The Year of the Widow; Taking Back My Power

Because my world was rocked so early into the new year, it kind of segmented 2019 in my mind. This year is the year of being a widow, less a couple weeks. It would have been so easy to retreat, to stay home and avoid situations where I had to interact with people, or may encounter something that might make me emotional. I quickly realized that that was not a healthy approach and would not help in my healing in any way. Secluding myself would only allow me to dwell and get more sad, but putting myself out there forced me to dig deep and find strength I never knew I had. And almost every time, it wasn’t as bad as I thought. My mind would make me think I couldn’t handle it or that it would be too hard.

So, I set a goal for myself early this year to run in as many states as possible. Well, it was kind of unintentional at first. The initial few months were difficult to find my footing and any sort of routine. I am very active and normally work out daily, but I was completely doubled over in shock and pain for the first few weeks.

As the weather broke a little and I felt more solid, I hit the ground running (get it?!). Running in Florida in early March gave me the idea to keep myself going. To continue to get out there and live life. I am extremely active and adventurous, and I didn’t want the death of my husband to make me retreat. And I began to realize that not only was exercising good for my body, but it was incredibly helpful at keeping me feeling good mentally. It was my therapy.

I so clearly remember doing our taxes in February and just feeling so sad and HEAVY. I got home and told me sister I needed to run, so I did. And when I got back, that heaviness I felt was significantly lighter. The sadness was still there, but I realized that endorphins are an honest and true thing. And that is medicine in itself.

I still want to enjoy and experience life, so I continued to say yes. I continued to work out and run when I could, experiencing new towns and states I was unfamiliar with. So as of today, my 2019 state run count looks like this:

New Hampshire

Massachusetts

Florida

Maine

Rhode Island

Connecticut

Pennsylvania

Tennessee

So on the surface, this looks like a running challenge. But it really became more than that. To continue to experience life. To connect with nature and cultures different than what I am used to. To run with people I love (or barely know!) and get sweaty and uncomfortable. To visit new cities and meet new people. To look fear and the unknown in the face and to prove that I am strong. I am not afraid of what the future holds.

My life won’t stop because Marcus died. I did not die with him. There is still so much to experience, and so much good to be found.

So… how many states can I add before the year is out? And who wants to run with me?!

tank / shorts / sports bra / sneakers /headphones / stroller

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A Day in the Life of a Stay At Home Mom

Probably my #1 requested thing to write about is our daily routine. It took me a while to find a “normal” day, no playdates or random extra things, and to remember to record what we do all day long! But, I finally had success. So here it is! A day in the life of a stay at home mom. Riveting.

So to give some context, I am stay at home mom of three: Scarlett (4.5), Levi (3), & Eloise (1.5). I also blog, but I would hardly consider that a job. It is a very time consuming hobby. Every day is different, chaotic, crazy, and awesome. Our current routine has Scarlett in school 3 mornings a week, and I recorded our day down on a Monday, a school day. Now keep in mind that not every day is this productive, and I am also working on my “rest” time… so without further explanation… here we go.

Schedule

4:45 Marcus wakeup

4:50 Coffee starts to brew, I “wake up”

5:00 Downstairs. Coffee. Brain begins to activate.

5:20 Child has an accident. Put on clean sheets, put dirty ones in washer. Put child back to bed.

5:30 Workout commences

6:00-6:20 Try and figure out new spin bike with no success (come to find out it wasn’t plugged in well enough).

6:20 Shower (hair washing day)

6:35-6:55 Distribute yesterday’s laundry with child who woke early and didn’t go back to sleep.

6:45 Levi wakes up and helps with laundry.

7:00 Eloise is awake. Get her and everyone goes downstairs for breakfast & get ready for the day.

While kids eat & get dressed, I: unload/load dishwasher, make shake for Marcus, turn over laundry & throw new load in, wipe down tables, vacuum floors, water Christmas tree, do Scarlett’s hair. Scarlett feeds/waters cat.

8:00-8:10 Kids are all ready, they watch a show while I put on some makeup upstairs. Read First 5 Devotional.

8:15-8:35 Coats & shoes on and out the door! Drop Scarlett off at school.

8:35-9:00 Levi & Eloise watch a show while I clean more and do another load of laundry.

9:00 Meet with contractor about basement progress (see previous picture for reference).

9:15 Put more laundry away. Play on phone for 5 minutes.

10:00 Snacktime & post outfit on medias. (Shop this look here)

10:30 Make lunch for the kids.

10:45 Walk to the park. Snacktime for me!

11:15 Park time.

11:45 Kids eat lunch at the park.

12:05 Walk to Scarlett’s school.

12:15 Pick up Scarlett and head home.

12:45 Get mail, then home. All kids go down immediately for naps/rest.

1:00 I get started on meal prep for the week. Put laundry on the line. Another load in the washer.

1:45 Lunch for me!

2:15 Scarlett’s rest time is done. She gets herself a treat (for a good rest time) and I get snack for her. Continue meal prep.

2:35 Set up activity for Scarlett with her letter of the week.

3:00 Chore time while Scarlett watches a show. Dishwasher unload/load, distribute clean laundry, get guest room sheets & wash.

3:45 Levi is awake! Get snack for him while he gets himself a treat.

3:50 Make a shake for myself and take the kids outside to play in the FREEZING cold. I read while the kids play.

4:30 Eloise is awake! Take everyone inside and pop them all in a bath. Blowdry hair, dance party, and distribute/put away more laundry. Put laundry in dryer.

5:30 Dinner prep. Kids read books in the playroom. Set coffee maker for next morning.

6:00 Daddy is home! Eat dinner.

6:25 Daddy takes kids out to pick up ice cream while I stay home. Put clean linens on guest bed, unload/load dishwasher (meal prep day! Lots of dishes!), clean kitchen.

6:45 Upload IG post/Facebook

7:10 Daddy is home with the kids and Frosties. Kids eat ice cream.

7:25 Bedtime routine. Teeth brushed, tucked in, prayer time, and done!

7:40-8:45 Hubby time. Wash face, brush teeth, read a little of the book. Bed before 9! (Definitely earlier than normal. We are both recovering from Marcus traveling all last week!)

Breakdown

This was actually a good exercise for me to be more intentional with my phone time. I’ll admit I tend to mindlessly scroll and I know it takes more time than I realize… I am working on it. But, that I write it out, I realize just how much I do on a daily basis. No wonder why we are tired at the end of the day! Moms, give yourself a round of applause for all you do!

So while I didn’t do everything on my to-do list (didn’t pay a bill, forgot to call pediatrician, never took the laundry off the line…come to think of it, it is still there a day later…oops!), I did get a lot done. I did do FOUR loads of laundry (classic Monday…oof) and ran the dishwasher three times. Both is definitely above average for the daily. Levi also doesn’t normally nap, and Eloise’s naps are usually only 2 hours. See? A normal day still isn’t even a normal day!

As you can see, I wake up really early. And the truth is, once I get my new devotional series chosen, I am going to wake up a little earlier. I will save the “how” for another post, but as a general sidenote, that is how I get so much done, or at least the “me” things. Early waking when you have kids is my key to success. A quiet house, a few minutes alone, it is magical. Coffee, Jesus, and myself.

Shop My Life

Here’s the planner I use, which helps organize things on my to-do list and other scheduling things:

Here’s the book I was “reading” (because you know as a mom I only got maybe 4 pages in):

This is also on my reading list:

My husband and I are also reading this (or more like we read one chapter and haven’t done anything else…but the first chapter was great!)(Also no, we don’t have problems. I just like to read books like this with him):

Shop my look here:

If you have any questions about our daily routine, please let me know! What does your normal day look like? Do you wake up early to get things done, or are you a night owl?

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Summer Chic and Rodan & Fields

Nice weather has finally arrived! If you are in the New England area, you know what I’m talking about. We have had nothing but rain and chilly damp weather for what seems like forever. The sun has been out all week and we are all reaping the benefits.

I got this tank a few months ago and I’ve been waiting (im)patiently to wear it! It is the perfect summer look. Effortless and adorable, but still stays in place for easy wearing around children.

(Skip to the bottom for the Rodan & Fields review and to shop this look!)

I’ve been pushing myself out of the box a little with the clothing I’ve been wearing. I am normally drawn to the longer tops and lower rise jeans. I am realizing what different proportions can do for your body! This tank, cinching at the waist, makes my legs look so long and my waist look smaller. It conveniently hides problem area (hey, post-baby belly!) and is lightweight for warm summer days. Ideally I would have worn the top with higher waist jeans too.

I’ve been working with a friend for the past few months who sells Rodan & Fields. I have used the skincare products myself for almost a year and I can’t speak any higher of the company and everything I have used. Since I knew they were a great company, I agreed to test out the LashBoost. Guys. I can’t even tell you how awesome this stuff is! Being a natural blonde, my lashes were really light and not full or long. This product makes it so I literally don’t have to wear makeup. 90% of the time during the week, I am makeup free. No longer are people asking me if I am tired or sick if I am not wearing makeup. My lashes are SO long! It was so easy to use, and for such a big impact. Just a swipe across the lashed with a small brush every evening, and your lashes will skyrocket! It is a fraction of the cost of false lashes, and you don’t have to spend time getting them redone every few weeks because you are growing your OWN lashes! And they look better because they are all natural. This is the last week of using the tube, so 12 weeks altogether.

I have never had great skin. When I was having babies, I turned into a complete pizza face. It was embarrassing, uncomfortable, and I never really felt confident in myself, even with makeup on. I have been using the Unblemish skincare regimen and it is LIFE CHANGING. I don’t sell the products myself, but if I were to do a side business, this would be it. The products work. My skin is unbelievable. And it is an easy four-step system! Now is the first point in my life I actually feel comfortable with my face being bare! And having lashes that looks like I am wearing mascara is a double bonus. I wasn’t even asked to speak about anything but the LashBoost, but I have to because of how much I love it and how well it works!

I also use the Reverse regimen to help with my acne scarring and skin discoloration. My skin is so bright and clear! My scars are hardly noticeable anymore. Just in time for summer where I prefer to not wear makeup because I will just sweat it off!

My only critique of the LashBoost would be to make sure you apply it evenly. I applied to my left eye first, then to my right, and I noticed my left lashes were a bit longer than the right. So just make sure you rotate which eye you start! I am assuming because there was a little more serum on the brush when you first take it out of the tube. I have nothing negative to say about it! You won’t be disappointed.

This is with only one coat mascara. My lashes are so thick and dark! I am obsessed.

Please contact my girl Laura at http://lgafken.myrandf.com if you are interested in the LashBoost or other Rodan & Fields products. She is the sweetest thing! And she has the most adorable little baby girl.

Click the picture below to shop this look!

Also huge thank you to Jenn over at From the Family With Love for shooting these pictures for me! And thanks for making me feel comfortable in front of the camera. www.fromthefamilywithlove.com

Collaboration with Laura Gafken for Rodan & Fields. No compensation was given for my opinions, I just love the products! Affiliate links used. Thanks for supporting my blog!

What A New Mom Really Needs


All of a sudden I feel like all my friends and family are having babies. It is so wonderful! For the longest time I was the only one with kids my age (we started young). So, with all these newly pregnant moms come the inevitable facebook post “Help! What do I REALLY need for the baby? And… go!”. You know the post I’m talking about? So I decided to share what I honestly and truly use as a mom. Most of them are unconventional and not even “baby” type items, but they are necessary for my survival. Obviously a baby needs onesies, diapers, and a crib, but these are the items that aren’t really thought of, yet so important to my day. So here we go!
*Scroll to the bottom of the post for easy shoppable links*

Amazon Prime Membership

Amazon is life. Every mom I know has Amazon Prime because it is life. It is an absolute necessity. The ability to order an item and have it at your doorstep is vital. Not having to go to WalMart and fight the long lines of cranky people to get your toilet paper is worth its weight in gold! Skip your big box membership and buy into Amazon Prime. You don’t have to leave your house and everything you need is delivered to you, for free.

Alexa / Echo Show

We only got the Echo last year, but let me tell you- lifechanging. As a mom (or dad!) your hands will be constantly tied up, whether you are holding, feeding, or rocking a baby, preparing food for said baby, or cleaning up after that baby. Being able to order items or add to your shopping list with just your voice is brilliant. Dare I say, even necessary? Or ask her to play some background music to detract from the insane amount of kid noise… You would think I was asked to advertise for this but no, I just love it that much.

Dyson Vacuum

If you have kids, you will have lots of food on your floor. It is amazing that any food actually enters my children by the amount that is on the floor at the end of every meal. I vacuum every day. Every. Single. Day. It would be wise for you to invest in a vacuum that works extremely well, has a good turning radius, and a great company that with fantastic customer service (seriously- mine clogged and I couldn’t figure out how to fix it and the customer service guy helped me through it, and he stayed on the phone with me so I could attend to a crying baby and didn’t even flinch. He actually encouraged me to leave the phone and attend to her. I will be forever committed to Dyson. I’ve also had a couple small things break and they sent me replacement parts, no fuss!) Invest in good items from quality manufacturers- it will pay you back!

Steam Mop

This is an item I didn’t know I needed until I got it. I used a regular mop and bucket until just a couple years ago, but listen. This is something you need. With little babies crawling on the floor (and licking it… that’s a conversation for another day *cough*Eloise*cough*…) I like to have a clean floor. This thing is awesome. It disinfects, so I feel a little better when the kids are eating food off a floor that has a percentage of less germs. It is so simple to use, just put on a reusable pad, fill with water, press a button, and steam away! No bucket for your kids to spill and you aren’t pushing around dirty mop gunk.

Nest

These cameras are a lifesaver. We had the Motorola Video Monitor initially and they were fine. It was nice to be able to pan and look around the room. But with the Nest, there isn’t a need for that since the camera will show the entire room. They also connect to wifi so you can check in on the babysitters. The stream is encoded so no worries about anyone hacking in (and who wants to see my house, anyway?). They are so wonderful and totally worth the investment. You also don’t have to have your monitor on all night to hear the babies- it will send you a notification when it hears a sound or sees movement- such a great feature considering all my kids sleep with sound machines! (Moms with multiple monitors know what I mean…sounds like Darth Vader in your bedroom every night!)

Knives

This one may seem weird, but hear me out. As a stay at home mom, my main job is to feed these kids. That means three meals a day, plus two (or more) snacks, and maybe a dessert thrown in there. That means a whole lot of chopping, prepping, and cooking. Do yourself a favor and invest in a good set of knives which will make your life a whole lot easier! Prepping food with ease and not cursing your dull knives. You can thank me later.

Baby Jogger City Select Stroller

I will joke with people that I like my stroller almost as much as I like my kids. We bought this when I was pregnant with Levi, anticipating having more than just two kids. It was such a good investment. I am not the type of mom to stay at home all the time, so I needed something that would allow me to get out of the house with my gaggle of children and function like a normal human. The stroller pushes so easily and navigates so well! I can swerve in between clothing racks like nobody’s business (but who am I kidding- when is the last time I’ve been to the mall with kids…). And bonus that I can fit three kids on the stroller. Can’t do much better than that!

Wraps – Ergo (Infant) Solly (Newborn)

With having multiple kids, baby wearing has become a must. The need to have my hands free is invaluable. I will wear Eloise when pushing the older two kids in the stroller and everyone is restrained, happy, and comfortable. I can help older kids onto the toilet or prep dinner, all while wearing a happy, sleepy baby. In the beginning I preferred the Solly wrap- so comfortable and easy to use (not like the Moby which was way too much material and a beast to wrap). Once the baby was a bit bigger, after four months or so, I switched to the Ergo. Easy to wear, comfortable, and all my kids liked it!

iPad

We live in the 21st century. My kids don’t use my iPad a lot, but occasionally we will use it for educational games or movies. Also, if you get the Nest cameras, you can download the app and have it displayed on the iPad. So yes, invest in one. You’ll need it, the kids will use it, and you will all be happy. (Just make sure you also invest in a good kid-proof case).

 

So if you have a new mom in your life, reconsider buying that adorable (but unnecessary) outfit. I promise you that baby has enough clothes. Buy her something that she will really use, or give her money towards it. If you have kids you know how expensive they can be. Help start off their life by giving her a gift that she really and truly will use, and will be used for more than one short phase of the baby’s life. She will thank you for it!

 

 


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Easy Oatmeal Bar


Is breakfast time a struggle in your house? It is in ours. For some reason our meal times have stretched to nearly an hour, which is inconvenient when I have lots of things to do and occasionally places to go in the morning. I want our kids to have a healthy but filling meal that will give them energy to sustain them (until they need a snack in 45 minutes), so I need a go-to meal that will fill them up quick! 

On days I need a surefire solid and fast breakfast, I’ll make an oatmeal breakfast bar. The kids love the ability to choose their own toppings, and are much more focused on their meal. And, it’s healthy! Win – win. 


I’ll start by making a pot of oatmeal (boil 3.5 cups water, add 2 cups old fashioned oats, a sprinkle of salt, cinnamon, and vanilla, and simmer). I can do this before the kids wake so they just dress it up and eat! Some toppings I use are: 

Quartered Bananas

Chopped apples (add to the oatmeal while it cooks so they soften) 

Slivered almonds

Peanut butter

Brown sugar 

Raisins 

Chia seeds 

Honey 

Chocolate chips 
Set up in little dishes and let them create their own bowls. It may be a bit messy, but they will love it! Be creative. Enjoy! 


Flatware

Kids’ Bowls

White Bowls

Plant

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