Care Enough: Bath Bomb a Mom

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This post is sponsored by Hallmark.

Of all the cures I’ve ever tried for anxiety or exhaustion or a temporary funk where I can’t find my groove, there is one thing that has always proven to be a healing antidote, and that is taking time to do something for someone else–to recognize another’s struggle, help relieve a friend’s burden or simply let someone know, “Hey, I see you.” Hallmark built their entire business around this mission and launched the #CareEnough campaign to celebrate their kindness roots and recognize stories about caring acts that can inspire others to get out there and do something kind for someone. Because behind their product line of cards and gifts is a more fervent mission to spread kindness and go the extra mile to make someone’s day. I’m thrilled to be partnering with them once more in this campaign, bringing you an easy way we can show some kindness within our mom circles and brighten a friend’s day. with a little surprise “bath bomb. ”

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There is a certain secret language special among moms, and if you’ve ever slipped away to take a bath only to be joined two seconds later by kids shedding their clothes to climb in with you, you understand this language. It’s called a quiet relaxing bath, and if you–like me–are a bit unfamiliar with the term, let me further explain. A quiet relaxing bath does not include any of the following:

Legs everywhere.
“Please stop splashing.”
Fights over water temperature.
Bath toys and Barbies creeping into places where they should not be (I’m talking to you, Ken.)

Even when I attempt to lock the door and pull the “Time for Mom to be selfish” card, I end up half reading my magazine behind the bubbles and half pretending not to notice the tiny fingers wiggling under the door or the muffled, “Mom, can I come in? Hey Mom. Mom. Mom. Mom. MOM. MOMMMMMM.”

It dawned on me what a gift quiet baths are to moms when, after driving four days with three kids up to Michigan this summer, my sister announced five minutes after our arrival that she was taking my kids to go grocery shopping with her, and the bathroom was ready for me. “Use the good bubble bath, grab something to drink from the fridge, towels are on the shelf. We’ll be gone for a while, so take a good long bath.”

“Wait, you’re taking ALL THREE?” I asked. “Do you know what you’re committing to?”

“Absolutely. Now go.”

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She might as well have just offered me her kidney.

That quiet little sliver of alone time initiated our welcome to Michigan and replenished all the parts of me that had depleted on the road up, but really it was more about feeling so nurtured by one simple act when I spend my life nurturing others. So I tucked that feeling away, knowing I wanted to pay it forward. Several weeks later, I stopped by my friend Tali’s house on the way home, and the subject of baths came up again when, late one night while I was finishing some work, she drew a bubble bath for my kids and helped them get ready for bed. I took my laptop in the bathroom and sat on the floor with my friend while the kids played in the tub. “Thank you,” I told her. “What is it about baths that is such a nurturing act of love?”

“I know! My sister always makes me a bath every time I visit her, and I almost made one for you,” my friend laughed, “but I didn’t want you to think that was creepy.”

“Oh my God! Not at all!” I told her, “My sister just did it for me in Michigan, and it was such a gift. Maybe we’re on to something. We should go around making baths for our friends.”

Sound crazy? It’s not. When I got home, that’s just what I set about to do.

I pulled my best friend Heidi to help me with this #CareEnough mission, and we chose our friend Lindsey to “Bath Bomb”–surprise her on a Friday afternoon (with help from her mom who did some stealthy investigation to make sure we chose a night when there were no plans and Lindsey would be home) by knocking on her door, dropping off a basket of everything she’d need for a relaxing bath and night home alone, and taking her kids for the evening. Lindsey has five kids (including baby twins), and even though she never complains about being overwhelmed, I know with just three kids that sister’s not getting much alone time.

What to put in a Bath Bomb basket? Fancy bubble bath, a nice candle, a split of champagne (chilled), a bath brush, chocolates and some reading material–home magazines, beauty magazines, maybe a humor book, a compilation of encouraging essays or something to suggest “I see you, and you’re doing a great job.”

Heidi also made a plate of appetizers to set up next to our friend’s bathtub for the ultimate nurturing touch.

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And the surprise? It made us just as happy as it did our friend. Heidi and I arrived together with our basket of goodies and food, rang the doorbell, and when Lindsey opened the door–confused–we announced that we loved her, recognized what an amazing mom she is and thought she might need a break with a quiet bath. “We’ll take the kids and return them with their jammies to you at 9:30. We have a fun night planned for them. Now go relax and take a bath.” And that’s when our sweet friend put her face in her hands and cried–said “Are you kidding?” and “Thank you,” and I’ll tell ya, it makes me want to bath bomb a friend once a week.

Our kids all won in the end because they got to have a great big party together that night, Lindsey got a quiet bath and an evening out with her husband, and Heidi and I? We couldn’t stop talking about how good it felt to make someone’s day. We’re already picking out the next person to be bath bombed, and there’s a growing collection of bath goodies in my office for the next basket to be delivered.

That’s the great thing about the Care Enough effort–it’s intended to make someone else’s day, but it’s two fold. Because nothing feels better than knowing you helped make someone feel loved.

Thank you, Hallmark, for being a brand that inspires us to care more and make the world a kinder place.

Seasonal Equality (it’s a thing) and Fall Comforts

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This post is sponsored by Born Shoes.

I find it a bit ironic that I live in a state with such subtle seasonal shifts given the fact that I live for the change of pace each new season brings. In fact, I still catch myself looking forward to things that aren’t offered here which is why I almost threw that adorable coal eye & corn pipe snowman kit in my cart the other day before I reminded myself, “Oh yeah…Florida.” Since our climate here refuses to throw the fall lovers a bone, I take the liberty of shifting my mental seasonal climate myself, and girl, I shift it hard. If you’re a longtime reader, you know that. Which is why I thank the heavens above for companies that practice seasonal equality, making sure things like pumpkins and corn husks and cable knit sweaters get in the hands of all who deserve them and not just those who are zoned for deciduous trees. So, when a box arrives from Born on my doorstep all the way down in Southern Florida on a sunny September morning and I open it to find new boots for Fall and a lace-up heel in a rich autumn brown that says “hold my cider,” I feel validated and goshdarnnit, straight up loved. “We see you,” Born is saying, “…trying to weave palm fronds into an autumn wreath, and we want you to know you get to be part of our fall club too.”

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Me? Really? Really?

I mean, they even put a peep toe on that delicious slice of fall footwear, a deliberate high five to the hot states and the perfect way to show off a Florida pedicure.

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Blane booties

Just because our pumpkins come from makeshift church parking lot “patches” doesn’t mean we don’t deserve chocolate suede and gold buckles. The right to butterscotch hues, classic black booties and, why yes, even knee-grazing equestrian boots if we wish belongs to all, which is why “ships to Florida” is part of the fall anthem I sing every season.

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This season, Born is celebrating fall by recognizing it as the season of great comforts as we all know, and they’re asking us autumn lovers to share what we’re taking comfort in. “Will you share how you take comfort this fall?” they asked me.

I thought you’d never ask, Born. Here, give me the mic (tap tap). Uh, lighting guy, could you give me some spotlight, please?

(waits for crowd to hush…clears throat…closes eyes…gets theatrical)

The Comforts of Fall.

I take comfort in our inward huddle this time of year, maybe because we’re so tired come October, but even so, I like it. I take comfort in the way we craft a little more, bake a little more, curl up on the couch a little more for watching movies or reading books to kids in jammies who are splayed over our laps like lazy cats. I take comfort in the nesting genes that arouse the last three months when I mother bird the living heck out of our place to make it as cozy as cozy can be–stringing twinkle lights, fluffing pillows, stirring chili, tucking bed sheets picked out special for this very time of year. I take comfort in planning all the festivities saved for the calendar’s grand finale–the costumes, the parties, the family dinners, the traditions that remind me what a gift this period of time in my family’s life is and to be grateful for all the hidden treasures. I take comfort in making lists that I’ll likely forget to ever look at again, but the making of the lists in itself feels satisfying. I take comfort in the sensory explosion–the scent of cinnamon and apple in the kitchen, the crackling of our first fire when that long awaited cold front finally makes its way, the box of leaves from Michigan that will arrive in a few weeks and make me cry with the good kind of homesickness. I take comfort in grounding routines and schedules that sometimes overwhelm me but remind me that the best things in life come with effort and discipline and, yes, sometimes tears. I take comfort in the adjustments that follow the tears–saying no when my cup’s too full, saying yes to self preservation. I take comfort in silly things that might not matter in the grand scheme of things but matter to me when I want to feel good–things like the perfect fall print in a skirt that swishes or chic boots that make me feel so put together, I even remember not to slouch.

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Casco Boot

I take comfort in friend dates and family movie nights and the joy of being able to call both my parents and hear them answer on the second ring.  I take comfort in putting check marks on our fall bucket list and feeling like completing “Host a Soup Spectacular” and “Watch Harry Potter with Homemade Butterbeer” is as important and productive as “Write Another Book” or “Respond to Every Unanswered E-mail.” And I take comfort in knowing that at the end of the day during this busy time of year, what didn’t get done is okay, and what did get done is good enough.

You know what I’m going to be for Halloween this year? I’m going to be Fall. As in Mother Fall, the season of all seasons.

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A big thank you to Born Shoes, a long time partner, for reminding us to think about those things we take comfort in, and giving us beautiful things to wear while we do. I have so many pairs of Born shoes and boots in my closet, and they are always the most comfortable things I wear. Sometimes, comfort comes at the cost of losing some cuteness, but Born is fiercely dedicated to making sure that doesn’t happen. We’re so happy they are also dedicated to supporting our mission to help people with Down syndrome achieve their dreams, so stay tuned for their return later this month in recognition and celebration of Down Syndrome Awareness.

Fellow fall lovers, what are you taking comfort in this month?

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Back to a Healthy Routine

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It’s a weird thing having more than two weeks off of school after only getting three weeks under our belts, and going back feels a little bit like starting all over again. More than ever, we’re craving routine, healthy habits and a normal rhythm in our home. While adventures away from home allow us to learn new things and make meaningful memories, living out of suitcases, climbing in a messy road-trip car and indulging in “When in Rome” splurges (caramel apples, donuts, Lucky Charms, ice cream–uughh) eventually strips away the feeling of stability that helps anchor my parenting. Yes, I’m all about the YOLO, but it means nothing if it isn’t well balanced with responsible routines that keep our home base safe, calm and restoring. As much as I complain about things like doing laundry, cleaning the house, helping with homework and making school lunches, I find myself actually enjoying those things when our life gets busy or our schedules get out of wack because those are the things that recalibrate our routine and give me the satisfaction of knowing I’m nurturing my family in a good way. Nurturing is my jam.

So when we returned home and I had to completely rebuild my refrigerator supply (we threw out everything after 7 days of no power), I took great pleasure in filling my cart with nourishing food that somehow represented the feeling I want to restore in our home after having it disrupted by crazy ol’ Irma. Fresh produce. Soup ingredients for cozy fall dinners. Lunch box foods that say “Let’s pick right back up where we left off”. While we switch up our lunch box choices a lot to keep it interesting, one thing that always works for my kids is yogurt. But if you’ve been down the yogurt aisle lately, you’ll know that there are officially 546 kinds to choose from which I simply can’t handle because too many choices shut me down.

Here’s where you go–the #1 organic kids’ yogurt on the shelf is Stonyfield® YoKids® yogurt, and it features between 25% to 40% less sugar than the leading kids’ yogurt. Stonyfield recently announced a sugar reduction across its yogurt portfolio – and it started with YoKids. And because Stonyfield YoKids yogurts are certified organic, that means each cup is always made without the use of toxic persistent pesticides, artificial hormones, antibiotics and GMOs. Organic Certification matters because just calling something natural isn’t a guarantee.

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It comes in cups, pouches, tubes and smoothies, so it’s super convenient for grabbing on the go and tucking into lunch boxes.

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We also use ours to make our smoothies creamier…

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…and God forbid you pull out the blender in our house without asking the little ones to help.

While I like to add a lot of fancy things to my smoothies, the kids like theirs pretty basic–a little apple juice, frozen strawberries and/or pineapple, spinach and yogurt.

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Dash fights for the rights to the on switch.

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We always keep a box of squeeze tubes in the freezer as well. My kids love to eat them like frozen yogurt, and they work great for lunch boxes because they stay colder longer.

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Also–great for sharing…even with dogs.

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Now that my fridge is stocked, we are restoring all the good feels around here with music, cleaning and fall decorating.

Feels good to be home.

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