Tuesday, November 22, 2016

"Bringing Kids Along": Why (and How) We Spend Extra Time Doing Routine Tasks with Our Kids

Years ago, Ben and I decided that we would invest the extra time with our children now to teach them valuable life skills (such as baking, cooking, sewing, cleaning, laundry, gardening, budgeting, woodworking, etc.) so that SOMEDAY they would be fully capable little people who can help out around the house.  Furthermore, when they someday move out on their own, they will have a solid understanding for running a household effectively.  

I totally admit that this can be so challenging sometimes...small children can completely slooooowwww things down.  A ten minute task can quickly escalate into a half an hour venture.  It's frustrating, and honestly, there are times where I just can't do it due to stress levels or time constraints.  BUT, we decided that it was something so important to us that we would keep with it whenever possible.  We chose to make a conscious decision to "bring our kids along" as we do things around the house. 

We're already seeing huge progress from the kids.  My kids are now 3 (Levi), 5 (Aaron), 7 (Zoe), and 9 (Ellie).  I can give Ellie and Zoe a dessert recipe and they can usually complete it from start to finish on their own.  My big three kids all make their own breakfasts in the morning.  The girls take turns making lunches. My big three can all safely and properly use power drills.  The girls can work a sewing machine.  Zoe makes all of our household laundry soap.  All four kids can unload, load, and start the dishwasher.  Aaron is a seriously amazing gardener (no, really, he rocks at it).  And of course, all four kids know how to sweep, vacuum, wash windows/mirrors, and wipe down tables/counters.  

It's fun to see now how our time investment of bringing kids along with us as we do routine household chores has made our kids great, responsible, helpers at such a young age.  I love to see the excitement in their eyes when the whole family enjoys a dessert that they made on their own, or when they realize that their helpfulness means mom can sit down and do a puzzle with them instead of clean.  

As a practical example of how we "bring them along", I took lots of pics of Aaron tonight as he worked in the kitchen.  The girls have spent many hours in the kitchen with me, but now that they are fairly capable, and Aaron is a bit older, I've been pulling him in as my helper a lot more lately so he can learn his way around a kitchen, too.  

Tonight is one of our rare "home all night" nights.  Here's how I bring kids along to teach them home ec skills...

Aaron made biscuits for our freezer tonight.  We make them ahead, freeze them, and then defrost/throw them in the oven when we want them for breakfast. SO good!  Tonight, Aaron helped me gather ingredients, and then worked on his measuring skills as he mixed everything together.

Mixing his biscuits.

Cutting out the biscuits!

Okay, we do make "actual" food in our house, too.  Learning to safely use a knife is SO important.  Tonight he was cutting our veggies to prepare them to be steamed.

The rest of the dinner was mom-stuff, but he got everything all set up and going and helped me with the dishes, too.  And the whole time, we just talked and had fun together. Win-win!

It really doesn't take too much more effort to include a child.  I won't lie-sometimes I still love to try to sneak away to the kitchen to bake something on my own, simply because I love to bake.  But really, even if you don't homeschool, you can bring your kiddos along in SO MANY WAYS to help them learn all those practical life skills that they need.  Whenever we have anything around the house-we try to include them.  This goes for animal chores, backyard clean up, laundry, laying new laminate flooring, woodworking projects, and more.  Anything that YOU do, they can do, too....sometimes you just need to modify it a bit for them to be able to help.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

The Year of YES, Getting Over Myself, and Letting Go of My Fears

Photo from Edible Reno/Tahoe Magazine
This last year and a half have been interesting for me.  I really felt like God has consistently been telling me to say, "yes" to opportunities that come my way.  Which sounds fine and dandy when said just like that, but the reality of it can be very difficult.

I know that SO often I hear other moms tell me that it seems like I "can do it all" or that I "have it all together."  But the reality of it is that I don't and I'm not.  I have fears and insecurities just like anyone.  BUT, I have been working really hard at overcoming those fears to open myself up to new things.

So this post is for those of you who also feel like you can't do it all, or that you don't have the right skills, or that you can't do that one thing that you really do want to try, or that it feels like others can do things naturally that you can't.  Here is a snippet of my last year or so, full of fun events and experiences, and my thoughts through the process of each.  I hope that inspires you to push through and try new things.  Because I promise you, in each of these photos, I was pretty dang afraid and insecure for a variety of reasons....and yet, I am SO glad I did each one!

I have found that the perceptions I've developed of myself can sometimes get in the way of trying new things.  I found myself regularly doubting that I wasn't "legit" enough to say yes to the opportunities that passed my way.  I found that the notion that there must be others out there who are better than I at xxx almost kept me from joining in on some of the amazing experiences I have had. So, reluctantly, I said yes to some really great experiences this last year.

Being a blogger means that sometimes people steal my stuff.  While many people ask before using a picture or idea off my site (like when PBS republished my Adding Fun activity on their site), some people do not.  I have time and time again found myself writing to other bloggers and sites, requesting that they properly credit and backlink to my site or remove my photo altogether.  One time, someone submitted my Adding Fun activity picture to a math contest in the UK, and guess what...they WON!   And yet, it was a stolen picture from my blog.  And most recently, a large, for profit site stole one of my pictures and used it over and over.  This was my first experience with writing a Cease and Desist.

Panel for the discussion on the Ethical Use of Intellectual Property
So when a fellow, local blogger heard some of these stories, she asked if I would speak on a panel regarding the Ethical Use of Intellectual Property.  To which I thought, "Uhhh....there MUST be others who know more about this than me!"  But I said yes, and although I'm pretty sure I babbled out my first response on the panel due to being SO nervous, I did it, found it was really fun, and heard some great feedback from many of the attendees who said they learned something new from ME.  All because I said yes.  All because I didn't let the fear of not being good enough stop me.  All because I chose to have confidence in myself and share the knowledge that I did have on the subject.

Photo from Edible Reno/Tahoe Magazine
Fast forward a month or two from that, another blogging connection landed me in our local Edible Reno Tahoe Magazine.  And yet through most of the process, I found that I felt like a fraud.  That I shouldn't be representing chicken keepers because I only have four chickens.  That I shouldn't be representing gardening because my garden was still smaller than I wanted it to be.  That there must certainly be someone out there who was better, knew more about fermentation, looked better for the camera, had a nicer house, and on and on....  And yet, I did it.  I pushed through my feelings of inadequacy and proudly shared the things I did know, even if I don't know it all.

Photo of my Levi from Edible Reno/Tahoe Magazine
Especially unique about this particular experience is that my kids were right by my side for the interview and photographs in our home.  I got to show my kids that this is something they could also do! 

Speaking on Mornings on Fox 11

Several times throughout the last year or so, I have been invited to come on the morning news.  The first time, I swear, I thought I was going to have a heart attack while driving to the studio.  My chest hurt SO badly because of my nerves.  I had NO idea what I had gotten myself into.  And, even though it got significantly better each time, I do still get nervous each time I go on, always wondering if I'm actually the best person to do it.

Speaking on Mornings on Fox 11

The point of this post is really just that everyone has insecurities and fears, and that's okay.  That mom who looks like she can do it all and has it all together?  She's probably just as nervous and crazy as you are.  You will never be the best.  There is always someone better, stronger, prettier, etc...who cares?  You be YOU and rock at it.  Conquer your fears.  Try something new.  Say yes to something that scares you.  Be willing to learn.  Don't be afraid to fail. 

I promise you-I do not have it all together.  And while I might look nice and calm in the pictures above, there were most certainly a million thoughts and fears and doubts running through my head.  But you know what?  The more things I try, the easier it gets to push those fears away.  So start saying YES.  You might surprise yourself :) 

Monday, October 3, 2016

How to Go on a Run with Four Children in 29 Easy Steps

A couple weeks ago, Ben was gone performing a couple wedding ceremonies (he officiates weddings occasionally).  I have been really dedicated this past month or two and have been working out almost daily.  So, since it was Saturday and the gym childcare was closed, I decided to take the kids on a run.  This accomplishes two things- 1) I get a run, and 2) the kids exert some energy on their bikes/scooters/etc.  The only thing, though, is that taking four kids on a run like this requires an enormous amount of effort for very little run time.  And usually, my heart rate is up more due to the stress of my kids than from the actual run itself.  I had published this on my personal Facebook page that day, but after today's run WITH daddy (which I though would be easier) proved to be just as incredibly frustrating and difficult as my last run with the kids, I figured I'd publish it here as my tips to you.  You know, just so you're prepared for what's to come the next time you step out the door to go on a "run."  

How to go on a run with 4 children in 29 easy steps:
1. Announce your intentions.
2. Listen to four individual declarations of bikes/scooters/I'm-not-riding-in-the-jogging-strollers.
3. Go to the garage.  
4. Send three kids back into the garage for inappropriate clothing or shoes.
5. Listen to two kids complain they can only find one shoe.
6. Clean out your van to find no less than 20 individual shoes. And still no match to the proper shoes.
7. Concede to let children wear flip flops.
8. Grab the bike pump to fill flat tires on #2's bike.
9. Realize the bike pump cord has been severed. Suggest a scooter to child #2.
10. Listen to moaning, groaning, and bargaining for the flat-tired bike and why it will work.
11. Focus your attention on the 2 year old who thinks he's riding his tricycle. Comment on his cuteness.
12. Try to find the words to kindly explain to said 2 year old that him on a tricycle means you don't get to actually run. Because he's 2. And slow.
13. Argue with a 2 year old for a few more minutes about the bike. Let him win.
14. Start the run, empty jogging stroller in hand.
15. Take 20 steps and realize that a child forgot their helmet. Send child back to retrieve it.
16. Pretend to run while you could really be walking, all the while pushing an empty two-person jogging stroller because you know the 2 year old will quit any minute.
17. 2 year old quits. Stop running. Find a way to fit the tricycle into the stroller.
18. Convince 2 year old to buckle up.
19. Run.
20. Yell at the 5 year old who keeps darting off the side walk and into the street.
21. Stop so your two daughters can switch bikes/scooters.
22. Run.
23. Stop when two daughters collide and both eat it on the pavement.
24. Run.
25. Stop when daughter #2 eats it on the pavement again.
26. Give up and walk the rest of the way.
27. Let 2 year old ride his tricycle the final stretch home.
28. Listen to him cry about how it's not a long enough ride.
29. Breathe a sigh of relief and vow to never take them out on a run again....Until you decide to try it again.  Because moms are crazy. 

Friday, September 30, 2016

5 Reasons My Kids are in Martial Arts

My crazy boy after his green belt test.  He was maybe just a little excited.
  I can remember being in 1st or 2nd grade, and being "bothered" by these boys on the playground.  My mom thought karate might help me handle those obnoxious boys, and so she brought me to a karate class.  I can remember putting on these big pads, and sparring with another girl who seemed just a little older than I.  I CLEARLY remember getting the wind knocked out of me by her kick to my chest.  But, by that age, I was already pretty tough and stubborn and definitely wasn't going to cry or whine about it, so I sucked it up, but definitely didn't enjoy it.  At the end of the class, the instructor commented on how our karate was not to be used on our friends or other kids, and so my mom said that was the end of karate.

I continued to dive into soccer and gymnastics, and eventually settled on soccer as my sport of choice.  I played year round soccer-fall and spring seasons were a must, as well as off season indoor leagues.  I LOVED it.

And so here is my terrible confession...Somewhere around middle school I decided karate was for nerds.  Not sure why.  It just was.  And I was a middle school know-it-all who thought she was pretty darn cool (in reality, I was mostly a band nerd in middle school).  Soccer was (clearly) the cool kid choice, and most others ranked lower in my book.

My little sister started into martial arts and ended up with her black belt.  And even though I had zero skills, I was relentless and tough and always certain I could kick her butt, and so we regularly tried to tap each other out at home. My parents would rarely, if ever, break up these fights...I'm sure they thought by this point that my sister could finally handle herself.

Fast forward about 12 years (say what?!?! I'm getting old)...we ended up enrolling our son, Aaron, into a karate program just around the corner.  And for real, within about two weeks, I declared this to be the most amazing sport ever.  I honestly cannot believe how wrong my impressions of the sport had been.  My Zoe (7) actually just quit gymnastics and started karate recently, too, and she is thriving and enjoying it.

So for any other mommas who have established your opinion of karate based on TV or your middle school judgements or whatnot instead of first hand experience, let me give you my newly developed, first hand, momma to momma feedback on the sport of karate (and if you are a "real" karate person, forgive my lack of proper terminology...I know very little-clearly):

1) Karate is a sport that teaches respect.  From the very first lesson, Aaron was taught to bow coming on and off of the mat as a sign of respect.  His little 5 year old body gets a little too excited sometimes and he runs right off, but now that he is a few belts in, he is starting to be more consistent.
They also bow to their instructors at various times, and I LOVE that their instructors are often bowing back.  We show respect to teach respect, right?  Kids are just as worthy of our respect as adults are, and I love that there is mutual respect being taught within the sport, even in the little kids' program.  The kids respond to their teachers with "yes sir" or "yes ma'am".  Aaron often says "yes sir" to me when I ask him to do things at home now (his main teacher is a male...it's habit).

My little Levi and his friend watching the big kids at our karate homeschool field trip.

2) Big kids teach little kids.  I was shocked the first time I saw a child only a head or two taller than Aaron walk onto the mat and begin to kindly and patiently explain, demonstrate, and teach a Thai Boxing Combo to Aaron.  As I watched, I realized that these kids, who seem to be mostly around ages 10-12, are perfectly capable little instructors.  Not only that, but as a teacher myself, and an advocate for mixed ages in learning situations, I KNOW that those "big" kids are learning a great deal themselves by teaching someone else.  What a fabulous experience for the younger kids to learn from someone more "peer" like, and for those "big" kids to experience and navigate sharing their knowledge to someone younger than themselves.

3) Self defense skills are learned.  A month or so ago, a little guy at a friends house choked Aaron.  He was so panicked and crying after his sisters got the boy off of him.  He talked about it for days, in fact.  Fast forward about a month, and something similar happened, with a friend coming up around his back/neck.  Except this time he could still talk.  He asked and told the kid three times to get off of him, and when he didn't Aaron quickly maneuvered himself out of the situation with a jab to the gut.  I was SO proud that even at 5, he remembered to use his words and only when that was ineffective, he was able to quickly get himself out of the situation. When I talked to him afterwards, he said, "I was really scared and I asked him to get off but he wouldn't so I used my self defense."  (And if you're wondering why I didn't step in when his friend was on top of him, it's because I wasn't there...the grown ups who saw communicated what happened to us).  Now, if I could just figure out what in the world possesses little boys to tackle and choke others, that would be fabulous (not sure if I'll ever understand little boys, though).

My Zoe is in the white belt, and Aaron is in the green. 
4) Self control/discipline is being learned.  THIS is something my kids (and all of us) need more of.  Aaron has been in karate for almost a year now.  He's 5, and can be fidgety sometimes.  But he also has a personality that hates to be in trouble and he aims to please (not really with me-ha! But with others, definitely).  Last week, he got super fidgety at the end of class when the kids are supposed to sit with their instructor and chat about the word of the week.  I'm pretty sure he made the floor a drum pad, and before you know it, Aaron was doing some push ups, peeking to see if we saw what happened, and then sat his body nice and still.  And of course, there's turn taking which is great for developing some self control.

5) It's a family affair.  I'm not sure whether this is typical for the sport of karate, but it certainly is true of our gym.  Children need to earn 6 "tips" on their belt to be eligible for a belt test.  The first 5 have to do with skills learned, the final tip is a parent approval tip.  I LOVE how a child's ability to move on up is not only dependent upon their class performance, but is also based on how they are at home with their siblings/whether they show respect at home/etc.  Because life should be well rounded.  Children should not learn that being respectful or hardworking is something that only happens at one place and time, but that those qualities should transcend into all areas of their lives.

Beyond that, this particular gym has LOTS of full-families participating in various classes.  We have two of our kiddos in classes, I am taking private self defense classes (and surprise-I've discovered I actually really love it and will be joining a regular class after our Disneyland trip in a few weeks), and my husband has been diving into Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (if you've been around a while, you'll remember his severe knee injury a few years back that almost led to his leg being amputated...he's taking it SLOWLY, but is sure giving it a try!).  I love to see all the families participating.  What a fabulous way for parents to not only help their kids stay healthy and active, but to SHOW them too!

6) Fitness is important.  My kids come off sweaty after every class.  They work hard, and get a great workout in at each class.  It is suggested that all children do 60+ minutes of physical exercise each DAY, and yet only 1 in 3 children are physically active every day.  Most of the 60 minutes should be made up of aerobic activity (per CDC recommendations), with bone and muscle strengthening exercises being mixed in too.  I love that our karate studio is unlimited enrollment, and since it's right by our house, we can usually make it to 4-5 classes each week.  That fits in half of their daily aerobic exercise on those days!

Overall, karate is NOTHING like I imagined it to be when I was younger.  It is SO much greater than I could have expected, and I am so grateful to have found such a wonderful gym right by our house.  While I always dreamed of having little soccer players, muddy cleats, and stinky shinguards laying around the house, I'm finding more and more joy in watching my kids discover the sports that they love.

So, if you're looking for a new sport to introduce your kiddos to, I would highly suggest martial arts!

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Children are NEVER too Young to Serve and Bless Others

A number of years ago, my husband and I became actively purposeful in teaching our children to serve and bless others.  I want my children to always think of others, and so we purposely teach them to do so. There is always going to be someone you can help, even if you yourself are not in the best position yourself.  Helping someone doesn't just mean money.  It can mean your time, energy, love, words of encouragement, passing on something you no longer use, and others.  At no point is a child "too young" to begin learning to love others, and at no point should "I have young children" ever be an excuse for you to not help others.  Ever.

Since how we serve others often DOES change because of the ages of our children, I wanted to do a post with some of our practical ways of serving, loving, or helping other people.  Children learn through hands-on experience.  The more they can be involved, the better.  So, here are 5 ways were are currently helping our children learn to serve others.  There are many other ways, we do others, too, and I'm sure you have some ideas to add to the list (I'd love to hear them!).  For reference, our children are currently 8, 7, 5, and 2.

1.  Donating used toys and clothing.  Although I will often gather up some of their un-used belongings and throw them in a donation box myself, I regularly ask them while cleaning, "is there anything in your room that you aren't using anymore that another child without toys might enjoy?"  So rather than it being about them and their clean room, I turn it outward-towards other children and how they can help make someone else happy.  This gets their little heads thinking about how they could bless another child, instead of always complaining about getting rid of stuff (they still regularly complain, don't worry).

2.  Allowing gift bags and tissue paper to be readily accessible.  My kids all know that the gift bag closet is totally available to them.  I have one child, who I think may be more of a "gifts" love language, who will regularly find a gift bag and wrap up a toy of hers to give to her friend.  This is a totally free and easy way for her (and all of them) to learn to show generosity and love through gifts.  Who doesn't love gifts and knowing that someone thought of you?  (Tip: Save gift bags and tissue paper from parties...this way, you don't have to spend money to have these available.)

3.  Serving food to the homeless.  For a while, I stayed home with the little boys while Ben took the girls to feed the homeless on Sunday, simply because of their ages and it was very difficult.  But in the past few months, we have all been able to wake up early every Sunday morning and head downtown to feed the homeless.  We serve at the Reno Sparks Gospel Mission in our city, which I love because it is a safe environment for my kids to join in with us.  There are others in our city (and yours too, I'm sure).  Some of them are in open spaces outdoors (not as accommodating to young children), and others are at a specific location.  Some places allow children to serve, others do not.  We choose to serve food because it is a very tangible way of helping others, and our children get to actually interact with the people they are serving.

4.  Give random gifts. So, for anyone who knows me, this will not come as a surprise.  I am a gifts love language person.  I LOVE giving gifts to show my love and appreciation to people.  We'll do things like call an employee or teacher at our child's activity before hand and ask what their favorite coffee drink might be, and then we'll pick it up on the way to class for them.  Sometimes I'll see something that reminds me of someone at the store and we'll pick it up for them "just because." I often allow a child to be the one to pass on the drink/gift/whatever. It makes them SO happy to give a gift.

5.  Random acts of kindness.  There's always something you can do for someone else.  During the recent heat wave, we kept cold waters on hand and my children stalked the window for the mailman each day.  They'd run out with a cold water and totally make his day! It was just SO hot outside, and they walk a ton each day.  You can send someone a sweet note, have your kids draw them a picture, or bring a neighbor some goodies you baked.  If you have a skill, use it!  My husband offered to fix our neighbors fence that blew down recently.  It's a little bit of labor, but blesses someone with his kindness.  Bring your children along with you.  Let them hand you the screws or hold the boards in place.  Teach them that being kind is never a waste of time.  It is always important.

There are SO many other ways to bless, serve, and show love to others. Bring your kids along in the process, and we can raise a generation of children who think beyond themselves and can easily spot ways to help others.  I'd LOVE to hear your ideas!  How do you currently teach your kids to serve?

Friday, August 5, 2016

Why I Don't Lesson Plan Ahead of Time for our Homeschool

Even in the summer, we do a good amount of school! 

I used to spend time at the start of each school week lesson planning and plotting out our whole school week.  When teaching classes of students this was a necessity, and since it was habit for me, I just continued doing it.  The problem was that I am much more flexible with my own homeschooling kids than I could ever have been in a classroom setting.  I'd find that one day we would never get to history, and at the same time one child decided to do three lessons worth of language.  Maybe we'd skip the whole day for a field trip for hands on learning or the book I planned was terribly boring and we nixed it altogether.  Nothing in my lesson planning book EVER lined up like I thought it should.

I quickly found that lesson planning really did not work for me.  And yet, at various times in our four years of homeschooling, I've given it another shot (with the same frustrating results).  Lesson planning simply does not work for us like I want it to.  It looks nice and neat, until nearly everything has to be erased, added to, moved, etc.  And then I just end up annoyed. 

There are so many "awesome homeschooling planners" out there-both in book form and in digital form, that it seemed like I just couldn't figure it out.  Or maybe, there are so many out there because it doesn't work for many others, either. 

I am a total type A personality.  I like things in order, and I like a plan.  But specific lesson planning in my homeschool simply does not work for my easy-going, follow my kids' lead, let them dive into the things they are curious about now attitude.  Instead, I've found that I like to lesson plan AFTER we do school.  I know, it sounds ridiculous, but let me explain...

I keep my lesson planner handy while doing school, just like I would if I were going by the plans inside it.  But instead of a full planner, I start with an empty one.  Instead of "subjects" at the top of my planner, I fill in my kids names:  Ellie, Zoe, Aaron,  and "Altogether" (Levi doesn't need a section yet).  

As I go about the day, I fill in what we've done.  Books read, lessons finished, lessons started, topics explored, etc. all goes into my planner.  This allows me to see where we most recently finished off (no more guessing about where we stopped the previous time) and pick up in the correct spot the next time we return to that subject.  It also allows me to track things that I otherwise forget about.  Those weeks where you feel like you didn't accomplish much in your homeschool?  You can look back and see that you DID accomplish something and find encouragement from that.  I often forget about the books my kids have sat and read or about the topics we explored online.  This allows me to remember exactly what we spent time on during the week.  

I love not having to erase, move, and rewrite that dang geography lesson that we couldn't seem to get to during the week.  I love being able to easily track how many math lessons we completed or how often each child spent reading.  I love that my planner accurately represents our school day, and that instead of feeling let down that we didn't finish everything inside it, I can rejoice in knowing that everything inside it IS finished.  

It's important to note that I have not thrown planning to the wind.   I still set goals for progress, write down topics we'd like to cover, and reference our curriculum books for what's next, but I simply do not plan out the details of any of it.  I often find that when I wait for curiosity to start a topic, we can easily spend hours on the topic, completing many of the lessons all at once.  Why not wait for their curiosity and make it easier on myself?!?!  

Because I allow this flexibility in our homeschool, we are often on various lesson days of each subject.  Currently, my 8 year old is on lesson 50 of 3rd grade math, while on lesson 79 of 4th grade language.  All of my kids do history together, and so we're on lesson 1 (when we officially start back to school) of 4th grade history.  I could easily lose track of where each child is at in each subject (which I've done many a time).  Lesson planning as we go gives me a visual reference to where everyone is at.

So if you are frustrated with lesson planning and are feeling defeated because you can never stick to what you have written down, I suggest you give lesson planning as you go through the day a shot.  It really has helped me feel much less stressed as I go throughout our week, and has given me more freedom to follow my kids' lead. It's made me MORE organized, because I can quickly glance at my book and see exactly which lesson I need to do next.  

I realize this may not work for everyone, but hopefully for some of you, it will give you the freedom you've been looking for in your homeschool lesson planning pursuits! 

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Rodan+Fields GIVEAWAY! (And My Two Month Results)

Who's ready for a super awesome giveaway?!?!?!  Let me first give you a quick update on my seriously awesome results after using Rodan+Fields skincare products for approximately 2 months.  As a reminder, I had been super interested in these products, but really wondered about the cost and whether it was worth it.

After two months of using Rodan+Fields, I. Am. Hooked.  My face FEELS better and cleaner, which is a huge plus, but my skin also looks clearer.  MUCH clearer.  My redness has been drastically diminished, and my chin (my notorious spot for break outs and redness) has finally been reeled in to something much more manageable.

Check out my two month results:

My "before" picture.  Notice how red my skin was, and how my chin would regularly break out! And see those eye wrinkles...that's the reason I'm excited for this eye cream.

And these are my after 2 months pictures!  What a difference!  Redness is much more controlled, and with just a little make up, I am now able to cover it completely!  AND, I don't fee like I HAVE to wear make up on my skin to go out anymore...it's SO much better! 

What have I been using?  I use the full Soothe regimen morning and night.  While in the shower in the morning, I first use the Umblemish Wash.  When I get out, I do the full Soothe regimen.  It has made such a huge difference!

Just a couple weeks ago as I was taking some progress pictures, I told my husband through squinted eyes that I really needed the eye cream to take away some of my almost-30 year old eye wrinkles.  I actually don't mind most of my facial wrinkles, because they're clearly from laughter (or squinting my eyes when my kids break my sunglasses).  But lately, man!  I've suddenly got a lot more!

I am SO excited to add the Rodan+Fields Redefine Multi-Function Eye Cream to my daily routine.  This cream includes "powerful peptides to minimize the appearance of crow's-feet, helps reduce the appearance of both puffiness and dark under eye circles while special optical diffusers noticeably brighten the eye area."  Sounds pretty great, huh?  (Read more about this product or other R+F products HERE).

Well, what if I told you we could BOTH start this eye regimen at the same time?!?!  Would you try if it were totally free to you?  You should definitely be saying, "yes!"  Well, my sweet high school friend, Cassie, sells R+F and she is offering one of my readers the chance to win a FREE (yes, FREE) Eye Cream!

Over the next week, I'll be hosting this fabulous giveaway on my blog.  This killer results eye cream, at regular cost, is $60 ($54 for preferred customers)!  And you can totally win it for free!  So who's it going to be?  I've included a variety of ways to enter into this contest.

Are you ready?!?!  Here it is! a Rafflecopter giveaway


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