10 Quotes and Verses to Help You When You Feel Out of Control

Day 12

Honestly, I have no idea what day we are on quarantine-wise. The official timeline for us was on March 16, so we are just sitting here 12 days in and really trying to make the most of a horrible situation. Family walks. Long runs. Lots of power yoga at home. Lots of FaceTime conversations and virtual happy hours. Happy hours on walks with the family. Lots of books, lots of work, lots of arts and crafts, lots of card games. Lots of take out. Lots of baking. Lots of swimming. Lots of playing outdoors. Lots of online shopping.

It’s day 12. This situation is one that’s still going to get worse before it gets better – and that’s just how it is. We are making the most of our time at home, but our new normal isn’t quite normal yet. Week one was all about being lazy and relaxing and embracing it because real life really does make us tired and we welcomed that ability to rest). Week two has all us rested and basically antsy. We are bored. We are such an active family that it’s hard for us not to have a trip to go on or a place to visit or the ability to go to the gym or have fun or do anything.

We are handling it all right, but we have our moments.

That said, I’m not here to share with you any hints or tips or sales or tricks or whatever (though Lilly Pulitzer is offering 30 percent of certain items through today – and that never happens outside of the APS twice a year…so get on that).

I just wanted to share a few of my favorite quotes and verses that might help. I know that I go back and forth appreciating this time with our babies and my handsome husband and worrying about every single thing. Our sweet Ava was diagnosed with asthma when she was 15 months. She hasn’t had an episode in which she’s needed her inhaler in so long that we almost forgot she had it until about six months ago when she had an asthma attack. I lay awake at night wondering if she’s immunocompromised and at risk. Same for Carter, our sweet little man with his one and done grand mal seizure 13 months ago. Does that make him immunocompromised? I don’t know, but I worry.

And when I worry, there are few things that make me feel calm. Number one, always, is my husband. He always knows when I’m stressed or upset, and he always knows how to make it right. The kiddos help, too. And so does reading a few of my favorite quotes and verses for strength and hard times. So, in case you need them.

  1. When you can’t control what’s happening, challenge yourself to control the way you are responding to what’s happening. That’s where the power is.
  2. God sometimes takes us into troubled waters not to drown us, but to cleanse us.
  3. You’ll drive yourself crazy trying to control something that isn’t yours to control. Let go. Free yourself. Allow your mind and energy to focus on something positive…to build something beautiful. – Steve Maraboli
  4. Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid. Do not be discouraged. For the Lord, your God, is with you wherever you go. – Joshua 1:9
  5. The pain that you’ve been feeling can’t compare to the joy that’s coming. – Romans 8:18
  6. When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. – Isaiah 43:2
  7. Do not grieve. For the joy of the Lord is your strength. – Nehemiah 8:10
  8. May your choices reflect your hopes, not your fears. – Nelson Mandela
  9. Be still and know that I am with you. – Psalm 46:10
  10. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. – John 14:27

This, too, shall pass. Let’s allow it to pass with grace.

Blessings in Disguise Amid A Global Pandemic: Find the Good

Day 5

Today marks the fifth day we’ve been in the midst of our social distancing operation. No school, no cheer practice, no gym.

Those are the big changes during the week. Otherwise, not much has changed. My husband and I both work from home and always have, so we aren’t adjusting to any new schedules or interruptions. The kids being home is not an interruption. We do this every summer, thanksgiving, Christmas, spring break, and long weekend. All six of us are familiar with that change.

In actuality, our kids are at good ages. They entertain themselves with books, playing outside, playing with one another, playing with their tablets, and snacking every 8 to 9 minutes so they don’t starve to death. They play well together without too many disagreements. They don’t make too much of a mess, and they don’t interrupt us during our ‘scheduled’ hours. My day is flexible since I work for me. Craig’s is not since he works for someone else. He’s in our office from 8 am to 5 pm.

I like to be in the office before anyone is awake, coffee in hand, creativity at full force. It’s actually a lot easier for me to work when the kids are home because they get to sleep in, our nephew isn’t here to go to school with us, and we don’ have to get dressed and get out of the house by a certain time. Rather than putting my morning on hold at 8 am, I’m able to get up at 5, work until 9 or 10, and pretty much call it a day after that. I work out, hang with the kids, manage the household, etc.

I’m still in my office working off and on throughout the day, but only when I have the time and only because I want to get ahead and not because I need to be in here. It’s a really laid-back, relaxed, chill sort of vibe. That’s what I like about it. So, not much has changed during the day in our house. This is what we do during summer, Christmas, etc. The only difference is that we aren’t going out to lunch. We aren’t running out for breakfast. We aren’t going to the gym. We aren’t gong out to dinner.

The big problem is going to show up tonight when it’s Friday night and the kids want to know where we are going for dinner. We will still order something out and enjoy it at home (because we are doing every single thing to support our community and local businesses) but we won’t be going out. It’ll be even crazier tomorrow morning when they wake up and want to know if we are going to a party, or if we are going shopping, or if we can go away for the weekend, or why we aren’t going on our spring break trip. That’s what will rock their world in the least positive manner.

They have no problem at all being home during the weekend because we keep jam-packed weekends, and they love the rest and the relaxation the week brings. But, when the weekends are just as relaxed and laid back and no one leaves the house except to go outside or take a family walk around our neighborhood, what is there? The kids are going to lose it. I know this. They know this. We know this.

But, even in light of all the craziness that is going on, I am a firm believer that all things are a gift. All things, as bad and heartbreaking and horrible and life shattering as they may be, bring a gift of some sort to our lives. Even the darkest days and the most horrible losses bring with them the most beautiful gifts. Maybe not right now. Maybe not in the foreseeable future. Maybe not this weekend. But, eventually. Eventually, we see the gift. The positive change. The better outlook. The lesson. It’s all going to make us stronger and better – eventually.

So, while it’s hard to see that the COVID-19 social distancing world shut down pandemic from hell is going to one day show so many of us the gifts it brings amongst the chaos, I dare you to look for the good in this.

If you need help, I’ve got you.

Rest

We are overworked, overscheduled, over committed, over everything. Literally, we are so over everything in our house that we’ve all been counting down the days until it’s all done and over with. Now, we aren’t. We are all getting good nights of sleep. We are all rested and relaxed beause we are unhurried and we aren’t rushed. It’s nice.

Time

The gift of time is perhaps the most beautiful of all. It’s something you can’t get easily, and you never get it back when you lose it. We have it now. We have the time to get into the kitchen and create a new recipe with the kids. To take a family walk. To sit down and eat family dinners together. To watch that movie. To sleep in a bit. To read that book. To start writing that book. To call that friend. To organize things. We have time. Time with our family and our kids and our spouses. Time is the most precious gift.

Say Goodbye to Toxicity

Unfortunately, we all have a toxic person or two in our lives, and now is the perfect time for us to bid adieu to that asshole. We have to stay home. We have to distance ourselves. We have to do our part, and that means avoiding people. The more time that negative Nancy is out of our lives, the more peaceful they become. And, guess what? The world is not going to be close to the same on the other side of this, and that might make you feel good about making that a permanent change.

Getting Back to Basics

We are five days in, y’all; we haven’t even touched the surface of back to basics yet but life is about to get really, really basic. If it’s not already, it’s about to be. You’re back to cooking for yourself. You’re back to sending the kids outside to play and make up games and use their imagination. You’re about to be your own parent.

Learning With and About Our Kids

Listen, we can all be very honest here and admit that being homeschool teachers is not for all of us. I don’t want to teach. If I wanted to teach, I’d be an educator. I’m not. It’s not my jam. It’s not how I want to live my life, though I do have the utmost respect for those who do make education their life. Educators are very special people with very special gifts that I simply don’t have (like patience and people skills and really strong immune systems and patience. Did I say patience?).

But, the thing here is that we are all about to learn more about (and with) our kids. We are all about to see how our kids learn. What works for them. What doesn’t. How they respond, what the teacher was talking about. What frustrates and confuses, what motivates and inspires, what bores them to tears, and just how very little of what we learned growing up actually stuck with us as adults, and just how absolutely unintelligent we actually are as adults. But, the good news is that we get to know our kids better, and guess what? That’s about to make us all better people. We will come out of this better able to help our kids and help our kids’ teachers. We are about to become educated, and I’m not just talking about our kids.

More Adult Time

Oh yes. So our lunch time bedroom dates might be a little more difficult to mange with four kids home, but now we aren’t out late every night, so we get to go to bed earlier and enjoy that time. The kids aren’t waking up early, so we get to enjoy that time. You guys, we are all going to have a much better attitude about all the things by the time this is said and done – and maybe some people who are struggling will find their groove again. This is good, good news.

Healthier Living

That’s largely hypocritical to point out as we all shove our social distancing snacks down our throats in rapid stress-eating force, but you know what I mean. We are now cooking most meals from home, so we are automatically healthier. We are taking more family walks, playing more games outside with the kids, getting more sun, benefiting from those walks and baseball games in the yard. We are all going to be healthier and more energized before much longer.

Appreciation

You know those small things we all take for granted every single day? Date night? A quick trip to Nordstrom? Birthday parties? Family vacations? Packing up and heading to a favorite resort for the weekend? Yeah, those things we can’t do anymore? Guess what? We are all about to learn to appreciate the little things. And the big things. And the things in between. We are all about to appreciate every single little thing in lives a lot more than we did before.

I have a long list of a million more ways that I’ve seen this social distancing/quarantine situation become a blessing in disguise, but not all of the things I’ve seen are my stories to tell. So, I’ll leave it at that. This is a tragedy, and it’s terrifying, and it’s just unknown and uncertain, and it’s fostering a lot of fear. But it doesn’t mean there is not good. Look for it. Be it.

Talking to Your Kids About COVID-19

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I won’t start with my typical Happy Tuesday because I’m aware this is not a happy time for most. In fact, it’s a terrifying time for many. For those who are susceptible to COVID-19 – or the Corona Virus – such as the elderly and those with compromised immune systems. For parents who fear the concept of homeschooling their kids (because the good Lord knows I’m not qualified at ALL to homeschool kids), small business owners unsure of the future, hourly employees who work for tips whose jobs are shut down, kids who don’t fully understand the fear and panic around them.

Especially kids.

I’m going to avoid discussing adults as a whole because we all already know how I feel about the general population, but I’m happy to talk kids. I have four of my own. I was once one. I have a bevy of kids in and out my front door on a regular basis. I know kids. I listen when they talk to me. I listen when they’re talking to one another or my husband. I observe their body language, and I hear the fears they might not have the bravery to speak out loud.

Kids don’t know what’s going on. Sure, right now, they’re all happy that they have an extra bit of time off school, but we all know that this little bit of time might become months. It might become distance learning and virtual schooling and homeschooling. Soon, they’ll be bored of being home. They’ll want to know why vacation was cancelled. They’ll want to know why we can’t go to their favorite resort for the weekend, or their favorite restaurants for dinners and lunches, or why we can’t go to Hobby Lobby on Tuesday for art supplies, or why we can’t go to the movies or Hammer & Stain, or why we can’t go to church anymore.

If they’re not already asking questions, they will. The excitement of cancelled school and events and extracurriculars that result in late nights doing homework and early mornings and long weekends of travel to places they have no desire to visit and finally having some free time will lessen, and they’ll want to know what’s up. I won’t lie and pretend I’m not excited for all the free time right now. I won’t act like I’m upset that things have been cancelled and we have the opportunity to get back our time and control of our schedules, and that I no longer have to stress about how I’m going to accomplish my work with so many interruptions on any given day. I won’t pretend I’m sad that I actually had the time to sit down and write a blog post for the first time in months because my work day isn’t chopped up by getting kids ready, taking them to school, going to practices, traveling for events, picking them up from school, working on homework, etc.

Social distancing isn’t something I’m unhappy about. The reason behind it, well, that’s less than ideal. But, it’s reality right now. We are fresh off a weekend trip to Miami to celebrate the twins’ sixth birthday and Ava’s 9th birthday – and it was exactly what we needed. Of course, we were a day into our trip when we got word of school closings and Disney closings, two days before social distancing was introduced and cruises were cancelled, and home before cities and towns began shutting down their restaurants and bars and clubs and movie theaters.

We had the best weekend on the beach and by the pool. There were plenty of people out and about, but the sunshine and fresh ocean air and al fresco dining all weekend was exactly what we needed before heading home to a completely different reality. Instead of spending the evening of our return passed out .2 seconds after our heads hit the pillow at bedtime, we spent that time talking about how we will answer our kids’ questions and how we will handle things as they change and as we approach the unknown.

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How will we answer the kids’ questions?

Honestly, but without inciting panic or fear. There’s no reason to hoard toilet paper or eggs, and we refuse to teach our children to approach life with a panicked mindset. We will be honest and open, but hopeful and concise. We will also answer them on a case by case basis. The twins’ questions will not be answered in the same manner as we’d answer them if it were Addison who asked. We will use common sense, but we will also maintain a level of honesty.

  • Talk honestly
  • Make sure they know the facts and the dangers
  • Remind them – again – of the importance of good hygiene
  • Encourage them to ask questions if they’re confused
  • Don’t let them watch media reports

How will we explain how life is changing?

Thankfully, there’s not much changing in the lives of the Raiford kids. I’ve worked from home their entire lives, so they don’t know any different there. Craig is approaching four years of working from home, so it’s their everyday life. Our everyday routine Monday-Friday will not change because of this, because I have my business to run and my husband has his job to do.

Weekends and evenings will be where the change is most noticeable. There won’t be any dinners out or any trips while we social distance for however long this is necessary. But, we will make life as sweet and comforting and familiar as possible by sticking to bedtime routines and everyday schedules. Kids love structure and routine – the Raiford kids LOVE structure and routine.

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How will we make life less scary for the kids?

Easy – we will have fun. These are uncertain times, but we will certainly spend a lot more time outdoors playing games. Baseball and football in the yard. Bike rides. Family walks. Dinner on the deck. Sunsets on the front porch rocking chairs. Breakfast on the lanai. Roasting marshmallows around the fire pit. Playing on the kids’ playground equipment. Ava asked if we could pick some summer nights to lie on a blanket on the deck and watch the stars, so we’ll do that. Family movie nights. Family game nights. Family dinners around the table outside. Setting up their art station on the deck. Playing card games. Read books. Write stories. Write great-grandma letters and draw her pictures. Laugh a lot.

We may not be able to travel – and that might be hard on our kids who are accustomed to it and love it on a regular basis – but we can have our regularly scheduled fun. We’ve got this.

How will we get through this?

For one, we pray. Second, we stay home. Honestly, we don’t get nearly enough time home, and our kids often ask us if we can plan time to stay home and be lazy. Well, now we can. We can sleep later. Nap if we want. Relax a bit. Go unhurried. We can get creative in the kitchen trying new recipes for once since we usually don’t even have time to cook the ones we already know. We just spend quality time together, and we keep our attitudes in check.

What can I teach my kids during this time?

I’m not worried about math or science or ELA or whatever. I’m worried about the important life lessons our kids will get out of this. Such as learning to stay calm and cool in a scary situation. Learning to spread kindness instead of ugliness. Learning to give back. Want to teach your kids something important? Teach them to give to others.

  • Buy a gift card for the grocery store in which you’re shopping and give it to the person in line behind you
  • Buy gas for someone at the gas station
  • Send flowers so that someone’s day is brightened and so that a small business owner gets some revenue
  • Buy some gift cards to use late
  • Wipe down your shopping cart before you use it and again after you use it
  • Share your resources if you have them (I’m talking to you TP hoarders)
  • Buy dinner for another family who is picking up their to-go meal at your favorite restaurant
  • Way over-tip (I’m a fan of 50% or more)
  • Be kind
  • Keep your opinions to yourself
  • Be quiet if you can’t be helpful or nice – this also applies to pre-and-post social distancing, y’all.
  • Ask an elderly friend or neighbor if you can pick up their groceries and deliver them safely to their doorstep
  • Do what you can, even when you think you can’t

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What if I’m scared?

Anyone who is not a little scared right now is a liar. It’s all right to be afraid. This is nothing we have ever encountered in our lives. It’s terrifying, and it’s uncertain, and many people are left fearful and desperate and feeling as if nothing will be okay.

It’s okay to be afraid. Look – approximately a week ago, we were planning our March Madness brackets and shopping for our spring break trips. A lot changed in that week. A lot can change this week. Keep that in mind. Anything can happen on any day – and that means there is always, always, always hope. It’s all right to be afraid, but don’t let that talk you out of also being hopeful.

I am SO happy to finally have the time to sit down and blog again, and I’m going to share a few posts a week. I’d like to keep them helpful and informative, but without being your news source. I just want to share what I know, what I’m familiar with a what applies. So, here’s to social distancing (or as I call it, my life because I like a handful of people and find the rest absolutely ridiculous) for the coming weeks, doing our best to help when possible, and staying safe.

 

January Positivity Challenge

Happy Thursday, loves!

We are nine whole days into a new year, a new decade, a new month. It’s a big deal if you let it be a big deal, though for many it’s not that big a deal. You don’t need a new year to change your life, but it’s helpful to some who are looking to make changes and aren’t certain how to get started.

Y’all know I’m not a fan of resolutions. I like goals. Goals are good. Goals are changeable. Goals are maneuverable. Goals make the world a much friendlier, much better place. Goals can be created, broken down, and made manageable, and then they can be expanded upon once they are reached. And while I certainly don’t think we need a new year to start a new list of goals, why not? It’s as good a time as any, and this year I want to try something new.

I think we should all challenge ourselves to become happier, more positive, and enjoy life more. That starts from the inside out. With that in mind, we still have 22 days left in January, and I want to issue you a challenge. Let’s improve ourselves one day at a time in a small way. I believe it was Jackie Kennedy who once said you should do something every single day that scares you or takes you outside of your comfort zone, so let’s.

If you’re not sure where to get started, I have some ideas for all of us. The best news is that each of these concepts can be taken, used now or later, and they can help you anytime you need it. Not just today.

  • Write down one thing every morning and every evening you are thankful for every single day for the rest of the month.
  • Take a 10-minute walk outdoors 3 times a week.
  • Ignore social media for one entire weekend. No cheating!
  • Pay for someone behind you in line at your favorite fast food restaurant or grab the check for someone at a restaurant – anonymously!
  • Smile at every single person you encounter for an entire day.
  • Provide one random act of kindness per week. It doesn’t matter who, what, when, or where you are or do.
  • Keep your promises to yourself. For example, if you promise yourself you’re going to the gym tomorrow, do it. Don’t break that promise no matter what happens. You will never regret the decision to go.
  • Cuddle your kids, nieces, nephews, spouse, grandmother, mom, dad, whomever you love.
  • Open the doors and windows for a few hours when the weather permits
  • Eat one meal outside every week.

There’s nothing groundbreaking or even wow-factor-esque about anything I just wrote down, but each of these things can help you change your mindset, your life, and your feelings from the inside out. Each of these things takes you into a different realm, a different place. Each one makes you take a moment to pause and reflect. Each one makes you spend a little bit of your time focused on things like the way you feel and the way you are living your life. Each one makes you pause, and each one can help you change the way you look at life. Let’s try it this month, and let’s look back at the end of the month and share what we did, how we did it, and what changes it’s made in our lives.

Intentional Living: Making 2020 A More Intentional Year

Happy Tuesday, loves!

Today marks the first day back to school for the kiddos after a two-week Christmas break, and I’m all mixed feelings and sad about it. On one hand, it’s so nice to get back to our really amazing routine, which includes no one coming into our office all day long asking for snacks or telling on a brother or a sister or wanting help with something innocuous.

On the other hand, it means that our house is empty save for the two of us all day. The quiet is nice because we do both work from home, and I’ve taken on a few new projects and clients that are taking up a significant chunk of my time (time I already do not have).

But, I already miss the slow days of Christmas break. We were very intentional this Christmas break, and that included cancelling all of our plans the last week of the break and staying home (okay, okay…we cancelled because I’ve had a headache since the 29th. It’s been off and on a migraine, and it’s been aggravated by four nights of absolutely not one minute of sleep, terrible allergies thanks to the fourteen inches of pollen we got that week, and also by the strep throat I was so lucky to catch. I spent the entire week in bed or on the couch with a blanket, a pillow, and my heating pad. I wrapped it around my neck hoping for some relief from the tension and the pain.

I’m happy to say that today I’m much better. My throat is 80 percent better. My allergies are better. And my headache has dulled to a constant throb that’s really only unbearable in the evenings and the early mornings. I’m trying to figure out when I have time to see my doctor about it, because I’m sure it’s not a good sign. I’m not ignoring it; I literally just didn’t have the energy to get up off the couch for nine days. I tried taking the kids bowling with friends one day, and that didn’t work out too well. I did a date night with my husband and our friends another night, but I was so low-energy and didn’t feel really present.

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But, I digress. I really did enjoy the slow, intentional, beautiful time we spent doing nothing. I’m actually glad that I ended up sick and our travel plans were cancelled because my body obviously needed that time to rest. I needed unhurried days and lazy evenings. The kids needed it. My husband needed it. We all needed it. It was good for our souls, and I tried holding on to that as long as I could.

For the first time since the kids began going to school and we’ve been parents, I actually didn’t want to go back to the real world. I didn’t look forward to the kids going back to school (I always look forward to that). I don’t want to go back to waking up at 5 and working in bed to ease a bit of my stress and keep the day flowing. I don’t want to go back to Craig needing to have Addy to school so early, and to having an extra child in the house for two hours before I take the little ones to school at 9 every day. I don’t want to go back to only having one free night a week at home – and even that night is not free because that’s the night we have to get everyone’s homework done ahead of time since there just isn’t another night we can do it.

The late nights, the over-scheduled calendar, the early mornings; it’s killing us, and that’s not how we want to live 2020. 2019 was too much for us, and we aren’t doing that again. Here’s to a slower year, a more manageable schedule, and more time to simply be. When the kids are tired and asking to cancel plans and lay low, you know that it’s too much (don’t even get me started on my stress level). Here’s what I’d like to accomplish in 2020.

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Get to A Place Where One Schedule Change Doesn’t Cause an Anxiety Attack

Anxiety. Have we talked about that? As a Type-A personality, I have a lot of it when I’m not in control of the schedule and how things are going in my life and the lives of my family. But, it’s been aggravated in the past few months to a point where my anxiety is often through the roof and more frequent than ever. Between the girls’ cheer schedule, Addison’s new school start and end times, and having all four kids in school with homework and excessive event schedules for the first time, I’m a wreck. I write more than 20,000 words a day for my clients, and I edit dozens of articles per day. My deadlines are daily, they are tight, and I have never missed one in more than 12 years of running my business.

And that’s why when one thing goes wrong or changes, it throws me totally off balance. I’m down to having approximately 4 hours a day to get all of this done. If someone gets sick or something comes up that requires my attention, I have fewer than that, and it’s killing me. This year, I’m looking to gain back my time and make it so that when something goes wrong or comes up at the last minute, I don’t have a literal anxiety attack wondering how I can rearrange things, get things done, not miss a deadline, and still be where I need to be. That’s my goal.

I also think that will put an end to my headaches (well, that and continuing to get my Botox injections) and ease some very heavy burdens. I must remember that I can do anything, but I cannot do everything. I forget that sometimes, and it’s caused my to put myself in a situation that I cannot control, and it’s had an ugly effect on my attitude, my patience, and my anxiety.

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Travel Less

Honestly, you guys, I love to travel more than anything in the world, but we are just tired of packing and unpacking and repacking and doing it all over again. Significantly more than half our weekends last year were spent in hotels, which means more than half the weeks of last year, I spent an entire day packing. If you don’t have a family of six, I envy you (and my husband packs for himself, so I really only pack for five). It takes a solid day to organize outfits for all of us, to pack them, to check lists, to launder the twins’ and Ava’s blankets they sleep with, to remember the travel pillows, and the chargers, to get tablets all the way charged, to pack snacks for planes, and snacks for car rides, and to pack activities such as crayons and coloring books to take to restaurants.

It takes a full day – even when we are leaving for just a night or two. And this means I spend one day every travel week packing. That means I lose a full day of work. I’m already working ahead to make sure I get all my weekend deadlines handled before we leave, but it also means I’m spending Monday-Thursday also working ahead to get Friday’s work done and the following Monday’s work done on top of all the weekend stuff and my everyday stuff. It’s stressful. Those are the weeks that hurt me the most.

That’s why I’d like to travel a little less this year. I’d like to plan more intentional trips with a lot of meaning, extra time, and fewer quick weekends away. They are always fun, but they often bring me more stress than they do pleasure. It’s a lot.

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Be More Present

If I learned one thing during Christmas break, it was that I love not having my phone on me. It’s hard for me to do that when the kids are at school.  I need it where I can see if a teacher is calling or texting me. I need it in case something happens to one of the kids and someone is trying to contact me. But, I also did a thing. I moved my social media apps to the last page on my phone, and I took all the other apps off that page. They are now by themselves. I cannot see if I have a notification, and it’s been glorious. I often use Instagram for work-related things, so I won’t get rid of that app, but I’m probably going to say farewell to Facebook this year. I just have to get into the habit of emailing/texting my grandmother and my father-in-law photos of the kids more frequently since I basically let Facebook do that for me. I’ve found myself only using it for months now to post things. I rarely scroll through and check anything out. I can’t even see most of my ‘friends’ stuff anymore since it’s turned into one giant add, a long list of ‘read this article,’ and all that jazz. There’s no point.

I like being disconnected. I like being out of the loop. I like being focused on my kids and my family. It’s good stuff, and it brings actual joy to my heart. My does not. It brings me frustration because I don’t get why people can’t spell or use proper grammar or avoid tying in all caps. It brings me annoyance when I actually see an article I want to read and it’s nothing but popups. It brings me aggravation when someone says something about something they posted on Facebook and I didn’t see it because I don’t see anything other than adds and long, long, long lists of posts from the last 2-3 people whose friend requests I accepted. What’s the actual point?

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Unschedule

I’m not filling my calendar this year. I dislike looking at it and dreading the weekend because it’s so busy we don’t have time to relax or chill. I dislike always being busy. I want to be able to accept last minute invitations. I want to be able to have spontaneous fun. I want to be more in control and less obligated. I’m unscheduling us, so don’t be offended if I say no to your requests or invitations. I genuinely need more down time in my life, and saying no is the only way I’m getting it.

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Be More Positive

So, maybe, potentially, possibly, I’m a little cranky when I’m tired and feeling unfulfilled. So, on that note, I’m working on being more positive. It’s not easy for me to be in a good mood when I’m overwhelmed, but I’m working on it. I’m going to seek the positivity in all things rather than see the negatives. I’m going to try and be as positive as I can, and I’m going to shower that shit onto everyone around me as often as possible.

Basically, in 2020, I’m taking back my life. I’ve given far too much of it to too many people, activities, events, things, stuff, whatever. I’m minimizing this year, and since I’ve never been a fan of ‘stuff,’ my new minimalist approach is not about stuff.

2020, I’m ready for you and all the beautiful, glorious more intentional moments you have to offer.

2020 Goals

Happy New Year!

It’s 2020 – the only 20/20 I’ve had in my life since I was like 9 and began wearing glasses. Some say it’s the year of clarity because of that, but I like to think everyday is a day of clarity if you open yourself up to it and really make the effort to see things for what they are. More importantly, though, how was everyone’s New Year? Did you go out and have a party? Did you do something fun and unexpected? Did you have a low-key New Year?

We are low-key NYE people. We’ve had our years of going out and partying, but we really enjoy the simple NYE events the most (fun fact – I have always, always been an early to bed early to rise kind of gal – even when I was a teen. I was always in bed before 9 pm and I am most definitely not ashamed of that. A girl needs her sleep).

This New Year’s Eve was a very low key one. It’s been unseasonably warm – is that a thing? Can it be unseasonably warm in Florida given that we don’t have actual seasons? I don’t know. Whatever – in Florida. Like, 80 degrees and downright hot and miserable and really obnoxious. I dislike it, most definitely because it brings the pollen. And, unfortunately, the older I get, the more the pollen makes me suffer.

It gives me a nasty sinus headache, and I cannot sleep. Fun fact – I haven’t slept more than 2-3 hours in five nights because of it. The good news is that I can ignore the headache during the day as it’s just a dull throb with medication. I was fine to host, so we had some of our favorite people and very best friends over for the evening. My husband is an amazing cook, and he put filets on the grill, made his famous smashed potatoes and roasted some of my favorite veggies.

It was fabulous. I had a decadent bottle of red wine, the kids had fun with some imaginative art projects and outside time, and we laughed – a lot. Even better, everyone was gone by 10 pm, we put the kids to bed, showered, and rang in the new year sleeping peacefully in our bed. It was amazing. I didn’t feel great on New Year’s Day, but I spent the day resting, and that was really good for me. Craig spent the day playing with the kids and having fun with them while I rested, and I am always appreciative of that when I’m not well. I know my body, I know when I need rest, and I know what happens if I ignore that need. It’s not good.

Now that the New Year is here, I’m just excited. I’m happy to put 2019 behind me (you can read about why I thought it was the best worst year ever here) and start fresh this year. It’s a big year for us in so many ways. My husband and I will celebrate 15 years of marriage this year. Our oldest daughter will celebrate her 12th birthday, which means that it’s her last birthday before she becomes a teenager. We have so many fun things planned. We have so many amazing adventures ahead. We have so much to look forward to and to be thankful for.

That said, it’s also a new year. That means it’s time for new goals. I already talked about how this is going to be the year of quality for us. Quality over quantity in every aspect of our lives. But, it’s not the only goal I’m going to make for myself this year – obviously. So, here we go (because if I don’t share, who will hold me accountable?).

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  • Meal plan. For several reasons. Number one – because I am so tired of going to Publix 5-6 times a week because we don’t plan. We cannot go into that store without spending at least $100, and that’s on top of the big trip we take on Sundays for what we pretend is our ‘shopping for the week,’ knowing we will be back another 4-5 times. Do the math. It’s a gross waste. Number two – I’m tired of the “what do you want? I don’t know, what do you want,” conversation every night. Number three – we are already home for dinner so infrequently that we shouldn’t have to order take out because we can’t make a decision or we lack one little ingredient and can’t cook what we want when we are home. Number four – I love being organized and making lists, so I bought a meal planning calendar, and I want to use it. Five – we are healthy eaters regardless, but this will take things to the next level.
  • Find more patience. I’ll struggle with this, but I’m going to try. I’m not a people person, and it’s probably because I’m so impatient with them as a whole. It’s so easy not to be ignorant and ridiculous, yet I find myself wondering why it seems so hard for so many. Thus, my lack of patience. Being a mom of four also makes patience a thing, too, right?
  • Stop apologizing for being myself or not living up to other’s expectations. I say fuck a lot. I don’t have a lot of patience (though I’m working on that). I like what I like. I’m not easily impressed. I have strong opinions. I think wrong is wrong. I don’t have time for negativity. I think jealousy and insecurities are ugly and pointless. Some people just aren’t my type of people. I’m good with who I am, and I don’t need or want anyone’s approval – but I’m also no longer apologizing for my opinions and feelings.
  • Be more intentional. With my time, my energy, my words, and my focus.
  • Write a book. Fun fact – I wrote one in 2019, but I have this gut instinct that I’m meant to write something very specific, and I’m working on that now.
  • Tackle two of the last and biggest remodeling projects in our house. We bought our dream house in 2015, and we have two things left to do. I, however, am a Type-A perfectionist, and I’m good at putting them off because the idea of living in a construction zone with four kids while also working from home for a few weeks really gives me anxiety and makes me feel like I’m having a panic attack. But, we want them done, so we’re doing them and I’m going to suck it up and try not to be a raging nightmare bitch when my life feels like it’s out of control (fun fact – I’m an obsessive compulsive neat freak because I can control that, and I like control. I have four kids, so many things in life are totally and completely out of my control, but a clean house and great makeup are inside my realm of control. And I can be a little uptight about both.)
  • Spend more time outside. It’s good for the soul.
  • I probably have more, but I can’t think of them right now.

What are your goals for the new year? I’m not a resolution maker, but I love a new list of goals. I think goals are amazing, and I think that it’s easy to keep adding to your goals, expanding upon them, changing them up to make them more of what you’re actually looking for throughout the year. I love that.

2019: The Best Worst Year

Quality.

The degree of excellence of something.

It’s a simple word. Not even a fancy one. Regardless, it’s the word I am focusing on in my life in 2020. It’s the word I want to embody the year we’re about to live. I want to look back a year from now, and I want to feel as if I’ve made that happen.

I’m going to be honest with you. I walked into 2019 excited for the new year. I’m always excited because we have always been so fortunate to have one amazing year after another. That’s certainly not to say that we haven’t had bad days or that we haven’t been through experiences that have brought us to our knees in tears begging God to change us. We have. We’ve done it a few times – namely in 2010 when we suffered miscarriage after miscarriage trying to have our second baby.

That year brought us to our knees more times than I can count – and we’ve been so fortunate that the rest of our years have been so beautiful (sprinkled with moments that weren’t pleasant, but very, very good as a whole). We’ve been so fortunate, and that is not lost on us.

2019 was a strange year. It was a year I cannot even put into words. It’s a year that is filled with so many amazing memories – I mean, we honestly had the most phenomenal year. But it’s also a year that humbled me. It’s a year that brought me so much clarity. It’s a year that hurt me more than any other year of my life.

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We were only 7 weeks into the new year when our sweet son, only 4-years-old at the time, suffered a Grand Mal seizure. To this day, after four days in the hospital and every single test you can imagine, we have no answers. It was not febrile. It was not the result of head trauma. It wasn’t anything explainable, which is why it’s called an unprovoked Grand Mal seizure.

It was the worst five minutes of my life, followed by the worst half hour of my life when he stopped seizing and was completely unresponsive, followed by the worst four days of my life in the hospital watching his little body go through test after test, followed by the worst year of my life waking up in the middle of the night in a panicked sweat, tears streaming down my face, and fear in my heart as I raced across the house to his bedroom to make sure he was still breathing. Night after night after night.

I cannot even put into words the fear and terror in my heart every single time my phone rings while he’s at school and I see the name of the school scrolling across my phone. I just know that they’re calling to tell me he’s seizing again. I’m wrong – Thank God – every single time, but that fear never subsides. Every single time I hear a thud anywhere in the house or outside, my heart stops in fear as I race to the sound to make sure he didn’t fall and hit his head – because the chance of him suffering another seizure is increased exponentially after suffering from one.

It never gets easier.

I know we are fortunate that this wasn’t worse. I know we are so blessed that every single one of his tests came back negative and void of any complications or health problems or concerns. I know this. I also know that no answers suck because there’s no way to prevent or avoid what you don’t recognize or know to prevent or avoid.

I’ll never forget the moment, about a month after Carter was released from the hospital, when discussing his seizure with a woman when she commented, “I don’t know why you’re so panicked about it. It happens all the time to people, and it’s not that big a deal,” in the most callous, most disgusting display of ignorance imaginable.

It might not seem like the biggest deal in the world when a child is fine, but anyone who can say that it’s not a big deal and that it happens all the time and it’s just a thing has never stared at their child’s seizing body on the ground, foam and vomit seeping from his mouth while his body shakes uncontrollably. They’ve never seen their child go instantly still while turning bluer by the moment as his little body is struggling to take in air. They’ve never looked down at their lifeless child and thought to themselves, “Oh my God. This is the last time I will ever hold my baby,” because there was no breath and no recognizable pulse and you thought your baby was gone.

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To those who don’t think that this is a big deal – keep feeling that. Keep feeling that and keep feeling the bliss that comes from having never been in a situation where your baby’s life was in question. You are the lucky ones. You are the ones who don’t know the fear that grips your heart and the instantaneous nightmare that comes to mind when your child’s lifeless body is suddenly flashing before your eyes when you lie down and close your eyes at night.

You’ve never laid awake in bed for hours on end night after night after night crying yourself to sleep while your husband holds you and worries for you and shares your fears and hopes that you’ll eventually get some sleep. You’ll never know that it’s like to go through almost an entire year living in a total fog from exhaustion and sleep deprivation and worry. You are so lucky you don’t see your son’s lifeless body every single time you close your eyes. At home. In a plane. In a hotel room. When he’s cuddled up next to you on the couch on movie night. You won’t know that terror, and you are living the very best possible life because of that.

That one moment, those 5 minutes, that half hour, that four days, defined an entire year for me. In fact, it may define my entire life. I don’t know. There are aspects of it that do get a bit easier each day, but the fear never settles or becomes more manageable when you’re not with your little boy and the phone rings and it’s the grandparents who are with him, or the school where he goes, or your husband when you’re not home. That fear consumes me. It eats me alive from the inside out, and it’s affected my entire year.

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I can’t just get over it. I can’t just accept it because it happens to people all the time. I’ve had so many beautiful men and women reach out to me to share their stories so similar to ours. My heart hurts so much for each of them, while simultaneously feeling so much appreciation and love and respect for those who do this all the time, for those who live this every single day of their lives. For those who have it so much worse than we did or do. Those people are the real heroes.

That one moment, though. That one moment shaped an entire year. It took so much of the joy from my life in so many small ways while also providing me with the opportunity to learn new ways to feel joy. For example, I feel just a little less joy and excitement and pleasure when I’m away from my kids. I know I need the time away to recharge, even for a few hours on date night, but I feel a little less joy in that time because of my fear. On the same note, I feel so much more joy in the simplest of things. The moments I hear the twins bursting through the master bedroom door and running to my husband’s side of the bed at some ungodly hour where the sun isn’t even up yet on a Saturday morning asking for pancakes and bacon in their ‘inside’ voices (their inside voices are the same as their outside voices, in case you were wondering).

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The joy I feel in those moments is indescribable. They’re alive. They’re well. They’re so normal and so unaffected, and they’re so sweet. I find so much joy in those moments.

It’s amazing to me that a year filled with so many beautiful trips, so many moments that bring laughter and joy, and so many days spent with the people who fill our hearts to the top with so much love and enjoyment, and so many hilarious memories, and fun adventures, and amazing things can be a year I look back on and feel relief when I realize it’s almost over.

I know, realistically, that January 1 is nothing more than a brand-new day just like today was, and tomorrow will be, and the day before yesterday was; but it holds so much more for me this year. It holds so much promise for a better year. A year of healing and of quality.

Our lives in 2019 were filled with quality. We weren’t lacking in it at all, but it was also busting at the seams with quantity. Approximately 30 weekends in hotels. Almost 100 nights in beds that don’t belong to us. More activities and nights spent with half our family here and half there and so very few opportunities to spend just a simple evening together at home.

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None of our travel is work related, at all. The only time it’s even remotely close to work related is the weekend my husband and I spend in Tampa every December for his work Christmas party – and it’s not like that’s mandatory. We just love it. I say that because I’m sure it’s easy to wish for more time at home and less time in hotels and less time in the airport when you’re not really given a choice in the matter because it’s work-related. But, ours is not work related, which alternately makes me feel fortunate and sad at the same time. There’s a certain irony in feeling annoyed and overwhelmed and irritated about packing and traveling and being away from home when all the trips are your choice.

I don’t want to feel like that in 2020. I don’t want so much of everything in the new year. I want more quality, less quantity, and more time to focus on what is good in life. I want more lazy mornings in my own home. I want more weekends spent making spontaneous plans. I want more, but I don’t want more for the sake of more. I want more quality.

I want 2020 to be a year that I can look back on one year from today and know that quality was abundant in our lives and that we derived so much pleasure from each moment rather than simply living the motions. I want this year to be the year that moments of fear and terror are fewer and further between. Our pediatric neurologist told us that if Carter can go a full year without a secondary seizure, his chances of having another one decrease significantly.

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I want February 17, 2020 to be a day of celebration because he made it a year without a second seizure. I want it to be a day of happiness. I am putting a lot of pressure on that one day because I have this feeling in my mind that making it to that day without incident means that I will finally relax a bit, breathe a little bit easier, and maybe even sleep through the night without waking in a panicked sweat. I hope it’s the first night in a year that I don’t get up in the middle of the night and sneak across the house to put my hand on his chest and feel him breathing and still wake up the following morning with a happy, healthy, beautiful little boy to love.

2020 – I have big plans for you.

2019 – I let you own me, and I will never let that happen again.

Important Questions to Ask Before the New Year

Happy Friday, loves!

This year has flown by, and it’s not slowing down anytime soon. December is one of the busiest months of my life in every nook and cranny. It’s Christmas, which brings with it a month of events that are some of our very favorite of the year. It means shopping and planning for holidays and hosting the holidays and spending time with the people I love the most. It means school activities and parties and performances every time I turn around. December is also one of the busiest months of the year for me in terms of work – my clients have so much they want done this month on top of the everyday work I do for them…and I’m exhausted from 5 am wakeups, late bedtimes, and hotel living every single weekend this month (packing is the worst, right?).

But, it’s also the time of year I find myself sitting down and thinking about my life the most. December is like the bedtime of the year. It’s like that moment you lie down in bed and close your eyes, and you start thinking about the day, the things you did, the moments you lived, and everything you accomplished from your to-do list so that you go into tomorrow with a fresh perspective and a calm demeanor.

That’s what December is like, and this year I’ve found myself asking a question I haven’t really asked in a while.

Who am I, and who do I want to be?

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At the risk of sounding conceited or eliciting all the eye rolls, I really like who I am as a person. I have my moments, of course. I drive too fast. I have little patience. I might not be the greatest people person. I’m high-maintenance and I know what I want, and I know that comes across as snobbish and off-putting. I recognize that I will never be everyone’s cup of tea – and I’m not upset about that. I make mistakes, and I’m imperfect. I also know that I’m dedicated. I’m loyal. I will do anything and everything for the people I love the most. I’m a really good mom even if I joke about being mediocre. I’m a good wife. I always have a clean house and car. I’m really, really good at what I do, and I have a long list of clients who are very happy with the world that I do for them. I’m successful and smart. I’m fun. I tell a great story.

Most importantly, I’m imperfect…but I learn from my mistakes. I view them as teaching moments. I like to see where I went wrong, what I can do better next time, how I can re-arrange my thoughts and make them better, more accurate, more meaningful. I’m open-minded, and I can see everyone’s point of view and side of the story (after I have a complete meltdown of impatience, frustration, and rage).

But, who am I versus who I want to be?

I feel this is so important to revisit every so often. I haven’t revisited this in a while, and that’s why I think it’s been on my mind so much this month. And, with the year coming to a quick close, I want to be sure I end this year on a high note and start next one in the same manner. So, here are the questions I’m asking myself; questions I think we should all ask ourselves so we continue to grow and thrive rather than remain rooted and still.

What kind of mother am I, and what kind of mother do I want to be?

I’m impatient. I don’t care much for defiance or rule-breaking. I snap. I lose my patience. I’m playful, loving, kind, and fiercely protective of my kids. But, I’m also sometimes disconnected. I’m busy with my clients and my work, and there are not enough hours in the day. I find myself sometimes asking the kids about their own days only to realize I didn’t hear a word they said. Sometimes, I find myself rushing through the simplest parts of the day just to get them checked off the list, and I find myself not enjoying them.

I can’t change that one hundred percent. We are busy people. We like to travel, and we like to enjoy our lives – work hard, play hard my friends – but I can be better. I’d like to be more intentional with my time, and I’d like to be less connected as a mom. I want to be a more connected and present mom who finds joy in the simplest things. Rather than ushering the kids out of the kitchen while we make dinner, I’m going to make it a point to let them in to help. Sure, it’s going to slow things down. There will be more of a mess, and I’m sure it’ll take every ounce of our patience, but I’d like to more connected to them in those moments. Let them have those little things, stop rushing, stop looking into the next thing rather than the current moment.

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What kind of wife am I, and what kind of wife would I like to be?

Impatient, demanding, and my expectations are very high. Very. Very. Very high. I know this, but I’m going to throw half the blame at my husband for that one. He’s extraordinary, and he sets the bar so high that even I had to move my own expectations up several levels to meet his bar. So, yeah; his fault my expectations are so high, right?

I want to be sure I’m the kind of wife who never forgets to put my husband first, even though sometimes I do forget. I’d like to be the kind of wife who brings out the best in my husband all the time. When I think about het kind of wife I want to be to my husband, my initial thought is that I want to be the kind of wife who is so good at being a wife that every single time my husband sees me or thinks of me or hears my name, he smiles without even realize it. I want to be more intentional, more giving of my time, and less demanding. I want to be more playful and more spontaneous and more in the moment with him. More present, if you will. I think I do a pretty good job of that as it is since I really, really like the guy, but there is always room for growth, right?

What kind of friend am I, and what kind of friend would I like to be?

I like to think I’m a pretty good friend, but I also think it’s because my friends are so amazing that I can’t be anything less than the same in return. I might be a little forgetful sometimes, but I’m always there for you if you need me. I keep my circle small and tight, and I like that because (well, because I don’t like people, if we are being entirely honest) there aren’t too many people who are like my people – and I don’t want anyone in my circle who is negative, petty, ugly on the inside, or lacks motivation.

I learned this year that some people never grow up and mature into the kinds of adults I’m accustomed to surrounding myself with. Some people lack motivation, and they lack purpose and fulfillment – they are idle. They have more time on their hands than they know what to do with, and their unhappiness translates into ugly behavior. It’s unfortunate, but it’s taught me a lot about the kind of friend I definitely do not want to allow myself to become (and, more importantly, it’s taught me to be very careful about who I associate with, because ugly behavior rubs off on people just as much as the great behavior….definitely not something I’m proud of).

I always want to be the kind of friend whose friends know this about. If you are sitting at my table, and you get up and walk away, there will not be any negative discussion about you whatsoever. You will never worry. I want to be the kind of friend who always makes you feel safe, comfortable, and like you want to up your game. I always want to be the type of friend who cheers you on, listens, and celebrates all the amazing thing you do/achieve/say/think/whatever. I want to build you up and make you feel as if you are the most amazing person….with some sarcasm and a lot of laughs.

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What kind of person am I to myself, and who do I want to be?

It’s taken me many years to grow into myself, and I’m good with who I am – mistakes, poor choices, bad moments, and all. I like me. I’m strong, I’m capable, I’m successful, and I live a very, very good life with people I love the most.

I want to be a little more selfish with my me time. I want to be a little more intentional with my kids and husband. I want to be less connected all the time. I want to find a better balance of home and work – which is difficult when your office is in your home.

Here’s what I’m working on right now to become the best version of myself in terms of refining the small things and pinpointing what I need.

  • I use do not disturb on my phone, and it’s been one of the best decisions I’ve ever made in my life. I get so much more done with the DND on during the day. But, I’m changing it up a bit. I turn it on during the day so that I don’t have all the interruptions while I’m in my office, and I also have it come on automatically at 8 pm. But, I think I’m turning that to 7 pm, and I’m spending that additional hour being more present and engaged.
  • Wi-Fi Off. My husband turns the wi-fi of fin the house from 5 to 7 each night on every device the kids can use. They have to play outside or play games or spend time with us, but our wi-fi is still on. I’m going to have him shut it down.
  • Put my phone away. I’m okay about this, but I’d like to be better. I will grab my phone after everyone has gone to bed and take it with me to the couch and sit down and peruse or text or whatever. I’d like to stop that, and leave it in the bedroom and be more present with my husband after the kids go to bed. Nothing is so urgent that it needs my attention in the evenings. The kids are home with us. I’m done working until the morning. It can all wait. My brain doesn’t need the stimulation or the emergencies of others or whatever – I’ll check it if I want or need to, but otherwise, I’m putting it away.
  • I’m good at this, but I can always streamline and improve – and I’ll continue to do just that.

I hope that you are all asking yourselves about the kind of person you are versus the kind of person you want to be, and I hope you we all take the time to make improvements. There’s always room for it, and that’s the beauty of being in control of your own life. It’s your life. You make the decisions.

Friday Favorites

Happy Friday, loves!

Look at me sliding in here on the last day of the week with a quick post because I made you a promise last week to be here at least once a week the rest of the year.

Well, I didn’t fail this week, so go me!

This week has flown by! Of course, everything this time of year flies by. Now that we are in November, we are officially into the part of the year where we have an event or thing every weekend until after the New Year, which means very little free time, but a lot of fun in the books. These events and traditions ae among our favorites of the year, and we look forward to them all year.

Because I’m short on time due to having zero time, I did want to throw a quick Friday Favorites at you. Just a few of the things I’m loving most right now. I love to share those with you guys because who doesn’t love things that they love, and who doesn’t want to share the love?!

That said, here you go!

Gratitude

This week’s Friday fave is not a material possession or even a tangible possession. It’s just something that I’m loving right now. It’s easy to forget to be so thankful and filled with gratitude sometimes, but nothing is better than remembering that no matter how many negatives, bad days, difficult people, difficult moments, stressful situations, etc. you might be dealing with right now, you always have so much to be grateful for. I know that I’m blessed with such abundance, and I’m so appreciative of that even when I’m annoyed or irritated. You guys…gratitude costs you nothing, but gives you so much.

The Best Running Shoes Ever

I love to run, and the weather is finally nice enough I can run outside a few times a week without choking on the humidity (Florida problems). However, when I run on the pavement, I’m prone to shin splints. The treadmill isn’t so bad, but the outdoor situation is bad for my legs. I’ve gone through about 3 million pair of running shoes looking for the best ones, and hands down my very favorite are my APLs (that’s Athletic Propulsion Labs). I love them because they are not only the most comfortable shoes EVER and they’ve completely eliminated my shin splint issues, but because they are beyond cute, too. They’re so cute, in fact, that even my 1-year-old daughter has a few pair now. Our favorites are the Women’s Techloom ($225) and the Techloom Bliss ($200) (and in all the colors).

SPANX Faux Leather Leggings

But, really, though; I detest pants. I dislike them in every capacity imaginable. I prefer dresses, but sometimes you have to put on some pants and call it a day. These are the ones because they don’t feel like pants, but they do make you feel instantly slimmer and amazing. If you don’t have a pair (um, or 9…but I really love them, okay???), get them now. They are only $98 and they are the best non-pants pants ever.

Clinique’s All About Eyes Rich Eye Cream

If you’re struggling with puffy eyes (and girl, you know you are), this is for you. I’ve been using this cream for a few weeks now, and even my husband has noticed how much brighter my eyes look. The puff is gone – even when he and I got a collective 2 hours of sleep one night last week while our sweet Charlotte was up all night vomiting everywhere (he has bedroom cleaning duty and laundry duty when that happens, I have shower and shampoo duty…followed by hair blow dry duty because our kids are high maintenance little assholes sometimes…they might get that from me, but no comment). Seriously, though, get this. It’s magic, and it’s only $54.

Date Night

If you aren’t regularly dating your spouse – and I’m talking at least once every two weeks – it’s time to make some changes. You need that time to connect. You need that time to focus on one another, to look one another in the eyes and to carry on conversations that aren’t interrupted by tiny humans, to just be young and in love without distraction. I love date night, and it is a Friday favorite. Tonight’s date night includes some of our favorite couples, our favorite brewery our friends just opened, and the knowledge that we will wake up tomorrow with cheeks sore from laughing. Best life, you guys.

 

What are some of your Friday favorites this week?

Fall Bucket List

Happy fall, y’all.

I know I’m a few weeks late to the party, but you know the drill. I’ve been busy, guys! I’m always busy. I don’t love that my calendar is never empty, but busy is just a way of life sometimes when you’ve got four little ones and stuff. But, it’s fall, it’s my favorite time of year, and it’s literally the best of the best of the best right now. Try arguing with me about why this is not the most fabulous time of the year, I dare you.

In honor of the fact that it’s not only fall but also October, which is the official start of the holiday season (my three favorites right in a row), I thought we’d talk about fall a bit. A few of my fall favorites, if you will. A sort of fall bucket list you can use to help you get into the fall spirit now that the weekend is here (we are choosing to ignore the 90-degree temps, the incessant love bugs, and the lack of anything that feels like fall around here, mmmkay?).

Weekend is officially here, so here’s a list of things to try this fall that will help put you in the holiday spirit. They’re simple, they’re fun, and they’re going to make it worth your while to enjoy a few of them.

  • Light a fall candle (my favorites are from Bath and Body Works)
  • Bake fall cookies (not everyday cookies. Fall cookies).
  • Sit around a fire and roast some marshmallows (Floridians, hold marshmallows on a stick outside your car door…same effect).

2

  • Watch Hocus Pocus
  • Carve a pumpkin
  • Find a pumpkin patch
  • Take fall photos
  • Go fall wardrobe shopping
  • Book a trip somewhere the leaves are changing and the weather is beautiful
  • Open the doors and windows (if you can do that and not die of heat)
  • Decorate your home for Halloween and/or fall
  • Take an evening walk
  • Make cinnamon rolls
  • Bake a pie
  • Plan a friendsgiving
  • Go find pinecones and let the kids paint them and make some crazy outdoor art with them
  • Watch Gator Football
  • Make chili
  • Bake pumpkin pumpkin bread
  • Drink a holiday-ish beverage

Try one, try them all, mark them off as you go. Whatever works for you is what works for me, but these are some of our favorite things to do in the fall around our house. We have to stretch a bit in the Sunshine State since it’s 90+ degrees, humid, and the lovebugs are insane, but we make it work (i.e. we crank down the AC until it’s cool enough in the house to pretend like it’s fall outside the house).

What do you love to do this time of year that makes it feel like fall where you are?