Laresa Watkins

Taking it Back to Our Favorite Year

Mar 13, 2019
mommyinbonlee

I used to be a big scrapbooker.  I spent hours each night printing out pictures, cutting paper, choosing the perfect quotes and stickers and embellishments, and placing everything perfectly on acid-free paper.  Charlie and Maddie love looking back at my scrapbooks, and I enjoy flipping through the pages and showing them the things that Jason and I did before we had kids (Charlie and Maddie refer to this time as “the olden days”).  I made a couple of scrapbooks after they were born, but that is a hobby that fell to the wayside when the kids learned to crawl (much to Maddie’s chagrin, as she reminds me every so often that her baby book is incomplete).

About the time that I quit scrapbooking, I started blogging.  This blog became a way for me to store pictures, thoughts, and write down little moments that I want to remember.  The past couple of years I have not had too much time to write, and wrote on my blog only 3 times last year! I really regret that, because there is so much going on that I don’t want to forget.

Charlie asks us all every so often what our favorite year has been.  We all have the same answer: 2017.  It was a great year.  We did so many fun things and traveled to some really cool places, and now that it is 2019 I want to document 2017 before I forget more details from it than I have already.

So, this blog post is completely, selfishly just for me.

We started out 2017 simply relieved that 2016 was over! It was a tough year, and we looked forward to a fresh start. Then, in the second week of January, we got the best snow ever.  It was really cold and didn’t get above freezing for several days, so we got to enjoy the snow without worrying about it melting immediately.  We ate snow cream, dyed the snow, and even made a volcano in the snow.

Then, in February, we tagged along with mama and Jason on a work trip to Atlanta.  We arrived on Super Bowl Sunday, and the Falcons were playing in the Super Bowl! Even though they weren’t playing in Atlanta, it was still really cool to be in their home city to watch them play.  We had so much fun that night, and the kids drank no less than 100 Shirley Temples.

Casey and Emma came with us so we would have someone to hang out with while Mama and Jason were in meetings during the day. We went to the aquarium…

…the Coke museum and factory (where we did NOT learn the secret formula, but did get to taste soft drinks from all over the world) …

…and the zoo.

We also went to the CNN headquarters, which was very cool and interesting, and a museum.

Emma, Charlie, and Maddie on their first-ever taxi ride! This was also the year that Charlie started his stuffed-snake collection. 🙂

We had a great school year in 2017.  Charlie’s reading excelled, and Maddie began learning to read and write in kindergarten and first grade. I began finding these little notes all over the place, and it makes me so happy that she still does this today.

We had a lot of fun….and cleaned up a lot of messes.

In the summer of 2017 we did something that none of us will ever forget: we raised a squirrel!

Earl had very sharp claws, so we had to stop handling him as much as he got older.

Earl and his 2 siblings fell out of a tree that we were having trimmed.   Their mom didn’t come back for them, so we did our best to care for them.  Earl’s brother and sister didn’t make it, but we worked hard to make sure that Earl was healthy.

We fed Earl puppy formula with a medicine dropper. After a couple of weeks he started eating all types of fruit and veggies, and especially liked avocados.

Earl became part of our family, and we released him a few months later.  He would come into the garage to visit for awhile after that, and we like to think that he’s now raising a family in the woods around our house.

We became really involved at the ballpark in the spring of 2017.  Both kids played ball, and Jason became the chairman of the board of directors for Bonlee Rec in addition to coaching Charlie’s team.  This is now a really big part of our life and family.

As soon as ball season was over, my mom took our entire family on a trip to Destin, Florida.  We swam with wild dolphins, went to Crab Island, and just enjoyed relaxing. Charlie and Maddie loved being with their cousins all week, and we’re looking forward to going back this summer.

On our way home from Florida, we, along with Randy, Bethony, Sam, Aaron, and Noah, took a detour to South Carolina.  We spent the night there, then watched a complete solar eclipse that was happening in that area.  It was so awesome to be there to see it turn completely dark and hear the crickets chirp while the birds went silent in the middle of the day. It was an experience I will never forget, and was totally worth the extra driving.

The eclipse-viewing was actually the first day of 1st grade for Maddie and 3rd grade for Charlie. I can’t think of a better kick-off to the school year.

That fall, we took the kids to the NC State fair.  We had taken them before, but they were both much smaller and rode in the stroller most of the time.  This year, they had a blast! We bought bands ahead of time so they could just ride anything they wanted without tickets, so they ran from ride to ride together while Jason and I watched and tried to keep up.

We walked a million miles at the fair that day, and I took notes in preparation for a big trip we had planned for December. But first, Halloween.

Halloween has always been one of our favorite holidays.  We decorate the house and the kids go all-out for their costumes.

Our family costume this year was “Grease.” Charlie killed me with his fake cigarette!

By actual Halloween, Maddie had worn around 5 different costumes! Charlie was consistent with his Harry Potter Quidditch costume, though. 

On December 1, we left on the trip we had been anticipating for months: Disney World. I still get butterflies in my stomach just thinking of the fun time we had together there.

I spent hours and hours researching and planning this trip, and I hate to brag, but it was awesome. The kids had their first plane ride, and we stayed at a great resort where the view from our balcony was Cinderella’s castle at the Magic Kingdom. We could watch the fireworks over the castle every night from our balcony. Also, everything was decorated for Christmas, and it was absolutely beautiful.

We spent 7 nights there, and we didn’t waste a minute. We went to every park and we rode everything we could, and it was warm enough that we could swim in the resort pools during our down time.

One day, we rented a car and drove a little way to visit with Aunt Betty. She showed us around her assisted living facility and treated us to lunch there. I’m so thankful for that time we got to spend with her, even though she had forgotten that we were coming :).

That same day was Mickey’s Christmas Party, which was probably the highlight of the trip. We ate so many cookies and drank so much hot chocolate that night. The park was closed for regular ticket-holders, so we rode ride after ride without waiting in any lines at all, and even rode Splash Mountain maybe 4 times in a row without getting off! Maddie and I were in the front row, so we were soaking wet by the time we were through! The Christmas parade was just perfect, too, and we got to see it “snow.” We stayed until the park closed, and were exhausted the next day at Epcot.

The day we flew home from Florida it was snowing in NC, so that was a bit of a shock. Honestly, the Christmas of 2017 wasn’t too exciting for us because we were still coming down from our Disney high.

I’m so thankful to God for all of our blessings, for my family and for the opportunities that we have had, not just in 2017 but every single day. I remind myself constantly that “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows” (James 1:17 NIV). I find comfort that he was with us in 2016, one of the hardest years, and in 2017, one of the best years. He is with us when we’re traveling around, and in the mundane moments like now when I’m sitting here typing while the kids are working on their math and handwriting and I have a zillion things on my to-do list.

Over a year has passed since 2017, our favorite year (so far;)) The kids are now 8 and 9 years old, and I’m going to be celebrating my 40th birthday in a few weeks. I would like to say that I will be blogging more often, so as not to forget all of the little moments that I know I will want to remember, but I have been writing this post since 2018. So maybe in 2020 I will write about 2018. We’ll see…


A Summer DoTERRA Make-and-Take: Foaming Hand Soap, Shaving Cream, and After-Sun Spray

Jul 25, 2018
mommyinbonlee

I have been using DoTERRA essential oils in my home for over 2 years now.  I originally began using them only in my diffuser as a way to replace my love of scented candles, but along the way I have discovered many, many more ways to use them.  They have become my first go-to when dealing with any health issues in my family and have saved us lots of trips to the doctor.

My favorite thing about essential oils is their versatility.  I use them for cleaning products, skin care, bug repellent, in my garden, and the list goes on and on.  They have saved us money, and I know that they are good for our family.

I enjoy my oils so much that I can’t help but tell people about them or offer them my homemade things to try, so it was natural that I eventually became a DoTERRA wellness advocate.  I enjoy telling people about our products and helping them become healthier in a natural way, but my favorite thing to do is host make-and-takes in my home.  It’s a great excuse for my kids’ friends to come over to play while their moms and I have some fun, for me to share my love of a good DIY, and for my friends to experience the many uses of essential oils.  (It’s also a great excuse for Jason to play golf!)

I have been hosting a make-and-take once a month.  This month’s was a summer theme, and we made foaming hand soap, shaving cream, and an after-sun spray. I have found these things so helpful and have been using them so often, I decided to share them here.

If you’re going to try these recipes, make sure you’re using containers that are made to use with essential oils.  Glass and most metal containers are great, but if you’re going to use plastic you should make sure that  it is a #1 or #2 plastic.  Even when the oils are diluted like they are in these recipes, you want to choose a plastic that won’t break down when it comes in contact with the oils.

I get my supplies for all of my DIY’s using essential oils from Got Oil Supplies. I only recently learned about this company and started buying from them, and I have found that they have good prices and their products are very high quality.  They even sell Modern Essentials, a great book that I recommend to everyone interested in essential oils.

The first thing we made at my summer make-and-take was a foaming hand soap.  This is really simple to make, and I don’t see myself ever buying hand soap again. All you need is:

1 Foam Pump

Castile Soap

Aloe Vera Gel

Vegetable Glycerin

Fractionated Coconut Oil

20-25 drops of Essential Oil.

*For my citrus-spearmint soap, I used a mix of tangerine, grapefruit, wild orange, and spearmint.

This is a recipe that I usually eyeball:

1-You’ll fill the bottle about 1/4 full with the Castile Soap, then just add in a squirt of the remaining ingredients, along with your oils.  During winter when my hands get dry, I will add in more vegetable glycerin and coconut oil.

2-Put the lid on the bottle and shake it well to mix everything together.

3-Remove the lid and fill the bottle the remainder of the way with water (Be careful not to overfill-remember that the pump will take up some space in the bottle and you don’t want to waste any of your precious oils!)

4-Replace the lid, shake again, and you’re done!

This makes a great gift, as well.  You can use any mixture of your favorite essential oils to go along with whatever season you’re in. Keep in mind that citrus oils are photosensitive-this means that they will cause you to sunburn.  If you’re going to be out in the sun within 24 hours after using your oils topically (unless you wash them off, like in the hand soap), you need to stick to oils that aren’t in the citrus family. 

My other recipes came from One Essential Community.  This is a great blog full of ideas and DIY recipes.  I absolutely LOVE the homemade shaving cream we made, and like to put lots of eucalyptus in mine to give myself a spa-like feeling.  And I keep a bottle of after-sun spray in the refrigerator and another bottle in my pool bag all summer.  If you’re in the sun too long, or if you’re just feeling hot, it is perfect for a quick cool-off. You can click the links below for the recipes.

Homemade Shaving Cream {with essential oils}

After Sun Spray

Got Oil Supply’s amber spray bottles and cream jars were perfect for these DIY’s.  Emma thought so, too.  🙂

If you’re interested in buying any essential oils, you can click here to visit my DoTERRA page.  We have a great wholesale program, and you can either sign up on that page or send me a message if you would like for me to help you get signed up.

Thanks again to everyone who came to my make-and-take.  It was fun, as always! I hope that you guys who read this will love these recipes as much as I do.

Overcoming some fears this summer…

Jul 6, 2018
mommyinbonlee

I am not scared of too many things.  There are things I avoid because they make me uncomfortable, such as speaking in front of large groups of adults or going to Wal-Mart on a Saturday, but I can do those things without too much anxiety.  🙂

There is something I am really scared of, though, something that makes my heart beat faster and my thoughts spin out of control: murky water.  When we go over a bridge, especially the long, tall bridges like we went over last week when we went to the Outer Banks, I have to focus on the road in front of me. If I let myself, I will go through in my mind the entire scenario of what would happen if we somehow plunged over the edge of the bridge.  I imagine myself busting out the window of the car, telling Jason to grab Charlie while I get Maddie, then swimming to the surface only to be tragically eaten by an alligator just feet from shore.  Those bridges are all beautiful, but they make me very anxious and I am always relieved to reach the other side.

I avoid any water that isn’t clear enough that I can see my feet.  I love sitting on the beach and walking on the beach and building sandcastles on the beach, but the kids have to really beg me before I will join them in the ocean.  I feel the same way about lakes, rivers, etc. Nope, nope, nope.

Every once in a while I am forced to face this fear, and last week on vacation was one of those times.  Jason mentioned several days ago that there are lots of kayak tours on the OBX, and he wanted to go on one.  Without really thinking it through, I agreed.  Suddenly, I found myself here:

Yep, those are my feet. My feet on a kayak tour through a maritime forest complete with snakes, fish, turtles, 2 feet of mud which a woman would immediately sink into up to her knees if she accidentally fell out of her kayak, and alligators (Our tour guide, Justin, denied this, but I later learned that an alligator had, in fact, been caught in this exact area only weeks earlier. Not only did they catch the alligator here, but they tagged and then released it in the SAME SPOT.).

Why do I let myself get into these situations that scare me so much? Well, I don’t want to miss out on anything. I want to experience every single thing I can in this life, and I want my kids to experience every single thing they can.  While Maddie didn’t care for kayaking, Charlie discovered a new passion.  The problem is, now I am going to have to take him kayaking all the time.  This is him at the lake a few days ago:

I took this picture from shore.  🙂

I want them to be brave and courageous and feel free to try new things, even if they are scared.  And I want them to look back on these experiences and say, “Wow, I did that!”  So I have to do that, too.

Over and over again, apparently.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Silence of Winter

Jan 18, 2018
mommyinbonlee

This week’s photo challenge from The Daily Post is “Silence.”  I find it so fitting for the months of January and February, when life calms down from the excitement of fall and Christmas, and we spend long days bundled up at home getting caught up on schoolwork and just enjoying being together.  I relish this time before ball season and VBS planning start up.

We had a great snow yesterday.  We measured 12 inches in some spots in our yard, which is almost unheard of in NC! We’ve had a wonderful time playing and eating snow cream and riding the four wheeler.  We love walking through the woods by our house.

I thought these pictures were perfect for this photo challenge, because nothing is more silent than the woods when there is snow on the ground:

 

 

 

 

 

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted; A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up. A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

The months of January and February seem long and slow to me, but they are a time for planning and working and healing.  God illustrates this for us in his creation during winter, when everything takes a break from showing off to get ready for spring.

We’ve had a great time in the snow the past couple of days:

 

 

 

 

 

“I wonder if the snow loves the trees and fields, that it kisses them so gently? And then it covers them up snug, you know, with a white quilt; and perhaps it says, “Go to sleep, darlings, till the summer comes again.” -Lewis Carroll

 

 

Balance in the Chaos-Taking Care of Yourself

Nov 30, 2017
mommyinbonlee

 

In my mom’s group a few weeks ago we were talking about disciplining in anger and how to avoid that.  One mom pointed out that she had a difficult time dealing with her children when her blood sugar was low, and all of us agreed that we had a hard time when we were running on little sleep.  I’m sure all of us have gotten into a habit, at some point or another, of not taking the best care of ourselves.  We do things for other people all day long, and it’s hard to stop and spend time on ourselves. The problem with this is that everyone around us suffers when we don’t take care of ourselves.

While being healthy and feeling good are important to me, the main reason that I need to take care of myself is for my mental well-being (in other words, so I don’t lose it on anyone in my family).  When Charlie cries for an hour because he can’t wear shorts in December, I cannot handle myself very well if I only got 5 hours of sleep.  When I have 10 emails to return, school to teach, and my phone won’t stop beeping with text messages, I get frazzled and can’t focus if I’ve had too much coffee and no breakfast.  In order to handle life’s everyday stressors with grace and compassion, I have to care for myself.

My suggestions aren’t things that take a lot of time.  You don’t have to find a babysitter or take your kids to a germy gym childcare to work out.  You don’t have to get up at the break of dawn or spend hours cooking an organic farm-fresh meal.  These are just a few simple things that you can incorporate into your day that will enable you to have more balance when a chaotic moment is inevitably thrown your way.

1-Get a good night’s sleep

It seems to be the cool thing for women my age to brag about how much coffee they need to drink during the day.  Now, I am a coffee lover, so I’m not downing coffee, but on an everyday basis we should not have to drink coffee all day long in order to get everything on our to-do lists completed.  It’s not healthy.  We need to take care of ourselves by getting more sleep!

I am putting this first because it is so important to me.  I need at least 7 hours of sleep at night, and if I don’t get it I am cranky all day long.  Even thought I know this about myself, it is still really hard for me to make myself go to sleep at night.  After I get the kids in bed I want to spend time reading, watching TV, or playing a game on my phone.  After 15+ hours of hearing “Mom! Mom! Mom!” and “Laresa! Laresa! Laresa!”, my time alone at the end of the day is just wonderful and I hate for it to end. I have to really be disciplined and make myself stop whatever I am doing, turn out the lights, and go to sleep.

It really helps me to sleep better if I get up at the same time each morning, so I have also gotten back into the habit of setting my alarm.

That being said, for all of my friends who have new babies: you just go on drinking your coffee all day.  😉

2-Work Out

There is nothing worse than the 3:00 slump.  That time in the afternoon when we feel like shirking all of our duties and laying down for a nap? Whether you work at home like me or work at a job outside of the home, I know we all experience this during our day. It’s difficult no matter what you do, because we can’t just stop what we’re doing and sit down when we feel a little sluggish.

I have found that if I have a good workout in the morning I don’t experience this tired, cranky feeling in the afternoon. The problem is that I don’t have much time to work out. I used to love going to the gym or walking miles at the park, but that just isn’t feasible for me now.

I have tried lots of different YouTube workouts that I like, but right now I am really enjoying a new app called Aaptiv. You download the app and instantly have access to tons of great workouts.  You can choose from strength training, outdoor running, yoga, and so much more.  You can also select how long you want to work out, which is a huge plus for me since some mornings I have more time than others.  If it’s a morning that I have to take Maddie to gymnastics or we have a MOMS meeting or science co-op and I have to get everyone ready and out the door in a hurry, I choose a short workout so I can get a good workout in without putting a strain on our chaotic mornings.

Aaptiv even has a series of workouts for parents-they’re all around 15 minutes long and give you a great workout in a short span of time.  And, for all of my friends who are expecting, they even offer a great prenatal workout program with different workouts that are appropriate for each trimester.  I wish it had been around when I was pregnant.

They’re offering a free trial right now, so if you’re like me and you need a quick, easy workout you can do at home, you should give it a go.

3-Essential Oils-I have become an essential oil freak.  I used to burn candles all the time to have my house smelling good, but now I constantly have some sort of oil running in my diffusers to not only make my house smell nice, but to keep us all healthy.  When it comes to keeping me balanced, I turn, of course, to DoTerra’s Balance.  🙂

I think I finally convinced my husband of the awesomeness of essential oils last week when he used my Tea Tree Oil on an ulcer in his mouth.  It was gone the next morning!

4-Eating Well- I’m not talking hours of meal planning or crazy shakes or anything like that. I once heard the advice that I should eat 5 servings of fruits/veggies every day, and that’s what I do.  I also try to drink plenty of water.  Doing those simple, non-time-consuming things makes me feel so much better and better-able to handle life’s craziness.

 

Our bodies are gifts from God, and it’s so important we take care of them.  When we do, we feel better, are kinder when faced with tough situations, and can find some balance in this chaos.

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