We're One!

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A year ago I started Posing as Parents. I have always had a family blog with my husband, but this was meant to be something a little different. This blog was a new project...personal, yes, but also more of a space for others as well.

In the last year, I have learned some things. I wish I would have blogged more regularly. I wish I would have used social media more for Posing as Parents. And I wish I wouldn't let this be one of the first things I neglect when life gets too busy. I love it here...I love it because of you. I started this blog to help create a sense of community. 

I have said it a million times...in a world that we are literally connected 24 hours a day, there is so much disconnect. Perhaps ironic that this a blog, but I can't invite you all over to sit for a spell. But YOU can invite others to be a part of your community. 

Why would you want to do that? You are busy, you don't have time for other people...people you don't know. That sounds like the worst. Can't someone else cultivate some community?

No. 

We live in a world in which we need to share responsibility. It’s easy to say, ‘It’s not my child, not my community, not my world, not my problem.’ Then there are those who see the need and respond. I consider those people my heroes.
— Mr. Fred Rogers

It all starts with us. Every one of us. We are in this together. In the immortal words of Eminem, "You only get one shot, do not miss your chance to blow. This opportunity comes once in a lifetime." This is it kids. This is our time here and now, make the most of it and don't you want it better than you found it? Not worse?

I talk about community and ways to create community over and over again because I truly believe it is our salvation. If you feel responsible for your neighbor you will find ways to feed them, clothe them, educate them, keep them safe, and love them. 

We have also talked about parties here on the blog. While they may not save the world, they sure can make people feel happy and valued and that is a step in the right direction. So here is a Quick Tip on how to throw a party. 

5 Tips to Throwing a Quick Party

  1. Get some flowers. Flowers (or some type of greenery) makes it feel festive and steps it up a notch. 
  2. Get out something fancy. Whether it is a cake stand, real china, a teapot, whatever...at least have one "real" dish out. Yes, paper plates can be a lifesaver with a crowd, but have at least one piece that classes up the gathering.
  3. Get your treat on. Buy a cake, make some cookies, or even something savory. Who says you can't celebrate with fried chicken or a beautiful salad. Pick something special and unique to the person/thing you are celebrating. 
  4. Get up a decoration or two. Paper Chains, Paper Tassels, or Pendants...it makes no difference what it is. Just hang something up to show that the space is different and that you are ready to celebrate.
  5. Get your stress out. The number one thing in having a party is having fun. Don't worry about it not being perfect. It totally won't be perfect and that is okay. It is about loving the ones that you are with. Enjoy the party and the time with people you like (or maybe love). 

I will leave you with another Mr. Rogers quote. Really because I love him so much.  Mr Rogers and my Nana are who I strive to be every day. But I think this encapsulates what I hope to do here at Posing as Parents and in the world. Maybe this will speak to you too.

As human beings, our job in life is to help people realize how rare and valuable each one of us really is, that each of us has something that no one else has—or ever will have—something inside that is unique to all time. It’s our job to encourage each other to discover that uniqueness and to provide ways of developing its expression.
— Mr. Fred Rogers

Thanks for doing our human job with me. I hope that we can do even more for this next year. Thanks for being here and I will see you soon! 

'Twas the Night

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It is the night before Christmas. Like many parents, I am helping Santa do everything in my power to make Christmas morning magical.

I hope this holiday season you have had joy, that you have been surrounded by people you love. If you aren't able to be in the presence of your loved ones I hope that memories sustain you. 

This season is full of activities.

This season is full of crafting.

I thought I would write you a few times the last couple of weeks, but we have had every sickness under the sun. 

Last week, I even wrote a little poem about my family and the sickness. 

‘Twas the week before Christmas and all through the house were sickies who like to wipe snot on my blouse.

Mom is so tired, the only way she shows that she cares. Is to line up the teacups on the counter so germs are not shared.

And the kids were snuggled up in the beds, one with tissue and one with a puke bucket right by their heads.

And mama is in her yoga pants writing this ditty, while dad is away for work again in another city.

I am here texting, emailing, and calling the schools while trying not to cause a clatter. I am praying for the kids to nap, for just ten minutes would really matter.

We have gone through the Netflix Christmas movies in a flash. We tore through so many there’s bound to be some screen time backlash.

The list of ailments between them both seem to grow. I think my weariness is surely starting to show.

When, what to my tired eyes should appear,
But another type of virus showing up here.

With my mother instinct so swift and quick,
I get out all the tools to help with the sick.

An arsenal of goodies the kids thought were lame,
But I persisted and called them by name;

”Honey, tissues, saltines, and soup!
Oh, ginger syrup, essential oils, and Lysol to boot!”

If children are bored mischief they will try,
When they are soon met with an obstacle it is mom’s mad sigh.

So down to the basement they flew. With hands full of toys, that they threw all a-strew.

And then, when I thought I could take no more. A big glass of milk spilled all over the floor.

As I drew in a deep breath, the kids were scurrying around. My yelling and screaming was by far the only sound.

The kids looked scared and it made me feel sad.
As we cleaned up the milk, I assured them they weren’t bad.

My lost temper was not something I could take back. But I could certainly make up for the empathy I lacked.

As we talked, their eyes twinkled and looked so merry. I couldn’t tell if it was the sickness that made their cheeks the color of berries.

I told them I was sorry for yelling and letting my temper show. They ask for some make-up toys and I promptly said “no.”

Christmas is coming much sooner than we think,
The sicknesses, the shopping, and the busyness are making me want to drink;

The pressure is mounting with each passing day,
My to-do lists are really making me cray.

But for today I focus on making my crew not sick,
Some R&R will hopefully do the trick;

The last minute shopping and the prospect of wrapping is something I dread. I have a cold too and I can hear the calling of my bed.

But for now, I am on mama duty and I will get to work. I really don’t want to be that bah humbug jerk,

And as I pop some Day-Quil and I start to blow my nose. The spirit of Christmas in my heart definitely arose;

It isn’t about the presents, the wrapping, or the tinsel. Christmastime is about something much more simple.

So as I am covered in a blankie and sipping some tea. Merry Christmas to all...may healthy loved ones surround you under the tree.

I am pretty sure another member of our family is getting sick. It. Never. Ends.

But these moments are fleeting. The moments of joy that only Santa can bring. 

Wishing you the best day ever. 

Be Our Guest

We are about to host a foreign exchange student. All four of us are so excited!

I mean, obviously a little nervous too. When people stay with you they get to see the real you. Eek!

He is a young man, 11 years old. He will only be with us for a week and a half. It is the perfect baby step for us for hosting foreign exchange students. Which I think is something we want to do as the kids get older. 

Have you ever been a foreign exchange student?

Have you hosted any students yourselves? 

Well, since we are new to this we really want to do it right. 

So we will be using Google Translate hard and we made him a Welcome Basket to start on the right note. Who doesn't love a good gift basket? 

I fell in love with gift baskets in the 1980's. My grandparents used to get so many gift baskets...you know the kind Hillshire Farms and the like. I loved them. 

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How do you make a good gift basket? Well, let's see if we can do Edna's Edibles proud (Fact's of Life reference).

Gift Basket 101

Pick a Theme- How you live life without picking themes is beyond me. This theme was just a little Welcome Basket so I tried to choose things that he would either need or that would make him happy.

Choose Things for the Recipient-This is easier said than done. You have to pick things that reflect the one receiving this gift...not particularly things you like. You can share things you like, but it isn't about you. I don't know this kid so I tried to get things that I know 11 year olds like...like a Whoopie Cushion and fake mustaches.  

Stuff It-You don't have to spend a lot of money, but you need to fill up the basket. Make it worth it.  Make it fun to go through. With this particular gift basket, I filled it with notebooks, toys, games, etc. If you are doing a spa basket, fill with extra soaps, oils, etc. Have one or two major things and fill the rest with either supporting materials or small items. 

 

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Well, I need to finish cleaning the house so this child doesn't get scared about our dirty home. I have to fake that I am a put together, clean mother. He can find out the truth during the week. 

See you soon!

Grow Your Own

Our first haul of 2017. 

Our first haul of 2017. 

When I was a little girl growing up in Fort Smith, Arkansas I spent a lot of time with my grandparents. I was with them every week during the school year, and all of summer, and I even lived with them a couple of times during my childhood. They definitely helped raise me. 

My grandparents had a giant vegetable garden. Once again, in hindsight, it might have not been giant...I was a child...I was 4 feet tall or shorter. Regardless, they had a vegetable garden. I would have to help in the garden and grab vegetables for meals. That was all fine and good until the time I was trapped in there by two large birds.

Now, I know you aren't appropriately picturing these birds. My grandparents had two Emus for a little bit. Yep, the birds that are like ostriches. They look like they may have been around since the age of dinosaurs. 

A  National Geographic  picture Of a Rhea

A National Geographic picture Of a Rhea

I am not 100% sure why my Nana and Papaw had rheas. I am guessing it is because they wanted to raise them for meat or eggs. They had a boy one and a girl one and they scared me. These birds can be around 5 1/2 feet tall! And the rheas that they had were not that nice.

One day my Nana asked me to get some tomatoes, as she finished making dinner. I ran out to the garden and I was a little irritated because I didn't want miss out on watching Wheel of Fortune (hey, I grew up with my grandparents...of course I watched Wheel of Fortune.) Well, I run out to the garden and I go to pick the tomatoes. The garden had long rows of veggies and I remember everything being so huge...so I must have been short. 

I get the tomatoes and I try to leave the garden to see what was happening on Wheel of Fortune and I can't leave. Why you ask? Those damn birds wouldn't let me leave. They came to the garden and started trying to peck at me. Now here is where things can get a little fuzzy...I am remembering something from a LOT of years ago. But for me, I felt like they were trying to attack me. 

I yelled and screamed and cried to get my grandparents attention to no avail. The garden wasn't super close to the house and there were fences obscuring the view. So I hid, for my life, in the tomato plants. My Papaw finally came looking for me after an amount of time that felt like forever.  And instead of rushing to my aid and scooping me up in love and compassion, he completely had zero ideas why I would be huddled and crying. Luckily my Nana had a lot more empathy for the situation and I was coddled appropriately. I am also pretty sure I was excused from helping in the garden for a long, long time. 

While traumatic at the time, it is one of my favorite memories. The garden was a source of food, of fun, and obviously of a little fear.  I can clearly remember the taste of the tomatoes, the sound of my Nana snapping the beans, and the smells of all the creations she would make. 

Remember that children, marriages, and flower gardens reflect the kind of care they get.
— H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

Since my husband and I have been married we have grown herbs, fruit (trees, bushes, and vines), and vegetables. Our children have had a garden most years of their lives. While our garden pales in comparison to my Nana and Papaws. I love how it grows bigger each year and now we have some sort of harvest all over the property...every where you go there is something growing that we will provide for our family.  It is such an amazing thing to plant something, care for it, and watch it grow into something that can nourish your body, all the while nourishing your mind and soul as you tend to the garden. 

And the flowers in our yard are amazing...no filter needed on those blooms. We bought a house that had established landscaping, so we are just reaping the benefits of some else's love and vision (thanks Phyllis). Well, besides a few things like the roses...my husband is a rose fanatic. You would never know it looking at him, but he loves him some roses.

I love seeing what blossoms and when. In the last 7 1/2 years that we have been here some things come back every year, some things bloom once and we never see them again, and every year there are new things that pop up in the yard that I have never seen before. It is always so fun to see what is growing. We do a family tradition called "garden walks" where we walk around the garden to see what is growing and what needs tending to and what changes need to be made. 

You don't need your own piece of land to grow something or to reap the benefits of a garden. Here are some ways you can get your hands dirty...

  • Container garden.
  • Take a gardening class.
  • Walk around your local nurseries.
  • Join a community garden.
  • Help a neighbor with their garden.
  • Go to any of your local gardens...they don't need to provide food...any garden will be great. 
  • Walk your neighborhood to see what is growing.

The point is to be connected to your food, to the beauty of your community, and to get outside. There are probably not any giant birds out there waiting to get you...so what is stopping you?

A garden is a grand teacher. It teaches patience and careful watchfulness; it teaches industry and thrift; above all it teaches entire trust.
— Gertrude Jekyll
Our veggie garden.

Our veggie garden.

Pulling it Together

I love getting gifts for people. Well, most people...I am looking at you Dad. He is the hardest to get gifts for...and I don't know if you know, but Father's Day is the weekend after next (THIS IS A CORRECTION FROM THE ORIGINAL POST). So I am still trying to button that gift down. 

But for everyone else I like getting gifts or making gifts. Making gifts is the best because you get to put part of yourself into the gift. You know, you get to put you love and care into the gift.

Unlike the time I was making something for a new baby and I used these crazy sharp fabric scissors I got from my husband (as a gift). Well, I seriously cut the tip of my finger off and bled all over what I made for the baby. That was a little more of myself than I wanted to give to a baby. Just FYI I didn't give the baby the bloody blankie.

Anywho, my daughter is about to be done with preschool (my son has a couple more weeks) and I have been thinking about end of year teacher gifts.  I usually like to make something for teachers...or have someone in our family make something. But I was at the store the other day and saw some adorable beach towels and I had a great idea.

For Making it Monday we are making a beach towel gift. But as I was researching other ideas with beach towels I saw my gift idea all over Pinterest. Turns out I wasn't original. Boo!

There is no such thing as a new idea. It is impossible. We simply take a lot of old ideas and put them into a sort of mental kaleidoscope. We give them a turn and they make new and curious combinations. We keep on turning and making new combinations indefinitely; but they are the same old pieces of colored glass that have been in use through all the ages.
— Mark Twain

First you need your supplies...

  • Beach Towels
  • Ribbon
  • Luggage Tags
  • Optional Other Items-Magazines, Sunglasses, Sunscreen, etc.

!

Step 1

Pick out some towels.  Oh my goodness, I love these towels. You can get some cutie ones on Amazon like the Pineapple towel, or the Hibiscus towel, or the Blue Blocks towels. The last ones are not to be confused with BluBlockers. 

BlueBlockers

Remember BluBlockers? Those things really worked! I used to wear my mom's.  I may try to pull those off again. Well, probably not, but they did make life so much clearer...or it was that I was a teenager. 

Step 2

Pick out some luggage tags. These are adorable and here are some like we got for our teachers.  You can use these as your gift tags as well.

Beach Towels

Step 3

Roll up the beach towels, put a ribbon, and a luggage tag on it. BUT you could add magazines, sunglasses, sunscreen, etc. And bada bing bada boom you are done. Tell your teachers you love them and that you hope they have an AWESOME summer. 

Oh, BTW, I know my daughter is giving one of her teachers a poop emoji tag. It is an inside joke between them. One time Little Miss wanted to send a text to her teacher and she told me to include a poop emoji. I didn't, but I told her teacher and her teacher is quite funny and she said she wanted to send one to me for our daughter, but she didn't know if we would think that was appropriate/funny. Uh, we clearly think it is funny and funny matters...thus, the poop luggage tag. 

See you Wednesday!

For 2 or More Players

Chess Board

Holy hell, this has been a hard week.

Tuesday I participated in a memorial for a dear friend who lost her mom way too soon.

In Portland, we are still reeling from the recent repugnant hate crimes. We have learned that someone on the lightrail stole from one of the heroes who died. And the stabbing survivor has been a model of strength and compassion. Still holding those girls in prayer.

And if you look at the news...world news or local news...it doesn't matter...you just want to cry...hatred, violence, racism, environmental disasters, and pure ignorance at every turn.

It can get more than a little overwhelming.

I don't know about you, but when these things happen I tend to shut down, I want to retreat, but in all honesty these are the times you have to show up and you have to make connections with one another.

Look, I don't want to either, but how are we to raise future generations to love, to have hope, to make this world better, and to fix our damn messes? We have to up the ante and live in radical love to change the course. We cannot just look around at the sad state of affairs and be okay with that. We just can't.  

I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality... I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word.
— Martin Luther King, Jr.

We aren't going to change the world overnight, but we can start today on building bridges. Want to know a fun way to make connections and to get to know others? Play some games. It seems crazy, but it is true.

I am an introvert and a little (or a lot...shut it) lazy...so I don't like to put myself out there. Be there for you during a life crisis? Sure, I am good for that. But just regular interaction...just a little more awkward. I don't want to be embarrassed or not know how to do something. And I get anxious in crowds. I am secretly a hot mess. So believe me when I tell you how powerful playing games can be for building relationships and how important they are for your kiddos (like learning how to take turns, learning new skills, and finding out how to win and lose). 

Think about at work or even school...what do they do to help people bond? Team building exercises (ie games). When we are focused on a task together you get to know others in unique ways.

Today we will cover a few games that you can play with two or more people. Find some people to play games with...ask your friends and family, ask a neighbor, or ask a stranger.

Each friend represents a world in us, a world possibly not born until they arrive, and it is only by this meeting that a new world is born.
— Anais Nin

The way we make the world a better place is getting to know "the other." Have you ever heard kids play? In the beginning they have zero idea that they are different races, different religions, different anything...they just make friends with everyone they meet...there is no "other." Until they get older and we point out the differences instead of pointing out the similarities. Well, time to get back to basics and play some games.

Here are some of my favorites that are good for playing with smaller crowds  and that are pretty portable. (Most of the games on the list are affiliate links and are available through Amazon-look at the side bar for some information about affiliated links).

GAME LIST

Playing Cards Playing cards are the best...they are super portable and you can always have some with you since they are small. You can play a ton of different games with just one deck of cards.  This particular deck of cards is waterproof...I mean, I do live in the Pacific Northwest. But you can totally grab a deck of cards at any ol' place for like a $1. 

Playing Card Game Book If you don't know what games to play, grab this book and learn some new games to share with others.

Trackball This is such a fun game. Our boy got this game from a friend...he loved playing it at his friend's house, so they gave him one too. My boy was showing the game to his dad and my husband didn't really listen to what our kid was trying to say so my husband straight up threw the hard plastic ball right into our son's nose. That was like a year ago and it still makes us crack up. Trackball is basically like a version of catch. 

Frisbee We found out at our recent camping trip that we have clearly never taught our children how to play Frisbee. I mean, parenting is hard...it is impossible to make sure you are teaching them all the right skills...you are going to miss some stuff along the way. We are getting these because they are supposed to be easier to catch and throw and hurt less when the kids inevitable get hit in the face. Frisbees are a great active way to hang out with someone else.

Scrabble  I LOVE SCRABBLE. However, my husband won't play it with me. He is crazy talented at everything in the world except spelling.  So I will have to have my children play with me...in a few years. This particular version is called "Winning Moves Tile Lock Scrabble." It has plastic letters that "lock" onto the board. The description says "you can play Scrabble in a car, train, plane or boat with no worries." Sounds like awesome summer fun to me!

Handmade Wood Chessboard 

Handmade Wood Chessboard 

Chess or Checkers Want to go old school and use your noggin? Grab a chessboard and play a game with someone. 

Chess helps you to concentrate, improve your logic. It teaches you to play by the rules and take responsibility for your actions, how to problem solve in an uncertain environment.
— Garry Kasparov

 (Also, look up the guy who said that quote, Garry Kasparov. Probably top 5 longest Wikipedia entries I have ever read about a person.)

Okay, back to the chessboard. Chessboards are a big thing in our family. My son and my husband play...our daughter does not...at least not yet. I don't know how to play chess, so if you are like me, you can play checkers. (I can hear my husband rolling his eyes at that last sentence.) 

My husband makes chessboards. The chessboard pics are all him. He does beautiful work. You too can have your own amazing handmade board for $150. Check out The KU Shop on Instagram or email him at marko@kudesigngroup.com?

He also makes picnic tables, bakes amazing pies, does out of control pizzas, refinishes antique tools, restores boats, trains dogs, is the best handyman, and an awesome daddy and husband...but that is all for another day.

One of his most endearing traits is that he accepts all people and he cares about everyone no matter who they are or where they are from or what they believe. I can always count on him to do the right thing. I mean, I am not saying he is perfect, but he is pretty darn great.

Grab a seat. 

Grab a seat. 

When you have more than you need, build a longer table not a higher fence.
— Unknown

Looks like my husband is building the longer table and I will get the games ready. What are you going to do?  Grassroot, radical, unconditional love is the only way. Let's get started.

Calgon Take Me Away

This weekend was the 9th anniversary of the idea of Posing as Parents...aka my son's 9th birthday. Yep, 9 years ago I gave birth to a giant baby boy (seriously 10lbs 12oz and 23 inches long...a GIANT) and the hospital let us take him home unsupervised. My husband and I were in shock as we embarked on parenthood and we have been making it up as we went along ever since. We are Posing as Parents. 

My handsome birthday boy!

My handsome birthday boy!

We had over 60 people at our house for our son's Nerf party. It was bananas, but also freaking awesome. We will be finding Nerf darts for months. I would say that my husband and I definitely walked away (or crawled away) with some great ideas for next year and some clear direction on what we would do differently. That is what my husband and I do...we do a play by play of events/situations/conversations/life and talk about what we would change/improve upon/next steps. It's our thing. 

Well, on Saturday night I went to bed at 2 am because I waited to clean until the boys were settled. The boys were awake a little before 5 am! I remember hearing them and asking my husband what that noise possibly could be. Turns out it was a bunch of boys playing! All day Sunday I felt like I had a hangover, but instead of drinking too much it was a "sleepover hangover." One of the first things I wanted to do was to take a bath. It's my thing.

I LOVE baths! I take them daily (sometimes/usually twice a day). They make me relaxed and give me so much joy. I wish I was exaggerating, but I am not. I may secretly be a mermaid. I have ALWAYS loved baths. When I was little I would take bubble baths...with Mr. Bubble. Oh my gosh, I loved Mr. Bubble so much. Well, until that fateful day my dad said to 5 or 6 year old me, "You can't take a bath every day with Mr. Bubble, it is bad for your vagina." Barf. Thanks dad...that scarred me forever. And alas I find myself saying the same thing to my own daughter about various bubbles and bath products. Circle of damn life. 

I still love you!

I still love you!

So what can you take a relaxing bath with daily? There are a ton of natural products out there. You could do Lush products...they are the best, but they aren't cheap (and yes you can make your own and we can do that together some day). But for this Make it Monday we are going to make a relaxing bath...the cheap, easy, and environmentally friendly way.

First you need your supplies...

  • Baking Soda
  • Essential Oils
  • Candles/Book/Music

Step 1

Run your bath. For me, the hotter the better, but you do what you like. If you have medical issues or if you are pregnant...talk to your doctor about your options.   

Step 1: It SAYS hundreds of uses!

Step 1: It SAYS hundreds of uses!

Step 2

My favorite thing to add is baking soda. Epsom salt baths are great too, but I don't always have epsom salt at my house...I do have baking soda. Baking soda, or sodium bicarbonate, can leave your skin feeling soft, smooth, and clean. Baking soda dissolves easily in your bath. I never thought of using baking soda until my daughter had a really horrible stomach flu one time and a nurse suggested giving my girl a bath with baking soda. Apparently, the baking soda is good for diaper rash, itchy skin, sunburns, and other skin conditions. Who knew? Well, I used it on my kid and then quickly starting using it on myself and I haven't turned back. Seriously that baking soda can be used for a ton of different things. Just Google it! For my bath I add about 1/2 to 1 cup of baking soda. 

Step 3: Getting your lavender on!

Step 3: Getting your lavender on!

Step 3

This step I don't do every night, but I do use it several times a week. I add essential oil to my bath...just a few drops.

I want to address essential oils a little bit here, because I know we will talk about them in the future. I have a lot of friends who sell essential oils. I do not. I really like them, but I also don't feel like they are the answer to all that ails you. I do think they are a great tool that everyone should use. I like to diffuse oils, mix them with carrier oils and apply them topically, put a few drops in my tubs, or I use them for cleaning. I don't believe in ingesting them. You might. There is a ton of literature out there now about essential oils. Check it out.

I have three oils that I use a mist diffuser for often...I use lemon, lavender, and peppermint.  Most of time I get my oils at a local store and the brand I choose is Aura Cacia. It is fairly inexpensive and I trust its quality. One time I bought some on Amazon that had questionable quality...they smelled horrible and gave me a rash (BTW Amazon totally made the situation right). You may have friends that sell doTerra or Young Living. Both are great brands and I will buy their products when I can, but for general use I just run to the store and get the Aura Cacia. 

For my bath I nearly always stick to a few drops of lavender. I mainly do it for the aromatherapy aspect, but it may have medical properties as well. 

Step 4

Perhaps dim the lights, light a candle, and maybe grab a book or turn on some music and hop on in. Some days I try to lock the kids out of the bathroom so I can have a few minutes to myself, but typically that means they just bang on the door and make me more mad and stressed. Do what you can do for some self care...even if it is just taking a stinking (but delicious smelling) bath!

Hop in the tub tonight and have a great Monday!