About hartsindurham

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Creating Good Sleep Habits

This post probably sounds like it’s for kids, doesn’t it? It’s actually about me and how I went from sleepless nights to getting the best sleep of my life. I told a friend recently that I was sleeping extraordinarily well and she was so excited to hear my secrets. I thought maybe you all would be too ;).

About 6 months ago I found myself in a really hard place. I was struggling big time with anxiety and depression and decided to make the switch from straight night shifts to all days to try to preserve at least some of my sanity. And to maybe have a hope of making it to the gym occasionally. In all, I was doing my best to make some healthy changes so I could actually feel better about…everything. I don’t know how many of you have tried to make a complete switch from shift work to a “normal” schedule, but it isn’t pretty. I thought my body would appreciate being up during daylight hours and asleep overnight, since that’s what God created it to do. And, truth be told, I’ve always been more of a morning person who loves to get in bed early. But my body just totally rebelled. I was awake at all hours and I only really wanted to sleep when it was inconvenient–you know, during the day when I had to actually take care of two kids.

Several months prior to this we had begun using essential oils to combat some bedtime anxiety one of our girls was dealing with. I had this bright idea…what if I started using some of them when I went to bed as well? We had seen a pretty big decrease in our little one’s bedtime struggles, I was pretty hopeful that I could find a combo that would help me sleep through the night. I ordered a couple oils rom Young Living that are supposed to help with relaxation and sleep. My favorites so far have been cedarwood with lavender, Peace and Calming with black pepper, and stress away by itself. Diffusing these at night helps me relax when I first get into bed and has also helped me sleep throughout the night.


The second thing I’ve been doing that really works is setting a bed time and a wake up time. I read Ruth Soukup’s book Unstuffed awhile ago and one of the things she recommends to simplify your life is to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day. She said if you’re consistent with this and make it a habit, your body will naturally get tired and wake up at the times you’ve set. Honestly, I wasn’t great about this until the girls were in school and we had to wake up at 6am every morning. Then, what do you know, I naturally got tired around 7pm! Ha, kidding…kind of. But it was much easier to call it a night at 10:30, and I feel like after a couple weeks of this we’re getting a lot better about saying no to “just one more episode!” and heading to bed around 10.





And then this little gem. I feel like this tip might actually work all on its own. I started taking melatonin when I was working night shift. I had such a hard time sleeping for more tan 4 hours on the days between my shifts. I started taking melatonin because it didn’t give me the same “hangover” feeling that Benadryl did. I was able to fully wake up when I wanted to instead of feeling dead tired until halfway through the next shift. I’ve tried several different brands of melatonin, these gummies but are hands down my absolute favorite. I don’t know if this is what makes the difference, but they’re a combo of melatonin, L-theanine and herbs like chamomile. And they WORK. I take two of these about 30 minutes before I go to sleep most nights. (Side note: they’re a bit pricier than some others I tried, but for me the benefit totally offsets the cost.) When I take two of these before bed and diffuse my oils, I sleep so well and I actually wake up feeling good. You know, after I’ve downed that first cup of coffee ;).

If you’re having trouble sleeping or if you’re just feeling like your sleep isn’t refreshing the way you want it to be, give this combo a try. Good sleep just makes such a difference in your day to day life and how you feel. I hope you can find a routine that works for you. If you’ve tried something that I didn’t mention, let me know in the comments!

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Friday Five


A whole week off with this cutie pie!

I didn’t really know what to expect this week. It’s been a reeeeally long time since I’ve Teddy by herself. And when I did we struggled. A lot. But she did so well this week! We kept busy with grocery shopping, a trip to the museum, a library visit, and we even had time to attend a literary event at JJ’s school. She was such a trooper and didn’t complain once all week. I told Corey halfway through the week that I just cannot believe how far she’s come. I love getting to spend time with my girls individually, hearing what they’re thinking and feeling, and seeing the different aspects of their personalities that come to light.


This L’Oréal Mascara

I’ve been using the same Cover Girl mascara for the last 8 years, but after trying this for the first time I was hooked! I noticed a difference in the length and volume of my lashes after just one coat.

I’ve got one coat on the right side and nothing on the left. See how much longer and fuller they are? I was thinking about getting false lashes, but I really feel like this mascara is almost as good.


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Sally Hansen Salon Pro Gel Starter Kit, Shell We Dance?

I got this 2 weeks ago, and I have been loving having gel nails without going to a salon. The hand sanitizer at work is especially brutal on traditional nail polish, so it’s really nice to go to work knowing I won’t ruin my fresh nails. I also think the Sally Hansen brand that I’m using comes off a lot easier and doesn’t take layers of my nails with it. The no drying time is a huge bonus as well! I loved that this kit was inexpensive (less than a gel mani at my favorite salon here in Durham!!), and my nail still looked great with no chipping or peeling for about 10 day–including 2 days at work which usually kills my nails! I’m just super pleased with this purchase.


Perfect Bars!

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I discovered these at Trader Joe’s a couple weeks ago and they are soooo good! I’ve been looking for a bar that is free of a ton of added “fake” ingredients but still tastes good. Honestly, I just can’t do the Larabars. I’ve tried and tried, but I just don’t like them. And who wants to eat food that doesn’t taste good?!  The Perfect Bars are made of real ingredients and–bonus!!–are packed with protein. These have been the perfect thing to grab when I’m running out the door for work in the morning. Plus they go great with coffee, and you know I’m a sucker for a treat with my coffee! 😉


This also happened 2 weeks ago, but I took my first girls’ trip since our kiddos have been home!

My friend Sarah and I flew out of RDU and went to visit my two besties in Columbus Ohio! And my sister was able to come down with baby Jesse, which was just icing on the whole cake. We had a blast.

I just can’t even tell you how refreshing it was to get away and relax with my friends for a weekend. I’m so very thankful for a husband who encourages me to take time to do fun things AND does a great job holding down the fort while I’m gone. 😊

We’re so excited for this weekend. I have Sunday off and we’re heading to the zoo with passes Teddy got for her birthday. I hope you have a great weekend too! ❤️


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First Day of School: Round 2

Well, after I blogged about our first ever day of school with Teddy, we turned around and had another first day with JJ about 2 weeks later. The girls are in two separate schools this year, which sounds like way more of a headache than it actually is ;). We’re able to manage pick up and drop off times easily on my days off, and we have childcare lined up for both on the days I work. One of our huge saving graces here is that Teddy’s school is right across the street from Corey’s workplace. He can drop Jovia at her school on the early side, swing through the drop off line with Teddy, and then head to work. I’m so thankful that even though this has been a big transition all the logistical details sort of fell into place.

It’s been a huge change, but both of our kids love school, and we’re really grateful for the schools they’re in. I’ve actually struggled a lot with the adjustment of not knowing what goes on every day and what and how they’re learning and still trying to help them at home. I really did enjoy seeing how their little minds worked and getting creative with how we did school. I also loved that I knew exactly what they were learning and how.

There are still some times that I miss the home school days, and I’m still struggling with a lot of guilt over making the decision to put the girls in school. I don’t tell you this to garner any sort of sympathy or praise. When I’m able to think this through logically, I still know that sending my kids to school does not make me a bad mom. It’s just that I’m slowly coming to this realization that there is often a difference in our parenthood ideal and our parenting reality. And even more slowly, I’m coming to terms with the fact that what I imagine to be best for my kids sometimes in reality just will not work for our family. And you know what? I think I’m finding some peace and rest in that. God has given me the life I have and the kids I have. If home schooling really was the better choice for our family, I have no doubt that He would change our circumstances to allow that. So for right now we find ourselves in the pulic school system and we’re just really really thankful for access to good education for our kids.

So, JJ. She was more excited for school than just about any kid I’ve ever known. There was not a day that went by in the weeks leading up to the beginning of the year that we didn’t hear about school and how thrilled she was to be going. And the questions. She had aout 50 million questions about what would happen and how. Most of them I could not aswer adequately (sorry, JJ) because this girl thrives on details and wanted every.little.one. Several days before her first full day she and Corey attended the school open house and were able to meet her teacher. That night she was over the moon with excitement over a teacher who has “brown skin just like me” and a little girl she already knew from our friends’ old neighborhood in her class. I think from that moment on she was literally counting the hours until she got to start school. Her excitement was contagious and relieved a lot of my anxiety about sending a kid who had never seen the inside of a classroom into second grade.

Does she look so sweet or what? Jjajja sent us first day of school dresses and this one had tiny elephants all over it and a crisscross back. Her sense of style is on point. 😉

I got to walk her into her classroom on the first day and meet her teacher quickly before saying goodbye. She skipped down the hallway, holding my hand and chattering about how great her classroom was and how much fun she was going to have.

e second day, she was ready to tackle the walk by herself. She stopped me about 30 yards from the front doors, said “I can go by myself now,” walked a little way, turned around and waved at me, then skipped the rest of the way to the doors.

And that’s that. She’s been just as enthusiastic about school every morning since. She’s put in a lot of hard work so far this year—she’s still really behind in a lot of areas—but she is loving the social aspect of attending school and her desire to learn has not waned. For now, this seems like a good fit and I’m so thankful for God’s provision and grace for my kiddos. ❤️