Emerge Hair Care Review

In our house, 5 of us have curly hair (and lots of it). I feel like we are always trying to buy different curly hair products to keep our curls hydrated and not just have one product line that works. With all of our different curly hair patterns and textures, it’s sometimes hard to find something that works for all of our hair. So, as I was shopping online at Target, I came across the Emerge haircare brand. According to their website, their products are formulated without sulfates, parabens, phthalates, and silicones, mineral oil, petrolatum, or dyes. This is always a plus for curly hair. The product packaging also gave me a 90’s vibe and the cost of $6.99 each is great in comparison to some curly hair products that are anywhere from $9.99 and up each item. For the shampoo & conditioner, both are 16 ounces. For the leave-in conditioner, that is 15.5 ounces. The butter and mask are both 15 ounces and the gel is 11.7 ounces.

SHAMPOO & CONDITIONER

Images of the complete process are on my Instagram page. I had about a week to a week and a half old curly hairstyle (put up in a bun for the last few days) when I decided to wash my hair. Typically if I wear my hair that long without shampooing and conditioning, I will use a shampoo that usually strips my hair of all of the oils to get that “clean” feeling, but I wanted to see how well this would clean my hair without drying it out in the process.

I started with the “It’s Knot Happening Sulfate-Free” Shampoo. At first, it didn’t lather up much. After waiting longer than a week to wash my hair, it was dirty and oily, so I didn’t think it would work for me. It usually takes the second time for any shampoo to lather. Most sulfate-free shampoos don’t lather much anyway, but this one had a good amount of lather the second time I washed my hair. When rinsing, my hair felt clean and not stripped. Then I proceeded with the “Smooth Move Conditioner”. This was a thicker consistency than I’m used to, but I also feel like I used less conditioner and had less shedding, which is a plus. I hate to see my shower drain catcher full of hair and there really was no shedding.

HAIR MASK

After shampooing and conditioning, I added the “Back to Life Hair Mask”. This is also a thick consistency. My hair was damp when I applied it and I split my hair into 4 sections. I also combed through each section to evenly distribute it. After doing this, I put my hair up in a ponytail. It says to leave on your hair for about 15 minutes. I ended up having something come up and didn’t rinse out until the next day, which didn’t seem to harm my hair. My hair felt so soft and moisturized after rinsing out.

STYLING

I split my hair into 4 sections again to apply the styling products. I applied “My Mane Bff Leave-In Conditioner” first. I didn’t comb through this time, but used my fingers. The leave-in conditioner is a much thinner consistency than the conditioner, mask & the butter cream and distributed well in my hair. After applying the leave-in I applied “My Everything Butter Cream”. This is a thicker consistency, about the same as the conditioner and the mask. I applied it over the leave-in. I would recommend starting with a smaller amount and adding more if needed. A little really does go a long way. Then to top everything off, I used the “Style Goals Gel” which also goes a long way. I did not comb through my hair, but I did scrunch my hair at the ends with my hands.

COMPLETED PROCESS

I sometimes air dry or use a diffuser. For this process, I decided to air dry. The gel wasn’t too hard on my hair and gave it somewhat of a wet look. I usually like to fluff my hair after it’s completely dry since I prefer softer curls over the wet hair look. Because my hair is thick and appears that way when it’s completely dry, I like to wear it in it’s most natural state with my curls looking soft, bouncy and moisturized. The look I was going for was achieved exactly to my liking using this product line. I would definitely recommend it and will most definitely purchase again in the future. I will also be using these products in my 4 kid’s hair and will post those updates here and to Instagram.

What curly hair products do you currently use and love? Have you tried Emerge haircare products yet? If you have, let me know how they worked for you. I’m always interested to see how things work for others as well.

Preparing for Baby #5’s Arrival

Our lives are so incredibly busy. Before quarantine/lockdown, etc., we were always on the go. Work, church, school, volunteering, on top of always rushing to the next thing to do. I had also been dealing with health issues for the last several years and we finally got to the bottom of some of the issues. Within a few months, I found out that I needed to be gluten-free (August), I had quit taking birth control because I didn’t like the effects it was having on me emotionally and physically (September), and then we found out we were pregnant (November).

With all of the crazy, it just became crazier. I had come down with the worst flu I ever had in my life in January. I’m convinced it was some strain of Covid-19, but I’ll never really know, unless I go do antibody testing, but I haven’t been able to do that so far. Anyway, having been “locked in” since March 17th here, I have been faced with so many tasks that I had been wanting to get to for so long. Living in a home with 4 growing children and my parents also living with us in a small home, we have had to make adjustments to our living arrangements. Because we weren’t officially planning to have another baby and are trying to save to buy our own home while we currently rent, we don’t have an extra room for a nursery. So, we decided to set up areas of our room for now to help us when our new baby boy arrives.

One such area in our bedroom was quite the disaster. A corner with a dresser and a ton of crafty things. This dresser was actually a DIY that my mom did that once sat in the entry way in her home. She used old hymns & church songs sheet music to wrap the top and the drawers and had painted the dresser to match her home at the time. I used it to store all of my crafts. This quickly became a breeding ground for disaster. So I organized my crafts, put them in bins and put them in the garage. I kept the bottom two drawers for crafts that I could still easily access for smaller projects. In the pictures you can see the before, during, and after.

All items pictured are the two blue wooden boards, picture frames with Bible verses in them, and a few other items. The only items I spent money on were the two white bins and the black picture frames from The Dollar Tree about 2 years ago. The two wooden boards were a DIY from wood a friend had given me for crafts. I painted them, drilled some holes, attached ribbon and hung them with thumbtacks. The Bible verse pictures were created by me using the Canva App on my phone and printed them on picture paper. The white round was given to me also by my mom. I painted it with white chalk paint a while ago, but wasn’t sure what to do with it. The two lights were also given to me by my mom. I hung those up so we could have light whenever I need to change baby without turning on the big room lights.

The biggest change came as I repainted the dresser black. I used a flat black acrylic paint to paint the areas surrounding the drawers and the drawer pulls. I wasn’t sure of the color until I started to see the other pieces of this area coming together. I also chose not to seal the dresser because I intend to repurpose it in the future when we buy our new home. The diaper changing pad was gifted to me from my baby registry from when I had planned my own baby shower. It came right on time as I finished the project. All of baby boy’s clothes are organized by size along with his swaddles, bibs and other baby items in the drawers. Overall, I’m happy with the way it turned out. Hopefully this will help motivate you to work on some area within your home or help you to prepare for your new baby, especially if you’re sharing a space with baby and don’t have a nursery.

How I Planned My Own Virtual Baby Shower

Surprise! Baby number 5 is on their way and we were so excited to find out. Fast forward from Fall 2019 to March 2020. We were planning on having a baby shower for friends & family and a second one with my coworkers. That was until we got the news that the city would be shutting down. So what would we do now? I was so excited to share this time with my family and friends in person, that all changed. I never thought about having a virtual baby shower until some friends asked me how or when they could send gifts for the new baby. I had googled “virtual baby shower” because I hadn’t given up entirely. I saw that Virtual Baby Showers were a thing for families and friends who couldn’t attend because they lived out of town. I decided not to google logistics on exactly how to run a virtual baby shower because I didn’t want to be overwhelmed with trying to meet those expectations. So, I thought about it, talked with my sister, and we began planning a virtual baby shower.

What items did we need or use?

There were several items we used to make the virtual baby shower a success. I did everything from my mobile phone except for the actual event. Facebook and Instagram, Zoom and a laptop (or mobile phone), Amazon Baby Registry, Canva App, Target (Curbside Pickup) for Decorations, Games, Gifts (for winners), Host, Thank You Cards. Also, just to note, I am not sponsored by any of the companies/apps that were used. All of these were used either because I have been using them previously or I purchased them specifically for the virtual baby shower.

How we used the items?

For Facebook, there is an Event feature where you can enter all of the details of the event and invite your friends. I chose to go with a Private Event so that every time I posted an update, all of my friends or family who weren’t attending wouldn’t be bothered by the notifications. I also used Instagram for the friends who didn’t have Facebook. I did a poll in my stories to see who wanted to attend the baby shower. Those who confirmed were added to my “Close Friends” list so they could see updates about the shower and my other friends wouldn’t be spammed by the unnecessary feed.

During the shutdown, I have been using Zoom for meetings. I had never used Zoom previously or even heard of it. As I got more familiar with it, I decided to upgrade to the monthly fee just for the Baby Shower so I could have meeting times for longer than 40 minutes. My sister and I had a few meetings prior to the actual shower so that we could work out any kinks and which proved to be helpful in the success of the baby shower.

I have always been a fan of Amazon Prime. I have never used it more than I do now. I remember my best friend was registered with Amazon for her baby shower when I attended 2 years ago and it was so simple. So I decided to go with Amazon and set up a Baby Registry. It was really simple to use the guided checklist of items that help you add to the registry. They also have a feature called the “Diaper Discount” where you can earn 20% off diapers in the baby’s first year if you meet the purchase goal of $500. Your friends and family also have the option to have items delivered to their home so they can deliver them to you or have it delivered directly to you. Most of my friends and family had the items delivered to me, while only a few hand delivered their items. I would suggest that if you have the items delivered directly to you, have a space dedicated to store those items until the shower (if you’re waiting to open them live like I did).

I’m a visual person and like to have an invitation or an image as a reminder for an upcoming event. I used the Canva App to create a visual reminder fit for social media. I created a Facebook Event Cover image and an Instagram image/invitation using the free images and fonts that are available on the app. This is not necessary, but it was a fun touch to the whole experience and something I will always have to remember. In the attached picture, there is a framed picture that includes the graphic I created through the app. Though the example in the image itself is probably not the best example, hopefully you can somewhat get the idea.

Even though people would not physically be at my house, I still wanted to have some type of décor for the background of the virtual baby shower. I used the Target App along with their Drive Up pickup to get the decorations I wanted. If you have never used Target’s App, I would recommend it. I bought some simple indoor/outdoor lights, two candle holders, a blue and silver garland, and some balloons. Items I already had were an old gift bag and tissue paper I had saved, a teddy bear from one of my kids dressed in a baby outfit that was given to us from some friends, and a picture I created in a picture frame I had picked up from Dollar Tree a while back. Target was a life saver and also so close to my house so picking it up didn’t take much, plus it gave me a reason to get some fresh air, safely.

Finding Games for the virtual baby shower was a challenge at first but we made it work. We weren’t sure who had used Zoom often enough to use the chat feature, so we prepped everyone to use paper and a sharpie for some of the games. We had an icebreaker game (no prizes), the Raffle, and 2 games for guests during the shower. The first game was for my husband and I to guess “Him or Her” for each question my sister asked. We had a few questions where we were able to explain our answers. It was fun to see the reactions of our friends and family. The next game was called “Guess How Many” where we had a bin with baby bibs inside. Guests had to guess by writing on their sheet of paper and showing their answers on screen. We ended up needing to have a tiebreaker. Funny enough, my friend who has chickens (and other animals) in her backyard ended up being the tiebreaker by us guessing how many were there! That was both unexpected and fun! The last game was called “Price is Right” where guests had to guess the price of a baby item without going over just like The Price is Right. My sister shared her screen to show each item’s picture and then would reveal the price online. The first two rounds were practice rounds and the last one was for the winning prize.

Gifts were pretty simple. I did e-gift cards which seem to be perfect during quarantine. I had planned ahead and saved some extra money to be able to give decent gifts. I also chose gift cards to places I knew my friends and family loved to shop at and could do so online. I was able to gift a $50 Amazon card, $30 Target card, and a $20 Starbucks card to the three winners.

Since my sister had always wanted to throw a baby shower for me, but was too young when I had my other kids (her and I are 10 years apart), being the Host was something she was so excited about. So when I asked her to host and find some games, she was thrilled. I would definitely recommend having a host. She was able to host safely from her home and put up some décor as a background too. Everything was simple and ready to go.

After the virtual baby shower, I wanted to thank all of my family and friends who either attended the shower, sent gifts or both. When I purchased the décor from Target I also purchased a box of Thank You Cards to write and mail to them. To seal the envelopes I used a painting sponge dipped in water to protect my friends and family from worry and/or any germs from licking the envelopes.

Event from start to finish

Since my sister and I met on a couple of Zoom calls prior to the virtual baby shower, we were able to plan how we wanted it to flow. While it was awkward on some moments as you’re waiting for more people to join or because people don’t know each other, overall it was fun and exciting to share our special day with family and friends from near and far. To give you an idea of how it went, I have listed the outline we had used below. It is available as a free pdf download for your reference. Feel free to use it to plan your very own virtual baby shower.

While I wish we were able to have an in-person baby shower, I’m grateful that there are still ways in which we can make the most of this time and celebrate with our family and friends. If you’re having a virtual baby shower coming up soon, I just want to say congratulations and I wish you all the best! I would also love to hear about what worked for you. You can leave those comments below. Happy Virtual Baby Showering!

I Appreciate You!

As a mom of 4 children: 1 in Elementary School, 2 in Middle School, and 1 in High School, I could not appreciate my children’s teachers any more than I do now! While I know I haven’t been careless about my child’s teachers (so I think), I for sure appreciate the hard work and dedication that their teachers put in every single day throughout the school year.

While this has been such a challenging season for all of us, I know for myself it has been tough. As we are entering our 8th week of distanced learning, we have had many challenges. Not having enough laptops for 4 kids, not being able to access schoolwork for at least the first week, trying to stay organized, helping each child with subject content I can barely remember (but it’s all slowly coming back to me), to now finally having the right amount of laptops and with only 3 weeks of school left, etc. Now for teachers, multiply the unpreparedness, the different personalities, the organized with the unorganized, the tired, the hungry, the kids who just don’t get it, the kids who don’t care to get it, the frustrated, the kids who try their best, the kids who simply have difficult situations at home that affect their ability to learn, the hurting, scared, sad, happy, secure, insecure and so much more, times 20 plus students per class (times multiple classes for middle and high school students)! I can’t even imagine!

Yet, there are those teachers who miss their students so much and just want to be back with them! To those teachers, THANK YOU! There are those teachers who also love what they do and miss it as well, but are enjoying this time away to be with their families too! THANK YOU! Every teacher who loves and cares for the students they teach, THANK YOU! To those who are struggling in this season because it’s affecting them negatively or are because they overwhelmed with this new way of teaching, THANK YOU!

From a mom of 4, trying her best to be a substitute teacher, to all of you teachers out there, I THANK YOU! I commit to do better to partner with you now and in the future! I’m indebted to you! I appreciate you! Happy Teacher Appreciation Week!

5 Ways I Manage My Growing Household

Right now, all our normal schedules have gone out the door.  We are adapting to a new normal.  At least until things change again.  In our household, between 3 teens, a child in elementary school and a newborn on the way, things can be quite busy.  Then add in a mom who works full time, a dad who works full time on a different shift and 2 grandparents who also work full time and who have been living with us for about a year and a half.

Some have large families that may be busier than we are and may look at our life as something that is a piece of cake to manage.  Some may not be nearly as busy, or not have as many children and may be thinking “What a nightmare”. Others may just be curious as to what we do to manage our home.  In today’s post, I’m going to share with you 5 Ways I Manage My Growing Household.  Many of you may already use all 5 ways, some, or none at all.  I am sharing these with the hopes that this will help your family in some way.  At the end of today’s post, I have modified the 5 ways we are able to manage as a family during this new season of quarantine.  Let’s get started!

CALENDARS

These are our best friend when scheduling our weeks in advance.  We are not perfect in using the calendar by any means, but this has been the one thing that brings us some sense of knowing what’s ahead.  We start by entering the activities we do on a weekly basis.  For example, church, volunteering, date nights, family nights, sports, Bible studies, etc.  Then we schedule nights or days out with friends, kids and their friends, and any other activities, meetings, or major events that don’t happen as often.

I would like to say that we are perfect at it and schedule months in advance, but we aren’t.  We will schedule one week; two weeks if we are ahead.  We currently use our Family Sharing plan on our iPhones to link our calendars.  This allows everyone in the family to see what’s going on or coming up.  Prior to this, I used a printable calendar or created one in Excel with more space to write events in and posted in a common area.  We updated as needed, but that would begin to look like a mess.  Therefore we have decided to stick with the calendars on our phone.

SCHEDULES

Setting schedules and sticking to them is so helpful with multiple people in the home.  When our teenagers were 2, 1 and a newborn, I didn’t even have the concept of schedules down.  I was a young mom who was not prepared for three kids under two years old.  I look back and think, “How did I even manage?”  Now I know how important it is for myself and for my family that we have a schedule.  Now with 4 kids and soon to be 5, giving myself or my family, a good block or window of time helps us to stay on track without feeling so stressed.  We may still have set times that we need to be at events, and we stick to those. Other things may not go exactly as planned, so having a goal with a block of time helps. It gives us some wiggle room to get those things done.

HOUSEHOLD CHORES

For seven years I was a stay-at-home mom.  Because my kids were so little, I always did the chores around the house.  Sure, I’d teach them some things here and there, but it never really bothered me to do them myself.  Then there was a point when I went back to work full time, I would come home and be exhausted, try to cook, clean, help with homework and never had any downtime or time for myself.  At some point I started to feel guilty about being a working mom.  I didn’t want to put any burden on my children, until we were having a conversation one day and they didn’t know how to use a broom, mop and didn’t know how to dust.  While most kids enjoy not having chores, they felt they were being cheated out of something.  After that conversation, I realized that they would need these simple skills to be on their own someday and I hadn’t done a very good job of setting them up well for it, yet.  My husband and I had discussed the responsibilities of our home and came up with a chore system that works for the whole family.  Now that 3 of my 4 kids are teens, we all have different days with different responsibilities, including us parents.  This has kept them motivated and I’m thankful for it.  It has also given me some relief as a working mom.  We feel good about a clean home, and we can enjoy our home and more family time together.  See the example of our Family Chores list below.

LAUNDRY DAYS

Washing clothes for a family of 6 plus my parents who also live with us was extremely hectic back when my parents moved in last year.  I was still doing all of my kids’ laundry (yes, teens and all) and all of mine and my husbands.  Of course, my husband helped as well, but we both hate to fold laundry, so you can probably imagine the piles of clothes lying around waiting to be folded.  Again, my husband and I sat down and assigned each of our kids their own day to wash their clothes, their towels and their bedding.  They have each done an amazing job and keep up with it every week, especially because they know that if they don’t have clean clothes, it’s because they didn’t wash it.  The best part is that their rooms even smell a whole lot better because they take pride in it!  And thank God my husband and I no longer need to fold their clothes too!  For an example of the Laundry Day schedule, see the Family Chores List above.

REST DAYS

Rest days are not always easy to come by.  It can be so easy to fill your days with things to do, until you start to feel the burnout.  This was us.  We would always say yes to everything and everyone for fear of either missing out or letting someone down.  But then we started regretting saying yes to things because it would take all we had in us just to get out the door.  We started looking at our calendars and scheduling “time off” from our regularly scheduled activities.  If there was a family birthday in the household, we take that day or weekend off to celebrate.  That helped us regain family time by relaxing or devoting time to activities that are building our relationships with one another.

PANDEMIC CHANGES

So, now that the world has come to a screeching halt, how has this all changed or how do these things still apply for us?  For one, calendars and schedules are still a big part of how we function.  Working from home and homeschool is more intense with scheduling.  Between Zoom meetings, online school, not enough devices (we finally had to check out laptops from the school), and having a husband who works a different shift, it’s quite the challenge.  Household chores and laundry days have been much lighter these days.  There are times between school and work where we will take a break and do chores or put in another load of laundry.  Being done in the middle of the afternoon is great because we aren’t washing all day long.  Rest days are easier now because we have so much more time to rest as a family, especially with the stay at home orders.  However, my husband still works outside of the home. It’s very important to keep rest days clear for him because he works so hard to support our family.  Although things have changed so drastically in the world around us, we have prioritized a part of our day to eat dinner together every night and do family devotions.  We will keep this part of our new routine once things begin opening back up.

Hopefully you are already doing these 5 things in your home.  If not, I hope you can implement using calendars, schedules, chores, laundry days and rest days into your daily lives.  Our faith is our foundation.  My hope is that you and your family’s faith, belief system, and energy, align for you and you can hold tight to that in this new season.  Feel free to share the things that were helpful to you, what things you are already doing, and list any things that you think may be helpful to me and my family!  I’m interested to hear what those things are too!

Welcome to Heartening Forward

It’s the 27th of March, 2020; a few days of being in physical distancing at home with my family due to this Covid19 pandemic. It’s also the day I stop holding onto this dream of sharing my personal feelings with the world in hopes that people around the world would somehow relate.

I’m a wife, mother of 4 children and we are expecting our 5th child. Being a mom hasn’t come easy. If you have experienced any loss during a pregnancy, you probably know what I mean, but more on that later. I work full time and just try to get by with what I know and learn along the way. That’s life. It often seems that’s the way it should be. Lately, I have been asking God for more. More time to do, more time to be, more time to make moves, make my dreams come true, and so many more things I often ask for. Then everything just halted; everything was put on hold. But was it really? I just got more time to do, be, make moves and work on making my dreams come true. Well, that’s what I initially thought.

Amidst all of this chaos, I feel as though I had at some point lost my ability to think, do and even really see what is really going on around me. I’m thankful some part of my brain did go into “safety mode” and my family and I began to limit our contact with others. One of my daughters has asthma, so we have to keep her (and all of us) safe. The first week for us has almost come to an end. I wonder how many of you had to adjust by “shaking” yourself into your new reality? I know I did. I felt overwhelmed with uncertainty, responsibility, anger, fear, hurt and so much more. For a few days I even began to feel anxiety, depression, and sorrow completely fill me. Sometimes it still tries to creep in with all of the social media posts, news and reality of being distant from others physically.

Today I chose to get off social media to do some reading. Now some of you may or may not read the Bible or believe anything in it. We all have our own spiritual preference or way of connecting. For me it is the Bible, prayer, and listening to sermons/going to church. After listening to quite a few messages throughout this week through church online, I realized the message of HOPE has been screaming out at me! I came across this verse which doesn’t sound very hopeful at first and says “Why am I so depressed? Why this turmoil within me? Put your hope in God, for I will still praise Him, my Savior and my God.” Psalm 42:5, HCSB. Then as I kept reading, I kept finding hope. The hope of a time I once knew being closer to God in my walk with him.

The truth is, I would read and pray sporadically as it would fit my busy schedule. But today, God is saying to me, through His word, that He is my source and hope. Psalm 42:8 says “The Lord will send His faithful love by day; His song will be with me in the night — a prayer to the God of my life.” (HCSB) He is the God of my life. He does have my life in His hands. Psalm 43:3-4 says “Send Your light and Your truth; let them lead me. Let them bring me to Your holy mountain, to your dwelling place. Then I will come to the altar of God, to God, my greatest joy. I will praise you with the lyre, God, my God.” (HCSB) I can trust God’s truth and go to safety in the dwelling place of the Lord. He is my joy and He is my peace.

So, even though this is not the way or circumstance I had hoped to share my first blog post, I know that it’s the way that God would have it. I am trusting in Him during this season and praying I can continue to do so. I encourage you to connect with God. Ask Him what He would have you do in this season. Connect in some way. If you would like to have someone praying for you and with you, send me a prayer request and I will begin praying for you!

I hope this helps you and encourages you today. This journey is new for all of us. We are in this together!

Emeteria, Heartening Forward