Mia â€Ē Deer Park Lil Cats Cheer Season â€Ē 2021

Although our Cheer Season *officially* ended the last weekend of October, we had our Lil Cats Award Ceremony tonight to wrap up this year’s season!

Mia LOVED cheer! It is exactly where she belongs. She just has the most beautiful spirit. She is just so happy to be alive and looks for the good in every situation. Everywhere she goes, she carries a big smile on her face and strives to be a good role model for both her siblings at home and other students at school. Cheer really is the perfect sport for her.

Mia looked so cute in her practice uniform. Practice was on Monday, Tuesday, and Thursdays. She had a practice uniform and a practice bow.

Her real uniform was even cuter, however we found out quickly at the first game that Mia’s uniform was a bit too small for her. Luckily, we were able to switch out her uniform for a larger size before the next game.

Her uniform bow was glittery Deer Park colors and had her name. In the warmer months, the uniform was sleeveless. In the colder months, she wore a long sleeve crop top and black leggings underneath. In October, we switched to Pink pom-poms and socks to show our support for Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

I even wore my own Cheer “uniform” to every one of Mia’s games, although I did alternate between jeans & black leggings depending on my mood (and if we’re being honest, what was clean ðŸĪŠ).

She looked so cute in action down on the field.

Mia and the other Lil Cat Cheerleaders got to be in the Homecoming Parade. The younger cheerleaders rode on the trailer throwing out candy while the older cheerleaders walked behind performing cheers.

Our football team made it to the Super Bowl this year! We lost our first game to Clermont North Eastern, then went completely undefeated until the Superbowl where we unfortunately lost to CNE again. It was such a great season and it felt really good leaving each game winners!

Mia is front & center 😍

Our Lil Cats did a Trunk or Treat in the parking lot at the High School. Since Mia was Hermione Granger for Halloween, we decided to go with a Harry Potter trunk theme.

Don’t mind the dirty trunk 😂 #RealMomLife

For end of season gifts for Mia’s coaches, we got each of them a super cute initial mug from Target, along with a $10 gift card to Starbucks.

Mia decorated each bag for her coaches and we found these adorable “Thanks a Latte” cards at Target that she wrote a special message inside and signed. We found the “Have a cup of Cheer” printables in Deer Park colors, and tied them to each mug to pull it all together.

Mia showing off her Cheer Trophy!

This was such a great season and we cannot wait until next year! I would love to get her into Tumbling or Gymnastics in the off seasons to keep her motivation and interest going. I really think if she sticks with it, she could go really far in Cheer.

It’s time to hang up the poms until next Fall. Up next: Winter Roller Derby!

Ella’s 8th Birthday

It is so crazy that Ella is already 8 years old! It’s so hard to even think of her as a baby anymore.

Her actual birthday was Thursday, but her party was Sunday at Castle Skateland. She was really excited to show off her skating skills and play arcade games with all of her friends.

It was a really great party and I think that everyone had a really fun time. I know my bunch did!

Invitations

Desserts

I really wanted to match the desserts to the invitations and keep the color scheme going.

Ella’s birthday cake was from 3 Sweet Girls Bakery in Silverton. It was birthday cake flavored with butter-cream frosting. It really was such a beautiful cake and turned out even better than I had imagined.

Ella’s cookies were created by Hyde Park Baker who was just so sweet. The cookies absolutely exceeded my expectations. They were SO cute!

Party

I wish I would have gotten more photos, especially of the kids all skating and playing the arcade games, but I was so busy with the party and also skating myself with my husband and kids which was just a blast.

I couldn’t be more thrilled that Ella is so interested in roller skating and I had so much fun planning this party for her. It was also the perfect way to get pumped for her upcoming Winter Roller Derby season!

Well, it’s been a long day and this mama is pooped! So I’m going to go enjoy the rest of my own birthday with my family, with my heart so full âĪ

Halloween 2021

Wow, it’s been awhile since I have updated my blog! Between a new baby, two toddlers, school, cheer, and overall life- I haven’t had much time to put here. I do want to be more intentional about updating as the moments are passing me by so quickly. It’s true what they say: the days are long, but the years are short.

Anyway, I was happy to have a normal Halloween again. The kids had a blast. Sasha was just in awe. It was really her first Halloween that she actually understood the concept.

I didn’t do as much this year as I had hoped to do, but it’s been a busy last few months and trying to do activities with a baby isn’t always the easiest. We had a nice Halloween though as a family and the kids were happy and thats what really matters.

Decorations

I did a bit more decorating around the house and on the porch, but I never got around to take any photos.

I also decluttered all of the older decor that I chose not to use this year.

Trick or Treats

We made this delicious Halloween Trail Mix

  • Honey Nut Cheerios
  • Caramel Popcorn with Peanuts
  • Candy Corn
  • Candy Pumpkins
  • Flipz White Chocolate Pretzels
  • Candy (baking) eyeballs
  • Honey Bourbon Roasted Cashews
  • Chex Mix Peanut Butter Muddy Buddies
  • Reese’s Pieces
  • White Chocolate Chips

These Candy Corn Bagels were super cute and easy to make using room temperature cream cheese and organic food coloring.

These Ghost Cookies were delicious and turned out adorable. Definitely a great beginner cookie-decorator cookie to start with.

Banana Ghosts were a super quick breakfast that was easy for before school. I dipped Bananas in Vanilla Bean Noosa then covered with coconut shreds and added two chocolate chips for eyes.

Activities

Shaw Farms Pumpkin Patch

Kings Island Halloween Haunt

Lil Cats Trunk or Treat

Costumes

That was our Halloween this year! We made it almost the entire two hours of trick or treating and the kids made out like bandits with the candy.

We all had a really great year and I am so thankful to have a regular Halloween back with my kids where the only masks were part of the costumes and kids gathered in groups of friends for a night of fun, being kids as they should.

DIY Baby Wipes | How-to & Why You Should

When Ella was a baby, we went through ALL of the brands of baby wipes available on the market. No matter what brand we tried, her “diaper rashes” got worse and worse. Huggies were by far the most harmful brand to her skin.

We eventually learned that diaper rashes are NOT normal, and are in fact chemical burns caused by the wipes. So I began making my own baby wipes, which completely stopped the rashes. The only time new rashes appeared were when she went to family members houses that still used store-bought wipes.

I have been making my own baby wipes ever since for all of my babies born after her, and have since switched to cloth diapering after learning how dangerous disposable diapers are for babies health as well.

Making your own wipes is inexpensive, easy to do, and SAFE for your babies.

Ingredients Found in Store-Bought Baby Wipes

Methylisothiazolinone – causes frequent outbreaks, scaly skin, skin burns, eye damage, dermatitis, allergies, and fluid-filled blisters.

Phenoxyethanol – harmful to children’s health including adverse effects to the central and peripheral nervous system, skin irritation, lung irritation, toxic to kidneys and liver,

Benzyl Alcohol – causes irritations and rashes and inflammation on the skin of young children including: irritation, severe itching, reddening of skin, loss of sensation, eye irritations, vision problems, pain, peeling skin, heat burn.

Formaldehyde – carcinogenic to humans. Causes cancer and contact dermatitis including blisters, scales, thickening of skin, leathery skin, asthma, respiratory problems, eye, nose, and throat irritations, conjunctival irritation, allergies, low blood pressure, headaches, irregular breathing, abnormalities of heart rhythm, unconsciousness, restlessness, loss of red blood cells.

Formaldehyde appears under the names: Diazolidinyl Urea, DMDM Hydantoin, Imidazolidinyl Urea, Quaternium-15, Sodium Hydroxymethylglycinate, 2-Bromo-2-Nitropropane-1,3-Diol (Bronopol), Polyoxymethylene Urea, 5-Bromo-5-Nitri-1,3 Dioxane, Methenamine, Glyoxal.

Polypropylene – can cause dizziness, drowsiness, low blood pressure, nausea, vomiting, lung disease.

Viscose – Derived from wood pulp, the process to make viscose involves many harsh chemicals. Those chemicals cause coronary heart failure, birth defects, skin conditions, and cancer. Viscose is highly pollutable to our planet and has a devastating impact on forests, people, and animals.

Polyester – Polyester is absolutely detrimental to our environment. More than 70 million barrels of oil are used to make polyester each year. It is the biggest source of microplastic pollution in the oceans. Each time you wash polyester, up to 1900 fibres are washed off back into our water systems and oceans. It takes up to 200 ywars to biodegrade- that is more than 2 lifetimes. The production of polyester uses very harsh chemicals including carcinogens. Carcinogens generate skin problems and lung and heart cancer. Polyester causes chronic and severe respiratory infections. Causes rashes, itching, redness, eczema, and dermatitis. Causes allergies, chemical sensitivity, and other serious health problems. Lowers sperm count in men. Toxic to babies immune systems. Not breathable material.

Petrochemicals – Ethylene Oxide, 1,4-Dioxane, Polysorbate 20, Bis-PEG/PPG-16/16 PEG/PPG-16/16 Dimethicone, Potassium Laureth Phosphate, PEG-75 Lanolin, Ceteareth-20. These cause cancer, birth defects, headaches, respiratory irritation, and both female and male reproductive harm. They cause leukemia, lung cancer, nose, throat, and sinus cancer, blood and lymphatic cancer. Affect development of children including brain development, learning and behavioral problems. Using while pregnant will affect both you and your unborn baby.

Phthalates – usually found under the name “fragrance,” “perfume,” or “perfum.” This causes allergies, hormone disruptions, infertility, dermatitis, and respiratory distress. Causes damage to liver, kidneys, lungs, and reproductive system. Lowers sperm count and quality and lowers testosterone levels. Has a lasting impact on neurodevelopment including lower IQ, problems with attention and hyperactivity as well as poor social communication, depression, and aggression. Changes hormone levels, alters development of genitals. Causes breast cancer, obesity, thyroid problems, asthma, and metabolic issues.

These are just a few of the chemicals that are found in store-bought baby wipes including the brands you have put your trust into. As you can see, these are NOT safe for anyone, especially babies, yet they are marketed for mothers to use on their babies. The FDA is a scam, and should NEVER be trusted. Always do your own research before using anything, especially on the tiny humans you are responsible to take care of and keep safe.

Note: The “natural” wipes do not mean they are safe. There are few rules, regulations, or guidelines when it comes to a “natural” product. “Natural” does not make a product vegan, organic, non-toxic, cruelty or chemical free. Remember, crude oil is natural.

Water wipes would SEEM safe, but they contain grapefruit seed extract which may contain harmful contaminants meant to act as preservatives. Grapefruit seed extract is a general lable to hide: Benzetheonium Chloride, Methylparaben, and Triclosan. Water without a broad-spectrum preservation system cannot prevent the growth of mold and bacteria which can cause seriously infections. No cleansing agents, means that when babies poop it does not properly disinfect babies genitals. The poop residue left behind can cause skin irritation and leaves bacteria behind which can cause urinary tract infections, meningitis, septicaemia, and purulent conjunctivitis. Meningitis and septicaemia have been known to cause death in infants.

The ONLY way to know that the wipes that you are using on your baby are safe is to make them yourself. It sounds hard, but it is not at all!

How to Make Baby Wipes (Step by Step)

● Start by putting your dry wipes into your wipes container. You can also make reusable cloth ones which is a better option for our environmental waste and I hope to get to that point, however I currently use disposable wipes.

● Measure 2 cups of warm to hot water.

● Add 2 Tablespoons of Organic Coconut Oil.

● Add 1 Tablespoon of a non-toxic soap such as Young Living’s KidScents like I use, or Dr. Bronners Castile soap.

(You can order Young Living products HERE)

● Add 5 drops of Young Living’s Lavender Essential Oil (or any of their Seedling oils specifically for babies). Do NOT, I repeat DO NOT, use grocery store essential oils including those purchased on Amazon, Target, or Walmart- they are NOT pure and NOT safe to use especially on an infant or child.

Young Living is the ONLY essential oil company in the WORLD that has a Seed to Seal promise and conducts intensive testing to ensure that they are 100% safe to use.

(You can order Young Living products HERE)

● Mix together using your tablespoon to make sure you get all of the residue from the coconut oil and soap and don’t waste any.

● Pour mixture evenly over wipes container and leave upright for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, flip container over to sit for another 20 minutes. This spreads the mixture to absorb evenly.

It looks soapy when first poured, but it soaks into the wipes as it disperses over the setting time.

It is as easy as that! Takes a minute to mix up and pour, and a total of 40 minutes to settle. I suggest making them during nap times, or at night once baby has fallen asleep so you don’t find yourself needing wipes before they have set.

The Ultimate Valentines Day With Kids

Happy Valentines Day! 💘 Can you believe we are already halfway through February? I feel like we just finished our Christmas shopping!

At our house I make a big deal about the holidays. It really sets the tone for the home and family, and the kids love it so much! I always get so many ideas of all the things I want to do, but then end up running out of time, so I try to squeeze in as many things as I can leading up to the holiday itself.

We have been having a fun time celebrating & learning about Valentines Day over here! Turns out, the holiday is much deeper than the made-up “Hallmark Holiday” I always saw it as.

Random facts are my love âĪ language

Now that we know more about what and where Valentines Day came from, let’s get on with the festivities!

Decor

To be honest, I never pictured myself being a mom that decorates for Valentines Day. Romance has never been a big interest or fantasy of mine. However I have one little girl, Mia, whose very favorite holiday is Valentines Day, so I like to decorate for her because it is something small I can do that makes her very happy.

Welcome to our home!

I found this adorable table runner at Target this year for $10. Ever since getting this storage cabinet for our living room, I have been obsessed with incorporating table runners into my seasonal decor. They are an inexpensive & subtle way to minimally decorate and don’t take up extra space for storing.

I am a firm believer of “less is more,” especially when it comes to decorating for “minor” holidays.

I made this heart garland last Valentines Day using yarn to hang across my changing table turned hutch.

The plates I found at the thrift store for Mia’s tea party over the summer which worked perfectly here!

I always see people with these beautifully crafted tiered trays, and I just can’t seem to get it down. I gave it a shot though and added these cute little wooden valentines signs and a small heart potted piece.

I also got 2 cake stands in the Target (mostly not actually a) “dollar” spot. The large size I used as a stand for my Desert Mist diffuser, the small one I got for my tiered tray, but still haven’t found anything that fits well on top of it.

I’m not sure I can exactly count this one under “decor,” but I painted this heart mug a few years ago at The Mad Potter that I’ve been using as my go-to nightly tea mug to keep the theme going all the way up to bed.

Treats

âĪ Our first Valentine-themed treat this year was Snow Ice Cream.

Growing up this was a favorite winter time tradition. As soon as the first big snow hit, I would rush outside with a bowl and measuring cup carefully scraping off the top layer of snow knowing pretty soon I would have a big, giant bowl of homemade “ice cream” for breakfast. I loved this so much that I couldn’t wait to pass it on to my own children.

Top with heart sprinkles for an easy Valentines Day themed treat

How to Make Snow Ice Cream:

In a small mixing bowl, whisk together:

  • 1 cup Milk (regular or non-dairy) of choice
  • 1/3 cup Granulated Sugar
  • 1 teaspoon Vanilla
  • Pinch of Sea Salt

Put aside in freezer while you collect a medium to large bowl full of snow. Pour the liquid mixture into the bowl of snow and gently stir together. Add more snow if needed to form an ice cream consistency. Enjoy!

âĪ Easy Valentines Waffles

Eggo Waffles are a staple in our house, mostly because they are a total steal at Costco- a 72 count box can be purchased for only $6.99! It’s a quick & easy breakfast that is versatile for serving.

I tried my best to cut each waffle into a heart shape, then drizzled homemade vanilla sauce on top, and added some heart sprinkles to be extra festive. The kids definitely gobbled them up!

âĪ Cupid’s Choice donuts from Dunkin Donuts

Saw an ad for these adorable heart-shaped donuts and decided to swing by the drive-thru and pick up a box for the kids.

âĪ Mini Valentines Cupcakes

Mia picked these mini vanilla cupcakes out for her sisters & her to share from the grocery store. These were a very cute & inexpensive treat to go along with our Valentines theme.

Can we just take a second to mention how adorable this heart platter is? My oldest, Kaden, made this for me a few years ago for Valentines Day!

âĪ Valentines Cookie Decorating

To be honest, I wasn’t sure if this should go under “Treats” or “Activities,” so I decided to put it as the last treat before activities.

Sasha picked out this cookie decorating kit while we ran into the grocery store for a few things.

Everyone got to decorate 2 cookies each.

Here are some of our finished cookies
Athena’s favorite part was eating the cookies.

âĪ Chocolate Strawberries

Activities

âĪ We had a great time coloring & cutting our own Valentines Puzzles.

We found these heart-shaped puzzles online and printed them out to color.

Once they were colored, I laminated them then we followed the lines and cut them out into individual pieces so that they were able to put their puzzles back together without them getting destroyed.

âĪ Mia was the only one who was allowed to bring Valentines to school this year. Ella’s 1st grade class will be making everything in class.

I wrote her classmates names in fancy heart-lettering on these pink goody bags that we already had at home. Mia wrote her name on each Scooby-Doo Valentine card and filled it with goodies for each of her friends.

I think that they turned out really, really cute & we had a very nice time working on them together.

Mia went to her class party decked out in all her heart attire. Her Grandma Colleen got her the cute kitty shirt which is her “most favorite shirt ever” because she kitties are her favorite animal and valentines day is her favorite holiday.

âĪ At her class party, she made this adorable Valentines Day Hat using paper, stickers, pipe cleaners, and markers.

âĪ We made Valentines Day Windsocks using toilet paper rolls, markers, heart stickers, hole punch, and yarn- all materials that we already had on hand.

This was a great activity to work on fine motor skills working the yarn through the holes without unraveling the yarn or ripping the toilet paper roll. I did have to help tie the yarn to secure it once they pulled it through.
The final product turned out so cute!

After we finished them, we hung them from our porch. Sasha & Athena were a little too small for this activity, but they had fun working beside us on their own toilet paper rolls even if they didn’t complete them.

âĪ We made some cute Valentines Bookmarks.

We printed the template out and colored them.

Gifts

My flowers from The Flower Lady OTR were so beautiful! I adore fresh flowers from small flower farmers.

Small shops always offer way more beautiful selections than large corporations. Plus it supports a person or family rather than a CEO. Always choose people over profits.

The girls were so excited for their gifts! Sasha thought that Santa had brought them.

I found these manly valentines by Jack Links which were perfect for Niko. Both the cup and the furry box were filled with beef Jerky ðŸĪĒ and I got a box of his favorite chocolates as well.

We made this adorable photo for my parents. I loved that it was an activity that we could all do together. I wrote; Sasha and Athena tore the paper; Ella, Mia, and I glued and mod podged the pieces in the heart. I think it turned out really cute!

Dinner

On holidays we bring out our “fancy” salad bowls which I think makes it extra special.

Even when I am not pregnant I don’t drink alcohol, so I always love to add a bottle or two of sparkling juice to our holiday meals for the girls and I to have our own special tradition together.

These heart ravioli from Costco were SO cute!

Well that puts an end to our valentines celebration! I hope you enjoyed seeing how our family celebrated this year! Happy Valentines Day! âĪ

The Wonderland Bar – Cincinnati

Anyone who knows me knows my love for Alice in Wonderland. As a person with multiple mental-illnesses (brain disorders as my mom calls them), I’ve always felt like Alice; like I don’t belong in this world.

If I could live in any world, it would absolutely hands-down be Wonderland. It has always had such a homey feel to me, and the words just speak to my soul. I’ve never cared much for princesses or finding my “prince charming.” Chasing white rabbits and trying to find out who I am has always been more my cup of tea.

Anytime Alice in Wonderland themed events happen in Cincinnati, I make it a point to be there! My mom and I made it a girls day of taking the older girls to lunch at Taziki then heading downtown for The Alice in Wonderland immersive experience.

“If you don’t know where you are going, then you can take any road.”

We started down the rabbit hole to the first bar.

The girls LOVED this room. Everything was backwards and upside down and they could not believe it.

“People who don’t think shouldn’t talk.”

“I haven’t the slightest idea.”

“Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”

The chairs hanging from the ceiling was their favorite part in this room, as well as searching for all of the doorknobs throughout the room.

We went deeper into the rabbit hole through this corridor of clocks.

“If you knew time as well as I do, you wouldn’t talk about wasting it.”

Until finally, we landed in Wonderland.

“You may have noticed I’m not all there myself.”

The animated Cheshire Cat was so fun!

Each group was led back one at a time and seated at our tables. I was glad that we were the second group to go and I was able to get pictures without other guests in it.

Our table was so cute! The girls and I shared mocktails and my mom had the real cocktails.

“She gave herself very good advice (though she very seldom followed it)”

“If everyone minded their own business, the world would go around a great deal faster than it does.”

“I’m not strange, weird, off, nor crazy; my reality is just different than yours.”

In order to make our tea, we had to solve 3 riddles. Each time we got a riddle correct, we were given another ingredient to add.

We also had a fun drink where we painted in our foam with chocolate. I drew a mushroom. 🍄

Crochet was set up for the Queen of Hearts. During her part, we were on trial for stealing her tarts. When they picked Mia, she became so scared of losing her head that she began to cry.

“You’re entirely bonkers. But I’ll tell you a secret, all the best people are.”

I loved how similar the font here was to my tattoo. It made me feel right at home.

This really was such a fun experience and if you are able to, I highly suggest going.

They are offering experiences now through March. It is a mostly adult-only event, with a few Family Friendly opportunities as well which is the experience that we went for. I imagine the adult only experience is even better!

Tickets are $45 per person which includes drinks, treats, and an experience you won’t forget!

Event takes place at 140 Marian Spencer Way, Cincinnati, Ohio 45202 inside The Sample Space.

How Trauma Shaped My Home-Making

I’m often asked how I am able to keep my house so neat and tidy with as many kids as I have. The truth is, it’s really more of an obsession than anything.

I grew up with a dad who was very particular as to how things are done. He would scold me for not throwing something away in the trash correctly. The dishwasher needed to be loaded a certain way. The laundry needed to be done a certain way. Everything needed to be done a certain way. I always just looked at it as one of his quirks. He does the same exact thing, every single day and when something interrupts his daily routine, he gets very anxious. Same restaurants, same stores, every single day. My mom on the other hand, is a bit messier.

We always had a cleaning lady growing up. My first one, Susan, was one of the nicest women I have ever met. She went above and beyond at what she did, rather than just rushing through it to get the bare minimum accomplished before moving onto her next client. I loved the way she would make my bed and line my stuffed animals up for me. When we re-modeled our home, a cleaning lady was unnecessary because our home was so out-of-whack. Once our house was finished, my mom hired a new cleaning lady, Connie, who has been with them ever since.

As a child, I remember being obsessed with going to Organized Living. I would dream of one day having a home that is perfectly organized. I would convince my mom to buy me organizational tools for my items: boxes, baskets, hanging storage, etc. I loved walking the aisles of the Pottery Barn Outlet, picking out all of the things that I wanted for my own home one day.

As a drug-addled teenager, I would stay up all night long doing drugs and organizing my things. I’d rearrange my furniture in the middle of the night, re-organize my closets and drawers, and make lists upon lists while color-testing all of my pens and markers.

As a young adult, I enrolled in The Art Institute of Cincinnati for Interior Design. I had big plans in mind to become a professional organizer. I ended up taking a break when I was about to have my son, and never returned due to my relapse. That relapse led to years of different rehab facilities, some of the nicest available.

But then I ended up in government-funded “rehab jail.” During all of my years of addiction, I had been in some sketchy places, including abandoned squatter houses and run-down motels that were known for housing crack heads and prostitutes that were in significantly better condition than this vile dump. I was ecstatic when I was “expelled” from this program and put back into The Hamilton County Justice Center. The jail was regularly sanitized and I felt much more at peace. In jail, we would get one roll of one-ply toilet paper in our cell that was to last us a week between two people. I was pregnant and we all know pregnant people pee pretty frequently.

When I was released from jail, at 6 months pregnant, my parents gifted me a home that I have been paying them back for since. I was a pregnant, five-time felon. It would have been extremely difficult to find someone who would have rented to me with check fraud charges and my parents didn’t want to see me out on the streets, but they already had my son and couldn’t go through it all over again.

A month after moving in, my ex went to prison. He committed a burglary, and brought the stolen items back to our home while I was with a friend. That friend called the police the next day to report what she had witnessed, including that I was with her. That didn’t matter though, because the items had entered our home. Our home was raided and the police destroyed my home; made the biggest mess that they possibly could in a desperate attempt to find anything they could to use against us. We were both known felons, and they acted as if this was going to be the biggest bust of their careers. There were 13 police cars up and down our street, police from many districts walking in and out of our home. I felt so violated. I was incredibly traumatized by this experience. I developed an intense paranoia that they would be back at anytime. I started watching out the windows, having a panic attack anytime I saw police near my home even though I was not doing anything wrong.

Being completely alone for the first time in my life, I had absolutely no idea what to do. So I just began cleaning and organizing everything. I would save up any money I could, even if it were only $1 a time and I would use it to buy only things for my home and my soon-to-be-born daughter at the thrift store. I would pick up furniture and decor on the side of the road to re-purpose. I was gifted some furniture from a friend’s family that were downsizing. I lived on next to nothing, and managed to furnish my entire home by myself. I got a job at Big Boy as a server and began learning responsibility. I began paying my parents back for the home. I began buying more and more stuff because growing up in Suburban American, I attributed success to material riches. I became somewhat of a hoarder, especially of children’s toys because I thought that being a good mother meant giving my child everything they could ever want. Boy was I wrong.

Around the time Ella was 2, my ex returned from prison. I am not going to go into much detail here, but out of spite, he called Child Protective Services on my now-husband with false accusations when I refused to give my child to him at midnight while he was high. It led to a fight in which the neighbors called the police. I asked the police for domestic help, but was met with a “we can’t do anything about it” and learned that if he were to get her, he could legally run away and I would never see my child again. I developed a way more intense paranoia. So when CPS showed up a few days later, I assumed it was over the fight. I had no idea that HE had called them, trying to get them to bring my daughter to his house for him which did not happen. That was hands-down the most traumatic event of my life. I tried to take him to court for a restraining order. I was granted a temporary one, and proceeded with filing for divorce and sole custody. Throughout that entire battle, I began living in absolute fear. I couldn’t have any windows open, I became suspicious of everyone who spoke to me, and I began experiencing life shattering panic attacks. To make matters worse, he and his mother live at the end of my street.

I became obsessed with having a spotless home in case any government members arrived at any point. I wouldn’t let anyone inside of my home out of fear of them making a mess. I couldn’t sit down at any point to relax, everything had to be absolutely perfect at all times. I was spiraling into insanity.

After a few years of living like this, my son’s father committed suicide and I absolutely broke. Any amount of sanity I was clinging onto, was gone. Once again, not knowing how to function, I began not just cleaning and organizing, but de-cluttering. I hated everything and I wanted it all out of my house. Everything had memories attached to it of people I wanted to erase, events I wanted to forget, places I would never return to. I emptied at least 75% of our home. If it didn’t have a purpose, it was out. Every day I would take multiple full boxes and bags to the donation center. The more I emptied my home, the less stuff I had, the more peaceful I felt.

I began a life of minimalism. I bought with intent. I no longer bought anything just because it was “cute.” I no longer bought anything “just in case.” I began purchasing only what I would use regularly. I thought ahead if I would have space for it, or if I really needed it. I use what I already have, and I buy second-hand if necessary. I stopped having anything on the counters. Everything has a place. It’s easy to keep everything neat and tidy when it belongs in a certain space. I was finally feeling free.

Then 2020 happened. Having my kids home all day was rough. Trying to keep my home perfect while trying to also home school and entertain toddlers was really hard. For most of the year, we stayed outside as much as possible trying to avoid messes as much as possible. Around May, the depression hit me hard. I got further and further behind on my house work, which led to me falling back into the insanity hole. I developed a rage, or as my husband calls it, a battle cry. I would see a mess and just absolutely lose my shit. Scream, cry, scream, cry… all day, every day. Everyone was walking on eggshells. I knew my family and I couldn’t live like this and I enrolled in therapy and Empowerment Parent Coaching. I learned that I was not alone having a difficult time coping in these trying times, but I should be very proud of myself for both admitting to and making the effort to change my unhealthy behavior.

As the years have gone on, I have developed daily and weekly cleaning routines. We have assigned chores to our girls to help do their part in keeping the home neat & tidy. We have regular “clean up” sessions throughout the day where I set a timer and we get everything cleaned up as quickly as we can before the timer goes off. My kids have learned that if they just do their part to keep the house clutter-free, we all have a great day and don’t have to spend a ton of time cleaning up. My husband has learned that if he does his part to clean up after himself, I am a better wife. We have all learned how to work together. I still can’t relax with messes, and my house must be clean and spotless every night or else I won’t be able to sleep. When I wake up to a spotless house, I wake up to a productive day. I wake up feeling relaxed, rather than overwhelmed from already being behind.

I am just a human doing the best that I can. I envy those that are able to live in a more relaxed, easy-going way. As much as I enjoy having a clutter-free environment, I often overwork my body and I am easily overwhelmed. I worry how my obsession with having a clean home will affect my children in the long-run. Balance is something that I was never skilled at, but after surviving 2020 I’m learning to accept that messes happen and they are able to be cleaned up. Messes aren’t forever, and they don’t mean that I am a total failure even though I am not sure I will ever be able to stop measuring my self-worth based on my productivity. I have learned that when things in my surroundings are happening beyond my control, I feel an intense need to control what I can of my environment, which happens to be my home. My home isn’t neat & tidy because it comes easily to me. My home is neat & tidy because my life experiences have led me to live in this obsession with control.

Don’t judge yourself based off of someone else’s curated photos that you see on social media. Please, please don’t compare or think you are less than because your home isn’t spotless. You are doing an amazing job, just the way you are.

How to Clean your Upholstery with Thieves Household Cleaner

I’m raising cloth-diapered, hippie kids. Kids who LOVE to run around barefoot with no clothes on every chance they get. Especially my youngest two: Sasha & Athena.

I absolutely love their free spirits. I love that they are learning from a young age that all bodies are beautiful temples; that there is no reason to be ashamed of any part of your body.

Being a victim of religious abuse myself, it’s always been very important to me to teach my children that their bodies are theirs to cherish & what they choose to wear, or not wear, is not and will never be a “sin.” It will never insist that they “are asking” to be raped. It will never land them a place in “hell.” In my eyes, teaching your child to be ashamed of themselves & their bodies in the name of religion is far worse than my kids running around naked, the way they were BORN.

With that being said, naked kids tend to lead to extra accidents sometimes. My sweet Thea climbed up onto a cloth chair with her bare booty & accidentally peed all over it once she endured the climb. I had hoped that it was possibly a slip cover and I would be able to take it off and wash it, but no such luck.

Thats not a problem though because I have Thieves Household Cleaner!

In case you haven’t heard about Thieves yet, it is a “plant-based, ultra-concentrated, versatile solution that gives you a deep clean when scrubbing, de-greasing, spot cleaning, dusting, and more- all without harsh chemicals.” It is safe to use around your entire family including children and pets. It is also safe for all surfaces, including septic systems.

As a mom of many, especially 5 and under, using the safest ingredients around my home is my #1 priority. It is my job as a mother and wife to keep my home & family safe, and I take that job very seriously. With all of the physical & mental health risks of using traditional cleaning products or air freshening methods, I can rest well knowing I am using only the best products and putting my families health first without breaking the bank! Plus by replacing ALL of my other cleaning products with ONE bottle of cleaner, I significantly cut down on our family’s carbon footprint.

Click HERE to order your Thieves Household Cleaner

DIY Upholstery Cleaner

What you will need:

  • 3/4 cup distilled water
  • 1/4 cup white vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon Dr. Bronner’s Castile Soap
  • 1/2 cupful of Thieves Household Cleaner

Once you make your mixture, grab a scrub brush, dip it in, and get scrubbing. Minimal effort is all you need, nothing vigorous. Scrub it all up and let it dry!

I planned on just cleaning up the accident, but while I had it off of its stand, I decided to give the whole cushion a good scrub down. It took off pet hair & marker stains beautifully. Plus it smells amazing and is 100% non-toxic.

Click HERE to order your Thieves Household Cleaner.

PS: Check out this scientific experiment seeing how well Thieves cleans compared to other well-known cleaning products! ðŸ˜ą

Click HERE to order your Thieves Household Cleaner!

Don’t forget that Spring Cleaning Season is right around the corner! Get those nasty chemical-riddled cleaning products out of your house and make the switch to Thieves Household Cleaner! Happy Cleaning!

VERY Small Bathroom Mini Upgrade!

I have been wanting to upgrade my bathroom for a long time now, but have never been able to justify spending the money since my husband and I are typically the only people who see and use this bathroom.

For Christmas, I received a gift card to Target and decided to use that money to finally splurge on giving my bathroom the re-fresh that it desperately needed.

First, I gave it a super scrub down with my favorite Thieves Household Cleaner.

Thieves provides a deep clean without any dangerous ingredients that is extremely versatile and safe to use around everyone in your family including pets.

One bottle of Thieves Household cleaner replaces: All purpose sprays, window cleaners, tile cleaners, upholstery cleaners, bathroom surface sprays, mopping solutions, cleaning pastes, stain removers, carpet shampoo, degreasers, and more.

After a good cleaning, I began my upgrade.

Before:

After:

I prefer to have my floors clear of any unnecessary clutter, so this hanging toilet paper holder was perfect for such a small space. I also replaced our previous trash can.

Before:

After:

I added a faux eucalyptus wreath, new hand towel, and a new matching vanity set that also matches the new trash can.

It really is amazing how adding just a few pieces that coordinate really change the entire feel of a space.

Before:

After:

I added two two-tier shelving units with pull out bottom drawers; one for myself and one for my husband. I added smaller, but same color two-tier shelf in the center for soaps and hand creams.

I have not yet began working on the pull out drawer above this shelf which is why I left it out of the “after” photo. I also need to take down the sticky hooks that are no longer being used.

As for my husband’s side of storage, I am going to let him fill that in how he wants.

Before:

After:

I replaced the dark brown shower curtain with a much lighter one with a gold floral design to match the new vanity set and trash can.

The lighter shower curtain brightens up the room quite a bit and makes the room appear slightly larger than the dark brown did. The dark brown made me feel like the room was caving in on me every time I looked in the mirror which is across from the shower. This makes me feel much less claustrophobic.

I still need to purchase a new bath mat and new baskets for the top pull-out shelf.

I would like to add a few wooden shelves on the empty wall space above the toilet to add a tiny bit more storage since this is a very small, and awkwardly shaped bathroom.

I would also like to add a few more decor pieces & switch out the outlet for a “prettier” one, but for now I am very happy with this mini upgrade! It went from my most hated room in the house to a room that I am actually pleased with and really goes to show that a little bit really can go a long way!

Our Halloween House | Holiday Decorating Schedule

In case you don’t know this about me: Halloween is my favorite holiday of all! I love Halloween and everything about it; always have since I was a little baby!

This year was a bit different, and this post is a bit late, but I wanted to document our 2020 decorations.

The Return of 2019

Wow! Our porch looks nothing like this anymore!

First off, AW! Little newborn baby Athena! She’s SO small! And I’m so big!

Second….. look at those walls! ðŸ˜ą I can’t believe I insisted on keeping that paneling as-is! It looks so much better since its update!

2020 – The Scariest Year Ever

Maybe not so much at our home, but for what is currently happening worldwide, this year wins scariest year award by a landslide. ðŸĨ‡

When you first pull up you are greeted with hanging skeletons.

Our own little mini pumpkin patch
The fat little squirrel that has been stealing all of my pumpkins!
This year I got fake pumpkins to put in the hanging basket. I got the last two packages at Target and will hopefully find a few more next year to be able to fill the basket. I think the real pumpkins I used last year looked much nicer, but I will be able to get much more use out of reusable ones for many years to come.

I was hoping that by placing a scary skeleton next to the candy corn would keep the kids from sneaking it 😆 but that didn’t go as planned.

This is the kids favorite piece. They have so much fun counting down the days which really helps them learn patience, counting, days of the week, subtracting, shapes, etc. And it is something the whole family can participate in. We also have a Christmas one, but I would love to buy one for more holidays since it is so well-loved and used.

There were a few more decorations that I never got around to photographing, and have since been taken down. Mostly little knick knacks, but some bigger pieces:

I had a table runner with cute little ghosts on the cabinets in the living room under the window.

The mantle was pretty weak this year, but I did have a few of the same pieces from last year on there. A few were also broken this year.

On top of the entertainment center I had books and vinyls of Halloween spooky sounds and Disney’s Trick or Treat.

My Holiday Decor Schedule

  • 🍂 September: Fall
  • 🎃 October: Halloween
  • ðŸĶƒ November: Clear out Halloween â€Ē Fall/Thanksgiving â€Ē slowly add earth-toned wintery pieces.
  • 🎄 December: Christmas
  • ❄ January: Clear out Christmas â€Ē Winter.
  • 💘 February: Valentines

Halloween Treats

These little “pumpkin patch cups” were so cute to make! I like candy corn, but the pumpkins were way too much for my taste. 🎃 The kids did really enjoy them though!

This pumpkin spice cake was so cute and really easy to make!

My mom bought the girls some new Halloween-themed cookie cutters and we made cookies out of those.

I had a lot more planned for October, but with our school going back to the hybrid learning model and the constant being on the verge of “purple,” I honestly just didn’t put much heart into it this year.

Costumes

This is it. The best photo I got of the entire night.

Kaden made a mask of Five Nights at Freddie’s which he immediately took off after a couple houses because it was too uncomfortable.

Ella was a black cat. Her little tail is not pictured but it was adorable.

Mia was a unicorn. I made a tail for her out of yarn.

Sasha was a princess.

Athena was a pumpkin.

With everything going on we didn’t know whether Halloween was going to be canceled or not, so we wanted to make our own costumes.

We do love the idea of making our own costumes every year now vs. Buying them, but I have realized that we will need to plan much earlier than we did this year. Like I said, my heart just wasn’t in it this year.

I felt like a horrible mom at first of course, not buying a costume, but then I realized: of all the years I went trick or treating, and all of the costumes I wore, I don’t remember a single one of them except the one year my mom made my costume. It was a werewolf. She took the time to make it for me and I remember it. Those things stick with children much more than store bought ones do. Memories matter so much more than stuff.

Well, that is our Halloween this year. We watched a lot of Halloween movies and did a lot of free printable pages from Pinterest. I would have liked to have gone to some fall events, but with the current events, we have pretty much been at home 24/7. I’m hoping next year is more eventful!

I hope you enjoyed seeing a small glimpse into our Halloween house! 🎃