When did you move away from your childhood home?

Maybe out of state for college or for your first big job? I bet you said the phrase “I’m going back home to visit my family for the holidays” or something similar at least once or twice, right? For me, “home” has always been where I settled in that moment. I’ve never had a true hometown, or a place that I felt was my home until I made my own as an adult. That’s mostly from being an Army Brat my whole life, but also because I’ve always been a natural wanderer like everyone else in my family. The Anderson’s are adventurers at heart, truly. My dad and his three brothers all scattered to the wind as soon as they turned 18. Even my grandparents picked up their lives in Louisiana and traveled the world before settling in Bahrain as ex-patriots for a dozen years before moving back to Louisiana. I feel like I’ve settled down in Florida for the most part, but a big part of my soul is always itching to pick up and go. I am from Louisiana, but even that sense of “hometown” is very loosely based for me. I spent every summer with my grandparents, in Bahrain and in Louisiana for most of my childhood. My roots and history are there, and a big part of my self-identity is based in my Louisiana heritage. But it’s not home for me. Hell, I haven’t been back there in 9 years now that I think of it! I have memories of everyplace I’ve ever been and lived, but I’ll never know how it feels to have a lifetime of memories in a house, town, state, or even with lifetime friends. I’ve never grown up with people, never spent every summer at a best friend’s house, never have had childhood friends. Part of me always wanted those things, and I certainly felt “less than” at times because of it.

So I became fixated on associations of home as I got older. This became more obvious to me when my parents recently moved down to Florida to be near me and my children. They moved their belongings down with them, and I started realizing that my concept of “home” was more tied to the people and the things that fill it, rather than location and memories. When I walked into my parents new house, I was struck by two things: “This is different!!” and, “but somehow the same”. To me, there are things that make my parents house their home, no matter where they are.

1. Cast iron pan or pots on the stove top at ALL TIMES. My dad doesn’t like to hunt for those heavy pans and he would eat his spatula before he let one rust. Or worse-get washed and scrubbed with dawn dish soap like I accidentally did in my teens. Man, he was pissed.
2. There is always a pot of coffee either brewed, brewing, or about to be brewed. I bought them a Keurig years ago, and they still use their coffee pot right next to it. And chances are, it’s “Community” brand coffee!
3. Stacks of books on the bookshelf, nightstands, coffee tables, you name it. We always had books everywhere growing up, and it’s something I do as well.
4. The tv is always on, and it’s always on MUTE. My parents are notorious for muting the tv to talk during commercials and forgetting to turn it back on. Sitting around and talking is a favorite pastime of mine when it comes to my family. We would talk all night at the dinner table, about random things. I remember one conversation we had about the composition of tree bark! We would always go off on random tangents (everyone in my family has wandering brains and conversation points) and never remember how we ended up on such obscure topics!
5. Knit quilts and my mom’s “woobie”, a camo-print, super soft quilt that was army issued to my dad about 20 years ago. She claimed it and never travels (or sits on the couch) without it! There are also quilts that my great-grandmother knitted before I was born strewn about on chairs and couches. Always.

My children have had a relatively stable life thus far. We moved into our house three years ago, and they’re still living in the same city and state they were born in. They have friends and constants in their lives, and I’m pretty sure that one of that will change, regardless of the fact that I could move anywhere and make a home that I’m happy with. But it makes me wonder what sorts of things they’ll associate home with. I’m a lover of things, and it feels like there are so many negative connotations to admitting to that. “She’s so materialistic” or “she’s so wasteful with her spending”…that sort of thing. But for me, things represent the present mentality, the memories of the past, and the sense of home. Things I associate with my own sense of home:

1. Plants, in just about every room or corner of my yard. I’m not the greenest of thumbs, but I know enough to get by with a decent garden! I love houseplants, and I’m never afraid to try a new one in our home.
2. Books everywhere, in almost every room. There are no “things” that I love more than books. I gave it a go with a kindle once upon a time, and I just couldn’t get into it. There is just something about the look, feel, and smell of a book.
3. Pretty little candles, they’re everywhere.
4. Essential Oils. I got into these big time last year, and they’ve taken over my house and life!! I love them so much, and we have diffusers in every single room.
5. Art, where it’s handmade, bought, thrifted, or re-purposed. I can’t stand a blank wall! I once tried the minimalist approach and I wanted to jump out of my skin. I cannot take the blank slate of a naked wall, I have an inner need to decorate at all costs.

While this thought process may sound materialistic and self-appreciating, it’s what makes me, ME. I take pride in making my house a home, because I learned to take comfort in my things after moving around so much. They were the only constants in my life, and if looking at a bookshelf reminds me that I’m home, then that’s what does it for me. What does “home” mean to you? I’m so curious about other people’s experiences with this, whether you’ve lived in one place your entire life or you’ve traveled around like I have. I would love to hear about your sense of home.

Oh my LAWD, I love LUSH. Have you ever been? It’s a bath and body products store where everything is homemade using all natural ingredients. We’re talking bath bombs and bubble bath, body scrubs and shower gel, AND TIGERS AND BEARS OH MY!!! All of the pretty bath things that people like me lose our marbles over!

LUSH favorites! By the natural Mommy, Elle at Home

My love affair with LUSH started a few years ago when my kids kept requesting bubble bath over and over and it really messed with Laila’s sensitive skin. Carson also broke into hives after putting Laila’s Bath and Body Works shower gel straight on his body…think Blue Man Group style body paint. It was a mess. After googling “All natural bubble bath recipes” I came across LUSH! I feel the need to state that this is NOT a sponsored post. I simply love to share products testimonials for items that I’ve become passionate about.

Natural bath and body product favorites from Elle at Home blogger Lacey Hill

  1. Angels on Bare Skin: This facial cleanser is very different from the liquid ones I typically use. It’s made with lavender, ground almonds, and all sorts of skin softening ingredients. You just take a little bit, create a paste with some water, and use on your face! The scent is heavenly, and my skin is so soft after I use this. This was one of the first products I tried after reading the rave reviews, and I’ll never stop using it!
  2. BIG Shampoo: GAME CHANGER. My hair has never felt as soft as it does after I use this shampoo. It’s made with sea salt, coconut oil, citrus juices, and more. It smells amazing and a little goes a long way so this tub lasts me quite a while! I was so weirded out by the salt aspect, but after trying a sample (LUSH readily gives out samples of every one of their products!) I was amazed at the results. I have very thick hair, but I would imagine that people with thin or fine hair would really see an improvement in volume after using this!
  3. Toothy Tabs: These are so much fun! Basically you crunch one tab in your teeth and it starts fizzing. Wet your toothbrush and brush like normal! These are made with all sorts of essential oils like Neroli, Spearmint, Frankincense, and more! I have these in my purse at all times in a little pencil case with my floss and toothbrush to use after lunch, or after drinking coffee to prevent enamel staining. They’re also perfect for traveling, which I do about once a month.
  4. Brazened Honey Mask: Face masks are probably my favorite skincare product of all time. That’s right! I have over a dozen at any given time and I do one almost every night. This mask has kaolin clay, ground almonds, and all sorts of skin-helping oils. I use this mask to rejuvenate and soften my skin with the help of honey, ground ginger root, and lime oil. It’s so nice to use right before bed because it has the most relaxing scent. I just love honey for skincare!
  5. R&B Hair Moisturizer: I’m going to make a bold statement and say that this is my absolute favorite LUSH product. My hair has always been super thick, coarse, wavy, frizzy, and just plain unruly. After using this product, I’m so happy with how healthy my hair has become. Like every product in this list, it smells phenomenal (Orange Blossom and Jasmine) and is made with the best ingredients. I use this on freshly washed hair, from mid shaft to my ends. If you have dry scalp issues you can also use on your scalp! A little goes a long way, so a large tub can last a year.
  6. Bath Bombs and Bubble Bars: Our bath time favorites!!! I can’t say enough about these. My kids are obsessed with them, they all smell so good, and the crazy colors are so much fun! I even buy some for myself, but I have to keep them separate from the kids’ stash or they’ll use them all up. I highly recommend these, especially if your kids are not huge fans of bath time.
  7. Don’t Look at Me Mask: This is a great mask to use in the morning, and I typically use this on Sundays when I’m doing a hair mask. It’s an exhilarating mask made with lemon juice, kaolin clay, and ground rice. The ground rice exfoliates while the lemon juice helps to brighten the skin. Because these masks are kept in the fridge, they really wake up your skin first thing in the morning! Bonus: putting them on cold tightens your pores! Think reverse of a steam facial.
  8. Yuzu and Cocoa Body Wash: Uuuggghhhh this body wash smells amazing. I used up the small bottle I bought in a week and went right back and bought the biggest bottle they sell. I can’t even describe the smell, although it’s basically orange and chocolate. The best part about this body wash is that I can use it on my children’s sensitive skin every single day with no irritation from perfumes or dyes, and no drying of their skin! Just call me obsessed.
  9. Kinky Hot Oil Treatment: I recently bought this to try and it was pretty fun to make! You mix it with hot water until it’s the consistency of a thick conditioner, and leave it on dry hair. Then you simply rinse out of your hair and wash like normal! It’s a reverse treatment system (compared to shampoo then conditioner) and washing with BIG Shampoo after left me with such soft and shiny hair that I thought I was imagining things. Again, my hair is NOT typically soft or shiny without the use of heat and a ton of product, so I’m a true believer in these hair treatments.

Hope you enjoyed the recommendations! Let me know if you try any of these, or if you swear by a LUSH product that I haven’t mentioned. Oh, and obviously I posted this on Saturday, but hey – I thought about it on Friday, so that count’s as a Friday Find right? 🙂  Happy Weekend friends, and thanks for reading!

So…raising a daughter. About that.

I never thought about the intricacies of it when I was pregnant and daydreaming about being my little girl’s best friend and braiding each other’s hair. Although for the record, we really do braid each other’s hair. Once she started growing up and maturing, life hit me in the face with a bag of rocks. Newsflash: raising a daughter is serious business. Laila has always been far too smart and mature for her own good. I know, I know…everyone says that about their children. “Oh he’s way too advanced for that class and he’s just bored, that’s why he has a D” or “She leads the pack, it’s not her fault that the other girls are being bullies around her! She isn’t the one participating”! No. I know what my daughter’s strengths and weaknesses are, and she is one smart cookie. What I worry about is that she will go down a bad road, or be taken advantage of, or just lose herself in the sea of hormones and expectations that the tweens and teens inevitably brings on.

I started noticing that Laila was too mature for her own good about two years ago. Flash back to my six year old daughter asking me about bras and makeup and generally things that no six year old has any business worrying about. I did have a moment of internal panic…have I been too uncensored in front of her? Have I been too candid to where she’s picked up on things outside of her pay-grade? Whatever the answer is, I took note. It was becoming more and more apparent to me that when she was allowed to play with makeup and nail polish, she wasn’t feeling “pretty like Mommy”, she was feeling GROWN. That’s a dangerous thing in my opinion, and the reason that I take raising a girl so seriously. I remember what it was like to be a tween and feeling these things: I got to play with makeup and all of a sudden, I felt 16 and fabulous.

Luckily I was fairly sheltered and I didn’t get set loose on the world looking like Tammy Faye Baker, but you get my point.

I’ve been so worried lately about how to raise Laila! How to make sure that she is kind, living up to her full potential, perceptive, aware…all of the things! Are her new chokers that she got for Christmas too grown? Is that enough coverage for a sleeveless shirt? SHIT, I got her little cupcake lip glosses because they were cute, and they’re so pigmented!!!! I realized that I was spending so much time saying NO to her and bringing down the hammer that I wasn’t saying anything nice and uplifting. I wasn’t spending time with her and just doing Mommy-Daughter things.

So I’ve decided to split my focus. Worry less about appearances (not too much less, put that lip gloss away girl!) and more about being intentional and coaching. It’s not just makeup that makes her feel “grown”, it’s the ignorance to what being grown really is! Thankfully she is smart enough to understand that when I sat her down and spoke to her about the joys of being 8, not 18. I have a long way to go with her, and LAWD KNOWS that I am dreading middle and high school. But I’m going to make my focus more about her behavior and (a little) less about appearances. I hope that when she is older we will be biffles for life, but right now is just not the time to be my daughter’s friend. Hopefully she appreciates that when she is actually grown.