5 Reasons You Should Keep Fresh Blooms At Home

Happy Wednesday, loves!

When we got home from Texas this weekend, we had to hit the supermarket. Ordinarily, we might order groceries to have delivered when we land so that we can come home to what we need and focus on unpacking, but I needed flowers. I always keep fresh flowers in our home – and the Good Lord knows I cannot grow them without killing them – so I pick them up at Publix and display them throughout my home. However, I never trust someone else to pick out the right flowers – I have to look, touch, smell, and think about where I want them and what I’m trying to say.

So, I went to Publix to shop. While there, one of the gentlemen in the produce department said hello. I see him there a few times a week, and we always exchange pleasantries. This time he said to me, “I hope you’re not buying yourself flowers every time you’re in here. Someone else should be buying you flowers,” to which I responded that my husband both sends and brings me flowers regularly, so we’re all good.

At the register, the woman checking me out commented on them and asked who they were for (I should mention I had four or five dozen, so it probably did seem like a lot of flowers). When I told her they were to display at home, she gave me a look.

You know the look. The look. She was appalled that I’d buy that many flowers to put out at home. She called it a wasteful expense (first, I don’t recall asking for her opinion on how I choose to shop, and second, I mean, I was gone for basically two weeks and home for two days between trips – all of my flowers were dead and gone. I wasn’t replenishing a few here and there – I was replenishing all of them in the entire house).

It made me think.

I might be the only person I know who always has fresh flowers at home. Maybe it is a wasted and continuous expense. But, then again, they’re only $15 a dozen. That’s nothing, right?

And then I thought, you know what? I don’t give an actual you-know-what. I love flowers. What does it matter if anyone else approves of them? It does not. And, for that matter, they’re actually beneficial to have at home.

So, if you’re on the fence about whether you want to spring for flowers to keep at home, let me share some of the benefits of them with you.

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They Make You Happy

Do you really need another reason to keep fresh blooms at home? You do not, but I’ll elaborate because I’m chatty and all that. Fresh blooms make you smile. Smiling releases endorphins. Endorphins minimize stress. Smiling is pretty. Happy people are pretty people. Need I go on?

Fresh Flowers Create Fresh Air

Okay, okay…not all of them. But, did you know that some of my own personal favorites (Gerbers and lilies) clean the air? That’s right. They do something plant-y and magical that somehow removes toxins from the air. Clean air is the best air, and who doesn’t love the smell of fresh flowers?

Fresh Flowers Help You Sleep Better

Do you remember that one time I told you that fresh flowers clean the air by removing toxins? Right, well, those same flowers also allow you to get a better night of sleep because you’re breathing better while you get a little shut-eye. We talked about happy people being pretty people, but what about well-rested people without all the bags and the moodiness?

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Color Brightens Your Mood

It goes without saying that a little color goes a long way. Why do you think those of us who basically live in Lilly Pulitzer are so positive all the time? It’s all that color! It makes us happy! So, get some flowers, be happy, be beautiful, and be all the things you want to be. Who knew it was that easy?

Bye-Bye Anxiety

Here’s a deep thought for a Wednesday. Did you ever wonder why giving flowers to those who are ill or suffering or who recently lost someone is a thing? Someone passed? Send flowers. Someone is ill? Send flowers. Someone is having a birthday? Send flowers.

It’s because flowers create a physiological effect on your brain. It helps you feel less anxious. When you’re able to reduce your feelings of anxiety, you’re just a better, happier, more positive person. And all because of flowers. That’s why you send them to the ill. It helps them feel better because they lose some of that anxiety that’s got them even further down than their illness.

Basically, if you’re not living with fresh flowers at home, you’re a tired, cranky, moody, mean, anxious, stressed-out, fatigued, toxin-breathing mess. *insert shrug emoji here*

Well, maybe you’re not that bad. Maybe you are. What do I know? But, it can’t hurt to have a little color and a little freshness in the house, right?

And may I add one additional perk? If you know me at all, you know my thumb is brown. Y’all, I kill succulents. Fake succulents. I know, I know…but what I’m saying is that when you purchase fresh flowers to keep at home, there’s no let down. It’s like you buy them and you are both in agreement – they know their time on earth is short, and you know their time on earth is short. No one is worried that their time on earth is dependent solely on you remembering to do things like water them or whatever. It’s a mutual fling with zero expectation.

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National Clean Off Your Desk Day: Tips For Getting and Staying Organized

Happy Monday, loves!

Super fun fact: Did y’all know today is National Clean Off Your Desk Day? Well, it is; and I cannot think of a better Monday vibe. If you know me, you know I’m all about organization and cleanliness and all things OCD when it comes to being neat and clean and all that fun stuff.

Basically, this day speaks to me like no other.

I love organization. I live for cleanliness.

Isn’t that just ironic when I’m the mom of four? I’ve been instilling in my kids since day one that cleanliness is a real thing – not that Ava gets that, but she keeps her door shut and I avoid her room like the plague. Her idea of clean is too cluttered for my taste, so I just don’t go into her room. I want her to be independent and her own self, but she’s actually killing me.

Fortunately, the rest of my people are clean. And my desk is always clean. My office is always clean, to be quite honest. The kids aren’t allowed in our home office since we both work from home and we both have so many important items in our office.

It’s so important to understand the importance of an uncluttered, clean desk. Before I get to my clean desk tips, I want you to know what a clean desk can do for you.

  • Make you more motivated
  • Make you less stressed
  • Give you more time
  • Make your life easier

A clean desk means you’re not overwhelmed the moment you sit down.  You’re not spending valuable time searching for things, cleaning things out, or feeling like you cannot get organized. You’re more motivated to work at a clean desk. You’re less stressed when everything is neat and tidy.  Your life is easier because your mind is as uncluttered as your desk.  You’ll get more done, and you’ll get it done more efficiently.

How’s that for clean your desk of day motivation?

In honor of #nationalcleanoffyourdeskday I’m offering you a few tips that might help you keep things neat, clean, and as minimalistic as possible.

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Get Rid of It

You know you don’t need everything in your desk. Go through it with a trash bag on hand, and throw that junk away. Throw all of it away. What you cannot throw away, find a file or scan it or something. And that goes for everything on top of your desk, too.

Sign Up For Online Billing

If you’re looking for a simple way to keep your desk clean, try signing up for online billing. This keeps your desk clean and uncluttered because all of those bills you get each month go right to your inbox rather than your mailbox. Additionally, this is so much safer for your financial identity – keep that personal information out of your physical mailbox – and your desk cleanliness.

File It

I advocate for digital filing if you can make that a thing in your life. Scan it and create files on your computer in which you keep all your important stuff so it’s not in files around your office. Our home office is as uncluttered as you can imagine, and that’s because I keep everything digitally filed. We have our desks, we have one decorative table and lamp, and we have a sizable cabinet with a few shelves and a big cabinet. We keep as much on our computers as possible, and everything else gets filed into pretty files in the cabinet.

Make it A Habit

The best way to clean your desk is to keep it clean all the time. Put a trash can by your desk and put trash in it right away rather than shoving it in drawers. File things immediately rather than putting them in a ‘to do’ pile. You can make it a habit after a few weeks if you really dedicate your life to keeping your desk organized.

You don’t have to work from home to have a clean desk. And you don’t have to stop at your desk. Organizing your life makes it that much sweeter, and we are big advocates of a sweeter life.

Subscription Boxes: The Christmas Gift that Keeps On Giving

Happy Monday, loves!

It is officially December, and that is officially exciting! We’ve been living our best lives over here the past few weeks, and I’ve been a little MIA. Last week was a crazy one. Thanksgiving was the week before last, and it was a beautiful week. Family, friends, food, and so much love. We have so much to be thankful for, and we certainly don’t take that for granted.

Last week was back to normal except not normal. Carter developed a viral infection that turned into a double ear infection that he shared with his twin sister. He was out of school 4.5 days (he left early Monday) and she was out the last two days of the week. It was a hectic week in general, but we made it work.

This week is just as crazy. I’m up even earlier than 5 am all week to get a few hours of work in before I have to be at the girls’ school to do my PTA board member duties with my PTA sister wives at the Gingerbread Shoppe all day, every day, and into the night Friday because of the Winter Festival with Santa. It’s the mom life, and I love it. It totally helps that my PTA sister wives are the most inappropriate, hilarious, completely insane, questionable, fabulous women imaginable – as am I – and we work very, very well together.

Because of that, I worked my behind off last week and over the weekend to get ahead on my deadlines so I don’t stress myself out this week, and I basically killed it. I also killed my second ever 5k this weekend – if you remember that I only began running the last week of April this year. I ran all 3.1 (except it was really 3.33) miles without stopping – in the pouring rain. I did 3 miles in 28:47 and finished overall in 30:58.14 – 99th place out of 206 runners. And I’m really, really proud of myself.

And then I shopped online for things. All the things. Because I love to shop, and I love to give gifts to the people I love, so Christmas is my jam. And while I was shopping online for all the things and my husband was going through his yearly tradition of wondering what kinds of gifts to get me since we buy what we want when we want it, I had a thought.

Subscriptions.

Subscription services are the best thing ever right now. Who doesn’t love to get new things all the time while paying a small fee for it? Boxes that show up on your doorstep filled with things that you love? It’s a win-win for everyone since these are typically the one gift that no one ever has.

That said, I’m going to share a few of the lesser-known subscription boxes that I think will become huge before much longer – and they’re not all boxes; some are just subscriptions – because I love them and have them at home. It literally is the gift that keeps on giving.

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photo from sephora.com

Play! By Sephora

It’s not like it’s a big secret that I’m totally obsessed with Sephora. It’s where I’ve done all my beauty and haircare shopping for the past 15 years of my life, and I was not about to pas sup this box when I saw it a few months ago. The box comes monthly, it’s small, and it has a few fun-size samples and larger sizes in the boxes. Every month is totally different, but you also get to fill out a questionnaire when you sign up for it that allows you to customize your personal needs (is your skin oily or dry? Do you prefer bright colors or muted colors?) so they always send you something you can use.

This box costs a grand total of $10.60 per month, and it’s so much fun. It always comes with 4-5 items all in the trial-size portions. Perfume, lip stick, mascara, moisturizer, and so much more. You even get a gift card that gives you 50 free Beauty Insider points to add to your next purchase if you enter it at check out. This box is my favorite because it allows me to try new things I might not otherwise try, and I can decide for 10 bucks if I love them, hate them, or have no feelings for them whatsoever.

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photo from art of organics 

Art of Organics

This box has become one of my favorites ever since the company reached out to me and asked me if I’d like to try it out. It’s all about clean beauty delivered monthly to your door. This box comes with two to four products every month, and they are beyond amazing. What’s even better – they are full-size products. No sample or trial sizes here, thank you very much.

Every box has a theme. It might be a hair care month. It might be a winter box. It might be a skin care box. It might anything, but it’s always amazing. You can choose to order one box at a time for $41.95 monthly, buy six boxes at a time for $39.95 a box ($239.70 one time payment) or buy a full year of boxes for $455.40 ($37.95 per box).

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photo from cosmobox

CosmoBox

Thank you, Cosmo, for sending this to our lives. It is the best. It’s a box with all of the latest and greatest in beauty, fashion, and lifestyle items. You get to try them out every months for a grand total of $29.99 per month. This box always contains more than $60 in goodies, so it’s a great deal. It is another on that lets you try new things for a great price – which is always a win!

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photo from the bouqs company 

The Bouqs Company

If you’re anything like me, you love fresh flowers. I cannot go without them in my home, and you will never find us without fresh flowers in most rooms. This is a perfect subscription for anyone who loves beautiful flowers. For $32 per month, you get to have a fresh floral arrangement delivered to your front door. It’s always different, always seasonal, and always makes you feel so much happier when you see it arrive. It’s your personal best, and you will love it.

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photo from target

Cat & Jack Outfit Box from Target

So…new moms. Here you go. You’re welcome, and you’re going to love this. If you know a new mom, this will cost you $40 per month. It’s all kinds of adorable Cat & Jack (you know the brand from Target) clothing that is delivered monthly – and they even send the next size up as your baby grows. They keep track of all of it for you, and it might be the best idea since, well, anything else.

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Rent the Runway Update

If you have someone in your life who loves designer clothing and accessories, you want to spend the $80 per month on this shipment. It’s four items that come to your door. You get to keep them for one month. You get to choose what you want so you always have four gorgeous news items in your closet to wear for one month. If they don’t fit, send them back and they will ship you new ones. Hate something? Send it back and you’ll get a new one. You get to choose what you want, how you want it, and you get to have it all sent to your door. It’s hundreds to thousands of dollars worth of designer clothes shipped to you every month.

The best part is that you can customize the shipment every month to meet your needs. Going on vacation? Get all the Lilly Pulitzer. Is it the holiday season? Order all the beautiful red dresses. You can update your wardrobe monthly without any commitment, and that’s what makes this the best box on the market.

Fall Favorites for the Home

Happy fall, y’all!

I know, I know. It’s not officially fall until September 22 (right?), but it’s officially official in my house effective September 1. If there’s college football on television, it’s fall. I mean, it’s never actually fall in Florida, but there are faux pumpkins on my mantel, so it’s fall.

I can justify just about anything in my life, for real. It’s amazing how I can magically believe that any day now  – as of September 1 – I can look at my weather app and the 15-day forecast and expect that at any not fall, and that’s what the weather says for the next 15 days every single day that I check it. But, really, any day now. I just know it.

It’s officially September, which is the first official month of the most exciting and wonderful time of the year for me. This is the time of year I live for, and I cannot even hide my excitement. There’s so much excitement in our house this time of year, and I love it. It’s my birthday month (hey, 35). It’s college football (Go Gators). It’s fall (I know, I know). It’s everything I love the most about the year.

We just spent the weekend on a little vacation to a place we’ve never been. We’ve been Floridians our entire lives, but we always prefer to spend our vacation time out of the state seeing the world rather than traveling our own state, but we tried West Palm Beach for the weekend. Let me tell you about the love I have for Palm Beach right now. The moment we drove over the bridge onto Palm Beach Island, I fell in love. The amazingly gorgeous homes with so much character and all the flowers growing up the walls. The beautiful Breakers resort. Worth Avenue. I felt right at home driving along the coast without any touristy stuff blocking our view of the ocean or high-rise buildings in the way of the gorgeous landscape. And all my favorite stores on one street is one way to put a smile on my face.

We thoroughly enjoyed our stay in Palm Beach, and we’re already thinking about another trip – because I am dying to stay at the Brazilian Court Hotel now – but the entire time we were there spending the weekend with our littles, I was kind of sad about missing my annual fall decorating on September 1. Putting it off until the third made me a little sad. Like, I lost two whole days of fall.

Thankfully, the time passed, we came home, and my house now looks like fall. I’m just waiting on my weather app to get with the program.

On that note, I want to share my fall must-haves with you. There are certain things I cannot go without every year in my home, and I know you’ll love them as much as I do.

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Fall Scents

I love Bath & Body Works candles. I am a sucker for their fall fragrances. The one, this one, and this one are my favorites. I prefer the single-wick candles for smaller rooms such as bathrooms and hallways, and the 3-wick versions for the kitchen and living areas of the house. There is a good reason for this; the single-wick candles don’t put off nearly as much scent as the 3-wick candles, and our main area needs a 3-wick or we just don’t smell it. The space is too large for one small candle, so I highly recommend you get the 3-wicks if you have a large space to freshen.

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Fall Soaps

Okay, I know – but I really don’t love the soaps in any of our bathrooms or our kitchen to smell like the wrong time of year. I change out the soaps every season, and I always use the B&BW foaming hand soap. It’s my favorite, and these are our favorite scents here, here, and here.

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Flameless Glitter Candles

These flameless candles are my favorite. I haven’t bought them in silver yet, but I think I’m going to for Christmas this year. I bought gold ones and green ones years ago, and I love them this time of year. They really do make a statement that’s still elegant enough to not feel tacky during the fall season. They make great accents on the table where you might not want an open flame because of little hands or the passing of plates.

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White Pumpkins

Over the past four years, I’ve gradually found myself falling more and more in love with all things white. Perhaps it’s this house. It’s so farmhouse-like, and I love how white, bright, and open it is. It’s a dream, and I recently realized that I’ve removed all the colored pumpkins and other décor from my life in favor of white pumpkins. These are some of my favorite, and I know you’ll love them. They’re sophisticated and fun, but they’re still seasonally appropriate.

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Thankful Wood Sign

This is probably my favorite piece. I have it on the mantel in our family room. It’s where we spend the most time in our house since it’s right off the kitchen, and it’s where we have the most beautiful natural light come through from all the doors and windows. It’s my favorite room in the house, and I love that we have this constant reminder to be thankful. To quote Pinterest, “There are so many beautiful reasons to be grateful,” and I cannot agree more. We live a life filled with abundance; we have the most spectacularly beautiful people in our lives, a house filled with laughter (and some yelling…but a lot more laughter), and happy hearts. We are thankful for this life we lead with our God leading the way for us, and we love the reminder.

Transitioning Back to A School Routine and Schedule for the Whole Family

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Happy Monday, loves!

It’s the first day of school, and we have the most excited kids you’ve ever met! Addison begins her first day of 5th grade, Ava begins her first year as a 2nd grader, and the twins begin VPK. We are all so excited about today, and we can’t hide it! Addy can’t wait to get her Safety Patrol Belt and find out where she’s positioned – and it’s been really hard keeping that a secret from her the past few days!

Ava can’t wait to see if her teacher is wearing the special necklace she made her, which is another secret I’ve been keeping for a few days! The twins are so excited to be ‘big kids’ and carry their new lunch boxes (by the way, if I haven’t raved about Pottery Barn Kids products before, can I take a moment to do so right now? We’ve been ordering the kids their lunch boxes and backpacks from PBK since they began school, and every year their items last all year, they stay clean, and they don’t break. They look as good at the end of the year they do at the beginning. The only reason we buy new ones is because it’s so ‘boring’ to carry the same back pack and lunch box for more than a year).

Unfortunately, I’ve been battling what I think is a severe sinus infection since Wednesday. It’s either that or a cold, but I can’t catch a break. I have intense pressure in my sinuses, and that results in a terrible headache. My throat hurt for the first three days – just a little, though – and didn’t really hurt over the weekend, so I’m not sure where I stand. Addison began to feel poorly on Friday, and she was ready to go home from the school and rest. Carter has been pretty lethargic, and Ava’s had some sore throat issues off and on since Thursday.

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Our weekend was spent in bed. Literally, we were all asleep before 7 Friday night. We all slept late (well, late for us) Saturday, and we spent the day on the couch relaxing. Sunday was a repeat of Saturday, and we are all feeling much better this morning.  Except for this awful sinus pressure (recommendations? I can’t take allergy meds. I feel so loopy, sick, and terrible when I take them, so if anyone has any suggestions, that would be amazing!). I slept for 15 hours Saturday night and into Sunday, we skipped church, and we spent two solid days in our pajamas reading, watching movies, napping, and just being the laziest and germiest family you’ve ever met.

I knew this would happen, though. We had the roughest (it was so much fun, but it was tiring) weekend last weekend. Two midnight or later nights in a row, no time at home at all during the days, two parties, a date night, and a family gathering. We slept and showered at home, and definitely not enough of the sleep part. This week meant I needed to be up earlier to get more work done since I was gone from the house almost every day and evening for PTA duties, school functions, cheer practices, and appointments in between meeting deadlines. I overdid it, the kids overdid it, and we needed a weekend off.

Now it’s Monday, it’s back to school day, and the excitement is palpable!

With that, I wanted to share a few quick ways to make the start of the school year a little more manageable and easier. The transition is always a little difficult. No schedule all summer to a normal schedule takes a little time to grow accustomed to.

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It’s All Right to Struggle

You are not alone. If the first week or two with the new schedules and routines kind of throws you off after a summer of sleeping in, lounging around, doing what you want to do, and not being accountable for anything or anyone, it’s all right. Don’t add to the stress by being hard on yourself. Give yourself grace, and understand you will get through this. And, know you are not alone. We all feel the struggle. It’s real.

Prep Ahead of Time

I always make my kids pick out their outfit the night before school. This week, I’ve made them choose their outfits, accessories, and shoes for the entire week, and line them up in their closets so each morning is easier than the one before. We like to get as much done the night before as possible, and that includes packing all the non-perishable lunch items, organizing back packs, and loading what we can load ahead of time into the car.

Organize Lunches

Our kids won’t eat school lunch. I’m okay with that because I never ate it, either. But we have four of them, and that means packing lunches is a thing. The twins are in VPK, and that means they have to have a morning snack, an afternoon snack, and lunch. And everything must be labeled with their first and last names, and it must be separated into the correct area every morning before school begins.

And all four kids like different things. What we did is buy several bins, and we designated the fourth shelf in the pantry as the school lunches shelf. Their water bottles and Gatorades for the week are lined up. Their snacks are in one bin. Their chips in another bin. Their non-cold fruit in another bin. Their main food is in another (i.e. Addison likes a deli sandwich every day, so the bread we like from the deli is in this bin, and so are the English Muffins that Charlotte likes for lunch, and so are the miniature club crackers Carter likes as the “main” dish to his fruit).

The rest of the fruit is in the fridge, but we cut it up and put it in the correct containers the evening before to keep it as fresh as possible. Everything is clearly labeled in the bins and on the containers, and Craig just has to throw it in their lunch boxes along with their ice packs every morning.

This also helps us realize when we are running low on one thing or another so we can put it on the grocery list and make sure we don’t have any early morning panic attacks if so and so is out of their favorite whatever.

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Create A Morning Schedule

Our kids know they get out of bed, sit down at the bar while Craig makes their breakfast, and then they get dressed once they put their plates in the sink and clean up after themselves. They brush their teeth, put their shoes on, and they wait for me to call them for hair time when I’m doing working for the morning. Once hair is done, they give Craig hugs and kisses and head straight for the car. They load themselves into the car, and we go. They know the routine.

Consider A Reward

We also make sure each morning runs smoothly by bribing them with a Friday morning donut date. The stipulation is that all four of them must follow every morning instruction in a timely manner without being asked repeatedly, and they must do it with a positive attitude. If just one of them falls apart and can’t handle it, none of them get to go on a pre-school donut date on Fridays. Trust me when I say this encourages teamwork and a lot fewer hectic, crazy, upsetting situations in the mornings for all six of us.

Have Fun

Our kids love to pick their favorite songs or their favorite movie to watch in the car. We let everyone have a turn, and it keeps them excited to get into the car. We might choose a new movie they’ve never seen to put in the DVD player for the first week or so of school, and then they go back to wanting to listen to their favorite music. We all sing, dance, and make the ride to school fun. It really does help.

Take A Deep Breath

New schedules and routines are a little difficult, so give yourself some time to grow accustomed to it. Our schedule is all off this year, and we won’t even really start our new one until next week, and I know I’m a little stressed about it.

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But we will get through it. Our nephew’s mother is building her new house by the girls’ school – which is an amazing school – and he’ll be zoned to go there once it’s done in a few months. However, she is the guidance counselor at another school, which starts two hours earlier than the kids’ school. Her son is going into kindergarten this year. She will be dropping him off at our house every morning to have breakfast and get ready for school. I’ll now take him, too.

But the good news is that she will pick up the twins from school every afternoon so I don’t have to go to two schools in two different towns every afternoon. She’ll come to our house and drop them off, pick up our nephew, and it will all be fine. Addy does have to be at school early and stay late for her Safety duties, but we will definitely manage. We can do this.

See, I’m already stressed! But in a few weeks, I’ll be fine. Now, say a prayer for me as I’m headed to school to drop my babies off on their first day of VPK and then handle all the parents as they want to walk their kids to class for the first day at the girl’s school. I don’t know exactly what I’ll be doing yet, but I know that it’s going to involve something like 850 kids and their parents – and it’ll be stressful, but it’s what I love. Being present in the kids’ lives and in their schools makes me happy because it makes them happy. I wouldn’t trade it.

Summer Bucket List: Per My Kids

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Summer is here.

Oh, who am I kidding…we are Floridians. It’s always summer. But it’s really summer now that the humidity is back in full force and the kids are out of school for another 10 weeks (yes, I’m counting).

I don’t love summer. I don’t love saying that, but it’s true. I’m not a fan of sweating, humidity, frizzy hair, choking while trying to breathe outside…and mosquitoes. I’m also not a big fan of the beach, believe it or not. I’m a 35-year Floridian, and it pains me to go to the beach. I don’t like the feel of sand or the feel of salt water.

Don’t get me wrong…I love to look at the beach. I’m a big fan of sitting on the balcony at the Loft at the Montage Resort in Laguna Beach and looking at it. I once spent 10 glorious days overlooking the crashing waves of the Pacific from our suite balcony at the Turtle Bay Resort on the North Shore of Oahu – and never once touched the beach.

I could sit at the indoor/outdoor bar at the Ritz-Carlton Ft. Lauderdale with a glass of Sauvignon Blanc watching the ocean all day long. But don’t ask me to touch it. The problem is having kids who love the beach. And they love it from up close and personal. Oh the sacrifices we make for our kids.

Summer isn’t my favorite season for so many reasons, but perhaps the biggest reason is all my mom guilt. I have a serious case of mom guilt in the summer. My husband and I both work from home. He works set hours for his company, and I work for myself. While I do get to choose my hours and when I work because I am the owner of my company, I still have to get the work done – and I’m not a fan of working late nights or afternoons. I like to work early in the morning and get all my deadlines met by noon each day so I have free afternoons.

However, this means boring mornings for the kids, and I don’t love that. Don’t get me wrong; they don’t mind it. They like to read, they like to play outside, and they love to create art and play games. But I always feel like I’m not giving them enough. I like for them to be bored…it gives them creativity and teaches them to use their imagination. My job is not to provide them with endless entertainment every moment of every day. That’s not good for any of us. But…I can’t shake that guilt from time to time.

That’s why we create a bucket list every summer. I let the kids choose what they want to do, and it never fails to warm my heart. My kids want the simplest things in life, and I love that. They get to do so much and experience so many of the ‘big’ things in life, and I secretly love that they really love the little things. I do feel guilty about that, too, however. Are we doing too much with them and sacrificing the littlest things? I don’t know…but I wanted to share their bucket list with you for our summer.

  • Have our cousins over for sleepovers so much
  • Have sleepovers at grandma and grandpa’s house
  • Swim
  • Go to the beach
  • Have ice create dates
  • Make cookies
  • Do more art
  • Read more books outside
  • Play hide and seek
  • Go somewhere we’ve never been
  • Visit great-grandma’s farm in Texas
  • Go to our favorite hotels for the weekends
  • Have more movie nights
  • Make s’mores (after the twins’ go to bed because they are dangerous little people)
  • Get a sprinkler to play in
  • Go bowling
  • Play cards
  • Ride our bikes
  • Stay home more often

How can you not love something so simple? I love it.

You’ll note our bucket list is not filled with things like “Go to Disney,” or a lot of other outdoor activities that don’t involve water. We’re annual passholders, and the last thing we will ever do during the summer months is go to Disney. You’ll see us there all the time between September and April, but May through August is like pure torture for all of us.

We are already making a lot of fun summer memories a week into it. We’ve had card games every night after the twins are in bed, and we spent four days out of town last weekend swimming every single day. We also had the entire weekend to have a sleepover with the cousins as they came with us – the grandmas, too. We’ve made a ton of art, and we are going bowling with our friends this morning. We fly to Texas next month to see my grandmother, and the kids are excited to visit the farm. They love it, but probably because our niece and nephew are going with my parents and they just get more time with them there.

We’re off to a good start. What are some of the things you do with your kids during the summer? Do you feel the same mom guilt as I do? I try to remind myself that it’s fine for my kids to feel bored, and that we don’t need to go do something exciting and amazing every single day. Fortunately, we do a lot and our kids beg for time home. They like to be relaxed, and that helps when I’m feeling the guilt!

Bad Days: Sometimes You Just Can’t Change Them (and that’s all right)

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What. A. Weekend.

Happy Tuesday, loves! Well, I’m hoping for a lovely, happy Tuesday. As I write this on Monday afternoon, I’m not very happy. Honestly, I had a whole different blog post in mind for today, but I’m inspired by my own bad attitude and moodiness.

Nothing makes me happy today.

We had the most amazing weekend. My husband and I got away for three days to Tampa, which is only about an hour away but still one of our favorite local cities. We stayed at one of our favorite Tampa hotels so we could wake up everyday to water views, gorgeous sunsets over the water, and coffee brought right to us in bed.

We had amazing dinners. We had middle-of-the-night room service. We spent an evening with Thomas Rhett and Kenny Chesney. We got to see friends – old and new – and we even got to get up in the mornings and run along the shore. We got to spend three solid days focusing on one another, and loving it. It was amazing.

We came home Sunday afternoon to all four of our kids in delightful, sweet, beautiful moods. They were dolls – all night long. We found some serious motivation to paint our master bedroom after we unpacked and did all the laundry, and we even worked a bit before ending up on the couch at 8:30 for some downtime. It was a stellar weekend.

And today, I hate everything.

  • I didn’t want to get out of bed
  • I (myself and no one else) put us running a million years behind this morning
  • I didn’t accomplish what I wanted to accomplish work-wise before I left to take the kids to school
  • My husband was setting up his new wireless earbuds and didn’t hear me when I was talking to him, and apparently today he gets no second chances in my mean eyes
  • Ava was pissed all morning and refused to tell me she loves me when I dropped her off because I snapped at her when she took her tablet into the twins’ school and 1 – bumped into someone else’s stuff and knocked it all over because she wasn’t paying attention and then 2 – bumped right into someone’s kid and knocked him down because she wasn’t paying attention
  • Addison has gymnastics and tumbling on Monday nights. An hour away. I hate that stupid drive and cannot wait for her to finish these classes when cheer starts again in June – yet I don’t want to send Craig tonight because the other option is spending the evening alone with the other three kids who were all whiny and annoying this morning…so…
  • My monthly visitor is only a few days away
  • I’m annoyed that I can’t find a real reason to be annoyed
  • It wasn’t the rainy day that it started out as. In fact, it’s mostly been sunny and I wanted a rainy day
  • Every time my husband tries to put me in a better mood today, I find myself side-eyeing him
  • I feel bad that I snapped at Ava and the mom-guilt is real

Honestly, I’m in a terrible mood today. And I’ve done all my usual things to try and alleviate it.

  • I worked outside on the deck
  • I drank lots of water and a cup of tea
  • We went to the gym and I ran hard on the treadmill and then did weights
  • I did deep breathing
  • I tried to replace my thoughts with happy ones
  • I tried to calm the eff down
  • I tried to shop online
  • I took another shower and tried to wash off the bad mood
  • I tried to remind myself that I have no reason t be a raging b*tch today or that I should be thankful this monthly mood doesn’t typically hit me this bad.

NOTHING IS WORKING.

So, I’m embracing my inner asshole, minimizing my contact with all humans, and trying to suck it up, buttercup. So far, no good.

But…there’s always Tuesday morning. I’ve made the executive decision to just let this roll today and focus on not allowing tomorrow to be the same kind of blah day as today.

I’m grateful my days aren’t usually like this, and I realize wholeheartedly I sound like an entitled, whiny, obnoxious brat today. I do. I can’t seem to change it, but y’all…I get it. I do. And I’m sorry to all the people I side-eyed today. Honey, I’m sorry I wasn’t nice when you didn’t know I was talking to you because you had music playing in your earbuds and  you weren’t facing my direction to know I was talking to and I decided that was not a valid or sufficient reason to not subconsciously know that I was speaking to you and that you should be a mind-reader.

To the people who smiled at me in the gym and received the RBF, I apologize. To anyone on the road today, I apologize for the names I called you in my mind. Anyone I missed, I’m probably sorry.

Lesson Learned

As someone who typically works my way out of a bad mood quickly, this kind of day is rough on me. I’d like to think it would be easier if I could blame it on something tangible, but the truth is I’m just in a funky bad mood and I just can’t work my way out of it no matter what I do today. So, I’m turning it into a lesson learned, I’m letting it be, and I’m just trying not to take it out on anyone else. And then I’m putting it away and starting over in the morning.

Days like today don’t come around often, and I’m eternally thankful for that!

Working from Home: Answering FAQs About the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

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{Photo: Her Creative Studio)

If you follow me on Instastories, you may have noticed I posted a story last week of me sitting in my dining room with my laptop, iPad, and notes working away after being forced out of my home office in annoyance. In fact, I know you noticed because I receive so many DMs about it. Rather than try and answer all of them individually (especially since so many of them were the same questions) I thought I’d rearrange my blog schedule and add a little work from home FAQ in here today.

I hope you’re all enjoying your last day of a long three-day weekend! Our weekend was gorgeous. Lots of quality time at home on Saturday before date night Saturday night, and we spent yesterday with the kids at Disney. They had a blast, the weather was cool and gorgeous, and it was a pretty sweet day.

Today, we’re back in our office working hard while the kids run rampant around the house like animals. Actually, they mostly play quietly together aside from the “Can I have a snack?” break they take every 30 seconds or so. I’ll cut my day short in my office this morning around 10, which gives me a solid four hours or so to work and the rest of the day to keep the kids happy. I have some errands to run, we have dinner with friends tonight, and prep for the kids to go back to school tomorrow to handle, so short day for mama.

And now that I’m completely off topic, you’re bored. It’s cool. No one thinks the mundane life of Publix runs and gym time and kid stuff is as interesting as the actual person handling it – and honestly, I’m not super entertained by it myself right now. So back to the work-from-home stuff. You have questions, I have answers.

  1. What do you do and what does your husband do?

I’ll start with me, since I’m the writer and, well, ladies first. I’m a writer. No, not a book author. I have the blog, but what I do is web content creation. I’ve been doing it almost 10 years now, and I’ve been building a client list that’s extensive over the course of that time.

I write a little of everything. There were a few years I wrote parenting articles for What to Expect. There were a few years I worked with the NFL traveling to NYC to their offices every few months to work with a panel of other creators on the Heads Up Program. However, most of my clients are either website owners looking for me to create their content.

Most of my clients are automobile dealers, insurance companies, law firms, dental offices, rehab facilities, limo companies, television spoilers, plumbing and HVAC companies, and even a few landscape design companies. They’re located all over the country. I write their landing pages, their blog posts, and anything else they contract me to write. My blog is my creative outlet, and I really enjoy my clients.

What does my husband do? That is a good question. I honestly don’t have a damn clue. His official title is Senior Systems Engineer. He works for a company based out of Tampa, and he sits quietly at his desk all day long working away doing God-knows-what and talking on the phone using language I don’t understand. I understand so very little of what he actually does I can say, “Sounds like a rough day,” and he’ll be like, “What? No, it’s been a great day. So productive,” and I’m over here thinking if his day was my day, I’d have scratched my eyes out by now. But he loves it, he’s super smart, and he’s a total geek.

He’s been doing this since 2016. Before that, he was IT for a bank for 16 years. He’s loyal. He works hard, and he’s smart. He’s also never been happier than he has been working from home, interrupting me constantly with his loud phone calls, and occasionally glaring at me when the doorbell rings again because another package has been delivered.

If you asked me what’s hard about him being home working with me, it’s that. He is unimpressed our UPS and Fed Ex guys know my name, and how many times a week they’re here. But, he doesn’t ask questions. And I’m totally off topic again.

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  1. How do you work together in the same office all day?

Most days we work really well together and there’s no problem. Occasionally, however, I find myself kicking myself out of our office (um, sometimes I like to point out that I’m self-exiling myself from MY home office that he crashed considering I’ve been working from home almost ten years and he’s been here like 2, but only when I’m really annoyed and potentially a little petty) to work elsewhere.

Sometimes it’s just because I’m a creative person, and a change of scene is good for me. I might work on the front porch, on the lanai, in bed, in the family room, the dining room, the back deck. I might even take my computer and go work out of the house if I’m really feeling distracted or in a rut. Other times I just have to get out of the office because there are a few clients my husband speaks to on the phone that must speak very loudly, because suddenly his indoor voice disappears and his conversations are loud. I can shoot him the same, “Shhh,” warning look I use on the kids, and it works just as well; sheepishly quiet for a second and then back to decibels that make my ears bleed. He can’t help it, though.

He feeds off whomever it is he’s speaking to. If he’s speaking to his dad on the weekends or at night, he develops his dad’s North Carolina accent. If he’s speaking to a client with a naturally loud and boisterous voice, he’s also loud and boisterous. And sometimes that drives me nuts, but most of the time I’m cool with it.

To get back to actually providing a useful answer to the question; we work well together. He works for someone else, I work for myself, so we don’t do the same thing. I work. He works. We are both workaholics, and we both focus hard on our work.

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{Photo: Her Creative Studio}

  1. Don’t you get sick of one another being together all day every day?

Nope. It’s kind of hard to get sick of someone you don’t actually speak to all day long. Again, we do different things. I need to concentrate because I’m writing, and my train of thought is going at a rapid pace. He’s on the phone, he’s on the computer, on conference calls, whatever. Believe it or not, we communicate less now that our desks are in the same room only 10 feet apart than we did when he worked at the bank 45 minutes away from our home.

In those days, he’d text me throughout the day to tell me he loved me, to see how my day is going, to check in, whatever. I’d respond. We’d chat. Now we can see how one another’s day is going, we’re 10 feet apart all day long, and we don’t text throughout the day anymore. We keep strict schedules and we both love what we do, so we’re working.

“I love you, be safe,” “I love you back,” “Do you need anything from Publix?” “Can I get you another cup of coffee while I’m up?” “Oh, look, Fedex/UPS is here. Again,”

Those are kind of the only words we speak to one another throughout the day. We do try to make time to take a walk and have lunch together most days for a little fresh air and quality time, and we’re good about it most days. It’s nice, and it’s one of my favorite parts of the day.

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{Photo: Her Creative Studio}

  1. Do you work the same hours?

Kind of and not really. We do, but we don’t. Again, he does not work for himself, so he technically works certain hours throughout the day from 8 to 5 where I work when my creative juices are flowing most freely. I’m exceptionally motivated and most creative in the morning. I’m a morning person, so I’m up at five working while he and the kids sleep. My husband is amazing handling the lunch packing, school-readying, and the kids in the mornings so I can work uninterrupted until it’s time to leave the house at 8 to get all four of them to school.

One of my biggest complaints as a work-from-home mom for the 8 years I did this before he started working from home was missing out on my most creative work time to get everyone fed and dressed and take to school. When he began working from home, he offered to take that over so I could have that time to work in the mornings. It’s been amazing, and he so appreciates everything I’ve ever done handling that part of the day on his own. Mornings with four kids are exhausting. More accurately, they’re a bitch.

While he works all day, I’m in and out. I handle anywhere from 10,000 to 20,000 words per day, though I try not to schedule myself more than 15,000 words per day most days. I only need five to six hours a day to work to meet my deadlines, get my life in order, and answer emails, and update my checklists and calendars. So my day looks a little different.

I leave at 8:15ish to take the kids to school. Three days a week I’m home around 10 because I go to the YMCA to work out in the gym after dropping them off at their respective schools and I work the rest of the day. Two days a week I’m home by 9:10, back at my desk until 10:50 and then I leave for yoga. I’m back by 12:10, and we have lunch, I’m back to my desk by 1, and I work nonstop until it’s time to leave at 3:20 to pick the kids up. He’s at his desk all day unless we take lunch together and walk. I’m in and out.

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{Photo: Her Creative Studio}

  1. Do you really work all day or do you find yourself doing other things because I’d never get anything done if I worked from home?

Let me be clear; working from home is not for everyone. You must be disciplined. Craig works for someone else, so he has hours he needs to work – and he does not leave his desk unless he needs another cup of coffee or he is getting something to eat or we are taking lunch together. I work for myself, so my schedule is definitely flexible, but I also have a rigid schedule working around the kids and working out. We aren’t distracted.

We are surprisingly good at not allowing things to distract us. We’re in our office, so we can’t see the rest of the house to be distracted. We have no television in our office. We are tidy people, so there’s nothing that needs our attention throughout the house. We keep the laundry done every day, dishes are washed as they’re used or put in the dishwasher, the kids pick up their things before they go to school. Everything is always clean, so there’s nothing to distract us.

I don’t have to be in my office all day long, but I have contracts with my clients. I’m paid not only by word, but also by the quality of my content as well as my ability to meet all my deadlines. If I take time off during the day, I’m making it up that night. I don’t love that, so I don’t do that often. I don’t get vacation or sick days. We love to travel and do so often, but I’m working double, nights, weekends, skipping my workouts, and even cancelling other plans to get work done so we can travel, and I don’t have to take my computer with.

Running a business is a 24/7 job, but I love it. I’m disciplined like you would not believe, and so is Craig. It takes serious work ethic to get up at 5 am every morning and get into your office even when you don’t ‘have’ to. I try so hard not to work at night or on the weekends so I can spend that time with my family and keep a healthy work/life balance, but it’s almost always impossible. I love what I do, so it’s hard for me to put it down.

  1. What’s the worst thing about working from home?

Um…I want to eat all day. That’s a struggle. The biggest struggle is other people. I think it’s hard for some people to understand that our jobs are no different than theirs other than we’re doing it from home rather than from someone else’s office, so we are not free all day long. We can’t just stop what we are doing to answer the door for people and let them kill an hour because they’re between appointments and have nothing else to do, or help them with their errands, or whatever. I get it, but it’s an interruption of our workday. We both have calls, we both have deadlines, we both have things we need to have done at a certain time during the day; and we can’t just stop. It’s hard to explain that to people (and I’m sitting here waiting on a call from my mom asking me if it’s her…it is).

The other problem is days off of school. When the kids don’t have school on a day like today and they’re all home – struggle. It’s hard when it’s two kids, but it’s impossible when it’s all four. I usually have to find a creative way to get things done all day while they’re home, and it’s a problem. Love them, but omg.

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  1. Why do you get dressed every day if you don’t have to?

All right – so, yes, I do get dressed every day. Craig – nope. He’s gone from suit and tie for 16 years to basically wearing nothing but basketball shorts and tees all day long unless we’re going somewhere and he puts on real clothes. I get dressed every morning. Even on mornings I work out right after dropping the kids off, I still put on real clothes when I go pick the kids up. I just don’t feel comfortable leaving the house without dressing. I love fashion, I love to look nice, and I never leave the house without hair and makeup. I don’t love the way I feel when my hair and makeup are not done, and I find it puts me in a bad mood if I feel sloppy or lazy.

But in the interest of being transparent, I don’t leave my clothes on all day. If you see me on Instagram in the morning with a pair of five-inch Manolos on my feet, it’s because that’s what I’m wearing that day. I’m not dishonest about my OOTD posts, but I’m not in it all day. I’m literally naked about three seconds after I walk in the door until I can get to the bathroom to get my robe. I’m in my robe all day long working. Clothes on the leave the house, robe the rest of the day. It’s my jam, and I’m not ashamed of that.

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  1. Are you totally crazy in the house all the time?

No! Are you kidding me? I would literally never leave my house if I didn’t have to leave my house. I’m a total recluse. The real struggle for me is making myself leave. I get to so comfortable at home, and I never want to leave. I love our home so much, and I just want to stay home and enjoy it. But…I force myself to leave the house so we can keep a healthy balance for the kids and for ourselves.

  1. Does your marriage struggle because you work together, you live together, you spend all your time together?

Not at all! Do you know how hard it is to be unhappy when you both love what you do and when your husband is so happy? He loves his job so much, and he is so happy not missing out on all the things he missed out on before. He spent 15 years driving an hour to work, an hour home from work, not seeing the kids before he left in the morning and seeing them for less than an hour at night when he got home.

We passed one another in the night three or four nights a week because of the kids and their practice schedules, and date nights weren’t so frequent because while we loved them, Craig had so little time with the kids and it was so hard for me to expect him to spend more time away from them. He was stressed about it, I was stressed about it; that’s gone now. No commute means signing off at 5 pm and getting to go outside with the kids and ride bikes, talk the golf cart out, play in the yard, and just spend time together. It’s so much better living this life without those stresses. He’s happier, I’m happier, the kids LOVE it. It’s good.

There you have it. For us, it’s what’s good. It’s not something that will work for everyone, and that’s what makes us all so cool. We can do what works for us and live the lives we want. Working from home is a challenge, but I can’t imagine living any other way.

2017: The Year of Quality Over Quantity

2017 is over. Can you believe it? I swear the years go by faster every day. I’m still wrapping my mind around the fact that it was New Year 2017 just a minute ago and now we’re mere days away from ringing in 2018 with abandon. Anyone? Just me? No?

2017 was good to us. It had its up and downs of course. Life is far from perfect in the Raiford household, but it’s really good – we’ve worked really hard to build a life of freedom, and we are enjoying every second of it.

It’s been good to us, but we always have room for growth. And that’s what 2017 brought to us. It was a year of growth. We call it the year of quality over quantity. It’s difficult to explain, but we had a moment at the end of 2016 – somewhere before Christmas but definitely after Thanksgiving – when we realized we needed to make some changes in our lives.

We were getting ready to go somewhere and do something with our girls, who were 8 and 5 at the time, and they both sighed. “Can’t we just stay home for once? We always have to go places. We’re tired,” they whined.

Wait. What?

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Their lives are good. Were they really complaining about spending the evening with their friends? Were they really being ungrateful about all the fun we provide them? Weekend after weekend of traveling, of spending time with friends and family, of going to BBQs and pool parties and Christmas events and Disney World. Were they really complaining?

They were. And what made it even worse was that we knew what they were saying. We were also exhausted. We were never home. In 2016 we didn’t even take a trip for our wedding anniversary like we wanted because every weekend was pre-planned with some event, function, party, etc. We had no free time – we were actually scheduling free time in our calendars. We were tired. It wasn’t that we weren’t having a great time – we definitely were. But we were just worn out. Run down. Tired.

We have four kids. My husband has a career he loves, and it keeps him busy. I have my business to run, and it keeps me busier and busier everyday with new growth, projects, and clients. We have four kids. The twins were about to turn three (side note – I’m dying over here thinking they will be four in less than three months. I mean, I was just pregnant with them!), and that many kids doesn’t really provide a lot of opportunity for rest and relaxation.

We knew we had to make some changes. We wanted to be more deliberate with our time. We wanted to learn to say no to being overscheduled. We wanted to start planning things for our family to do together just us so we could really spend some quality time with the kids. The twins were more fun than ever, easier to travel with, easier to take out.

We wanted to be more deliberate, and we wanted to have more time at home. We bought our dream house in 2014, and we’d spent very little time in it – even though we both work from home – just enjoying it. Our kids were tired, we were tired. We needed some change.

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Que New Year’s 2016-2017. We decided we’d learn to say no to things that didn’t work with our schedule instead of saying yes to everything and killing ourselves trying to get everything done. Sundays were a no-no for plans. Sundays would become our day as a family. No plans other than church and relaxation. If we wanted to do something, we’d wake up and make that decision, but we agreed no making Sunday plans.

And I cannot even tell you how good this year was to us. We had more free time – though I am ashamed to say that more free time is still not nearly enough free time – and we were able to schedule so many of the things we were never able to find time for in the past. Sundays became very well spent in a slow, sweet manner. Mondays were so much nicer because we were prepared, organized, and rested because of those slow Sundays.

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The kids are so much happier. They love the quality family time we are spending together, and they love the ability to sometimes get to stay home and enjoy the many things they never got to enjoy before. We took more bike rides and golf cart rides. We took more walks. We played outside a lot. We baked cookies and had family movie nights and spent weekend after weekend at Disney World just enjoying what they wanted to do. We slept in, we made big breakfasts, we took day trips to our favorite places. We traveled.

My husband and I were able to find the time to schedule five long weekends and trips this year. Just the two of us. Just to spend to quality time together (we do have four kids….). From New York to Fort Lauderdale to California to South Carolina to Naples, we earned plenty of frequent flier miles this year. We had another three or four single nights away a little closer to home in Tampa in Orlando. We dated. We laughed. We focused on our marriage a lot more this year. It was good.

We also made it our goal to spend at least one weekend a month out of town with the kids. Tampa and Orlando are easy drives, and we wanted to really get some serious use out of our Disney passes this year. We made sure to schedule a few of those weekends away with just the big girls to spend a little quality time with them, but we made it a point to really enjoy this new stage the twins are in that makes life so much simpler.

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I think the highlight of my year – and I’m so serious – was when we were flying home from a fun vacation in North Carolina and two total strangers came up to us at two separate times in the airport and on our flights and told us what well-behaved, delightful kids we have and how well they travel.

If that’s not a mom’s dream come true…

Quality.

It was all about quality this year. We are getting older. The kids are getting older. We were changing. Maturing a bit, growing up a bit, and our wants and needs were evolving. It was time for us to focus our priority on doing what makes us happy and what makes us feel good rather than making sure every day in our calendar was filled.

As a result of focusing on quality, so much of our life has changed for the better. The kids are less exhausted, and they’re so much easier. We can load them up, take them out, sit down at a nice restaurant, and we don’t have to worry they’re too tired or cranky to behave. We are less exhausted, so we aren’t as grouchy or as impatient as we were in the past.

We are more focused on our work, and it’s shown in both of the advancements we’ve made this year. Craig has never been more ebullient. I’ve been able to find the energy to expand my company and take on some major new clients, as well as focus on a change of direction in some of the services I offer.

It’s hard to explain, but slowing down has really made a change in our lives. It feels good to be in control, and it feels really, really good to spend so much quality time as a family. I didn’t even realize how much I like spending time with these little animals until this year because I’ve been on autopilot for so long.

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Now that I’ve written a small novel, I want to share with you how we made the change to focus more on quality than on quantity in 2017 if it’s something you want to do, too. I’m also working on a post about how we’re getting #backtobasics in 2018 for later.

Be Deliberate with Your Time

Learn to say no. It’s not easy, but sometimes you just have to say no when you’re tired, not feeling well, not up for it, not in the mood, when you have other plans, when you just want to relax. Sometimes you just have to say no. It gets easier each time, and it’s going to change your life. Remember – your time is valuable. It’s too expensive to dish out so frequently on things that aren’t as valuable to you.

Focus on Your Health

Get some sleep. If there’s one thing I’ve always believed, it’s that sleep is too important to miss out. A few late nights here and there are fun, but nothing beats a good night of sleep followed by feeling good the next morning. There just isn’t enough time to waste not felling well or being too tired to function all the time.

Work out and eat good food. Nothing feels as good as being healthy, and nothing feels as good as moving your body and fueling it with things that are good for you. I don’t feel well when I don’t work out. I don’t have energy, I’m crabby, and my body gets really angry with me when I don’t feed it well. That’s not to say I don’t enjoy my favorite unhealthy things; I do. I just do it in moderation (mostly…we all have our moments).

Take a Rest Day

For us, leaving Sundays open and unplanned has been the best decision we’ve ever made. It doesn’t always work out, of course, but doing this most weekends has been amazing. Nothing makes the week more exciting, more productive, and better than being well rested and prepared.

Get Organized

Life is better when it’s organized. I can’t sleep if my house isn’t clean. I can’t leave the house if it’s not clean. I can’t function if things are out of place or order or ignored. It’s not who I am. I know not everyone is such an obsessive neat freak, but it really is easier to get through life when you’re organized and on top of things.

Do What You Want

If there is something you want to do, do it. It’s better to do it now than keep waiting on it. Find the time. Make the time. Do the things.

Thank you, 2017

Thank you for helping us grow, for changing our hearts, and for allowing us to prosper. Our life is so filled with abundance, and we are so grateful and thankful for the opportunities we’ve found, created, and been given this year and the years before. It’s been more than a little exciting to exceed our goals, to surpass our dreams, and to have the opportunity to spend so much time together. Here’s to 2018 and all the blessings, lessons, and new beginnings in store.

 

Friday Favorites: The 5 Things I Do For Myself When I Need to Recharge My Soul

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Four kids + one business + a husband + a house + social life + children’s activities = One busy mama.

I’m (hashtag) blessed, you guys. I married a man who doesn’t have a traditional view of “men and women” in the home. He’s the kind of guy who goes above and beyond for us – every single day. He does 95% of the laundry, he vacuums the carpets in our house every night, he cooks, he cleans, he gets the kids dressed for school, and he changes most of the diapers. He respects my business and does whatever he needs to do to support me so I succeed.

He also has a career that keeps him very busy. He’s a senior systems engineer, and he works from home. Hard. He works hard, but the man never stops. What I’m trying to say is I’m really nowhere near as tired as much as I could be or would be if it weren’t for him.

But even with all he does, I’m still tired. I started my business almost 9 years ago, and I’m adding to it each and every day. This year I decided to learn to say yes to new opportunities, and that’s what I’ve done. In addition to my already long list of clients, I’ve started my own blog and decided to expand my business. I work every waking moment of every day. And I wouldn’t change a thing. My success is important to me, as is the freedom it provides me.

When people ask me why I work so hard as a business owner and my own boss, I have a simple answer. I want to. I want to work hard. I thrive on hard work and dedication. I love being in my office at home, and I love creating and developing and making my clients happy. I love it. I don’t feel like it’s work. It’s my passion, and I’d spend even more time in my office if I could. I’m such a big believer in working hard and playing hard; and that’s precisely what I do.

That said – I do get burnt out from time to time. I put in 16-18 hour days most days. It’s not all work; it’s kids, activities, social life, date nights, and all things related to being all the things I am. But I’m tired sometimes. Obviously by sometimes I mean every moment of every day. Tired, though, is my way of life. It’s the burnt out part that bothers me. That’s why today’s Friday Faves focuses on the things that help me de-stress, relax, and unwind. They’re what make me feel better and stronger – and just maybe they’ll help you do the same.

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I Exercise Daily 

For real, guys. I hit the gym every day. I need to exercise. It gives me energy, makes me feel strong, and it motivates me. I like all kinds of exercise, and recently began trying new classes. Yoga, spin, whatever. I’m down with anything that makes me sweat and pushes me beyond my comfort zone.

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I Keep A Peaceful, Happy Home 

I need, need, need order in my life, and a peaceful home is one of my favorite things. By peaceful, I mean I need to feel good when I’m home. I need a clean home. I need it to smell nice, and I need a lot of bright light. Fresh flowers, decadent candles, and order create a perfect marriage of a peaceful home for me. I work from home, and I need to feel relaxed when I’m there.

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I Focus On Self-Development

Some people prefer a day at the spa or a night out – both of which I adore – but it’s time to practice self-development that I love. It’s listening to an inspirational podcast (the Becoming Fearless Style Collective Podcast by Annie Spano is EVERYTHING, you guys) in the car on the way to drop my kids off at school, or reading a book that motivates me to push myself further than I’m currently pushing. I’m all about being better, doing better, and always learning.

I love to hear the stories of others, to find inspiration in their words, and motivation to help me grow. I live by the knowledge that I certainly don’t know everything – and I never will. I want to learn something new each day, and I want to push myself to do more. I am a sucker for self-development. It’s my favorite way to unwind. Journaling, praying, podcast-listening, and reading are my jam.

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I Hang With My Family

I won’t lie – I’m never relaxed when I’m hanging out with my kids. Our oldest will be 9 next month, our “middle” daughter is 6, and our twins are 3. There’s no such thing as relaxing with them, but I do feel recharged and really good when I get to spend time with them. And it’s not just being in the same room or the same house or at the same party – I crave actual family time. As much as I enjoy spending time with others, I need my family to myself sometimes. I need to be able to play with my kids and my husband without interference or distractions.

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I love being present while they play with their friends and we spend quality time with ours – but I need to have time in my life where there are no other people around and we get to be a family of six who spends real, quality, good time together. I’m exhausted, and usually annoyed, and probably over it by the end of the day, but oh my goodness do I feel good that we had that time. So, restful? No. But I’m recharged.

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Date nights and weekends away – yes, please. I can’t get enough. My sweet best friend recently pointed out how much time Craig and I get to spend together, and I told her we just need it. We work from home together all day, but we don’t speak. He’s doing his job, I’m doing mine, and we don’t socialize during the day. Half the kids are home all summer, we’re constantly busy, and we need time to spend alone.

He is my favorite person, and our date nights every other week and our weekends away every few months are everything. I come home feeling so rested and relaxed – but my cheeks always hurt. We spend a lot of time laughing, and I can’t stop smiling when we have time alone. I love it.

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I Relish the Quiet Moments

I can’t get enough of them. Probably because I don’t get enough of them. Like I said, I have a family of six. My house is noise and chaos from 7 am to 7 pm every single day. Unless they’re not home or asleep, we don’t even know what quiet sounds like.

But I do live for the quiet moments. I love to steal 10 minutes sitting outside on our deck with the appropriate beverage (coffee, wine) and listening to absolutely nothing. I love it even more when it’s raining because I can sit on my front porch in my red rocking chairs and listen to the rain. I love the moments when my husband is in the shower in the morning and the kids are asleep and the whole house is quiet while I have my coffee.

Basically, I need a little bit of quiet, a lot of noise and tiny kisses and laughs, my husband, and cleanliness to recharge. We all need that time – and since Friday is my favorite day, and these are my favorite things to do when I’m in need of a de-stress, I wanted to share.

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How do you unwind?

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