family pic

family pic

Monday, May 12, 2014

How I Style My Hair

I just received a Facebook message from a friend asking me how I style my hair and I've decided to complete something I've been working on for a while now….I'm going to give you a curly hair tutorial :) I'll be honest with you, I'm just about 29 years old and I feel like I'm JUST now getting a grip on the whole curly hair thing. Some of these steps may sound absurd, but I challenge you to give it a try!

First… some curly hair facts:

Interesting Fact #1. You only need to wash your hair a couple of times a week. You may even be able to get by washing it once a week. You may be thinking but I have to wash my hair every day or two because it gets oily. Each time you wash your hair you strip it of oil causing your scalp to produce more oil. Endure a couple of weeks of gradually washing your hair fewer and fewer times. Eventually your scalp will not produce as much oil. 

Interesting Fact #2. Curly hair looks the worst the day you wash it. It typically looks the best a couple of days after a wash after a little freshening up which I'll explain later.

Interesting Fact #3. Curly hair is VERY dry. I feel like you can never have too much moisturizer in it!! A good THICK RICH conditional needs to be your BFF.

Interesting Fact #4. Curly hair NEEDS layers. Without layers the root gets weighed down giving your hair the look of being flat on top and full on the bottom. Curly hair looks great when its full on top and tapers out towards the bottom. You can only do so much with products… you gotta have a good hair cut. Tell your hair stylist that you want your cut to give you this look. DO NOT GO TO GREAT CLIPS. I have shed tears over some awful Great Clips hair cuts. You just gotta spend the money on a good haircut. 

Ok. Now for the tutorial

STEP 1: 

Wash your hair with shampoo. Honestly I don't have a particular shampoo I love. I do know that Suave doesn't work for me. I also know that I have to rotate between shampoos every couple of weeks. I use a lot of shampoo to get all my product out and just rinse it out. I don't try to comb hair during my shampoo. 


CONDITIONER…Your BFF remember. I use:

I use about 3 half dollar size squeezes. This stuff isn't that expensive so I justify the generous amount! I use very little on my scalp to prevent excess oil. Rub it into your hair, work it into the ends first, wait a few minutes (shave, do whatever else you need to do) then, using ONLY your fingers, comb the conditional in your hair. This takes me FOREVER it seems, but remember, we are only washing our hair now a couple of times a week so we can justify a longer shower :) Do no use a brush because a brush will break your hair causing more frizz. I usually take small sections of hair and run by fingers carefully through it, adding more conditioner if it's too tangled for my fingers to run through. 

Finally you can run your fingers through your hair. Now rinse your hair and…. REPEAT. What??? Yes. Condition it one more time. You don't need as much conditioner. Just a quarter size drop. Rinse it out. Your hair is now silky smooth. 

Now ring out the excess water from your hair and…. get ready for it… add just a little bit more conditioner to your hair. Just a dime size amount and LEAVE IT IN YOUR HAIR. Remember we aren't loading our scalp up with moisture, just our dry dry hair. 

Step 3:

Put your hair in a towel. DO NOT BRUSH YOUR HAIR. Yes, this is an important step. Leave your hair in the towel for at least 5 to 10 min. This keeps your hair from frizzing and moisturizes hair even further.

Sep 4:

IMMEDIATELY (if I want a few minutes my hair starts to dry with in an irreversible style of its own) grab some Curl's rock curl amplifier, which looks like this:

This stuff is pricey, BUT it's really the only pricey product you'll be using. See we've totally justified buying this ;) You can get it at Target or at a hair salon. I use about 3 quarter size squirts of this. DO NOT comb this through your hair. Just scrunch it and gently rub it into your hair. Think of your hair as being extremely fragile. You do not want to separate those curls.

Step 5:

Put your hair BACK into your towel for just a minute or 2. A little weird I know, but it takes out the excess product that will cause "crunchiness" and it will get your curls all back together after messing them up a bit with the application of the curl amplifier. Look at this picture to see the different between my curls after removing the towel the first and second times

After hair being in the towel the first time:

After applying amplifier and removing from towel the second time:
Step 6:

Blow dry hair with a diffuser. Which looks like this:

My goal is to dry it so it has body on top and tapers out towards the bottom. I focus on drying my hair (which is simply done by pressing head of the diffuser to scrunch your hair towards your scalp) in the middle of my scalp. Think of where you want body and spend more time scrunching your hair there. For example I want the top of the back of my head to have the most body. I spend more time drying there and leave the section towards the bottom of my head a little wet.

Also use one finger of your hand that is not holding the hair dryer to gently press hair against the scalp the opposite direction you are wanting it to lay. I notice that my curls seem to curl flat against my scalp from the root and they need me to push and dry them the opposite direction in order to give the root some body.

Dry your hair until the sections towards the top middle and back middle of your scalp are dry.

Step 7:

Flip your head back.

It looks a bit crazy at this point, but you can see that there is some body on the top and it's a bit wet on the bottom. Fix your curls, tucking in curls that are sticking up and getting your part where you want it (I love a side part with curly hair)

Step 8:

Get out your hairspray. I use this:

Love this stuff! It's cheap and it is the only kind that works from me aside from Big Sexy Hair hairspray (which is much more expensive).

Spray your entire hair with this stuff after you've tucked and styled your curls. I lightly spray it over the frizz that's starting to come up and quickly run my fingers through the frizz very gently, tucking it back into my curls.

Step 9:

Get your diffuser back out and gently dry/scrunch the bottom of your hair. You do not need to flip your hair back over for this because we do not want this section of your hair to have much body, just the top.

You are basically drying your new styled hair into place at this point. If you are having one of THOSE hair days and your hair still doesn't have much body, go ahead and flip your head with the hairspray now in it and dry it a bit more to add some volume.

Step 10:

Go out and rock your curly hair :)

Remember that your hair will look the best a couple of days after your wash. When you go to style it without washing it, simply mix a little bit (dime or quarter size) of conditioner with some water and wet your hair a bit with your hands, Put it up in a towel for 5 to 10 minutes, Add a squirt or two of curls rock amplifier, flip your head over and dry with a diffuser for just a few minutes, and flip your hair back over adding some hairspray. You'll love the results if you just give it a try :)

I know this all sounds so complicated, but it actually doesn't take me much time at all. The days in between my wash I only spend 5 to 10 minutes styling my hair. I hope this encourages your curly girls to embrace your curls and just go with it! Don't try to make your hair something it's not, just figure out how to work with what you have. You won't regret it :)

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Loving My Children As They Are

Hey friends… I'm back :) The past month my life has been crazy and my mind has been mush. I'm going to just be honest… this whole blended family thing is hard work! I think I know what I'm doing, then I realize that I've been doing things completely wrong, then I realize that I may not have been entirely wrong, then I realize that I have no clue what I am doing! Really that pretty much summarizes my thinking process… pretty much every hour… of pretty much every day. Needless to say, there can be a lot of confusion!!

I have this vision of the family dynamic I desire for my home. Where the kiddos all see themselves as equal and loved… now part of the same family. I have this picture in my head of what our family should be… and I can't make it happen. My family consists of many ;) other individuals with separate visions and desires for our family. I can't make everyone love each other and accept the love they are given… and it hurts my heart each time I see that play out. 

Words are said that sting at times and cause me wanting to retreat. And to be honest sometimes I have had to retreat, getting alone to pray for strength or to call an encouraging friend. But most of the time I can't retreat. I can either fight back or look beneath the hurtful words to see a little boy, hurting and confused. Now, don't get me wrong, sometimes I have to look long and hard and squint my eyes a bit before I see that hurt, but its there! These boys have been through many trials that were completely out of their control. Every child should have a dad and mom who loves each other and loves them… and they didn't get that. It's not fair to them, regardless of who is to blame for their loss. 

And this brings me back to sacrificial love. Am I only going to love my kids if they love me back and treat me kindly? Or am I going to keep showing them love where they are at in their pain, even when it hurts me? It's not easy and I wish I could be bulletproof, but I'm not. Showing steadfast love will hurt, and is it worth hurting over? 

Christ died for everyone, not just those He knew who would love Him in return. He died for the atheist,  He suffered and bled for him, even if His love would never be accepted. I know what you are thinking, Well, He was Jesus. Of course He could love sacrificially! Like He was some kind of superhero who showed sacrificial love because of his super powers that enabled Him to do so. No, He didn't have super powers. He came to earth as a man, hurting and facing temptation just as we do now. 

So I end this post striving to show each one of my children Christ's steadfast and sacrificial love. How this plays out in all the different circumstances and issues that come up, I have no idea. But I strive to keep my heart tender to their hurt and to love each of them as they are. 

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Should you vindicate yourself on Facebook?

Facebook can be a great tool to minister to others. It allows you to stay connected with friends, share encouraging articles or blogs, and updates in your life. But if used with ulterior motives it can also tear you and fellow Facebook friends down.

The other day a situation left me feeling misunderstood and hurt. I wanted to stand on a mountain top and explain myself to everyone, but I felt the Lord asking me to trust Him to work it all out. Then I got on Facebook. Let me tell you, it can be soooo easy to attempt to vindicate yourself on Facebook. Every time I would ponder an update the Holy Spirit would ever so subtly tell me "NO… GET AWAY FROM THE COMPUTER." After some contemplation I had to ask myself "Do I really trust the Lord to take care of me, or do I think He need's my help in doing so?" Finally I backed away from the computer and handed the situation over to God.

So how do you know if you are using Facebook to vindicate yourself? After some pondering I've decided there are three different category "Facebook vindicators" fall into:

1) The vague status updater

Ok, we all know of people who write a status clearly directed towards someone else. You especially see this after break ups right?? Something like,

"I shouldn't have known you were going to break my heart again…"


"Sally has updated her relationship status to single"

We are all like, Sally, for the love, just send the ex a message and tell him in person. Then a slew of people tell her she's better off and we're like "DON'T ENCOURAGE IT!"

2) The Bible Verse Jabber

Then you have the person who is a bit more subtle with their Facebook jabs. They pick a Bible verse that could jab their self offender. Someone gossips about them and then they post a verse about gossiping. Someone doesn't include them in their outing then they post a verse about loving your neighbor.

3) The last person is the blog/article jabber.

This person isn't technically writing something directed towards somebody else. They just read an article that in someway makes them feel vindicated and then simply hit that little blue 5 lettered word


They hope this will bring conviction in their offender, relating the article to the pain they've been caused.

I write this all with conviction because I've fallen in at least one of those categories at different times in my life. ouch. We can justify pretty much anything we put on Facebook, but we much ask ourselves

Why am I posting this?

Is it because you want to feel vindicated? Is it because you want other's to validate you?

I just wander how different Facebook would look like if we all evaluated our motives before posting and sharing what we write.

Friday, February 28, 2014

For the Unappreciated Mom

The past couple of weeks I've been challenged to show my kids unconditional love with no strings attached. I'm not gonna lie… it's not easy sometimes.

I think I get a chorus of amens from fellow mommies when I state that our kids just don't appreciate us sometimes! MULTIPLE times I've found myself walking into church with a child and a purse in one arm, my Bible & the boys' jackets in the other arm… then a child asks me if I can hold his iPod for him because he doesn't want to have to put it in his pocket. To which I respond:

"Seriously. Look at me."

Or those nights that I decide to do the whole good mom/housewife thing, making a home cooked healthy meal, and get asked "How many bites do I have to eat?"

There are nights when I try to do homework with 4 of them ALL needing my help at once. I'll be checking over child A's spelling, while child yells out "If sally has 5 pencils in 3 cups then gives two of those cups away then receives 4 times as many cups than she had to start with, and gives away 3 pencils from each cup… How many pencils does Sally now have? (while a child is yelling "How do you spell The Revolutionary War took place in America a very long time ago?").  Child D is hovered over my shoulder asking me repetitively "Can I be done now?". The night ends with at least one of them saying "Thanks mom so much for helping me with my homework. I know you don't have to do it, but understand that you do this because you love me so much and want the best for me." (I know my fellow mommies can catch the sarcasm in that statement… as I have yet to hear of a child thanking his mother for making him do his homework!!) No, my friends, after homework I usually end up with at least one child upset at me for making him do his work.

In these moments I'm tempted to get mad… okay maybe I do get mad from time to time… but I've been thinking about why do I do these things for the boys. Do I make them healthy dinners & spend hours helping with homework so they will love me even more? So they will compliment me and appreciate me? Or do I do these things simply because I love them and know it's what's best for them.

This is the weight of unconditional love. It means loving them and showing tough love even when there's nothing in it for me. It means loving them and sacrificing for them… even if they resent me for it.

I know. It seems a bit unfair at times, but what did Christ have to gain from ministering to people on this earth. He sacrificed all He had for what? Appreciation, Approval, Gratitiude? Those he showed sacrificial love to, forsook all to minister to, turned on him.

He came to earth to die simply because He loved us.

What a challenge for me to show my kids sacrificial tough love simply because I love them.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Thou Shall Not Use Pull-ups

I think I'm not alone in wishing that God included a book in the Bible called "Parenting 101".

Almost 9 years ago I became pregnant with my first son. I was young and had no clue what life would be like as a mommy. After hours of labor they placed him in my arms and I remember thinking "what am I supposed to do now…". I couldn't wait to get home and once I got home I wanted to go back to the hospital where I had "professionals" giving me instructions!

My firstborn son
 Since then I have become better at the whole keeping them alive part. I learned how to nurse my babies, treat their runny noses, change diapers, and even developed mad skills at tossing diapers into the trashcan from across the room. But I still catch myself thinking from time to time that I have no clue what I'm supposed to do as a mother.

For example, my oldest son was completely potty trained after a week of running around naked in the house without ever using a pull-up. I had it all figured out. Parent's who couldn't potty train their children were obviously using pull-ups and just needed to leave them naked… like I had done. So then my second son came along. It was time to potty train so I used my tried and true method. He peed on the floor for 2 days… and I threw the towel in after he peed… in his TOYBOX… while LAUGHING!!! At that moment I realized I had no CLUE what I was doing.

Potty training my 2nd born son.
(Convinced him that Batman uses the potty ;)
Potty Training my 3rd born son
(Naked, in front of the tv, with his favorite toys)
Now those thoughts are multiplied times 2 as I have added 2 wonderful stepsons to my clan of boys. We now have 5 different personalities, with different needs, and different tendencies. The Lord has blessed me with a husband to process those thoughts out with and is willing to lead our family, but we both have times when we just don't know what to do. 

During those moments I find myself wishing that God would have included detailed step by step instructions in the Bible on all different kinds of parenting scenarios! (Could you imagine turning to Parenting 101, chapter 5, verse1.. "Thou shall not use pull-ups. If thy child pees in his toy box, thou shall put superhero clothes on thy child and convince him that batman pees in the potty.")

But I've been realizing that if God had included step by step instructions in the Bible, I wouldn't be so dependent on HIS direction. Instructions would enable me to successfully parent on MY own. He wants me to talk to Him and seek His direction. He wants me to pour myself into His Word and learn more about who He is. As I learn more about who He is I'm drawn to love Him deeply. As I love Him deeply, I become more like Him. The more I'm like Him, the better example of Christ I can be to my kids.

So I guess I want to encourage my fellow mommies that it's okay… no I think it's actually GREAT, to feel insufficient as a mother. The key is how we react to those feelings. Do you allow those feelings to draw you to dependency in Christ, or do they leave you with guilt and cause you avoid problems with your children? The most important thing your children need from you is to see a real life example of what a relationship with Christ looks like.

Monday, January 20, 2014

My scribbled on, sticker patched, angled car sign

Quinton and Carter's school requires all the parents who pick up their children in the car line to have a sign with their children's last name and grade numbers.  They even provide parents with a piece of card stock paper with some sort of hanger drawn on it for parents to cutout and use for their sign.

As I was rushing out of the house to pick them up from school with no time to spare, I realized I forgot to cut out their sign. I frantically got out a pair of scissors, haphazardly cut out the sign, scribbled their names down on the sign, and ran out the house. I went to remove the sign from the mirror after I picked up the boys… and ripped it. The next day I pulled in the car line and realized that I couldn't hang my sign. Thankfully, my van was a mess and I just so happened to find a pack of thomas the train stickers. I used the stickers as some sort of tape and managed to adhere the two torn pieces together. 

It didn't completely fix our thomas the train "decorated sign" as it now hangs at an angle. I'm reminded of this every time the teacher comes out to my car and tilts her head as she says "BROOKS….um…. 1 and ……. 3???" 

And I'm reminded of how poor my sign looks as I see other parent's signs. Many have printed out their children's names. Others have gone so far as to laminate the sign, put it in a page protector, and hang it up on an actual hanger with clips. 

Now let me give you a bit of background information about myself. I used to so so wish I was That responsible, organized, take it to the next level parent. We all know what That parent looks like. The one who packs her kid's lunch in the tuberware container with different compartments for each item of food… which she didn't have to even pay money for because she purchased her food with her triple coupons and actually earned money from her grocery trip… and she writes a little note on the kid's napkin wishing him a good day at school. You know… the mom we who actually does the organizational ideas that us other moms only pin about on Pinterest. 

I used to compare myself against That mom and struggled with shame and defeat. I struggled thinking, 

"My house should look like hers, my car should be as clean as her car, I need a color coded calendar like hers, why can't I stick to a chore chart like she does."

Somewhere in between failing at my 4th chore chart with the boys and throwing away an entire notebook of expired coupons, I finally admitted to myself that I was not That mom. There is nothing wrong with her. Our world would be a disorganized mess without her! She keeps our children's teachers sane by turning in permission forms on time and by actually remembering teacher appreciation day (by making one of the crafts we pinned about on our teacher appreciation gift board :). The world NEEDS moms like them… but it's ok if you aren't that mom. 

God created you with your own unique personality. Once you make peace with that you will slowly feel the pressure to be something you aren't start to lift off your shoulders. In turn, you will also be able to love That mom better. You cannot love her well when you feel threatened and intimidated by her!

I am not organized.. I like to be doing several projects at once. I'm flexible and like to leave my plans open-ended. I'm full of ideas and like change. That's how God chose and carefully planned out to make me before I was even born. So now as I pull through the car line, I proudly sport my scribbled on, sticker patched, angled name sign. It's unique to me… and I'm okay with that :)

Friday, January 3, 2014

Reality vs. Facebook caption

About a year ago I had a few people tell me that they were envious of my life. It really took me by surprise and left me a bit speechless. I thought "Seriously, look at me. Look at my life. Really… I mean REALLY… you wish your life was like this?!!"

But then I realized that most people gain their perspective of my life by what they see on Facebook. They see a picture of me and the kids all smiling on our little family movie night and think.. "I wish we did family nights like Christina's family." What they don't realize is that the kids might have… ok… probably did… fight during half the outing!! I probably ended up loosing my cool with them and yelled at them a few times… and that picture you saw of them with their arms around each other was staged. Yes staged. I told them to put their arms around each other or they wouldn't get any candy during the movie. I put the picture through a few filters.. blurred out the kid pitching a fit… to create a picture perfect family movie night. I delete the 20 other photos that show traces of the tension we had that evening and proceed to post the leave it to beaver photo on Facebook. Don't judge me. You know you do it too ;)
Here are some examples

Reality: Easter Morning
Facebook caption (picture taken with the screaming baby slid  behind me): "Easter morning fun!"
Reality: Birthday message to grandma
Facebook caption: "Happy birthday grandma… We love you! ~ Quinton, Carter, & Kydon"
Reality: Fighting over the dough the entire time we made Christmas cookies
Facebook caption (after removing 2 children from the shot):
"Making homemade Christmas cookies with the family #family#traditions#fun"

Now don't get me wrong. I don't think we need to put all our dirty laundry on Facebook. We all know that person whose statuses cryptically seek pity or affirmation. I think we need to keep our lives real (don't paint it out to be something that it is not) and just realize that on Facebook we are only seeing each other at their best.

Moral: Don't let Facebook form your perception of others' lives ;)