10 Ways I’m Practicing Self Care

If you’ve followed me for awhile, then I’m sure you know about the tragedy our family faced last year. Back in March, my youngest son Evan suffered 4 massive strokes. Needless to say it was a year of complete devastation and heartbreak. Nothing can ever prepare you for the life shattering experience that is nearly losing a child, and then trying to gather yourself and face the years of uncertainty and challenges to come. Covid of course made an already difficult time about a million times worse, as we were really alone in trying to navigate this sudden new life with a very medically fragile child. We even reached a point where we were no longer able to attend some of Evan’s therapies in person due to the lax Covid policies of the hospital where we were attending outpatient sessions – which meant I was trying to manage Evan’s daily therapy sessions at home via telehealth. There were no therapy based schools open due to Covid, so I became his homeschool teacher too. And of course still trying to care for my other son, oversee his distance learning, and keep up on household responsibilities. Needless to say…I hit the wall of exhaustion by the end of the year. I knew it was time for some changes and I needed help because Evan’s recovery will take many, many years and I know I can’t continue to do it 100% on my own.

While my story is definitely extreme, I know a lot of moms can relate to the burnout of last year. Suddenly becoming a homeschool teacher and dealing with all the stress and uncertainty of a pandemic definitely made for a hard year for so many. I know that many others also suffered losses of loved ones from Covid (and other tragedies), and for anyone suffering…my heart goes out to you and you are not alone.

I am happy to report that I’m starting 2021 off with finally getting some much needed help which will be wonderful for Evan in his recovery, and also give me a bit of free time. A therapy based school that we had Evan on the list for was finally able to reopen, and he’s now going to school a few days a week. He has been so excited to make some new friends, and his first month of school has been going incredibly well. And with this bit of free time, I’m going to start working on making my own self care a priority. Brain injury recovery is a marathon and this is something we will be working hard on for many years. I know that in order to continue to care for Evan, as well as the rest of my family, I need to take care of myself first. I’ve been horrible about not doing the things I know I need to be doing the keep me fueled and in a good mental space. So this year I’m prioritizing my self care and I am going to make sure that I do the things I need to do for myself so that I have the ability to continue to care for everyone else. I’ve put together this self care checklist to remind myself daily to carve out time for these things, and hopefully it can help you too!

In addition to a daily reminder checklist, I’ve found that creating a self care “toolkit” is also really helpful for me and I have a number of products I use that help promote my personal self care. I put together this list of products to help you create your very own self care toolkit to help give you ideas for ways to practice your own self care.

One | Two | Three | Four | Five | Six | Seven | Eight | Nine | Ten | Eleven | Twelve | Thirteen | Fourteen | Fifteen | Sixteen | Seventeen | Eighteen | Nineteen | Twenty | Twenty One | Twenty Two | Twenty Three | Twenty Four | Twenty Five | Twenty Six

One | Journaling is a really effective tool for dealing with stress, and I love that this journaling book contains a lot of prompts to help guide you

Two | I try to read this devotional every day. It’s a quick way to connect with God and make time for spirituality.

Three | Melatonin has been so helpful for me this past year in helping me overcome sleep difficulties

Four | I have and love this sleeping mask. I find that when I’m too tired to do my full skincare routine, a sleeping mask is the quickest way to give my skin a little extra pampering

Five | This sleeping mask contains melatonin and I’m really wanting to try it

Six | Starting your day off with an affirmation is a great way to put you in a positive mindset

Seven | Drinking enough water is a constant work in progress for me. This motivational water bottle that encourages you to keep drinking is sitting in my cart

Eight | Our entire family has weighted blankets, and they really do help with anxiety. When Evan was still in the PICU following his strokes, it greatly helped him in his recovery and there are so many studies showing how beneficial they are.

Nine | A cup of calming tea makes for a great bedtime ritual

Ten | Keeping one of these little stress balls with motivational quotes on it in your purse can help you get through any anxious thoughts that pop up throughout the day

Eleven | We’ve been loving using oils for Evan, and they really helped with calming him during his hospitalization. You could alternatively pick an energizing scent to help perk you up during the day as well.

Twelve | We love having our diffuser going so that the entire family can enjoy scented oils

Thirteen | I love using aromatherapy in the shower, and I especially love citrus scents for a bit of extra energy in the morning

Fourteen | I recently bought this pillowcase and absolutely love it! It’s been a game changer in helping reduce my breakouts and just feels lovely to sleep on too

Fifteen | Eye gels really help de-puff my eyes when I’ve had a poor night’s sleep or am just feeling some extra stress

Sixteen | I’m honestly not much of a bath person, but this “emotional detox” bath soak may just change my mind

Seventeen | This supplement is supposed help with stress management by normalizing cortisol levels and it has great reviews

Eighteen | There’s something about a pair of insanely cozy socks that always makes me feel better

Nineteen | I often get into a funk around this time of year due to lack of sunlight. This affordable sun lamp has rave reviews, and can really help those struggling with Seasonal Affective Disorder

Twenty | I’m really intrigued by these finger acupuncture rings which are supposed to help alleviate tension

Twenty One | This sea wool sponge is a great way to give you a little extra pampering during your shower

Twenty Two | This highly reviewed CBD oil provides incredible hydrating and skin softening effects

Twenty Three | I absolutely love facial rolling and find it so incredibly relaxing and de-stressing

Twenty Four | This lavender filled acupressure pillow can help with neck and back pain, as well as headaches

Twenty Five | This weighted sleep mask can help with easing anxiety and promoting sleep

Twenty Six | A comfortable meditation cushion can help you get comfortable during mediation or prayer

A quick update about Evan’s progress in case you are wondering. When we arrived home from the hospital at the end of May, he could only say 4 words without prompting or help. He spoke in a whisper and was difficult to understand. He couldn’t feed himself. It was hard to know what he understood because he couldn’t really answer any questions and struggled following directions. He had zero mobility. His right arm was almost completely paralyzed. Now, nearly one year into his recovery, he is speaking in full sentences. He’s regaining new words every single day and he’s a total chatterbox talking all day long. His speech is very clear and about 95% of what he says is perfectly understandable. His therapy preschool teacher feels that he is absolutely on track to start Kindergarten this fall in a regular classroom with an IEP. He’s feeding himself independently. He’s walking independently in a gait training walker & walking short distances with minimal support (just holding my hands for balance). He is back to playing some of his favorite games like building legos and he navigates the iPad incredibly well (although he’s still slowly relearning how to play some of his favorite games like Minecraft). He has relearned his abcs, counts to 20, can spell and identify the letters of his name, knows the days of the week, and he’s starting to be able to trace simple lines. While his right hand is still significantly impaired, he’s gained a ton of movement in his arm. He has the sweetest, most loving spirit and is always giving compliments to everyone and wanting to brighten everyone’s day. While there’s no doubt we have still have a long ways to go, he continues to work incredibly hard and make progress daily. This journey has been difficult, but with continued hard work, faith, and prayer there is the beauty of hope that our best days are still ahead.

A Cozy Winter Weekend…

This past weekend the kids had a 4 day winter break, which coincided with Valentine’s Day and a huge winter snow storm where we ended up getting over 8 inches of snow. This winter has been incredibly mild here in Boise, so finally getting a big snowfall made for such a fun mini staycation. We had a blast building a snowman, having snowball fights, drinking lots of hot cocoa by the fire, and enjoying Valentine’s Day together with lots of yummy treats.

Sweater (old – similar) | Leggings | Coat | Mittens (similar) | Boots | Similar Hat | Sunglasses
Placemats | Plates | Napkin Rings (similar) | Flatware | Similar Glasses | Similar Vase | Similar Pitcher | Similar Cake Stand | Similar Serving Utensils | Similar Glass Heart Dish
Lounge Set (old – similar) | Similar Headband

Valentines Books To Read With Your Little Sweetheart

Evan’s Sweater (J Crew – similar) | Evan’s Pants (H&M – similar) | My Sweater (Nordstrom, old – similar) | My Jeans | Book

One of my favorite Valentine’s Day traditions with my kids is gifting them a small gift basket while we have a special family dinner. Some of the gifts I typically give in their basket are things like candies, favorite snacks, a tee shirt or pajamas, small toys or games, and almost always – a book or two. Books truly are the best gift for any occasion, and I especially love giving my kids holiday themed books for each holiday. Evan will definitely be getting a Valentine’s book in his little gift basket, and today I wanted to share some Valentine’s themed books to share with your littlest sweethearts.

Mommy And Me Valentines Pajamas

In spite of the pandemic, our Valentine’s Day won’t look much different than it usually does. After nearly 13 years of marriage and two kids, I have to admit I’m past the point of celebrating a “romantic” Valentine’s Day. The holiday has become a family affair over the years and we typically celebrate with a few small gifts and a family dinner. Valentine’s Day lands on a Sunday this year, so I foresee a lazy day in our jammies watching Disney movies and having some sweet treats! Today I wanted to round up some cute Valentine’s Day pajamas for you and your little valentines to cozy up in together.

Mom

One | Two | Three | Four | Five | Six | Seven | Eight | Nine

Kids

One | Two | Three | Four | Five (matching mom set available too!)| Six | Seven | Eight

Evan’s Hulk Themed 6th Birthday Celebration

On Wednesday (01/20/21) my little sweetheart turned 6 years old. Thanks to Covid we had a family only celebration, but we still went big on decorations and fun to make it feel special for him. I stayed up super late the night before setting it all up, so when Evan came downstairs in the morning he was greeted by his birthday decorations. He’s completely obsessed with the Hulk, and the theme was perfectly fitting for this brave warrior!

Party Decor Sources

Hulk Action Figure

Hulk Hands

Tablecloth & Skirt

Green Plates

Hulk Centerpiece Decor

Similar Table Runner

Hulk Backdrop

Hulk Cardboard Cutout

Hulk Beanbag Toss Game

Similar Photo Booth Props

Hulk Tattoos

Happy Birthday Banner

Cake Stand

Balloon Garland Kit

A Simple Winter Activity To Do With The Kids

A Simple Winter Activity To Do With The Kids

As we are still in a pandemic, a lot of the winter activities I would normally do with the kids are out (like going to the Discovery Center or Children’s Museum). I confess I’ve allowed way more screen time this past year than I normally would (we gotta keep our sanity somehow) but I also try to make them take breaks for some educational and creative activities.

I remember making simple bird feeders to help wild birds during the winter as a kid, and wanted to recreate this for my kids. It’s simple, fun to do together, and great for the environment.

What You’ll Need

Birdseed

Gelatin

Water

Straws

Parchment Paper

Cookie Cutters

Twine

Directions

Bring 1/4 cup of water to a boil

Add in one packet of unflavored gelatin and stir until dissolved (about 2 minutes)

Remove from heat and let cool slightly

Stir in 3/4 cup of birdseed

Place 3 cookie cutters on parchment paper and fill them with the birdseed mixture

Use a second piece of parchment paper on top to press the birdseed down firmly into the cookie cutters

Cut a straw into thirds and put a piece of straw into each filled cookie cutters to create a hole

Put the filled cookie cutters into the freezer for 20 minutes

Remove from freezer and allow to slightly warm for about 5 minutes, then gently push the birdseed out of the cookie cutters

Remove the straw pieces and thread the twine or string through the hole and tie into a loop

Hang outside and have fun bird watching!

Merry Merry

I don’t know how it’s possible, but Christmas is next week! The time between Halloween and Christmas always seems to fly by. And despite Covid, our family has found some fun ways to celebrate and make the most of this holiday season.

A few weeks ago we had family Christmas photos taken. We normally get professional pictures of the kids taken with Santa, but since we couldn’t do it with Covid this year, our photographer found a fun way to incorporate a Santa photo into our family photos.

My Sweater | Skirt | Shoes | Similar Earrings | Cole’s Shirt | Cole’s Pants | Evan’s Sweater | Evan’s Shirt | Evan’s Pants | Evan’s Shoes (similar)

I had originally prepared the boys that we likely wouldn’t get to see Santa in person this year due to Covid. However we ended up getting to see him after all! Even though our visit with Santa may have been a bit different this year, we found a fun and safe way to see him. Some local businesses downtown Boise arranged a socially distanced, outdoor visit with Santa. It ended up being a lot of fun and the boys got to take a few pictures with Santa and tell him what they want this year.

Cole’s Sweater | Cole’s Jeans | Cole’s Coat | Evan’s Coat | Evan’s Jeans | Evan’s Sweater (Janie & Jack, old – similar) | Evan’s Shoes | My Sweater | My Coat | My Jeans | My Boots

This year 4th graders get to cut down a tree in the National forest for free through the Every Kid Outdoors program. With Covid limiting a lot of normal activities, this was the perfect year to spend a day in the mountains hiking and looking for our perfect tree. Our “perfect” tree ended up being a Charlie Brown tree, but the kids had an absolute blast and it was a fun way to make a special memory this year.

We attended a few local light shows as well. The Idaho Botanical Gardens is always a must do. They took extra steps to make it Covid safe and we spent a really lovely evening at the Gardens. The kids got to write letters to Santa and have some snacks from food trucks while we strolled and looked at the lights.

My Coat | Sweater (H&M, old – similar) | Mittens | Hat | Boots | Bag

We also went to Caldwell’s Indian Creek Plaza light show. It’s a really beautiful display along the creek and there is also ice skating. It was just far too crowded to really enjoy unfortunately so we didn’t stay long.

This is what I wore the evening we went to the Caldwell light show and I’ve been living in this festive turtleneck. I had a zoom meeting a few days ago working on some of Evan’s ongoing therapy needs and I wore this top with cozy sweats. (Perfect for anyone working at home!)

Turtleneck | Sweats | Slippers (similar)

Something else I’ve been living in lately is this “shacket” which is so on trend right now.

My Sweater | Shacket | Leggings | Socks (similar) | Boots | Beanie | Sunglasses | Bag | Evan’s Outfit | Evan’s Coat | Evan’s Beanie | Evan’s Shoes

Our (Socially Distanced) Fall Fun

While some things have had to change this fall, many of our fall traditions are actually pandemic safe as they are outdoors and we are able to maintain a safe social distance. A few local businesses have also made adaptations and added some great activities that observe social distancing as well which have been a lot of fun and given us a feeling of normalcy.

I ventured out for the first brunch with a friend since March and it was really nice to get out for a little girl time! One of her sons has cerebral palsy and it’s really wonderful having friends who can understand life with a child with brain injury and all of the work and therapy that goes into it.

A few weeks ago we kicked off our fall festivities and stopped by the Halloween store to get our costumes and check out all of the spooky decorations! Afterwards we went to a “drive thru” fall festival after that was hosted by a local group here in Boise for medically fragile children and their families that we are part of. They put together sweet goodie bags and pumpkins for the kids to take home.

Evan and I have been working on a lot of fall crafts and activities at our at-home preschool. We had a full theme day where we read We’re Going on a Leaf Hunt, and then went for a walk where we gathered leaves, sorted them by color, made leaf rubbings, and made a fall leaf edible snack craft.

Our local zoo has been hosting a nightly Boo at the Zoo event which was a lot of fun! They limit tickets and you must follow a one way path through the zoo and observe social distancing. It was a lot of fun to experience the zoo at night and they had it all lit up with tons of lights and Halloween displays. They also had some trick or treat stations too and it was a really fun evening for the family.

One fall tradition that we never miss is apple picking! We love taking an afternoon and driving 45 minutes outside of Boise to the apple orchards. This is a pretty safe fall outing option as it’s outdoors and quite easy to socially distance.

My Sweater | Jeans | Boots | Sunglasses | Cole’s Shirt | Cole’s Jeans | Cole’s Shoes (similar) | Evan’s Shirt (similar) | Evan’s Jeans | Evan’s Shoes

We took advantage of the warm fall temperatures we’ve been having and invited friends over for a Halloween themed dinner and movie out on the patio which was SO fun! Outdoors is a significantly safer way to socialize as long as you still observe social distancing and masks. I made a hearty dinner of baked ziti, salad, and homemade apple pie before we bundled up to watch Halloweentown under the stars with popcorn and s’mores.

Tablecloth | Creepy Cloth | Vase (similar) | Velvet Pumpkins (similar) | Black Plates | Halloween Plates | Napkins (similar) | Cups (similar)

There’s nothing like fall bike rides where we can ride in perfect temperatures and soak in the beauty of the changing leaves. It’s always fun to see all of the fun Halloween decorations too.

We also went to our local pumpkin patch to pick our pumpkins and enjoy some of the fun attractions. It’s at a really rustic farm out in the country complete with hayrides, a corn maze, and apple cannons.

My Sweater | My Jeans | My Boots | Bag | Sunglasses | Evan’s Sweater | Evan’s Vest (old – similar) | Evan’s Jeans | Evan’s Shoes | Cole’s Shirt (similar) | Cole’s Coat | Cole’s Jeans | Cole’s Shoes (similar)

The Cutest PJs For Halloween (And A Cute Breakfast Idea)

While Halloween is going to look a lot different this year, there are still so many holiday traditions that we can keep and make it special for the kids. One of the simplest yet one of my favorite ways to observe any holiday is festive pajamas. And I love that Halloween pajamas are seeming to grow in popularity as there are so many cute options these days. This past weekend we filled with a lot of fall and Halloween (socially distanced) activities, which was made even more fun by coming home to festive jammies and cuddling up on the couch to watch spooky movies. I also put together a simple Halloween themed breakfast for the kids one morning, which would be a perfect way to make Halloween morning feel a bit more special this year (and could be made all fall long!).

My Pajamas | Evan’s Pajamas
Boy’s Pajamas
Boy’s Pajamas

For our breakfast I just whipped up some cute pumpkin shaped waffles using Trader Joe’s pumpkin waffle mix and topped them with Trader Joe’s maple butter (this stuff is heavenly!). I served them with cute Halloween themed plates and cups and we had apple cider to drink. This would be a super cute breakfast for Thanksgiving morning as well.

Mini Waffle Maker also available here

Cole’s Movie Theater 10th Birthday Party

Cole’s Movie Theater 10th Birthday Party

Last week Cole turned 10 which seems pretty surreal. It seems like just yesterday he was my little baby! It’s become clear in recent months he’s leaving childhood behind more and more, and adopting a lot more tween interests. Covid has been really hard for him because he’s definitely reaching the age where his peer interactions are becoming so important to him. We knew we could’t have the big party with all of his friends that he would normally love to have this year, but I still wanted to make sure that he felt special and celebrated. We allowed him to invite his 2 best friends over for a movie night and sleepover (their families have been being very careful about Covid as well so we’ve formed somewhat of a bubble with them). We converted our living room into a movie theater with our projector, and the boys showed up for an evening movie complete with movie theater treats followed by a movie and camping out in their sleeping bags. After a fun (sleepless!) night we sent them home with little popcorn boxes filled with microwavable popcorn, cracker jacks, suckers, and flashlights for their own movie night at home.

Movie Theater Party Decor Sources

Red curtains for backdrop (I used 3)

Gold foil for backdrop

Black tablecloth and skirt

Hot dog maker

Hot dog trays (similar)

Cake

Cake topper

Cake stand

Popcorn bin

Popcorn boxes (similar)

Birthday banner (similar)

Movie theater cutouts (similar)

Large popcorn bucket (used as vase)

Small popcorn containers (party favors)

Projector screen

Projector