner ready before 5:00 pm so we can be out the door by 5:30 pm.  It is in the middle of this ordinary chaos I get a call from earnest dad, “Babe. I am driving to the emergency room.”  The chaos stilled, silence fell upon my ears and all I could hear was the quick, quiet and worry filled breathe of my husband as he explained what he was experiencing.  I listened as he described NOTHING I would think would be related to a heart problem.  A bit of dizziness, a menthol feeling in the back of his throat, but something just felt off – like maybe he waited too long to eat lunch.  I sent my oldest across the street to fetch my mother in law – but insisted my husband stay on the phone until I was at the emergency room with him.  After a quick exchange with my MIL I was off to the hospital.

    I walk in, my husband is already being evaluated, has already had an EKG and was quickly being whisked off through triage to a room where they could monitor him.  My husband had high cholesterol, and unusually high triglycerides that he had been taking medication for – but the doctors could not find anything wrong.  He was not experiencing pain, or tightness in chest, he was breathing fine and all of the tests were coming back normal.  There is an enzyme your heart releases into your blood stream (troponin) that came back minimally elevated – and doc gave him a slight sedative to ease anxiety, since he felt with earnest dad working 2 full time jobs, plus being a full time unpaid pastor could all cause a lot of stress that can easily present as a panic attack.  Panic attacks can produce of the symptoms he was experiencing.  Our emergency doctor (who happened to be the brother of a MOPS friend) gave us the option to stay for observation or go home.  I insisted we stay.

    Within a few hours we were moved twice and finally arrived on the cardiac floor since after two more blood tests, his troponin was massive heart attack level. I was so scared, could this be it?! 9.5 years of an amazing marriage, three beautiful children and being able to share it all with my best friend – could I be losing it all in one night?! He was only 41 years old. That night I prayed, selfishly I begged that I would not lose my husband, I asked the Lord to keep him alive, for me.

    By the next morning, we were waiting with bated breath, longing to hear good news from every nurse, doctor, orderly, ANYONE who walked into the room. The news only got worse, although my husband was smiling, joking, laughing and only felt headache created by the nitroglycerin patch on his chest; his blood was still reading massive heart attack levels. The doctors were astounded he was not feeling any other pain. Our next step was choosing a stress test or straight to a heart catheter to look for any blockages. We chose the catheter since it would be the most conclusive.

    We got the call from the catheter lab; they were ready for him. As he went to get ready, an orderly came in to wheel him to a stress test. We stopped and called up the doc – again he said our choice. Again, we chose the catheter – and thank God we did. After 3.5 grueling hours of waiting in the cath-lab waiting room the doctor came to see me. All three of his main arteries were blocked, 2 about 90% blocked and the other one 100%. Had we chosen a stress test, the doctor was sure he would have dropped right then and there. We were floored, hot tears of relief alongside loud cries releasing the emotion and fear I had been choking down burst from me like a levy giving way to the powerful rising tide. Although he was not 100% out of the woods quite yet, he was saved from this cardiac event.

    Hours later, in recovery we met with his cardiologist (now a someone he sees at least twice a year). His doctor looked at us in amazement, with two things he needed to tell us. 1. If we had gone home that Wednesday night, there is no doubt my husband would have not woken up the next morning. 2. The artery that had the 100% blockage should have caused damage in his lower ventricle – but from what he could see there was ZERO damage.

    By the grace of God, less than 48 hours after 5 stents were placed in all three of my husband’s arteries, we were home. He was sore but our hearts rejoiced seeing the hand of God so powerful in this whole event.

    Secretly, I was praying as I awaited the dreaded hospital bills. I had told myself, “no matter the cost, my husband is alive and that is priceless.” When that worry about medical bills would wake me in the middle of the night, I would look over at my sleeping husband and place my hand on his chest so I could remind myself of the most important thing – he is alive.

    As the days passed, we adjusted to the medicine regimen, the nutritionist recommendations and, as the family we were now having gone through this together. We received dozens of cards from members of our church sharing their love and prayers and some even gifts of money knowing the medical bills would be piling up. And then it came, the explanation of benefits from our insurance and as I was reading the numbers, the more than quarter of a million-dollar total cost, I swallowed hard. My stomach dropped, my face felt flush and worry squeezed down on me, but I kept reading. I saw deductions, insurance payments, in network discounts and the total we owed was the EXACT amount we had been sent in cards over the last few weeks.

    My knees were weak, the relief felt like I had been lifted from some invisible weight that I had been dragging daily. Could it be?! I checked again, read it aloud, cried as I read it the third time. It was 100% accurate; not only had God saved my husband’s life, He made sure it was done at no cost to us.

    Here we are one year later. Together, healthy and so incredibly blessed. At moments of stress or worry, I give my hubby a hug and listen to his heartbeat as it reminds me who truly is in control.

    x. earnest mom.

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Together; we earnestly have it all.

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    As I sit here, we have been traveling every weekend in the past six weeks, my kiddos are not going to be on time, the driving is driving us CRAZY and I am tired. Oh, and because we are traveling I am not at home. We are staying with friends who are more like family and at a place my children are incredibly loved.

    It makes me stop, look around and seek out the happy moments in this fever pitch of chaos that will not let up for another few weeks.

    We are all healthy, we are all happy and we are together. We have had a lot of church events happening that have uprooted our weekends to hotel rooms, guest rooms and air mattresses. But by the grace of God, we get to do it all together.

    In the busyness of travel, this weekend our friends we are bunking with got us out to the local zoo. As we were walking and checking out all the animals my oldest says to me “I love days like this, when we are together.” In that moment I was tired, my littlest little was fussing in the stroller, my back was sore and I was starting to feel all the travel catch up to me; and then my son brought it all to a halt with one comment. His little sentence caught me off guard and it was like a cool glass of water after a dry and hot exertion – he refreshed me.

    There I was ready to call it quits, ask to go back to the car so my little and I could rest while everyone else continued on at the zoo. I was replaying in my mind this frantic last week filled with bills, medication refills, teacher emails, packing for this current trip all while catching up on laundry, planting a butterfly garden and six peony bushes plus making time for stories at bedtime and homemade bread. I was exhausting my exhausted self, in my mind at the zoo and then like it was from God’s lips to my ear I heard “I love when we are together.” It made me look right back at that hectic week and thank God that I got to do it all with my family. Together.

    Sometimes, right in the middle of chaos God sends you a quiet moment that restores that mama soul, revives your mama heart and causes new energy to come back to the surface, just at the moment you want to give up and give in. I know that as my little ones get older our togetherness will be less and we will slowly grow into our own lives but I am so thankful for the quiet moments I get, the peace that comes when I remember the most important thing is being together.

    Be encouraged mamas (and papas if you are reading too); it may be busy, it may be wild and it may be non-stop but one day it will be calm, it will be quiet, it will be slow – and you will miss days like these. We are all going through it one way or another, and there is comfort that even in that, there is togetherness.

    x. earnest mom

    Me & My Earnest Mouth

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    I am a mom, I am a blogger, I am a sister and I am a friend; and in all of those roles, I am a sharer.

    There is a huge trend today where us mamas feel judged, or overwhelmed by advice and tips in the mama world and to be honest – I get it. We are so quick to put up the “advice not welcome here sign” and stop lending an ear to generations of wisdom that maybe we miss the intent of the advisor. I am a sharer, big time. When I see a fellow mama in need of help, asking for help or simply seeking mutual supports in different aspects of motherhood I cannot help my earnest mouth and I excitedly share my experiences and what I have learned along the way.

    When I was brand spanking new to the mama world, I was one of the first of my close friends and the very first on both sides of our immediate family to have a baby and to be honest, I was totally clueless. I did not know what to ask, where to look or what to do! I sought advice but was left short; I read books, I googled all the baby and new mom articles. I overwhelmed myself in written media and wished I had found a tangible example in my little village. Do not get me wrong, my mama and mother-in-love helped a lot – but no offense their children were grown and advice was slightly antiquated.

    From that experience I made sure to add mamas more experienced than I to my village, plus pick their brains for tips and advice relevant to my life. I love when someone notices me and my children and have the thought to want to share their sage wisdom with me – do I take in all advice as absolutes, no. However I do sift through to find the gems that can work in my own life while raising my wild and amazing littles.

    Sometimes, I feel maybe today we are too quick to stamp down or hush those around us who are only seeking to help – and while some of the advice may have been best left at the door, this verbal interaction is what makes the village of motherhood. Mind you I still hear the occasional rub rum on teething gums (I am sure as more of a joke than advice) but I glean so much from listening to other mama’s birth stories, sleep training tips and so on. What may work for one family may not for another but that is what makes us all unique and successful in our own paths.

    I am very conscious when offering advice to fellow moms, I also work hard to read body language when I am chatting. However I always follow up with, this is just what worked for us and what works for one may not for another, but sharing is what I do! I share my experiences, tips and help I have found along the way in hopes another mama would not feel so underprepared and overwhelmed when needing to seek it all alone. Storytelling helps us all get through life and share ourselves with one another even if there are tips laced through the storyline.

    Me and my earnest mouth come from a place of love, understanding, accepting and a true desire to help lift the mamas around me. I would only hope that articles, chats and interaction from me would only express the love and hopes to help that I have for others and never put down another mama. In this vast world of social media, perfect Pinterest examples, ideal Instagram images and fantasy Facebook posts – they are OVERWHELMING. We are the most connected we have ever been in history yet, it feels so lonely.

    Mamas, let’s not be quick to push away or hurry through the conversations that we are having, lets get out there, find (or create) our villages and be encouraged to share your stories. Stories and experiences help us see likeness in others, visiting and listening help us connect. Let’s do more of that and less scrolling, trust me it will feel less lonely. Listen to the advice (and take only what you need), be willing to share yours – it may take a village to raise our children, but it also takes a village to support their mamas.

    x. earnest mom.

    The Gift of a Happy Mother; an Earnest Inspiration.

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    Preorder Today for a FREE 30 Day The Gift of a Happy Mother Journal and Prize Entry for a gift basket curated by Rebecca Eanes.  Details below.

    I have had the earnest privilege to read a digital advanced copy of Rebecca Eanes’ new book The Gift of a Happy Mother and it is honestly a life changing book for me.  I feel like as a mom I am constantly in a state of survival mode; working hard to get from one part of the day to another.  Surviving the messes, the tears, the craziness and the exhaustion.  Who knew finding joy in chaos was possible?! Rebecca makes the stress of motherhood so relatable and the task of finding joy in it all, attainable. This book moved me – all moms should have this one in their mama toolbox.

    Below is an excerpt from her new book, sharing with permission from the author, Rebecca Eanes.

    “You look gross,” she said. Her eyes narrowed, her nose crinkled in a look of disgust. She didn’t break her stare. Then, she threw another punch. “You’ve aged 10 years in the last month. Look at those lines.” My heart sank, and I walked out of the bathroom to get away from the jerk in the mirror.

    Of course, she followed me. She followed me everywhere I went, teasing and mocking often.

    “Nobody cares what you have to say.”
    “You’re a joke. Give it up.”
    “You have zero talent.”

    I came in contact with my fair share of bullies throughout childhood, but none as formidable as the one that resided inside my own head. My inner critic was large and in charge before I tackled this happiness stealer on my journey to being a happier mom. The truth is, I didn’t like myself very much. I wouldn’t have liked anyone who talked to me that way, so that was certainly understandable. Sometimes the biggest critics we face in our lives are ourselves.

    I could go on about the kids in school who called me “hippopotamus” or how my work has been criticized as recently as two days ago. We all have stories like that, don’t we? I could blame them all for the harsh voice inside my head, but placing blame doesn’t fix the problem. In the end, this is my show, and I decide who’ll be the star. There will always be people in the world who don’t see our value. It’s when we stop seeing it ourselves that’s the real problem.

    The first time my son received a hateful comment on YouTube, I told him this. “Don’t let someone’s hateful spirit invade your beautiful heart and soul. They can’t see your light because they live in darkness. That doesn’t mean you aren’t shining, though. Shine on.” I give him different versions of this same message every time someone fails to see his light. I don’t ever want him to lose sight of his value. Saying this to him stirred up a lot of emotion in myself, and I realized my heart desperately needed this message, too.

    To the girls in elementary school who teased me, to the boys who dumped me, to the friends who backstabbed me, to the internet critics, to everyone who has said a hateful word about me, and especially to the bully in my brain, hear this: Your hateful spirit will not invade my heart and soul. I will shine on.

    Strategy: Hush Little Critic, Don’t Say a Word

    Dealing with inner bullies is a lot like wrangling down those negative thoughts, but it’s more personal. A negative thought might be “this day is a total failure” but the inner bully might say “you are a total failure.” Stop those hateful thoughts about yourself in their tracks and start saying positive things about yourself every day, even if it feels ridiculous at first. Positive self-talk will build your self-esteem and confidence. When that inner critic rears her ugly head, say hush little critic. Then remind yourself how awesome you are, because mama, you’re incredible!

    Happiness Habit:
    Write a friendly letter to yourself. List your good qualities and tell yourself why you are worthy of love and joy.

    I know this “Brain Bully” all too well – I battle with her daily.  How dare she question who and what I am as a mother?!  Alas, she does and there are times I believe her.  I love the strategy Rebecca gives here to help hush that inner critic.  Find out more about finding that inner joy that our children deserve from us mamas by pre-ordering your copy of The Gift of a Happy Mother.  Order today (or before April 1, 2019) to receive a FREE 30 Day Journal for The Gift of a Happy Mother; and you will be entered to win a gift basket from Rebecca Eanes!  Preorder link here: THE GIFT OF A HAPPY MOTHER

    x.  earnest mom.

    Earnest Bedtimes + the 5 Stages of Grief.

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    A slightly comical look at our bedtime routine, remember what may work for one family may not for another. Glean what you may and enjoy!

    Typically these two things are not correlated, well not formally but I have come to discover that every single night my children (particularly my darling sweet middle child) experience ALL five stages of grief at bedtime. Here is a typical night at the earnest household, where both earnest dad and I are usually home as we try our best to have dinner as a family and visit together before bedtime.

    Stage one: Denial.

    Picture it: dinner is done, the kiddos are finishing homework, or chores; then we like to enjoy a show on Netflix before bedtime starts. So we are usually all snuggled up in the living room together and around 7:20 pm I announce “5 minutes and it is time to start potty and brushing teeth.” The reaction: my 9 year old instantly bolts from the couch in disbelief to check the clock in the kitchen; my 4 year old laments, “whaaaaat?! We have just had dinner, it is not time for bedtime yet.” And my 16 month old yells out “teeeeeeth” (he is just excited to brush his teeth). This first stage usually last about 2-3 minutes before the next stage hits.

    Stage two: Anger.

    Earnest dad or I typically reply to the confusion, “yes, we have about five minutes and then we need to start brushing teeth and going to bed.” My 9 year old, “ugh, why can’t I stay up????” And he may or may not be stomping or dropping to the floor. My 4 year old, “what?! Bedtime?! No!!!” Followed by her loud, tear-filled cry and hugs. My 16 month old, “teeeeth.” He is still excited to brush his teeth.

    Stage three: Bargaining.

    My 9 year old calms and slyly sits down next to me and asks the following in a hushed voice, “mom, can I stay up just a little bit later tonight? Please? Just a little.” My 4 year old, wiping tears and calming down, “wait” sniffle, sniffle, “can we watch just one more episode?” And my 16 month old, he has gotten up walked to the bathroom and is waiting for someone to open the door to hand him his toothbrush.

    Stage four: Depression.

    Here we get full on tears, and earnest dad and I stay firm. “Okay guys, time is up let’s go potty and get our teeth brushed.” All kids sadly get up, turn off the TV and head to the bathroom where the chaos of toothpaste, toothbrushes, potty time scheduling and a quick diaper change for the littlest happens. Then boom, we are all walking upstairs together and this is where the final stage sets in.

    Stage five: Acceptance.

    Kids are calm, I am usually with our 4 year old daughter and earnest dad takes the boys to their room. I tuck her in, we read a book, say prayers, give kisses and back scratches and, as I wind up her musical unicorn jewelry box she turns to me and says: “mama, what we doing tomorrow?” We review the plans for the next day and as I walk out of her room I get one final “night mama, I love you.” As I close her door I hear the same events taking place in the boys’ room. Their love tanks are full and, my earnest heart is overflowing.

    By 8:00 pm all three are in bed, where they stay all night. And since realizing this routine they experience every night before bed, I am able to know just what to expect. There is so much joy in that, I find our bedtimes even in the 5 stages are smooth and fun. By the time we are heading upstairs the tears have turned to giggles, the cries have turned to ‘I love you’s’ and the one goal earnest dad and I try to meet every night in our marriage is being met with our children: never go to bed angry.

    I know I am comparing parts of our night with the stages of grief, but when you are little and every day is the ‘best day ever,’ why would you want it to end? I am so blessed by this predictable, earnest little event we have every night; it is in this routine we all find the comfort we need to sleep peacefully in our earnest little home. Let me know what your bedtime routine looks like? What works for you, and do your children experience any of the 5 Stages of Grief before bed??

    x. earnest mom.

    Life AFTER Kids; Me and My Earnest Marriage.

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    Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day; a day full of love, roses, chocolates and well a celebration of the one or ones (like my kiddos too) that give us all the heart eyes.

    Since we have had children, Valentine’s Day morphed into celebrating them. We usually have either a color or heart themed dinner followed up with a family night of fun. This year however, I wanted to be more intentional on celebrating my marriage.

    My situation may sound like yours, I am a stay at home mom – day and night I am always on call. My husband (bless him) holds 3 part time jobs (which feels like 3 full time jobs most days); all so I can be home with our children. To top it off he is a full time (unpaid) pastor in the church we attend. Needless to say, sometimes the busyness of life like this takes the focus off of just “US.” This Valentine’s Day, I needed to change my focus to just him; trust me y’all he is worth it!!!

    I took myself back to our dating, early marriage and pre-baby days. We took off on whims, laughed a lot (well, we still laugh a lot) but I remember waking up in the morning or finishing work in the evening and I could not wait to see him. So I went back there, two younglings blessed and in love – I started to be her again. Everyday I try to get back to that cute 23 year old and date my husband again. Do not get me wrong – we go on dates but I can honestly say I have not been dating him. I talking full on, thinking of you texts, his favorite meals, surprise date nights, and big squishy welcome homes when he walks in the door.

    I know we talk about keeping our marriage a priority but I needed to do more than say it is. I am working hard to know it is. I am honored that this man is my husband, I want him to feel that honor. Soon enough our kids will be grown and gone, but I do not want to wait to focus on him until then.

    Any other moms relate?! I mean I know, between homework, a demanding 16 month old who is still nursing, colds, flus, a preschooler blossoming before me and my own sanity – needing to share my attention can seem daunting but it is necessary. So this Valentine’s Day, we will be off for three days (2 nights) there are surprises planned, dinners planned, fun to be had; and because we are responsible/practical adults – we also scheduled our tax appointment because we will be kidless (I mean, adulting is hard and annoying sometimes)!

    There are seasons in any marriage, and the children season seams to be rewarding but trying one that really does test many limits. But it is also worth it to stop, slow down and focus on your marriage – at least it has been for me. Taking myself back a decade and reminding myself how in love with my husband I really am has changed my outlook during this crazy time. Dating again may not look as grand as our weekend planned (taxes and all); but it can start with flirting, hand-holding, letter writing or even learning each other’s love languages and spoiling each other in them – every moment invested in your marriage will come back ten fold.

    x. earnest mom.

    Best Mom Ever. Attainable or Unrealistic?

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    Truth be told. The idea of being the “Best Mom Ever” is actually both attainable and unrealistic; it all depends on how you look at it.

    Rewind to 9 years ago when I welcomed my sweet, darling first born child. I was absolutely convinced that I was meant to be a mother, but I was also meant to be a mother to only one child. I still remember the moment when he was about 9 weeks old, swaddled, sleeping and full of milk; I looked down on his darling cherub of a face and cried. I cried feeling how full of love my heart was and knowing 100% that I could never have another child because I could never love another child as I loved that sweet sleeping babe.

    I gave him the best I could; I mean I was a brand new mama and all those mama bear instincts were at the forefront and I served up being the “best mom ever” every moment I could. Breastfed because I knew breast was best, until my breast was no longer best and we supplemented; I fed him only “organic, zero food dye, and low sugar/zero artificial sweeteners of any kind” foods; making all my own baby food. I cloth diapered his sweet little butt, used all organic soaps and shampoos, natural lotions free of all the stuff that was bad for us. (Trust me, I was THAT mom standing in the aisles of the supermarket reading EVERY INGREDIENT in EVERY PRODUCT that would come into contact with my baby). He did not drink any kind of juice before 2 years old, honestly had nearly ZERO screen time before 2 (as recommended by ALL the professionals), slept through the night by 9 weeks; and ugh, if I go on, this current mother of three will may straight up disown that intense mama of one, bless her little mama heart!

    Once baby number two had come along, my heart honestly grew. (Yup – full on Grinch style, I mean as a mother of three now I know that my heart has grown three sizes). Anyways, as a mother of 2 week old and a busy but adorable 4 year old I convinced myself that I had given the best I could ever be to my first born and from here on out, every consecutive child after him would inevitably suffer since they would be getting a more lax, hand-me-down kind of mama. Man – I really let that though dictate the last few years of my life – and it actually makes me a bit sad that I accepted that lie, that only I had told myself. “He got the best of me, and well good luck all future kids.” So when my second born watched Sesame Street before 2 years old, PROOF. When she ate non organic fruits and veggies, PROOF. When she took a pacifier until 3, slept in our bed until 2.5, definitely drank juice before two and I could go on and on but needless to say I proved daily how terrible I was as a mom.

    My third child, he is wild and squishy, loving and juicy all at once. He is barely 1.5 and loves watching Cars. He was walking, no running by 10 months and has eaten all of the foods – organic, non organic, GMO and non-GMO and truthfully even even straight from the trash can and until about six months ago I shrugged it all off with this thought that “The Best Mom” no longer exists because she was all used up with my first born and now, she will never be seen from again.

    Reader; I tell you I was wrong…so wrong. I had an epiphany this summer. It was raining, we were stuck inside and my children were way MORE than “slightly less than tolerable” – I mean this mom was done. I told myself I am the worst mom ever because only the worst mom ever could raise such little terrors at that moment. In my haste and anger I stopped getting after them, walked into my room and said “Mommy is on a time out.” I knew that I was so angry that if I went bonkers, at least I would spare them from that unpleasantness. But as I slammed the door so hard that the sign fell off the wall next to it, and my oldest said “uh-oh, she is really upset.” I realized; I will only ever be the best I allow myself to be.

    That was a wake up call. Before that moment, I secretly told myself daily, I was a bad mom. I had over heard friends complain about my children’s behavior (which in their defense was TOTALLY normal behaviors for 8,3 and 1 year olds when birthday cake was present) and told myself it was because I was not a good enough as a mom. Even while writing blogs and posts about lifting other moms and getting through motherhood together; I was still silently shaming myself. But in that moment after the door slamming, it was like I heard myself say “okay, maybe not ‘The Best Mom’ but I am the best mom for my kids.”

    And that was it, I am not the mom I was 9 years ago (phew because she was exhausted trying to be the BEST MOM EVER) but I am also not the mom I was when I was a mom of two. But I am the mom that God saw fit to bless with these three beautiful little souls. He chose me. I want to live every day trying my best to be that mom. The imperfect, loud laughing, introverted, impatient, hard loving, life speaking, hug giving mama that I am. I am satisfied today, to be earnest and perfectly-imperfect.

    So, is there an actual “best mom?!” YES, yes…YOU. You mama are the best mom for the little ones that you tuck in and kiss at night. You are the best that could ever be for them and in that, there is so much perfection. Perfect love, even in the mess ups, forgotten play dates, I mean – I know I have accidentally let me kid fall off of the couch. But perfectly imperfect for our children is exactly who we were meant to be. The best moms ever! And just as every child is different, every mom is different but if you are worried about being the “best mom,” you probably already are. Give yourself some grace, we all deserve it and know – even in our low moments we are still the best mamas for our littles. Trying your best looks different every day (also looks absolutely different for every family). What a blessing it is that children are so forgiving and wreck less with their love, because even when we mess up they still come back to us with the best hugs and kisses ever.

    Be encouraged today mamas, and know you are the best mom your children could ever have! Imperfect, but perfect for them.

    x. earnest mom.