SEEDS OF DOUBT

There's a fine line between being pragmatic and sprinkling seeds of doubt. I know this by experience. Seeds of doubt were sewn in me by the people who love me the most - my family. They had no idea at the time, and I know now they are sad at the result of their words, but, nonetheless, they were planted. They looked like seeds that would sprout better choices, safer paths, protection and love, but what grew from phrases like, "Fashion is very competitive. Not many succeed. There isn't a lot of money in fashion. There isn't a demand for styling in Phoenix. You're not as stylish as other girls," grew something ugly. A snarly weed, a critic. She looks and sounds almost exactly like me, but she's not me at all. She's like a  knock off Prada bag, but looks authentic from the outside. 

No matter how much weed killer I put on this fake bitch (I usually don't swear, but that's the only word that fits this lady) she still gets in a word here and there. I give her credit for my business degree and my PR experience - a smart cookie no doubt. I also credit her for the depression, self-esteem battles and tears. The only thing that has quieted her snobby voice is this overwhelming stirring in my Spirit that feels like a fireball (trust me it's not heartburn) - there's no quenching it unless I release it. 

I did it when I started my first blog, AlexandraEvjen.com. It came out again when I got my first logo. And again, when I went I completed my first photo shoot. And again, when I did my first fashion show. And again, when I got over a million followers on Pinterest. And again, when I got my first job with a brand (Glamour Magazine). And again, when my work was first published in print.

That critic is silenced every minute of every day when I get to do what my Spirit has always asked me to do - simply follow this passion. I am so thankful that I had the courage to release this wildfire, but not everyone has this story. Not every person has been able to release this groaning deep within them. Unfortunately, some people have more than one devil wearing Prada bitch in them because more seeds of doubt disguised with pragmatism were sewn - like Johnny Apple seed had a field day. For them, I write this post.

We need to remember these three things when we speak to dreamers:

1. When someone comes to you and shares with you something they are deeply passionate about feel honored that they shared it with you because it comes from a spiritual place not just an idea manufactured by the brain.

2. If you are a realist by nature you can be a HUGE asset to the dreamer. Help them make a step by step plan of action, but be mindful of what you define as failure. Failure to a dreamer is never having tried. Failure to a realist is setting a course of action, trying and getting a different result. Help them try.

2. We as parents, spouses and friends need to nurture what has already been planted. I believe that God plants passions, desires and talents within each human. Some children know at a very early age what those are.  My performing arts high school was full of young dreamers that have since gone on to pursue their dreams because they were nurtured by our education system. I'm so thankful I was one of those kids. So, listen to your kids and dream with them, expose them to opportunities to try new things and keep your desire to protect them from pain in check. 

3. Use your power of influence for good. We all have influence on each other. Be mindful of your super power, and use it to build up not tear down.

Photos by Rennai Hoefer

RED LIP CHALLENGE

Growing up, the idea of "becoming a woman," was not appealing. I just associated it with uncomfortable body changes, bras, periods and childbirth. In my eyes, there wasn't much to celebrate. In fact, it seemed like it was a curse to be a woman. Unfortunately, many years of my life were spent operating under the label of "girl" instead of "woman" because it felt more freeing and comfortable. It wasn't until after I had my babies that I embraced my femininity.

Growing, birthing and nurturing children has unlocked this new found strength, respect, and confidence in my body and self. I am PROUD to be a woman. So, I am rocking bold red lips as a symbol of femininity, strength, and confidence for the the Verily Magazine Red Lip Challenge. 

You can be a part of the challenge too by posting a photo of yourself wearing red lipstick and saying what it means to you to wear it. See more details on Verily's Instagram post.

Photos by Rennai Hoefer

PIPE LAMP DIY

This post is sponsored by The Home Depot.

As I have started to complete the decorating process for our family room, I realized there was a necessary "living" element missing from our space - light. We have plenty of natural light during the day, but other than some recessed lights in the ceiling we have nothing. I've learned over the years that side lighting is the most flattering on people, as well as functional when you're sitting down to watch a movie or read a book. Downward lighting can cause harsh shadows, but is great for illuminating a large space. Spaces need both, so I partnered with The Home Depot to create a light for our family room.ย 

If you have followed me for long you know that I'm not much of a DIY-er. In fact, most DIY's scare me. I'm that mom that buys the store-made Valentine's and puts my kids names on them and calls it a day. When it comes to decor, however, ย and I can't find what I'm looking for, that's enough motivation to make me attempt a DIY. I love the industrial look of pipe lights, and I wanted to try my hand at making my own. LDR Pipe Decor makes pipe DIY's so easy. Everything fits together, so you just need to have an idea and shape in mind.ย I built my lamp base in under five minutes it was that easy.ย 

You can also buy lighting kits at The Home Depot. The directions for how to wire your lamp is on the back of the package. Seriously, so simple! I used both an LED light bulb and a vintage style bulb so you can see the difference. Obviously, saving energy in our home is a priority so we went with a Cree LED bulb.

You can get the step-by-step tutorial to creating a lamp just like mine on The Home Depot's blog. It costs about $90 to make the whole thing. Not too bad for a brand new industrial style lamp.

Photos by Rennai Hoefer

STEPS TO CONTROL ALLERGENS

We finally found some answers as to why Levi has been sick so much during his first year and a half of life. After taking foods out of his diet, getting tubes in his ears, keeping him away from public places and seeing a ton of specialists we still had no answers until a couple of weeks ago when we visited an immunologist for the first time. 

Dr. Bauer, who is also an allergist as well an immunologist, did some allergy tests and we learned that Levi is very allergic to cats, dogs, dust and cockroaches. Surprisingly, he doesn't have any food allergies to date.

And interestingly enough, our house that we moved into just before he was born used to have cats in it. We also have a golden-doodle, and with our house being so large I can' say I'm always up-to-date on keeping the dust-mites at bay. I'm not really sure how the cockroaches come into play considering we are very cleanly and have never seen one here, but I guess they must be outside in the grass. So, it turns out that the reason why he kept getting infection after infection was because there was always mucus in his sinuses as a result of the allergies. His little immune system was also taxed by constantly producing anti-histamines. Poor guy!

Our doctor advised us to make some big changes inside our home, and they have helped tremendously. Levi isn't scratching his nose all of the time and finally doesn't sound stuffy. He also hasn't been sick in three weeks, which is huge for us. So, here's what we think is helping:

1. Air Purifier with a Hepa Filter - We were told to put a air purifier in his room that has a hepa filter, and to keep it running all of the time. This will filter out the dust in the air that he's allergic to. She also recommended that we keep the door closed at all times to prevent additional dust from getting into his room. So far we like the GermGuardian a lot. It has a blue nightlight too that you can use.

2. Vacuum with a Hepa Filter & vacuum weekly - We had been using a 10 year old vacuum, and we were only vacuuming about once a month upstairs. We're very tidy people, and I never saw any dust anywhere. I had no idea how much dust could collect in our low grade carpet until we bought a new vacuum. We purchased the Shark Navigator after reading a ton of reviews, and the amount of dust you pick up every time you run it is insane. I guess that's what you get for living in Arizona.

3. Daily Children's Zyrtec - Though I don't love having to give Levi meds every day Zyrtec has helped tremendously. Long-term studies have also been done and show no side-effects to using it. Plus, there are no proven natural remedies for animal allergies at this time. Eventually, when he is 4 years old he can start to get allergy shots, but for now he doesn't mind taking a 1/4 tsp daily.

4. Daily nasal spray - Nasacort is a non-steroid nasal spray that just helps to keep the mucus away, and combined with the Zyrtec his nose is staying clear. 

5. No dairy - Dairy gives him bad eczema and also causes mucus to form. 

6. No stuffed animals in his room - They are huge dust collectors, so we have banned them from his room. 

7. Change his clothes before nap time and bedtime - Germs and allergens can cling to fabric. To be extra cautious we change his clothes before nap and bedtime. 

8. Daily baths - We were only bathing Levi every other day because of his eczema, but the doctor recommended daily baths with warm water to wash away the dust and germs. We only use soap on the dirty areas and we don't wash his hair every time. We have been applying Vanicream twice daily and it seems to keep the eczema under control. 

9. Got rid of our dog - Wendy has been a part of our family for seven years. I can't tell you how heartbreaking it has been to live life without her. We are doing a two month trial with our in-laws, and then we are going to try to bring her back after Levi has shown improvement over the long-haul. I'm hoping it's not forever, but I'll keep you posted.

10. Eliminated some rugs - We removed the rug the kids play on every day. We have a ton of area rugs in our house, which can be huge dust collectors. If needed, we will start eliminating more, but hopefully, we don't have to have bare floors throughout the whole house to keep his allergies under control.

So far so good. He hasn't been sick in three weeks and he is the happiest I have ever seen him. His nose is clear and he isn't scratching his face constantly. I can't tell you what a relief this has been to me. It makes me teary-eyed thinking about it. If you have children with constant ear, sinus and throat infection I highly encourage you to seek an immunologist in your area. 

I AM HIS

I'm not much of an impulsive shopper, especially when it comes to buying clothes online. But, when I saw this shirt on Anthropologie.com the other day I snapped it up in 5 seconds flat. I may have even said, "I gotta have this," out loud. I wanted it that badly.

Though Levi can't read, and could care less at the mere age of 16 months old that I'm wearing a shirt that say his name on it, I feel so proud wearing it for him. It's a declaration to the world, "I AM HIS." Yep, I will forever be his mama and no one will ever take that away. Even if, heaven forbid, he passes away unexpectedly I will remain his mom until the day I die. I know that sounds so morbid, but I find so much comfort in knowing that being Levi's mom can never be stripped away from me. It's a role that will forever bond me to him by blood.

There are very few things that are certain in this life, but we like to think that many things are constants. Things like being able to use our mouths to speak, our minds to reason or being a wife are not givens. But being a mom - once that baby is made - can never leave me. Even if you have given your baby up for adoption, lost a child or have years of totally sucking at being a mom - you're a mom. You are their one and only forever.

I know this all may sound so silly because it's just a darn t-shirt, but, if there's is another certainty that I know of in this life, it's that hard times will come - it's just a matter of when. So, as cheesy as it may be to wear a Levi's t-shirt for our mom-son dates while I watch him eat a Girl Scout cookie and splash in a fountain, I don't care one bit. I'm just going to treasure these little things in my heart for the hard times that will come, so that I can pull out this joyful memory when I need to. I am his, and he is mine.

Photos by Rennai Hoefer; this post contains affiliate links.