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Friday Favorites {1.5.18}

Friday Favorites

Helllllo first Friday of 2018! I’ve decided to start participating in Friday Favorites again this year. I need some positivity in my life right now. Today I’m sharing some favorite things I’m grateful for right now. 

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One of the biggest things I am grateful for right now are the amazing friendships my kids have made at their new school. Making the decision to switch them to a charter school was full of anxiety for me. I knew in my heart that they were better off in this new school but switching them to a school where they knew nobody was hard. It was a rough few months- especially for Maliah. But they’ve adjust so well and they’ve made some great friends. I was worried that I would never see any of their friends because we live so far away from the school. Having a house full of kids, knowing their friends, and knowing what’s going on in their lives is something I have always really enjoyed. It took a few months but my house is full of kids again. Tyler has football teammates and basketball teammates here all the time and recently there have been new friends too. Maliah always has gaggles of giggling girls over here- which I’m sure has nothing to do with the amount of teen boys also hanging out here ha! Even Mason and Zoey have had quite a few friends over in the last couple of months. I love it. 

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Something else I’m grateful for is my master bedroom. Matt and I upgraded to a king size bed in 2017 and it’s been amazing. Somehow the master bedroom is always last on my list to get done so it never gets finished. I finally buckled down and finished some long overdo projects. I also splurged and bought some of the most amazingly soft and comfy sheets ever known to man- Cuddl Duds Luxury Plush sheets. They’re like being wrapped into minky fleece and sleeping on a cloud. Seriously. Life changing. 

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2017 was a hard year for our family with Tyler’s concussion and complicated recovery, some health scares, and just a lot of stressful things. But looking back at our best 9 of 2017 reminded me that we had good stuff happen too. We visited family, we went to Niagara Falls, we hosted family, we had fun. It wasn’t a total wash of a year. There were a lot of memories made. 

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Weekly Book Club {1.4.18}

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I had some free time over Christmas break to get caught up on some books I’ve been planning to read. I’ve been in kind of a book slump- nothing really appealed to me and I wasn’t invested in some of the books I was choosing. I have probably 8 unfinished books on my Kindle app right now. I was craving time to read but none of the books was exactly what I was wanting. I hate when that happens. I finally found one deep in the recesses of my TBR list that appealed to me and I’m fully invested in that one right now. Today I’m sharing a couple that I read during Christmas break that I did really enjoy.

1. Until it Fades by K.A. Tucker– Twenty-four-year-old truck stop waitress and single mother Catherine Wright has simple goals: to give her five-year-old daughter a happy life and to never again be the talk of the town in Balsam, Pennsylvania: population two thousand outside of tourist season. And then one foggy night, on a lonely road back from another failed attempt at a relationship, Catherine saves a man’s life. It isn’t until after the police have arrived that Catherine realizes exactly who it is she has saved: Brett Madden, hockey icon and media darling. Catherine has already had her fifteen minutes of fame and the last thing she wants is to have her past dragged back into the spotlight, only this time on a national stage. So she hides her identity. It works. For a time. But when she finds the man she saved standing on her doorstep, desperate to thank her, all that changes. What begins as an immediate friendship quickly turns into something neither of them expected. Something that Catherine isn’t sure she can handle; something that Catherine is afraid to trust. Because how long can an extraordinary man like Brett be interested in an ordinary woman like Catherine…before the spark fades?

My Rating: 5 Stars

I really enjoyed this book. I grew up in a smallish town full of judgy Judy types so I completely understood and empathized with the main character. This book kept my interest and I was totally invested in the ending. I loved the relationship between the main characters and how it developed- it was real, not that fake insta-love that I hate so much. The relationship evolved over time and they faced challenges and doubts like every real life person. It was refreshing. Highly recommend this one. 

2. Catching Caden by Samantha Christy– It was my home run ball that shattered her face. Right along with her modeling career. Now it’s my mission to help her rebuild her life. And get her to love the game that she hates. The game that dictates my life both on and off the field. But when the lines of our friendship become blurred, I worry she’ll just be another casualty of my three-strikes rule. The rule I have to protect my money, my future, my heart. No girl has ever broken it. I’ve never wanted one to. Until now.

My Rating: 5 Stars

This was another book I devoured over Christmas break. It was interesting and different- I’ve not read one like this before so I wanted to see how it ended. I liked the main characters- they were both real and had very real issues and doubts. This is book 1 in a new series and I will definitely read the rest of the series when it’s published. I’m not really a big baseball fan but I love sports so I gave this one a chance. It was definitely worth the read!

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One Little Word & Goals For 2018

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It’s taken me awhile to choose a word for 2018. I discarded about 12 different words before I decided on Purposeful. 2017 was a super stressful, very chaotic, and borderline gloomy year in our household. There were highs like our trip to Niagara Falls and our kids all in the same charter school. But there were also some very low lows like Tyler’s concussion and some other things that I didn’t blog about. I’m not sad to see the end of 2017. I’m setting the bar a bit lower for 2018. 

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I am striving to live a purposeful life this year and I have 4 areas that I will be focusing on. I definitely found myself getting bogged down with the stress of the last few months and depression/anxiety started creeping back in. I’ve worked too hard and come too far to slip back into that old pattern. So 2018 is starting with a fresh slate. 

Self:

-Watch less TV. Seriously. I notice that the more I struggle with my mental health, the more television I watch. Mindless, stupid shows that serve no purpose or even offer any real entertainment. I already swept through the DVR like a wrecking ball and deleted a bunch of shows that I really don’t care about. Matt and I are in the process of deciding which shows we actually care about and would truly miss watching. Everything else- gone!

-Read more books. I miss reading. I have so many books on my Kindle app that I want to read. I actually joined #theunreadshelfproject2018 on Instagram to try and read some of these books I’ve been meaning to get to. I created a whole collection on my iPad Kindle app for it! I also want to try and read more of a variety of books. I love romance books but they get stale after awhile. I want to add some non-fiction, paranormal, mystery, contemporary fiction…I need a variety. 

-Go to bed earlier. I’ll be honest, I hate this one. I am a natural night owl. I would be perfectly happy to go to bed around 1am and wake up around 9am. That’s my natural body clock. Unfortunately these kids have to leave the house at 6:15am for school. I’ve been getting around 4-4.5 hours of sleep a night and it’s not enough. That is also more than likely contributing to my issues with depression and anxiety in the last few months. I need to retrain my body and mind and shoot for at least 6-7 hours of sleep a night. 

-Focus on mental health. This is a big one for me in 2018. I refuse to slip back into that awful space that I lived in for years. No. I will focus on reducing stress, letting go of things I cannot change, practicing self care. I will take a hot bubble bath if I need a break. I will get out of the house every day if I need a change of scenery. I will blog more. I will not allow intrusive thoughts and negative behaviors to rule my life. I will be healthy, whole, and available for my family and I will model good habits for my kids. 

Family:

-Focus on our family. One of the most challenging parts of the kids switch to charter school has been the comparison game. We love our school, don’t get me wrong, but it’s been an adjustment going from public schools to a charter school with a large population of affluent families. Our kids are adjusting, we are adjusting. We need to keep our mind centered on our family and what is best for us. We will never be the family taking 2 week long vacations during Christmas break or giving our kids $200 allowance per week. We need to keep our family goals foremost in our minds. 

-Simplify our life. Life has been very chaotic and complicated recently. We just need a reset. We need to let go of commitments that are adding chaos to our lives. This year I will eliminate some things that have been stressing me out and be content with a more simple lifestyle. 

-Be home more. I’m an introvert and a homebody. I’m perfectly happy being at home all weekend and not going anywhere. That’s how I recharge. Matt and Mason are the same. Maliah and Zoey are introverts to an extent and Tyler is never home anymore anyway. I want to be at home more and be content saying no to invitations and extra commitments. A big part of that is creating a home that we want to be in all the time. 

-Embrace open door policy. Part of being home more and simplifying our life involves letting our kids have friends come and go as they please. We already have a fairly lenient open door policy for their friends. In fact, we actually have one of Tyler’s friends living with us right now. It doesn’t get much more open door than that. I don’t mind being the hangout house. I don’t mind having 15-18 kids in my house at one time. It just doesn’t bother us. Several times over this Christmas break we woke up to kids sleeping everywhere in our house- couches, floor, chairs….and it was great. We scrambled up 3 dozen eggs, added some fried rice and sausage and called it brunch. I like having my kids at home with all their friends. 

House:

-Declutter every space. This is so important to me and my mental health. We have a lot of people living in our house and every space needs to be functional. Right now it’s jam packed with stuff and it’s raising my blood pressure. I intend to declutter every closet, every cabinet, every area in the house. I will be ruthless getting rid of the stuff we don’t need. If it doesn’t serve a purpose, then it’s getting donated or sold. 

-Rework the areas that currently don’t work. We have several areas in our house that are not working right now and I will fix them this year. Both the pantries need to be completely reworked. The laundry closet needs work. The upstairs linen/laundry closet is a hot mess. The front closet is overflowing. The kids bedrooms are too full of stuff. I’m making a list and I will get all these areas fixed. 

-Do one room a month challenge. In an effort to make this big declutter/rework plan happen I’m going to focus on one room per month. I will declutter, deep clean, fix, and rework every single room. Giving myself a month to complete each room/space makes it a doable goal. 

-Organize all the things. I cannot wait to organize all the things. Seriously. Organization is my love language. The biggest part of this is the declutter process. I function so much better in a clutter free, organized space. So that’s what I will focus on creating this year. 

Financial:

-Practice minimalism. Every purchase needs to serve a purpose. I will not mindlessly buy things- clothes, decor, stuff. I will not make any impulse purchases. Not only do we not have the funds to be able to do that, it just doesn’t make sense. I have 3 huge boxes of stuff to take to Goodwill already and it doesn’t make sense to replace those things with new things. 

-Cut unnecessary extras. I cut out all magazine subscriptions, my Kindle Unlimited subscription, our HBO subscription….and there’s more that we can cut. We need to save money this year and cutting out little things is a good start. I’ve already cut out Starbucks, eating out, fast food, and expensive liquor. I’m sure as the year goes on we’ll find more cuts to make to our budget. 

-Eat at home every night. With the exception of 2 pizza nights when Papa John’s had 50% off their whole menu during Christmas break, we have not eaten out in a long time. That’s not to say that I’ve cooked every single night but we have eaten at home. Some nights it might have been grilled cheese sandwiches and ramen noodles but we didn’t get fast food. I plan to continue this all year long. 

-Work on meal planning and grocery budget. Part of making the eat at home every night plan work is having a wide variety of meals to choose from. I have a great app on my phone that I’ve been adding our family favorite recipes to over the last couple of months and I’m going to continue adding new recipes to try. My goals is to have our grocery/household budget at or near $600 per month every month. It’ll be a challenge but I think I can do it. 

Here’s to a fabulous 2018!

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Reflecting On My 2017 Goals

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My word for 2017 was Flourish. I don’t feel like I really met that goal for the entire year. I think the first 8 or 9 months of the year were great and I really was happy and well….flourishing. But life got complicated and the last few months have been really difficult ones in our house. Instead of flourishing I was just trying to tread water and not drown. But that’s okay. That’s life. I did great on some of my goals for 2017 and I didn’t do so great on others. Again…that’s life. All in all, I’m happy to see the end of 2017 and move on to better things in 2018. 

1. Be involved. I wanted to be involved with the kids’ school and with the athletic boosters and with football. I wanted to be involved with friends and with neighbors. I definitely met this goal. I became the team mom for varsity football, I am co-class coordinator for Zoey’s classroom. I volunteered for all kinds of events and things to support the school. I went out with friends and enjoyed myself. 

2. Spend wisely. I feel good about this one too. I cut the grocery budget significantly. I was careful about what I bought all year long. I only bought the needs instead of all the wants. There’s always room for improvement but I’m happy with my progress.

3. Read more. I definitely read more in 2017 than in 2016. I’ve read 133 books in 2017 compared to 114 in 2016. I was also more particular about the books I chose to read. Less fluffy smut and more insightful, emotional stories. I found some great new authors and best of all, I read so many books for free from the library and from Overdrive online. 

4. Update the bedrooms. Maliah’s room got a complete overhaul back in the Spring. The master bedroom got a minor redo. Everyone got updated beds. There are some big changes possibly looming in the near future so both Mason and Zoey will be getting new paint and refreshed decor soon. 

5. Keep the house clean. I had the best of intentions. I really did. Unfortunately all these people and dogs in one house means that it’s not always going to be clean. I kept the dust bunnies to a minimum and did the best I could. That’s all I could do. 

6. Be more productive with my time. I did great with this earlier in the year. Then the new school year started with a 5:30am wake up time and I was just trying to survive. I’ve come to the realization that I will just never be a morning person. Ever. I’m a night owl. Period. 

7. Pay down debt. This one was a big fat FAIL. We actually paid off a lot of debt in the Spring and then ended up with a ton of medical debt after Tyler’s concussion. So now we start over again. 

8. Pay more attention to my outward appearance. Yeah…..fail. I’m a jeans and tee kind of girl and that’s never going to change. I’m done trying to be something I’m not. I wear minimal make up and my hair is in a messy bun more often than not. I am who I am. 

All things being said, I’m pretty ok with how I did on my goals in 2017. As I mentioned, there are some big changes on the horizon for our family in 2018 so I’m going to have to be more go with the flow and less stabby when things don’t go smoothly. I’m a work in progress. 

 
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Weekly Book Club {12.20.17}

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I can’t believe it’s almost the end of the year! I’ve read some great books this year and next week I’ll be sharing my top 10 favorite reads of the year. Today I’m sharing 2 good reads from the last week or so. 

1. Friend Request by Laura Marshall– Maria Weston wants to be friends. But Maria Weston is dead. Isn’t she? 1989. When Louise first notices the new girl who has mysteriously transferred late into their senior year, Maria seems to be everything the girls Louise hangs out with aren’t. Authentic. Funny. Brash. Within just a few days, Maria and Louise are on their way to becoming fast friends. 2016. Louise receives a heart-stopping email: Maria Weston wants to be friends on Facebook. Long-buried memories quickly rise to the surface: those first days of their budding friendship; cruel decisions made and dark secrets kept; the night that would change all their lives forever. Louise has always known that if the truth ever came out, she could stand to lose everything. Her job. Her son. Her freedom. Maria’s sudden reappearance threatens it all, and forces Louise to reconnect with everyone she’d severed ties with to escape the past. But as she tries to piece together exactly what happened that night, Louise discovers there’s more to the story than she ever knew. To keep her secret, Louise must first uncover the whole truth, before what’s known to Maria–or whoever’s pretending to be her–is known to all.

My Rating: 4 Stars

This book was really good. It kept my attention from start to finish and I needed to know how it ended. It was full of suspense, angst, drama, and creepy feelings. The premise was pretty interesting- a dead girl friend requesting you on social media? Creepy. Finding out what really happened all those years ago? Super creepy. Definitely recommend this one.

2. Natural Disaster by Ginger Zee– ABC News chief meteorologist Ginger Zee pulls back the curtain on her life in Natural Disaster. Ginger grew up in small-town Michigan where she developed an obsession with weather as a young girl. Ginger opens up about her lifelong battle with crippling depression, her romances that range from misguided to dangerous, and her tumultuous professional path. This cyclone of stories may sound familiar to some-it’s just that Ginger’s personal tempests happened while she was covering some of the most devastating storms in recent history, including a ferocious tornado that killed a legend in the meteorology field. This book is for all the mistake makers who have learned to forgive others and themselves-even in the aftermath of man-made, or in this case Zee-made, disasters. It’s a story that every young woman should read, a story about finding love and finding it in yourself.
Beloved by Good Morning America’s audience, Ginger is a daily presence for millions. Zee’s gained fame for her social media presence which is as unfiltered as Natural Disaster-from baby barf to doggy doo-doo. She’s shattered the glass ceiling for women in meteorology, but admits here first, she’s the one natural disaster she couldn’t have forecast.

My Rating: 5 Stars

This book was SO GOOD. I love Ginger Zee on Good Morning America. I would never ever have known that she has dealt with a lot of the same issues that I have dealt with in my life. I love her even more now. The book is full of stories from the early years of career and I loved every single page. If you’ve ever dealt with depression or hard times in your life, you will find something to relate to in this book!

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