Love at the Front Desk

 

 

 

Sometimes love shows up in the strangest of places.

 

We were standing at the receptionist’s desk at the orthodontist’s office. It was time to schedule the next appointment and she was telling me how our son’s orthodontist was shifting most of his hours over to the other office, so we’d likely have to go there.

 

The other office is just a town or two over– it’s not some terrible distance to travel. But, inside, my stomach turned. Butterflies kicked up and I felt the familiar race of my pulse as anxiety kicked in. I was nervous about the drive.

 

 

 

I don’t like driving, really. I can handle it in my own town, but I despise venturing much further. Going unfamiliar places or having to navigate busy highways quite literally gives me heart palpitations.

 

But I pushed all that aside and refocused on the conversation.

 

My husband had Google calendar up on his phone and was going over dates with her. He rejected one and then another and she kept glancing from him to me and back again, looking terribly confused. She knows I teach during the school year, but my availability in August should have been much higher.

 

Still, my husband persisted in finding a time that fit in his calendar.

 

Despite the receptionist’s obvious confusion, it became very clear to me what he was doing–

 

He was scheduling an appointment that he could make it to so that he could drive me the first time and assuage my fears about the trip.

 

That alone is incredibly kind, but it’s not what truly revealed his love for me that day.

 

He refused to out me for my fears. Not once did he say a word about why he was going through calendar acrobatics to get this appointment scheduled. Not once did he roll his eyes or shame me for my (rather irrational) worries. Not once did he tell this woman behind the desk why he was insisting on a different time. He was willing to protect my story and my pride, even if it meant he looked kind of demanding or odd.

 

Sometimes love shows up with roses and kisses and chocolate ice cream.

 

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But other times it shows up in the orthodontist’s office.

 

 

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Hello? It’s Me.

 

 

 

Once upon a time, there was a girl named JessieLeigh. On a hot July day, tucked away in the countryside of Indiana, she pressed “publish” on a blog post way back in 2008.

 

Years went by. Thousands of posts were written. And children? They grew.

 

So here I sit, over nine years later, facing the keyboard and screen. And I’m not sure where to start or what to say or whether I should even be here right now.

 

Sweet friends, here’s what I want you to know:

I  still have SO much to say. 

 

I still have stories. I have views and ideas and passions. I have things I want to tell you! I still cherish this little tiny nook of the internet so very much. This? This right here? It is a huge part of my history and taught me so much about myself.

 

But it’s been so long since I wrote. I know this. And I’m sorry.

 

What happens to me is simply this– the longer I go without writing, the more pressure I feel to write something really GOOD or IMPORTANT. Also, the longer I go without writing, the more stuff I feel like I need to catch you up on and it just feels almost insurmountable!

 

I let it keep my from writing at all. And that’s a sad, sad solution.

 

So here’s what’s up, in a super quick, not at all comprehensive, nutshell:

 

–I’m still substitute teaching. I love it and I’m good at it and I’m still pondering whether or not to go back to school to get certified so I can be a full-time elementary teacher. I’m not sure yet. I did a 2+ month stint in a second grade classroom last Spring and LOVED it. I’ve definitely found a good fit with this job.

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–I turned 41 in June and I’m totally great with that! I love my birthday and I love my age and I never, ever try to hide it.

 

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–A., who was 3 when I started this blog, is now 12 and wears a men’s size 10 shoe. He is incredibly tall, incredibly fast, and rather musical. His cross country, track, road races, singing, and bass playing keep us pretty busy running around  to activities, but they’re things that he loves and they’re also rather fun to watch– so that’s a win-win.

 

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–C., my micropreemie who inspired the whole start of all this, is 11 1/2 and about to start middle school (!!!) She’s still on the petite side, but she’s definitely not the shortest in her class. My only introverted child, she is creative and dreamy and artsy. She’d rather be drawing or reading than participating in any sports, but she has a deep love of nature, too, and enjoys slow-paced, meandering hikes.

 

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–And G, who wasn’t even born when I set up shop here, will be entering third grade this year. She is our fearless adventurer who would climb anything in front of her. She just started Ninja Warrior classes and, though she’s the youngest in the group, she is fierce and strong. Like her mama, she’s deeply sensitive and occasionally melodramatic (ahem). There is nothing on earth she loves more than cats.

 

adventure

 

In short, we’re all doing well here! It’s summer– my favorite!– and we’ve been enjoying a lovely mix of impromptu adventures and relaxing at home. During the school year, we are, like so many families, absurdly busy, but I confess that I love that, too. The utter madness that is May? I kind of love it. When it seems like a schedule is so packed it’s not even possible? There’s a little thrill to that, so long as I know more restful times are on the horizon.

 

I feel like this is such a wing-ding, quick-fire update I’m putting out there. I know full-well that nine gazillion more interesting and important things have happened since we last touched base.

 

But, mostly, I just wanted to say– “Hello. It’s me.”

 

And I’ve missed you.

 

 

 

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Be kind. Seriously.

 

 

 

I took a lot of pics in this shirt. It’s such a lovely shade of Spring-y pink! Posed in front of the forsythia. Crouching to pluck a dandelion. Laughing amid the sunny morning mist.

 

But you know what?

 

My second graders all agreed this was the best one.

 

 

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So that’s what you get. :)

 

 

Be kind.

 

Every chance you get. It’s a message I seek to convey to the little people I greet each morning.

 

Be kind. 

 

Start the day with a smile for all the people you cross– you have no idea how their days began. That moment of brightness can be a game changer.

 

Be kind.

 

Kinder than you even think you “need” to be. It’s rare that you’ll ever regret being TOO kind to someone. Kindness is one of those amazing things that seems to multiply the more you pour out. It seems odd that you can simply heap kindness on others without regard to ever running out. But you can. And it’ll likely come back to you tenfold.

 

Be kind.

 

It’s the message I hope can drive my days and help me shine just a little bit of light on the world.

 

 

 

What’s your message for the world? Be kind? Be still? Be weird? Whatever motivates you to shine with your truest self, Cents of Style wants to help you share that message with the world. And today, Friday, 4/28/2017, you can get your own inspirational (and motivational!) tee for just$15.95, with free shipping.

 

These tees are lightweight and super soft. I’ve loved mine tossed over ripped jeans for a casual weekend or paired with a black knit skirt and mary janes for teaching. It’s a winner!

 

I’d love to know what your message would be!

 

 

 

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Budgeting Lessons– the $5 Project

 

 

 

 

We’re off of school today– our “President’s Break” goes from Saturday to Tuesday every year, so this is the last day of laziness. And it seemed like the perfect time to continue my most important ongoing project– raising these little people to become savvy, productive members of society.

 

 

Right after breakfast I got them equipped. I provided:

  • paper
  • pencil
  • calculator
  • my last receipt
  • the current ALDI flyer

 

 

I asked each child to create a list of food and/or drink items they would like to purchase at ALDI. The deal? They each had $5 to spend– no more.

 

We talked about ways to keep track of spending. How some people are very competent at keeping track of prices in their heads as they shop, while others prefer to use a calculator. We problem-solved how to account for items with prices we didn’t know for sure. And then I left them to it.

 

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Tuesday mornings are a great time to hold a budgeting session at ALDI– it was pretty quiet there. And, honestly, once we got there, I just let them do their things.

 

At the end of the day, here’s what we wound up with:

 

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They all kept to the budget!

 

[Please remember that this experience was all about BUDGETING, not cooking from scratch or choosing real food or any of that. ;) ]

 

It was super interesting to watch them. My oldest, who’s also a fantastic mathematician, felt confident keeping track of everything in his head. My dreamy artist, who rather despises math, chose to make a list she could calculate at home before we ever left– that way she wasn’t under time constraints and felt confident that she wouldn’t go over. The remaining child chose to carry a calculator and keep a running total, while calculating how much money was remaining in her head.

 

I love that they all used different methods, but they all worked equally well. I think that’s such an important take-away– there’s not one “right” way to keep to a budget.

 

In the end, they were all super happy with their choices and, honestly, very proud of themselves. I fielded lots of questions about budgeting and decision-making on the drive home.

 

At the store, they were approached over and over again by shoppers and store employees who could see they were following a list and tracking their spending. All were super impressed and thought it was fabulous. When one of my children later asked me why everyone was so pleased about this, I was very blunt– “too many grown ups are no good at budgeting. Other grown ups know this and are happy to see you practicing so young.”

 

This whole exercise– from the planning to the shopping to the unpacking at home– took less than an hour.

 

I’m calling it time well spent.

 

 

 

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3 Things That Have CHANGED MY LIFE

 

 

 

Sorry to yell at you all in that title, there, but I’m just really, really excited about these things! Truly!

 

So, listen. There are a whole lot of things I use on the regular that bring me great joy and that make my life better– from the way I prepare coffee to the leggings I layer under skirts, I have lots of favorites. However, the things that made THIS list? These are things that have absolutely CHANGED my life in the best possible of ways.

 

Ready? Okay. Here we go.

 

 

1. Soma Vanishing Tummy Modern Brief

 

vanishingedge

 

How ’bout we just jump right in with my rec for undies??? No shame here! But, seriously, people. For everyday, these are the best underwear I have ever worn. They are amazing. The “vanishing tummy” feature really just offers some very, very light control– these aren’t shapewear. But they stay exactly where they’re supposed to. The waist? Doesn’t slide down. The back? NEVER rides up. I mean never. You put these babies on and they stay put. They’re slippery enough that garments glide, but they still breathe. If I sound like I’m gushing, it’s because I AM. I’m a total convert.

 

Now, listen. These aren’t cheap. I’m a girl who bought the Fruit of the Loom multi-pack and called it good enough. So if I’m telling you that a twenty-some-odd dollar pair of undies is worth it, that’s really saying something. Here’s the deal– it’s easy to find these on sale. They’re almost always “buy 3, get 2 free.” So that immediately makes it more palatable– I mean, $12 a pair is WAY better than $21. Also, you can frequently score some sort of promotion. As I type this, Soma is offering 25% off and free shipping on any order with code 32359.

 

(Also: Soma’s referral program is GREAT in that it allows you to save $15 on your first order of $50+, but it requires that a friend email you that code. This is kind of a pain, I know. But, if you’d like to save an additional $15– and I would, if I were you!– leave me a comment and make sure you have an email attached to your profile and I’ll hook you up.)

 

Quick math for those who don’t like working the numbers:
$21 x 5 = $105 for 5 pairs BUT
$21 x 3 (get 2 free) = $63, minus 25% = $47.25 (plus, if you snag the $15 off and use it) – $15 = $32.35 for 5 pairs

 

 

2. Pretty Straw Cups

 

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On the other end of the budget spectrum are these pretty little lidded tumblers, with straws, from Dollar Tree. Yes, really.

 

It’s not news that most of us don’t drink enough water. But, can I be honest? I don’t LIKE water bottles. I really don’t. I am particularly averse to those with valves because they feel gross to me. Anyway, I like cups. And straws. There are lots of options for lidded tumblers with straws, but I like these the best. They’re cheap, so I don’t worry too much about the possibility of losing one. They’re also not TOO giant. I don’t enjoy holding a liter or more of liquid in my hands– it feels unwieldy. These are manageable and cute and I find that I do a MUCH better job of staying hydrated. So that’s awesome!

 

 

 

3. Tunic-length Camis

 

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I can’t even begin to tell you how life-changing these have been for me. Honestly. Tunic-length camis provide an extra layer for under sweaters, button-downs, cardigans, pullovers, blouses– you name it. They’re stretchy and comfy and STAY PUT. This is particularly wonderful for with leggings, since it pretty much guarantees rear-end coverage. Hallelujah! They also never, ever pull up, allowing drafts on your ribs or mid-section. Am I the only one who despises that feeling?

 

I currently have these in grey, black, and navy, but I’m eyeing that peach one for under gauzy Spring pieces. I am no exaggerating when I tell you that I wear one of these at LEAST three days a week, and usually more. They’re fabulous.

 

 

 

There you go. Three things that have really, truly, without a doubt, improved my quality of life over the last several months. These are all 100% JL-approved!

 

 

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We’ve All Had That “Oh, Crud” Moment: When Sick Gets Real

CONTEST HAS ENDED: Congratulations to our winner, Brandy!

 

 

This post has been sponsored by Pfizer Consumer Healthcare and 20th Century Fox. All thoughts and reviews are my own.

 

Last Spring, my sweet G. climbed off the bus and I took one took at her stormy looking face and asked, “Honey, what’s the matter?” She flicked green eyes up at me and scowled. “Why do people keep asking me that today?!?!?”

 

It was the moment I knew to take her temp.

 

When we visited Concord, New Hampshire– my family has a thing for visiting state capitals– my son sat by the cozy fireplace, clad in a fleece pullover, and shivered. “Mom? Does it feel really cold in here to you?”

 

And that was when I knew to take his temp.

 

We all have those moments. Those times we look at our precious little ones and, well, something just isn’t quite right. They’re cranky. Flushed. Maybe pale. Shivery. There’s just something that flips that switch and makes you realize something is probably up.

 

And that’s often when sick gets real.

 

Most recently around here, it started with my seven-year-old. She was cold. Not hungry. A little sleepy. And also 103.6. She was barely on the mend when her older sister woke up with aching joints and flushed cheeks. A fever raged in her for days. We had, literally, just gotten those two back in good shape when I eyed our twelve-year-old son, dozing off in the recliner. He insisted he was fine. He denied any symptoms. (He didn’t want to miss out on a sleepover with his best friend.) But my instincts– and the thermometer– said otherwise.

 

Fevers and coughs aren’t the end of the world. But they can also be miserably uncomfortable.

 

Thankfully, I was able to reach into our arsenal and find ways to comfort these cranky, achy kiddos.

 

childrensadvil

 

To ease those aches and pains, while reducing fevers fast, we reached for Children’s Advil®, recommended for kids as young as 2 and up to 11. Children’s Advil® comes in several great-tasting flavors, including: Sugar-free Dye-free Berry, Bubble Gum, Grape, Blue Raspberry, Fruit and Dye-Free White Grape flavors. (There’s also Infants’ Advil® White Grape, which provides unsurpassed fever relief among OTC pain relievers with a syringe for easy dosing for children 6-23 months. We’re long past our days of needing that, but I’m glad it’s out there!)

 

robitussin

 

For the coughs that interfere with resting and healing, Children’s Robitussin® DM Day/Night Pack (Children’s Robitussin® Cough & Chest Congestion and Children’s Robitussin® Nighttime Cough for ages 6+) non-drowsy daytime formula helps break up chest congestion, while the long-acting nighttime formula relieves coughs and runny noses to help kids get the rest they need.

 

All in a great tasting grape flavor, Children’s Dimetapp® Cold & Cough tackles a child’s most bothersome stuffy and runny noses, all while working to relieve cough, for ages 6+.

 

Remember it’s always important to read and keep the cartons for complete warnings and dosing info on Pfizer Pediatric products. Always use as directed.

 

iceage

 

Finally, there’s perhaps my favorite way to ease my little ones’ discomfort– with a great movie! Ice Age 5: Collision Course definitely fit the bill! Here’s the summary:

“Your favorite ICE AGE heroes are back and cooler than ever in this all-new animated adventure that’s mammoth-sized fun for the whole family! Now the entire herd—including Buck, Manny, Ellie, Sid and Diego—must work together on a hilarious journey filled with nonstop action and colorful new characters, in order to survive the global Scrat-tastrophe!”

Too cute!

 

 

So you can be prepared for any Sick Gets Real moments your family might face this season, I’ve got some Cartwheel coupons for you:

 

Cartwheel coupon codes (valid 1/29/17 through 2/20/17)

o   Children’s Robitussin®

o   Children’s Dimetapp®

o   Children’s Advil®

o   Ice Age Collision Course

o   The Peanuts Movie

o   The Sandlot  

 

 

Yay! Saving money is awesome! Even MORE awesome? Winning free stuff! You have a chance to win:

  •  a selection of Pfizer Pediatric products, including Children’s Advil® Suspension, Grape, Children’s Robitussin® Cough & Chest Congestion, Children’s Dimetapp® Cough & Cold
  • (1) 20th Century Fox DVD (Ice Age: Collision Course, The Sandlot, or The Peanuts Movie)
  • and a $25 Target Gift Card!

 

 

Just leave a comment telling me your favorite way to comfort your children when Sick Gets Real and you’ll be entered! Winner will be chosen on February 14, 2017. Good luck!

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The Optimism of January

 

 

 

“Did you know it’s ‘Blue Week?’” she asked me. “There are more instances of suicide and depression during this week each year than any other week.”

 

 

I hadn’t known that, nor had I heard the news report she referenced, but I didn’t doubt her.

 

January is cold. Frequently dreary. The sparkle of the holidays is over. The credit card bills roll in and the pounds show up and people have to pay for the indulgences of the holidays.

 

But… still.

 

 

I see January as a time of optimism.

 

 

JanuaryOptimism

 

There’s something about a fresh new year that just bubbles with potential. It’s like a brand new page in a journal. The crack of a book, first opened. The early morning sunlight as you open your eyes to greet a new day. The options seem almost endless and it feels like the perfect opportunity to reinvent or improve oneself. This feels optimistic to me.

 

The first true full month of winter, January around here oft brings with it a substantial, measurable snowfall or two. Pure and white, snow feels like a fresh start. Reflecting the sun, it is blindingly glorious and does wonders for the mood. Fresh. Clean. Sparkling. This feels optimistic to me.

 

With the Winter Solstice behind us, the hours of sunlight grow ever-longer. Here in Connecticut, it is in January when sunset finally gets pushed past 5PM again. No longer am I standing at the bus stop in the waning light at 4PM. No longer is my middle school son trudging off in the blackness of the morning. There is promise in this– the revelation that we are to be granted more and more minutes of daylight with every passing day until mid to late June. What a gift! This feels optimistic to me.

 

And, so, though I don’t doubt the statistics. And I try hard to be more mindful and aware of those around me, I stand here, firm in my optimism…

 

The Optimism of January.

 

 

 

 

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Shopping with JL (& an Update)

 

 

 

Well, hi there!

 

Did you think I’d fallen off the face of the planet? I’ll be honest– I’ve felt that way a bit lately. So many times, I’d start to write a post or go to pen a Facebook update and then, well, it felt like it’d been so long that it would just be awkward.

 

Have you ever had that happen in real life? You really want to reach out to someone or say something, but it feels like it would be weird and you worry it might be ill-received?

 

Yeah, that’s how I’ve been feeling.

 

But I can’t just disappear. And I’m not ready to make a formal departure notice. So, for today, I thought I’d do what I used to do quite a bit, but haven’t done in a very, VERY long time– let you peek into my grocery cart and see just what I’m spending my hard-earned dollars on.

 

Couple quick things first:

 

  • You won’t be able to see EVERY thing in the photos, cause I snapped them quick right in ALDI, but I promise to list everything I bought.
  • My husband and I decided to up the grocery budget for 2017– part of that is because I’m mega-busy these days, but, even more so, I have growing kids! And they eat. A lot. I’m grateful for this, but I have to expect it to cost more to feed an adult-sized 11-year-old boy than a preschooler. Such is life.

 

So, here you go!

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Meat

1 bag cooked meatballs  $4.39

1 pack hotdogs  $.79

3 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts $3.50

5 lb. chicken leg quarters $2.34

1 lb. honey ham lunch meat  $3.49

 

Dairy

1 pack cheese sticks  $2.69

1 lb. shredded sharp chedded $2.69

1 lb. shredded mozz $2.99

1 pack white American cheese $1.89

8 oz. swiss cheese block  $1.89

8 oz. co-jack block  $1.89

wedge asiago $3.79

12 cups yogurt  $4.68

2 gallons whole milk  $1.39 each (for real!!!)

2 dozen eggs (not really dairy, but in the dairy case ;) )  $2.98

 

Produce

broccoli  $1.19

peas  $.95

6 lbs. apples  $2.98

2.5 lb. bananas  $1.08

1 pint blueberries  $1.69

1 pound roma tomatoes  $.99

2 green peppers  $.99

 

Grains

2 lb. macaroni  $1.45

1 lb. penne  $.99

3 lb. long grain rice  $1.29

1 lb. organic spaghetti  $1.19

1 package everything bagels  $1.59

2 packs flour tortillas  $2.38

1 box honey comb cereal  $1.99

1 loaf wheat bread  $.99

1 box saltine crackers  $.75

1 box crispy oat ring cereal  $1.19

3 boxes cereal bars  $1.49 each

1 box triscuit-like wheat crackers  $1.69

1 box granola bars  $1.49

5 lb. flour  $1.49

 

Canned Goods and All the Rest

2 cans spaghetti rings  $1.18

2 cans crushed tomatoes  $1.90

1 can tomato paste  $.39

4 cans tomato sauce  $1.00

2 bottles sparkling frost beverage  $.98 (+deposit)

2 bottles Gatorade  $1.88 (+deposit)

2 bottles plain Seltzer  $1.10 (+deposit)

1 bottle 100% grape juice  $2.69

1 pack fudge stripe cookies  $1.19

1 bag tortilla chips  $1.69

1 jar natural peanut butter  $1.49

1 bottle garlic powder  $1.19

1 bottle ranch dressing  $.89

 

 

GRAND TOTAL:  $93.40

 

 

You’ll notice some really stellar prices on milk and meat– the milk’s been super cheap lately at my ALDI and the meat was marked down.

 

There were definitely some convenience items and some others that have become old stand-bys for us. My husband eats a granola bar EVERY single morning. I eat wheat crackers with cheese and fruit every day for lunch when I substitute teach. One of my darling children had gotten SO very poky eating in the morning that I’ve resorted to cereal bars and yogurt for breakfast every school morning just to get SOMETHING in her stomach. This is real life, friends. This is how we roll.

 

 

On that note, life is pretty darn crazy around here!

 

Every year, my kids get involved in more and more activities, it seems, and it’s a very, very good thing. Truly. They’re well-rounded, interesting individuals and I love all the opportunities they have. My oldest is now in middle school (!!!!!!!) and he is arguably the most ambitious of the lot. He’s fearless about going after what he wants and, as a result, he’s got a boatload of things happening. The girls are busy, too, and, in the midst of all this, I am substitute teaching nearly every day.

 

Speaking of that gig, I have now substitute taught for more than 300 days over the last couple of years. That should be a pretty good indication that I love it.

 

In fact, I love it so much that I’m JUST getting started looking into what I’d need to do to get my masters in elementary ed, with certification, in the state of Connecticut. I literally just got started and have only met with one school so far.

 

But it’s a big step. And an exciting one. And maybe it makes a little more sense why I’ve been so scarce! :)

 

But here I am. Still shopping at ALDI. Still keepin’ it real. Still wanting to hang out with you all whenever I can.

 

 

So, if the spirit moves you, I’d be tickled pink if you’d leave a quick comment and let me know something YOU’VE been up to. It’s been a long time, friends!

 

 

 

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Caring for 40-year-old Skin

 

 

 

I recently shared a Now/Then photo on Facebook of my husband and me on our wedding day, paired with a quick selfie of us last Wednesday morning, which was our 15th wedding anniversary. A college friend who attended our wedding left the comment, “How is it possible that you don’t age and your doe eyes just get larger? What sorcery is this?!?”

 

I, of course, came up with a teasing, smart alecky reply, but I won’t deny the compliment was much appreciated!

 

As I thought about it, though, I realized that I really AM comfortable in my 40-year-old skin and I’m not afraid to put my face out in the world. Interestingly, I have more confidence in facing the world now than I ever did when I had that fresh 20-year-old skin.

 

So, because I really am comfortable– and also because I love you all– I’m going to just go ahead and post a picture of myself from six o’clock in the morning, hair pulled back, absolutely zero makeup.

 

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That’s what I look like with my bare 40-year-old skin.

 

Now, listen. I’m not all about going out into the world like that on the regular. I definitely prefer to add a little color to my face. I can see that my nose looks shiny and there’s a little mark there on my chin. I most certainly would like my hair to look better than it does here and that ancient brown sweater isn’t doing me any favors. All of this is true.

 

But, still, my skin is really in pretty decent condition and I think it’s important to know that turning 40 doesn’t mean you fall apart. ;)

 

Of course, all this is useless if I don’t tell you what I do to try to take care of this skin I’ve been given!

 

I decided to outline the five products I use on my face pretty much every day. Not a single one is pricey and they’re readily available.

 

Sound good? Okay. Here goes:

 

(**Please note: You may feel like you’re in the middle of a CVS ad while reading this. You are not. This is also not sponsored by CVS. I’m just a thrifty girl who’s not brand picky. Feel free to snag the name brand versions of these products if they’re on sale or easier to find for you. This is just how I roll!)

 

 

Step 1: Cleansing

 

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This is the facial cleanser I use. It’s super gentle, but thorough, and it doesn’t leave my skin feeling dry, itchy, or tight. I don’t wear a TON of makeup, but it seems to remove whatever I’ve got on my skin. I’m pretty sure I paid right around five dollars for this bottle and it’ll last a long time. Free of soap, oil, fragrance, and color, it’s a pretty safe bet for being non-irritating. I’m a fan!

 

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No matter what cleanser I use, however, I’ve always felt the need for a good eye makeup remover. I don’t like to scrub too hard around the delicate eye area and, with a targeted remover for mascara or liner smudges, I don’t need to. I use this oil-free, gentle remover to swipe off any remaining non-waterproof eye makeup. (Waterproof eye makeup– which I hardly ever wear– requires an oil-based formula, so I just use a bit of olive or coconut oil in those rare instances.) This stuff is less than half the price of the name-brand equivalent, so I was happy to discover it!

 

Step 2: Moisturizing/Treating

 

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I use a squirt of THIS ^^^

 

Plus a drop or two of THIS >>>

 

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… to moisturize my face and neck.

 

That combo gives me some sun protection along with some light, easily absorbed moisture.

 

I add the tea tree oil to help fight any blemishes or irritations that might be there. Tea tree is spectacular for clearing up almost anything that comes my way, to be honest. I don’t *love* the smell of it, but it dissipates pretty quickly and, honestly, I’m used to it by now. At this point, it just smells “effective” to me. :)

 

I use this combo all over my face and neck, EXCEPT for the delicate eye area. For that region, I rely on:

 

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I’m just going to go ahead and admit that I chose this product for two reasons–

1. the ingredient list is pretty simple and natural

2. I liked the name “Yes to Blueberries”

 

So there you go. Marketing 101, I guess– choose a good name.

 

Anyway, this stuff keeps my eye area nurtured and moist, without feeling greasy or making my makeup smudge all over. It does its job. Now, full disclosure– I do not struggle with dark circles. So I don’t know how this product would do in helping with that issue. There may be better options out there if that’s a factor of consideration for you. I do think it’s important to use an actual, dedicated eye cream. I notice a difference when I do so.

 

 

* * * * *

 

So there you go. That’s how I care for my 40+ skin. Don’t let getting older scare you! And don’t think that you have to start shelling out major bucks to take decent care of your aging skin.

 

 

 

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Blessed Traditions

 

 

 

In my family, after the Thanksgiving feast has been shared and devoured, the two sons-in-law (my husband and my sister’s husband) do the dishes. The rest of us sort of meander out to my parents’ living room and my mom sits at the piano. Somewhat spontaneously and somewhat by design, we break into song.

 

Mom plays the piano. Someone– often me– starts singing. A grandson is likely to pull out an instrument. Someone will grab an iPad or laptop and start transposing keys. I’ll probably refill my wine and start weaving the alto harmony through familiar carols. My nephew’s strong tenor will ring out. The cousins will start plotting duets, trios, or other cool scenarios. The youngest ones will ring hand bells to “Jingle Bell Rock.”

 

Through it all, we laugh. And sing. And make music.

 

I honestly can’t even imagine being in a family where this isn’t the norm. I know it isn’t, because “outsiders” have watched us with wide, humored eyes– “they’re like the Von Trapp family!”

 

But it’s just our tradition.

 

Traditions are such a beautiful part of what makes a family. They’re a beautiful thread woven throughout the story we create with those we love the most. And, if we’re lucky, they create beautiful moments which leave us feeling thankful. Grateful.  Blessed.

 

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What traditions define the season for you? Do you have a special tradition that you can’t imagine life without?

 

 

For this week’s Fashion Friday special– and through the weekend– Cents of Style is offering a FREE “Thankful t-shirt” with ANY purchase of $25 or more. Coupled with their always-free shipping, this makes it a great time to pick up a couple gifts and snag a free tee with the perfect message for this time of year!

 

Here are steps for purchase:
1- Find products you love (jewelry, clothes, shoes, whatever you have to have) and add it to your cart.
2- When the cart totals $25, add the Thankful Grateful Blessed shirt from our Fashion Friday page to the cart.
3- Hit Checkout.
4- Put the code THANKFUL1 in the “Gift Card or Discount Code” Box to make your t-shirt FREE! 

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