What’s On My Christmas List

Hey Loves!

For those of you who know me, this is not a shock. For those new here: Hi! I LOOOOOOOOOOOVE to plan. Love it. It makes my heart happy and quells my anxiety, so win-win. So, yes, I start planning for Christmas in June. To be fair, I’ve done the whole, “it’s Black Friday? What? Is Christmas coming? Who gets what? Why is this so hard? I’ve spent so much money!” thing before and it ain’t pretty. Also, ugly crying under the tree on Christmas morning because you are pregnant and sad that all that was under the tree for you were pajamas. Albeit, very nice pajamas, but pajamas. That’s it.  

Let’s also talk about not putting ourselves last and #selfcare. You have needs. You have wants. Recognize them and be aware of them. Now, there is nothing wrong with a social media research question proposed in a friendly post. There is certainly not one thing weird about asking Pinterest what you need in your life. If that is what you need, do it!

If you are looking for just a little inspiration, here is what is on my list.

  1. Make-up: Ok, go with me. I still struggle with spending money on myself. That includes good, nice makeup. I will buy elf products that all under $6. I will not buy the vegan black-owned lip gloss that I really really want and desire from my heart for $12. So, that goes on my list. Also, makeup helps me do something nice for myself. I put on some concealer, or foundation, a good lippie, fix my brows and go about my life feeling a bit more esteemed.
  1. Booties: These are so freaking cute and functional. They literally take an outfit from drab to fab. I neeeeeeeeeeeeeed these. Ok, maybe not need but… no, I need them. They can be pricey unless you score a target clearance WHICH I ALWAYS MISS. So, on my list they go.
  2. Airport Hat: Y’all this is surely a want but a hat can save your life. It just can. These new airport hats are all the rave and I can see myself rocking a low bun or old twist-out under it and changing the look of my athleisure or causal attire. Basically, I will wear this hat to death.
  3. Hair products: See number 1. Also, I have a tendency to be a #productjunkie so this saves us all. I research, make a list and send links to prospective buyers.
  4. Amazon Books Gift Card: This is biggie, friends! So, with all of this “finding me”, I have re-discovered books and sis, they some sort of amazing. However, my library doesn’t have everything and I can’t get it immediately. Of course, the homie Amazon has it and I can have it right now. Simple enough right? Nope. This gift is a challenge. I have never had a gift card that some portion of it didn’t go to something for my kids. This card will not. I am stating this you with both feet planted firmly on the ground. I commit this pledge with my whole heart and a sound mind. God be with me.

 

That’s it! Is that everything I want. Uh, no. I’m an American so I want all the things but these are reasonable gifts that will keep on giving. What do you think? What is something you really want? Is there something I forgot? Please tell me.

 

Love you. Mean it.

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Self-Care: What That Really Looks Like

Hey Loves!

So, let’s talk about #selfcare. No, really, we need to because everyone needs it. For so very long, I thought that wasn’t for me. You know, I didn’t have time for an hour-long bath, weekly mani-pedis were not an option. So, I couldn’t participate, right? WRONG. Very VERY wrong!

 

If you ask me, self-care is a fluid movement in which certain practices enable you to be the best you and/or improve yourself. I should copyright that. That was a taste of the awesomeness that comes straight from my head that no one gets to hear because I am in negotiations in tiny dictators 90 percent of the time.

I digress. (this is becoming a theme…) My apologies.

So, self-care, what does that look like? Well, for starters, it looks different for most. It may be keeping your A/C temps very low. It could also be being around people who hold you accountable so you don’t do that harming activity.

For me, it is making time to do my nails. It is also investing in me. So, if that is spending $1.99 on a book I want but also carving out the time to read and reflect on said book. It is sometimes making my plate first to ensure I eat. (*see tiny dictators reference above). Being aware of my water intake-oh my word! How dehydrated I was! I also make sure I have time with friends and time to myself in the evenings-very small but extremely achievable and effective things that I can do regularly that improve my mood, my health, and my self-esteem. Things that expand my knowledge and encourage me to be more self-aware. 

Also, I tried baths. I like them but I can’t every week. It is a lot of water and a lot of cleaning after.

What does self-care look like for you? I’m dying to know.

Love you. Mean it.

Self-Care: What That Really Looks Like

Hey Loves!

So, let’s talk about #selfcare. No, really-we need to-because everyone needs it. For so very long, I thought that wasn’t for me. You know, I didn’t have time for an hour-long bath, weekly mani-pedis were not an option. So, I couldn’t participate, right? WRONG. Very very wrong! 

If you ask me, self-care is a fluid movement in which certain practices enable you to be the best you and/or improve yourself. I should copyright that. That was a taste of the awesomeness that comes straight from my head that no one gets to hear because I am in negotiations in tiny dictators 90 percent of the time.

I digress. My apologies.

So, self-care, what does that look like? Well, for starters, it looks different for most. It may be keeping your A/C temps very low because a hot sweaty you is very far from your best you. It could also be being around people who hold you accountable so you don’t do that harming activity.

For me, it is making time to do my nails. It is also investing in me. So, if that is spending $1.99 on a book I want but also carving out the time to read and reflect on said book. It is sometimes making my plate first to ensure I eat. (*see tiny dictators reference above). It is also being aware of my water intake-oh my word! How dehydrated I was! I also make sure I have time with friends and time to myself in the evenings-very small but extremely achievable and effective things that I can do regularly that improve my mood, my health, and my self-esteem. Things that expand my knowledge and encourage me to be more self-aware. 

Also, I tried baths. I even bought a candle. I like them but I can’t every week. It is a lot of water and a lot of cleaning after.

What does self-care look like for you? I’m dying to know.

Love you. Mean it.

Losing Yourself In Motherhood

Hey Lovelies-

Let’s chat.

Let’s talk about what no one tells you about motherhood. No one tells you exactly how incredibly hard it is. No one alludes to the depths of exhaustion, mentally and physically, it can take you to. No one says how you just wake up one day and have no idea who you are.

Enter me. You should know I was loved beyond measure as a child. My parents worked. I was raised by my dad but my mom was active in my life. So, I didn’t know the SAHM life. I made up what this was supposed to look like in my head and what was supposed to take place and, because I work in extremes, I went all in. There was no happy medium. Anxiety, Depression, kids having special needs-nothing slowed me down. Then, “oh! We ARE homeschooling.” Again, I was all in…

And then, I knew nothing about me. I knew who I was (and if I’m being honest that was wavering because I defined myself by who I wanted to be; I was very much trying to put my finger on the pulse of me while chasing the next adventure. Then “pregnant” appears 27.6 seconds after peeing on a stick.).

I’m not sure if you have ever been there, but this is, I’m sure, where the tread meets the pavement. I would go to my closet and have no idea how to dress. What did I like? What was appropriate? What fits? Does this match? And then I would give up.

I meal plan according to the needs of my family. I had no idea what I really liked to eat. What food just made me happy and smile. I knew what I could eat. I was very aware of what available to me and if I wanted to eat it but what I loved? Not a clue. Friends, not even an inkling.

TV Shows? I’ve always said ‘Greys Anatomy’ is my longest committed relationship. Outside of that, I watched TV for a mental escape so I honestly can’t tell you if I looked forward to these shows because I loved them and they were so great or because I didn’t want to think or feel things about reality. I can tell you when episodes would maybe hit a little close to home, I wasn’t feeling that episode.

Beauty products? For what? I mean, is there more to life than EOS lip balm I share with my kids? Self-care… stahhhhhhp.

So, post-break-down, I started doing the work to know me, who I am right now, in all the mess and all the glory. Guys, it wasn’t pretty. It is a far cry from a work of art now. But I have things I know I like. That is HUGE! I’m also building my personal principles that will do what? Define me! Yay!

What is crucial to know- I am still, very much so, an all-in mom. I just learned that me being an “all-in mom” does not mean that I can’t be an all-in human. I don’t have to stop being kind to myself to show love to my kids. Crazy I’m just figuring this, right?  I know.

But guess what? I’m building a “My Favorite Things List” to share with you because those aren’t exclusively reserved for the likes of Mother Oprah.

Love you. I mean it.

My Lesson Planner

Hey Loves!

Ok-if you are new here, planning is my jam. Planners are my joy. My old friends, nothing new here.

So, this was my first year researching and purchasing a lesson planner for homeschool. The past 2 years, I created our curricula and typed them up as I planned them. With purchasing curriculums and planning for two kids, I needed a planner to stay organized.

Now, I don’t want to delve into the amount of time I spent researching planners because that will just end in a judgment of me but I will say in my research I stumbled across the Scholastic Teacher Inspiration Planner.

Total transparency here, it was the cost that drew me in. Then, I did more research. How were others using this? How functional was it? Is it one of those “you get what you pay for?” deals? I learned that it was very similar to the Erin Condren Lesson Planner and, well, let’s just say in my pre-mom days Erin Condren planners were my world. 

I did know I wanted a little flare with this planner but it also had to be extremely functional. Hold up for at least this school year, and hopefully last on the shelf for following school years.

Armed with my research, I decided to try it. I got in the mail and was pleased before opening it because it was longer than I originally thought. I assumed it would be the length of my day planner. This meant I had more room to write in each subject session.

Opening the planner and reviewing some of the pages, I realized quickly, like I did with just about every other planner, some pages I would not used as-is and, thus, I entered the world of washi-tape and made those pages my own. I also used washi tape to indicate field trips, and days we would not have school.

While I have written in lesson plans up until the end of December, I haven’t finished adding everything to the planner I want. I will share the updates when I have them. Until then, happy planning!

Love you. Mean it.

P.S.- I have since joined some new homeschool Facebook groups and, y’all, my planner game is about to be seriously upgraded.

My Birth Story, squared. 

Alright Kiddos, settle in. 
Some of you remember my birth story with my oldest son, James. After reading this, you will truly understand how every birth is different. 

Let start from the top, shall we? My pregnancies were the same until 30 weeks and then this one went left. I had pain galore that, of course, I couldn’t do much about as it was intestinal (in opposition to the back pain and nausea I had with James). I was also way over pregnancy. Way. Over. 

Stupidly, I believed lies and utter deceit like “all second babies comes faster and have a shorter labor.” Lies and deceit I tell you. At 39 weeks, I hadn’t even dropped. No dilation was taking place and this kid was literally hugging my placenta with no intent to vacate. So, instead of being passive I did everything I could… everything…

-Massaging and diffusing Clary Sage Oil

-Walking

-Sex

-Squats

-Bouncing on that stupid ball

-Eggplant Parmesan 

-Pineapple (an entire produce lot)

-Spicy Food

-Castor Oil (3 disgusting doses)

And guess what I got? Nothing. A bunch of nothing…until…

Contractions!!!! Hard, fast and regular contractions. #babyontheway They lasted for an hour or two.  Then they went away…after I called my husband and called a sitter…just great. 

Then, much later that night, could it be? Would it be? Yes!!!! Sweet Lord, YES! More contractions. Consistent, close together (4 mins a part) contractions and I lost my mucus plug! Woohooo! My contractions were never that close with James so off to triage we went with hope and expectation in our hearts only to find out I was only 1.5 cm dilated. We walked like our lives depended on it for 2 hours. I even beared down and pushed with contractions and then… nothing. “No change unfortunately” according to the nurse. I’ve never felt defeat like that. I cried a quiet, whole-body-shake sob while my husband held me and told me it was going to be ok. I did get one victory out of that night-muscle relaxers because ain’t nobody got time for meaningless contractions. 

So, basically any time I moved contractions would ramp up in intensity and in quantity. If I laid on my side I could keep them 10-20 minutes apart. For 2 days this was my life. It was miserable. I was miserable. Fast forward to Christmas morning-a contraction woke me up at 6 a.m. that made me wake up my husband. Laying down couldn’t stop the contractions or keep them as far apart. Moving made them way more intense and close together. I laid down as much as I could. Around 7 p.m., they had a mind of their own. They just kept coming, anywhere from 4 to 15 minutes apart. Then, just one hour later, a contraction came that I couldn’t just breathe through and had to moan. Then, another one, same thing, except a gush of fluid I wasn’t familiar with came and kept coming. My water broke. 

My gut told me I need to leave now. With James, my water broke about 20 minutes before I was crowning and I live about 20 minutes from the hospital. My mind, always one for tricks, said “it’s ok. You’ve got time. You’ve got this.” I listened to my mind. 

10 minutes later when I couldn’t even walk because the contractions were so close together and I felt all the pressure, I listened to my gut. In the same 10 minutes, my husband somehow got James ready for bed and asleep as well himself dressed. Then, he got me dressed, gave the neighbors watching James (on the monitor) the run down and we were off. I couldn’t sit in the seat. I said to my husband, “Babe, turn on the hazards. This is your NASCAR moment.” I still don’t know how many lights he ran. 

As if that wasn’t enough, now, let’s cue in some drama. Again, contractions on contractions on contractions, y’all. I couldn’t walk so a nurse had to come get me in a wheel chair. I couldn’t talk. Just screams. I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t focus. Then, she checked me and I was only 3.5 cm. Then, I could talk. “Give me IV drugs. I want the drugs!” 

Some minutes later, I’m in a room in L&D and get checked again, I’m 7.5-8 cm and wouldn’t ya know it, moving too fast to get drugs. Now, I move too fast??? 3 days of labor and now we move fast. So, naturally, I assume this is the end and I’m going to die. No one can make it through this. Something is gravely wrong the medical staff just hasn’t discovered it yet, I think. I felt like this was moving so quick to save it’s own life. Knowing my fate, I then throw up. Bless Nurse Chelsi who caught it just in the nick of time. 

PAUSE: Let’s talk about how I wanted this birth to be so freaking zen. I had my essential oils and diffuser packed, a wonderful playlist and my affirmations ready to go. I was going to be a happy patient the nurses delighted with. The one they didn’t have to worry about. Y’all…

PLAY: The nurse checks me again…”She’s at 9.5. Do you feel pressure, Tenikca?” That question was posed at the start of another 4-5 minute contraction. I wanted to say something really smart like “You can’t tell that I feel a lot of things right now with a freaking freight train moving at full speed through me?” but all I could get out was “WHY WONT IT STOP?” 
PAUSE: Can y’all imagine contractions lasting 4-5 minutes?? I can’t and I went through it. Also, they were literally off the charts. I knew death was chasing me and closing the gap. 

PLAY: Then I felt a different pressure. I’d already pushed 3 times without permission. The nurses said I could push with the next contraction, that, of course, was on the heels of the last one so I did and then HOLY RING OF FIRE!!! Somehow, because this contraction won’t stop neither do I and I keep pushing. Then, I push again. I feel like everyone is telling me to stop. They keep calling my name and trying to get me to look at them-the nurses, my husband, they are all trying to tell me to stop but there was no way. If I’m gonna die it needs to happen sooner rather than later, I thought. My husband gets my attention and says very clearly, “Pull him out!” Ohhhhhhh. That’s why everyone was calling my name. 

On Christmas night, at 9:54 p.m., less than 1 hour after we got to the hospital, less than 2 hours after my water broke, with ‘Make You Feel My Love’ playing, I delivered Jude Lawrence. 

Then, I engaged in casual banter with the nurses. I apologized. They were full of grace. The doctor doesn’t know it but we are homies. He was super cool and calm and was real “whatevs” but super professional and efficient at the same time. I saw him out of the corner of my eye during one of those “contractions” (we can all agree that what I endured should be called something else) and yelled, “I want to pull him out.” I’m pretty sure his response was “cool”. 

In case you were wondering, I didn’t die. Didn’t even come close. My health was actually stellar. We had another intimate birth-just me and The Mr. No one else’s opinions or interjections. We didn’t have as many tender moments as we did the first time around but there was a tether-an unearthly connection driving us to be far greater and endure far more than we ever imagined. It was almost visible it was so strong. Again, my birth coach surpassed all expectations and was a fabulous punching bag, literally. #clutch

That, my friends, was a merry Christmas night indeed. 

Dipes and Wipes Pouch

Hey Loves!
 

Got a super quick craft for ya! So, you know when I told you about out our toddler bag situation? Well, it occurred to me that sometimes we won’t even need that, just maybe the diapers or wipes. So, I made a cute clutch they can go in and be easily removed if necessary.

 

This seriously took maybe 20 minutes and very easy to do. I followed this tutorial to the T using some cute alphabet fabric that was given to me. That’s it. It was super easy and came out super cute!

Toddler Bag Chronicles

Hey Loves!
 

So, being pregnant has made me realize that my first baby is growing up. Not that I didn’t know before, but it just hits harder now. Anywho, this big boy didn’t need 80% of the stuff I had in our baby bag. I came to this conclusion when I was thinking about the reality of two kids, under two, stroller, carriers and then 2 bags…yeah, no.

So, we pulled out the cutest small back pack we got as a gift. James was so excited about it. We put in the essentials:

 

1. Germ fighters: Thieves spray, disinfect spray and hand sanitizer. I don’t play about germs.

2. Summer necessities: Sun screen and bug spray. (Two words: Florida, Zika)

3. Butt shields: Diapers and wipes

4. Just in case: change of clothes

5. Fuel: Snacks

I also used a gift card and ordered a coordinating lunch box for days when we need more snacks or even a lunch.

 

What’s in your toddler bag?

Nursery for Two

Note: We completed this way before we knew the gender of our baby, so don’t think that had an effect, or should have an effect on our decision. Also, excuse the laundry and non-vacuumed floors in the photo. This is true life y’all. 
Hey Loves!
 

So, this may not be your cup of tea-but when we found out we were expecting another, we decided to make the nursery for both of them. Yes, sharing a room. Here’s the thing, our kids only sleep and get dressed or changed in there. They have a play/learning room, a play area downstairs and outside activities. They don’t need much in the actual bedroom quarters.

 

So, in my true fashion, I stalked Facebook FSOT sites and craigslist for a toddler bed for James. We were blessed because a friend was selling her’s that was put together and was never used!!!! Score!!!!

 

We put the crib by the window (James needs zero distractions or items to break) and the toddler bed on the opposing wall. We also purchased a changing table (no, we didn’t have one before) that was in excellent used condition, with great storage, and that shares the wall with the crib. We separated the room with the glider I re-did for nursery in 2014. We kept the dressers that were in there (still waiting on my wall mounts, IKEA) just consolidated items for both kids. Above the dresser, will be an accent wall of photos of the kids.

 

For the closet, we decided to get this organizational system and add another shelf so each kid will have two hanging sections. Viola, $80 and very little time later, we’ve got a nursery for 2.

 

The Call of a Mom

I’ve always wondered why people said I would be great a mom. To be honest, I still wonder. I don’t think I’m a great mom and I surely don’t refer to myself as such. I know I’m surrounded by great moms and realizing what makes a mom great gave me a little bit more confidence as I am about to expand my brood.
 

I believe being a great mom is simply having “good-mom” moments. That’s it. A compilation of moments where you did something right or even went above and beyond. That’s it.

 

As of late, my calling has been to be my child’s advocate. That may sound strange because, in a sense, that’s all of our callings. However, I still had to continue to find someone or somewhere that would help me with my child’s speech delay and hyperactivity.

 

I knew around 9 months there was a problem and everyone told me not to worry. Everyone. You know how it feels to be so unheard you feel silenced? That’s how I felt. I’m not discrediting the moms or doctors that cut me off or told me “that’s normal”. I believe they honestly thought they were helping. I know it made me feel like I or my child didn’t have a voice.

 

I kept pressing. I filled out every speech evaluation and got screened wherever we could. Three months later, I had two evaluations and a screening telling me I was right! Vindication! But most importantly, I was able to help my child. Then two months after that, I had six evaluations and two screenings that qualified us for speech and occupational therapy. Finally, someone was listening to me. Finally, someone wanted to help my child too.

 

So, I say this to say, even when you aren’t heard by others, don’t ignore what your inner-self is saying. It’s tricky, scary, confusing and sometimes heart breaking. It’s hard, but the worst thing that can happen is you find out you did everything in your power for your child to be fine.