Friday Favorites: Sunscreen and Sunless Tanner

Summer is right around the corner. My kids have two weeks left of school and many others are already out for summer vacation.  With summer vacation comes time at the pool, the beach, and lots of other outdoor fun. Time outside means exposure to the sun and its harmful rays. If you know me, you know that I am a fanatic about sunscreen. I am a very “moley” person. I have moles everywhere and lots of them. I have had the unfortunate pleasure of having multiple moles that have had to be removed for being severely atypical. That is super close to cancer. Because of this, I am a crazy person when it comes to sun exposure.  I lather myself and everyone in my family with sunscreen multiple times when we are out in the sun.  I even wear hats when I am in the sun for prolonged periods of time. I also wear sunscreen on my face every single day whether I am going to be out in the sun or not.  Everyone needs to wear sunscreen, but the key is reapplying it.  You can’t just put it on once and expect it to work all day long. I personally reapply every hour. My philosophy is better safe than sorry!  I also would never recommend a spray sunscreen.  You can never get good coverage with a spray. I guarantee that you will miss spots and then you will have a weird tan.  

I have tried multiple brands of sunscreen over the years.  Most sunscreens are thick, difficult to rub in, smell bad, and leave you feeling sticky.  It has taken years to find a sunscreen that I really love, but I finally found it a couple of years ago.  I promise you that I am not saying this just because I am a consultant.  It really is that good!  My favorite sunscreen is Rodan + Fields Essentials Sunscreen SPF 30.  I am not kidding you when I say that it is the best sunscreen that I have ever used.  It is thin, smells good, and doesn’t leave a sticky feeling on your skin.  I would even go as far as saying it leaves your skin feeling cool and refreshed, not sticky and gross. It applies evenly and it actually works.  I am obsessed with this sunscreen.  I will forever use it as long as I am going out in the sun. I think I probably have about 5 bottles of it in my house right now because I don’t want to run out!  I love it! R+F also has a Lip Shield that protects your lips from the sun. It smells like lemons! I am not especially attached to the lip shield, but I think it is important to remember to protect your lips with some form of SPF made for lips.

Now, you may be thinking that my crazy obsession with sunscreen leaves me pasty white all the time, and you would be correct.  I am paler than pale for the majority of the year.  I will say that I still get a golden complexion in the summer without getting burned using the R+F sunscreen. I prefer not to get even that from the sun though because I am so afraid of the sun’s rays.  Anyway, I have a solution for the pasty white skin too. I do not, and will not, ever recommend a tanning bed because I believe it is just as bad as regular sun exposure if not worse.  I also personally won’t do a spray tan.  I don’t have anything against them, but I just know that it is not for me.  I will tell you that I have tried a million sunless tanners.  I can’t stand 90% of them because of the smell.  I have mentioned before that smells trigger my migraines, and most sunless tanners have triggered them with their strong smells.  Let’s not even mention all the ones I have tried over the years that leave streaks or turn you orange.  There is another win with Rodan + Fields!  Their Essentials Foaming Sunless Tanner is the best one I have ever tried.  It does have a smell to it, but it isn’t super strong and to me smells more citrus than chemical and does not trigger migraines for me.  It is easy to apply and does not leave streaks.  It also has never turned me orange.  It works great. Whenever I have applied it, I get people commenting on my nice tan. They often ask if I have been to the beach. It gives you an even, glowing complexion, and you start to have that warm glow within an hour of application.  It does not leave a sticky feel either, and it lasts for about a week.  You can control how dark you want to be as well by applying one or two layers. It truly is the best and I use it year round.  I’m obsessed! 

In summary, avoid exposure to the sun as much as possible. Protect your skin and lips by using sunscreen whenever you are outside. Reapply often.  Find safer ways to get that sun-kissed glow without exposure to the sun’s harmful rays, and enjoy your summer without a painful sunburn!

Anchored and Protected,

Step Up or Step Out

I am going to kind of be on a soapbox today.  Sorry! I was at a meeting last night for my daughter’s gymnastics team.  First of all, it was mandatory that at least one parent for every gymnast be in attendance.  I can tell you that there was probably only half of the team represented there.  Mind you, this meeting has been on the calendar for at least a month.  That is plenty of time to make arrangements so that one parent could be there.  Yes, I know that there are extenuating circumstances for some that really just couldn’t make it, but I can assure that was not the case for half of the team! That isn’t even my real issue, though.  My real issue came when we spent a good length of time determining if we were going to host a big moneymaking event.  The argument boiled down to the lack of parental volunteers to support the event with the same handful of people doing all the work while everyone reaped the benefits.  We ultimately voted to have the event because we didn’t want to take something away from the girls just because there were a few bad seeds.  Now, we have been a part of 3 different gyms throughout my daughter’s career as a gymnast.  In every single one of those gyms, we have had to sign a contract stating that we would complete a certain number of volunteer hours.  Some gyms required more and some less. Regardless, they all had some form of requirement for parent volunteers.  I know that this is the case in other competitive sports as well.  My point is that you know going into it what is expected of you.  However, so many parents think that they can get out of it or that it doesn’t apply to them. I cannot tell you how many times over the years that we have had to beg and plead with people to get enough volunteers to run an event, to get them to do what they said they would do by signing that contract.  It is always the exact same few people who put in their required hours plus many more hours to cover for those who don’t fulfill their commitment.  It is those same people that showed up for the meeting that you see doing all the work all of the time.  I have always been one of those people that does more than what is required, and I certainly don’t mind doing that.  However, I do mind it when the select few do all of the work, but the whole group gets the financial benefits of the work whether they worked or not.  It is not fair.  I know that rules and regulations require that the funds be split equally, but it just makes me angry.  We should not have to be begging and pleading to get people to do what they committed to do by signing that contract and enrolling their daughter in the program. What gives you the right to think that your time is more valuable than mine? Look, we are all busy.  We all have a lot of things going on.  We all have other kids in other sports.  I get it, but I also know that this is what comes with it.  If you sign your kid up to do a sport that requires parent volunteer hours, you better do your part.  If you can’t, then don’t sign your kid up!  It’s that simple. Step up or step on out.  You are in or you’re not.  It is one or the other.  There should not be any grey area in between.  It is what you committed to do, so you better do it. What kind of example are those parents being for their children when they see their parents skipping out on their responsibilities? What message does that send them? It teaches them that it is ok to feel and act entitled and that you don’t have to go the extra mile because things are just going to be handed to you anyway.  It teaches them that responsibilities aren’t really important. Those sure aren’t lessons I want to teach my kids. Guess what? You aren’t entitled. Your time isn’t more valuable than mine. You aren’t better than me.  We are equal and we all have to do our part. It’s plan and simple. The bottom line is this: If you have kids who are involved in competitive sports, you have to do your part.  It is part of the commitment and part of your responsibilities. Step up or step out! 

Anchored and Rambling,

Organization Hack: Lists

I have mentioned several times that I use lists for everything to help keep me organized.  I have had a few questions about how I keep up with my lists, so I thought I would share what I do with all of you today. I NEED lists.  I could not function without my lists.  If it isn’t on a list somewhere, it isn’t getting done, or I will forget it totally. I know this about myself.  I know that my memory gets worse and worse the older I get.  This is why lists are crucial for me.  In all honesty, I prefer handwritten lists.  The act of writing it down and seeing it in my handwriting is just how I process things. When I was in high school and college, I would recopy all of my notes as a way of studying.  That is how I have always learned and remembered things best. It is just how my brain works.  I actually prefer keeping my lists in a notebook.  Unfortunately, it’s not easy to carry a notebook around with you at all times.  I do have a small notebook that fits in most of my purses that I keep some things in like lists of my children’s medications, doctors and their phone numbers and addresses, and things like that. I also use it when I am in the doctor’s office with one of my kids to write notes on or things I need to remember that the doctor says.  Otherwise, it goes in one ear and out the other ear. Even the small notebook isn’t very convenient.  It isn’t always near me. The one thing that is ALWAYS within arms reach of me is my phone. I have had to train myself to keep my lists and notes in my phone instead of the notebook.  I will tell you that it wasn’t easy transitioning to this form of list making.  While it is not my preferred method, I have had to adapt.  I still do fear loosing my phone or things getting accidently deleted, but I just have to suck it up and use it anyway because it is what works for my lifestyle of always being on the go. 

I have tried many different reminder and lists making apps over the years, but what I have found that works best for me is the simple note pad app that comes on every iPhone.  In this app, I am able to create different folders based on my needs.  For example, I have a folder for this blog where I jot down ideas, lists of things I want to write about, and things I need to do. Sometimes, when I am driving, an idea will come to my head and I will start voice texting the post into a note. I also have folders for my Trades of Hope and R+F businesses where I keep things I want to post on social media or things I need to do. There are folders for gymnastics where I keep scores and meeting notes. There are even still folders from when I was teaching with lists of things I needed to do or buy or ideas I had. Then I have a generic folder where I keep everything else. That folder is really the heart of my note taking and list making.  It is where I keep lists of things that I need to pack for a trip. There is even a permanent Disney packing list in there too.  I keep lists of books I want to read and TV shows that people recommend.  I keep a running list of the groceries I need and just add to it as we run out of things. I have a permanent to do list that I just keep adding more and more things to.  If you can think of it, there is probably a list for it in there.  My whole life is in that notepad.  To loose it would be detrimental!

The one thing that I don’t like about the notes app is that I can’t cross things out.  I get a lot of satisfaction out of crossing things off of my list.  However, I have adapted yet again and now have a different system for crossing things off the list.  I use the green check emoji to “check off” things that I have done.  It is not the same level of satisfaction as physically crossing it out, but it serves the purpose. I keeps me on track and lets me know what I have left to do. I love it when I seen green check marks everywhere.

As you can see, it is pretty simple to keep up with all the things that you need to remember and do if you train yourself to do it. I have found that lists really keep me organized and prevent me from missing things that are important. I live and die by my lists and my calendar in my phone. Without those 2 things, I would be totally lost. I encourage you to find a system that works for you. You may find a different app that works better for you than what I use. It is just trial and error until you find what works best. If you are still a pen and paper lover like me and just can’t transition to the digital world, I encourage you to use a small notebook. It just keeps it all in one place versus having a million little notes all over the place that can get misplaced. Having things written down (however you choose to do it) really helps to keep you organized.

Anchored and Organized,

Leap of Faith

This past weekend, I spent time with 8 of my closest friends for our annual girls’ trip to the beach. One afternoon a few of us were sitting on the beach discussing the feeling of being trapped by our chosen career. We chose a career path when we were younger that we were so passionate about. We all became teachers. We just knew that we were going to make a difference in the lives of so many children. I know I felt like that was what God had always called me to do. I was destined to be a teacher. Unfortunately for many of us, that path is no longer one that we really want because teaching tends to suck the life out of you.  When you are someone that devotes everything to your career, you eventually will become burned out.  You are forced to choose your job over everything else in your life because you think that is what you are supposed to do. It’s who you are. Sadly, it makes you become bitter, resentful, and angry.  It causes you to take time away from the people and things you love the most.  I know it made me a miserable person.  I wasn’t someone that others wanted to be around.  I took all of my frustrations out on my own kids and husband.  They always got short changed because the job came first.  It got to the point where it took all I had just to get through each day.  I had nothing left by the time I got home to my family each evening.  I felt like a failure…a failure to my students, to my kids, and to my husband. It is really sad to hear that so many of my teacher friends feel the same way. It is sad to hear teacher after teacher leaving the profession because they just can’t take it anymore.  What is more heartbreaking, though, is all of those teachers that are forced to stay because they are afraid to leave.  They are afraid of loosing an income that their family desperately needs.  They are afraid of the unknown. They are afraid of no longer having a purpose in their lives. They are afraid of not knowing who they are because their whole existence has always been about being a teacher.  They are afraid of loosing their identity.  These are all things that I struggled with when I made the decision to walk away from the classroom.  It is the same thing that many of my friends are struggling with.  

As I sat there on the beach, I looked one of my friends in the eye and told her that she is worthy of something else.  She is worthy of something more. We all are.  I only wish that someone had told me that years ago. I may not have listened, but I would like to think that maybe it would have sunk in and made a difference. Staying in a situation that clearly is killing you is not worth it. It is not worth the stress, the fatigue, or fight that you constantly have with yourself.  It is not worth all of those times that you feel like a failure as a mom because you can’t devote the time you need to your children or the times you feel like a failure to your students because you are being pulled in a million directions.  It is not worth it.  It wasn’t worth it for me. I was not willing to sacrifice my own happiness, my family, my health, or my sanity anymore.  I had to take that leap of faith.  Of course I worried about how my family would handle the financial loss of my income. I worried about what my purpose in life was. Who am I if I am not a teacher? I worried about looking like a quitter. I worried about letting people down.  I worried that I was going against God’s plan for my life.  I can tell you that it was not an easy decision. It was not something that I took lightly, and it certainly wasn’t something that came quickly.  It actually took me 3 years to decide that I wasn’t going back to teaching.  There are still days when I think about how much easier it would be on my family if I just went back.  There are days that I still feel like I want to go back. I loved working with my students.  I really did. I know that was what I was called to do at that time. Unfortunately, I just didn’t love all of the extra stuff that came with the job or the pressure. It wasn’t my passion anymore. Maybe I will go back one day, but right now my choice is for something else.  It is for something that fulfills me in ways that teaching no longer did. 

How did I finally get to the place I am now? Trust me, it wasn’t easy.  I did a lot of praying. I did a lot of soul searching. I had to rediscover who I was without teaching.  I had to really reflect on what my dreams are now. I learned that those dreams are something totally different than what they were 20 years ago, and that is okay.  I listened to a few podcasts and read a couple of books.  Most of all, I sat still and listened to God. I listened to what his will for my life is now. I had come to a fork in the road. One path was the one that I thought I was supposed to be on. It was the path that was familiar.  It was the path I knew my way through.  The other path was new. It was a path that led to places I had never been.  It was scary. I was afraid I would get lost, but when I was still, I heard God telling me to take the unfamiliar road. He told me that he would be my guide. He would lead me through the uncharted waters.  He promised me that he would hold my hand and carry me when I needed him.  You know what? That is exactly what he has done. He showed me that I was supposed to become a teacher all those years ago. I was supposed to influence the lives of hundreds of children, but he also showed me that chapter in my life is over. God has different plans for me now.  Yes, we have struggled financially since loosing my income. Yes, it has been hard. Yes, it has been an adjustment. Guess what? It has been worth it all because I am worthy of something more. God showed me that. He has provided for me in all the ways I needed. He has now opened doors for me that I never knew existed. He is leading me down the uncharted path one step at a time. He has blessed my family in ways we never could have imagined. He is taking care of us because we are all in his hands and he is in control.  

I am so glad that I listened and took that leap of faith.  If I hadn’t, I would still be in the midst of a job that was literally killing me.  It was robbing me of so much.  I would never have known what amazing things that God has in store for me now. Sometimes it is still scary.  I still second guess myself.  Whenever those times come up, I stop and pray.  A peace will come over me, and I will be reminded of whose I am and who is in control.  If you are at a crossroads and you have to choose the right path, I encourage you to be still and listen.  Search your soul.  Rediscover who you are.  Take the leap of faith. Dive head first into those uncharted waters. You are worthy. You are worth the jump. God will take care of you, and he will show you the way.

Anchored on a New Path,

Fashion Finds: Amazon

Today I wanted to share with you some new things that I have found on Amazon that I think are cute. You can’t get much better with online shopping than with Amazon Prime. That two-day delivery time is the absolute best! Now, I will admit that I haven’t purchased all of these pieces, but they are certainly on my list as possible future purchases. I always check out all of the reviews before I recommend something that I haven’t purchased myself. All of these pieces are all rated high and would make great additions to your wardrobe.

Cupshe Swimsuit

I do actually own this swimsuit and it is adorable! I was so happy with the fit and just how cute it is on. I had been seeing this brand of suits pop up in my Facebook feed for several weeks, and they were all so cute and seemed to have great reviews.  I needed it in a hurry, so I hopped over to Amazon and found the one I wanted right away. It was here in 2 days with Amazon Prime. Amazon for the win again! I got so many compliments on it this past weekend at my girls’ trip. Check out the other options this brand has because there are some super cute suits.  I will definitely order another one in the future. 

Boat Neck Dolman Sleeve Dress

Reviews say that this dress is extremely soft and comfortable.  You really can’t go wrong with a simple dress like this.  Throw on a jean jacket for cool nights and you are all set.  It can be dressed up with a brightly colored necklace and sandals or dressed down with a cute pair of sneakers.  You can even add a pair of fun leggings underneath. 

Off the Shoulder Ruffle Maxi Dress

This dress has great reviews and people rave about how comfortable and cute it is.  Many reviewers loved it so much that they purchased it in multiple colors.  Did I mention that it even has pockets? I think I might just have to order this one for myself! 

Button Down Tank

This tank is super cute. I love the button detail. It can be worn with a half tuck like pictured, knotted in front, or down and loose.  It pairs great with a denim jacket or cute cardigan.

Short Sleeve T-Shirt

This cute top comes in a variety of solid colors and several shades of ombre’ fabric.  I love that it is longer in the back so it can be worn with leggings, and it has a feminine cut to it.  The ombre’ ones are certainly my favorites, but you can’t go wrong with a simple solid tee.

Graphic Tank

I love a good graphic shirt and this one is no exception. I especially love the vintage feel of it. The design comes in a variety of colors, and there is even a long sleeve option.  

5” Chino Shorts

These shorts come in a variety of solid colors as well as a couple of cute prints.  They are the perfect shorts for summer and a great length.  They are very similar to ones I have gotten from Old Navy in style and fit.

Leopard Maxi Skirt

You guys know that I love animal print, and this skirt is adorable.  It does come in several colors as well.  

Kimono

This kimono comes in a variety of patterns and colors.  It would be great over a t-shirt or tank or even used as a bathing suit coverup. 

These are the things that I am loving on Amazon right now. Which is your favorite? I think mine is the Off the Shoulder Maxi dress.

Anchored in Style,

This post contains commissioned links.

Forever Friends

The Thursday after Mother’s day is one of my favorite days of the year. It is the day that the DD Annual Girls’ Weekend begins. I long for this day every single year. Eight of my best friends in the world and I come together for this weekend every year and head to the beaches of the Outer Banks. Some years it is the only time that I see them all year long, but you would never guess that we have been apart for a whole year. When we come together, it is like no other thing I can describe. We all come from very different backgrounds and many different beliefs, but somehow this friendship has stood the test of time. We make each other better. We get each other in ways that no one else does. We give each other unconditional support and love no matter what. We listen to each other, offer advice, give tough love, and laugh together all the time. You would think that a group of friends that large wouldn’t really work, but it does. This friendship began almost 12 years ago at an elementary school where we all were teachers. The group began with just 5 of us. That 5 all taught in the very back corner of the school where very few people ventured besides us. We were the back hall gang. There were three of us on one side of the hall and two on the other. I remember morning after morning standing in the hallway outside of each of our classrooms chatting as our students arrived for the day. We bonded over tough students, difficult administration, our own children, and New Kids on the Block. That hallway is where it all began. Over the years the rest just sort of melted into the group until we had our core unit of 9. Although we all started as teachers in the same elementary school, we didn’t all stay there. Some moved to new schools, some moved away (me), some quit teaching all together, and some moved to high school. No matter the distance between us, we come together this one weekend a year to just be together.

This weekend, for me, is always about restoration. It is about the restoration of my mind, body, and spirit. It is a time to just be me without the pressures of life in general. I can take off all of my hats and just be still. Those eight ladies give me the fuel I need to move forward with the coming year. They give me strength to face the difficult things in my life. It is a weekend for me to let go of all of the negative and stress in my life. It all melts away the minute I see the first person. It really is hard to describe what these ladies do for me in my life and have done for me over the years. I’ve heard it said that if your friendship lasts for 10 years, you will be friends for life. Those 8 ladies will definitely be my friends for life. I could not even begin to imagine my life without any of them. We always joke what we will be like when we are all old and grey (some of us are getting there faster than others <wink, wink>). We sometimes see a group of little old ladies together and always say that will be us one day, and I know it will be. We will be sitting on the beach while one of us complains about the sand, one is dancing like a maniac, some are involved in deep conversations, and others are just taking it all in. I think our stories would make a great novel one day. We have even joked about writing it. It would surely be a great read. I might even venture to say that it would be a best seller! LOL!

As I get ready to hit the road today, I am reminded of all of the laughter and heartbreak we have shared. The memories are vast and my heart is full. There is no other way to describe us other than my tribe. Without them, my life would not be complete. I love each of them dearly. They are my forever friends. I cannot wait to get there.

Anchored,

Organization Hack: Over the Door Shoe Organizer

Today I want to talk to you about a simple over the door shoe organizer with clear plastic pockets that you can get at places like Walmart, Target, or Amazon. Sometimes you can even find them at your local dollar store. This simple thing can be used in so many ways other than just for shoes.  I recommend that you use the ones with clear pockets so that you can see what is in each pocket easily.  These also come in a variety of sizes.  Some are short, some are long, and they have varying numbers of pockets.  You can pick the one that best suits your needs.  While these are meant to hang on a door, you can also hang them on the wall using command hooks. There really are a number of uses for this simple organizing tool. I have compiled several uses for these from other bloggers to give you an idea of how this simple, inexpensive thing can get you organized easily. 

The possibilities are endless, but one of my favorite ways to use these is to organize toys.  You can use them in your child’s bedroom or in a playroom.  For years, my daughter had one on the back of her closet door that we used to store Barbie Dolls and all the accessories that come with them.  All those little shoes, clothes, and other tiny pieces were organized and stored in there.  They were easy to see, easy to access, and easy for her to clean up. You could also use them for things like Matchbox cars, Shopkins, LOL dolls, action figures, and more.  My girls collect the small Beanie Boos, and this would be a great way to store them or other stuffed animals as well. You could even use them for Legos and sort them in the pockets by color or shape. 

Another way I have used them before is for long vacations.  We once did a 10 day trip to Disney, and I packed one of these organizers in my suitcase. We used it to hold everyone’s toiletries and things so that they weren’t taking up space on the one bathroom sink that we had.  Yes, I know I am weird, but it worked.  It kept the bathroom neat and tidy for the whole trip.  I have also seen people take them on cruises.

These are also great for use in the kitchen. You can hang them on your pantry door or somewhere else in the kitchen.  You can even hang small ones on the back of cabinet doors. You can use it for snacks, spices, kitchen utensils, food packetswater bottles, and more. 

Check out these other uses too. The possibilities really are endless.

Office Supplies-Source
Hair Supplies-Source
School Supplies-Source
Coat Closet-Source
Cleaning Supplies-Source

As you can see there are tons of uses for these shoe organizers. You can even hit up Pinterest for even more ideas, including a spice garden.

Anchored and Organized,

6,933 Days of Imperfection

In just 6 days, my husband and I will be celebrating our 19th wedding anniversary. In some ways it feels like a lifetime ago and in other ways it seems like a few weeks ago.  I am not going to sit here and lie to you and tell you that it has been 19 years of wedded bliss.  I can’t say that, and I believe that anyone that does is either lying to themselves or to you.  No marriage is absolutely perfect.  No marriage is without arguments and struggles.  While I cannot say that the past 19 years have been absolutely perfect, I can say that I would do it all over again, including all the heartache and struggles.  Those things have made me who I am now, and I am sure that my husband would say the same thing.  I think we could both say of each other that we are very different people than we were 19 years ago.  I know I was a young, naïve, skinny little thing who had no clue what military life was all about.   I had dreams about the perfect little family with the perfect house.  I had dreams that I was going to change the world as a beloved teacher who was making a difference in the lives of children with special needs.  The perfect life. While I did get the family and the house, and I think I made a difference in the lives of many kids, none of it was perfect.  None of it was without struggle.  My image of perfect didn’t really exist.  It wasn’t realistic.  I am not telling you that I have had a bad life or a bad marriage by any means.  In fact, I would say that my marriage is pretty darn good. It’s just not picture perfect all the time, and I no longer want it to be.  

Marriage is hard in general, but throw in military life and it is even harder. Military life adds a whole aspect to your marriage that those that aren’t military would never understand.  I can assure you, your husband’s traveling doesn’t compare! You can never fully understand unless you have lived it, and I don’t even think I could adequately explain it. If I were to add up all of the days that my husband has been deployed, I would not be exaggerating to say that he has been gone for at least half of our marriage. He has missed so many things, and I know that weighs heavily on him.  It has changed us both.  People tell me all the time, that I am so strong and that they don’t know how I do it. I am strong when I have to be, but all those people didn’t see what happened when I was in my room all those nights feeling a deep loneliness and the weight of the world crushing my shoulders knowing that I had to get up the next morning and brave it all again alone. It was hard, and no amount of strength could have made it any easier for either of us.  One of the hardest days of my life and my husband’s was a day when we should have both been rejoicing.  It was the day our youngest daughter was born.  He wasn’t there.  He was deployed and unable to come home.  By some miracle, he happened to be pulled into a port that day, so he did get to talk to me on the phone that day and knew that she had been born and she and I were fine. He literally went back to sea minutes after she was born, and we didn’t have any communication with him again for 6 weeks.  I can only imagine what torment that was for him.  I know how hard it was for me, but I know it was even worse for him.  He didn’t get to meet our daughter until she was 3 months old.  I know that is something that will haunt him for the rest of his life.   Another struggle that military life brought was having to learn to live with and share life with each other over and over again. There was always a learning curve adjusting to life together and apart every single time he left and every single time he came home. It wasn’t easy.  I can go on and on about the struggles of military life, but that isn’t what is important.  What is important is that it was hard.  It did affect our marriage and who we were as individuals and together.  

Yes, I could say that I would have rather not have experienced any of that, but that’s not entirely true.  I proved to myself that I could do hard things. I had strength that I never knew existed inside me. It forced me to step way out of my comfort zone over and over again. It shaped me into the person that I am now.  That person is someone that I am proud of, someone I want my girls to look up to. That young, naïve girl from 19 years ago is gone. In her place is a woman who loves her husband more than anything in the world, knows that life isn’t perfect, has strength beyond measure, has fought her way through the tough times, and has dreams that are far bigger than anything she could have imagined years ago. No my marriage isn’t perfect. We fight, we argue, and we even dislike each other sometimes; but none of that matters.  At the end of the day he is my person and I am his. We love each other beyond comprehension, and we will continue to grow and change together through whatever life throws us until we are both no longer here on this Earth.  Then we will spend eternity together in heaven where we will walk hand in hand along those golden roads. I know that sounds cheesy but it’s true.  We joined together as one that day 19 years ago, and we will stay that way forever.  As I look back over the years, I see lots of struggles and hard days, but I also see so many days of happiness, love, and pure joy. I don’t want to erase any of them.  I want to hold them all tightly in my heart.  There is plenty of space left for all the days that are to come, and I can’t wait to see what they hold for us.  I have said before that I am perfectly imperfect, and I can totally say the same thing about my marriage.  The past 6,933 days have been perfectly imperfect. Here’s to many, many more! 

Anchored in love,

Fashion Finds: Target

I have been having Target withdrawals.  With the move and trip to Disney, it has probably been at least a month since I have been.  You guys know it is my favorite store.  I could spend many hours and many dollars in that store daily if I could. I had to go and get my Target fix.  I wanted to check it out and see if they had any new finds for you guys.  It has been pretty miserable weather here where I live over the last few days.  It is super rainy and cold.  We were back in the 40’s this morning, and I have debating turning the heat back on. Instead, I am wrapped in a blanket to keep me warm as I type.  Anyway, despite the weather outside and my winter attire, I went into Target looking to find some cute summery pieces that were casual and great for everyday summer wear.   I will say that I was a little disappointed in the selection of clothes, which is rare for me to say.  They had tons of pieces for the younger crowd that just didn’t work for me.  You guys, they had a ton of acid wash denim!!!  It was like a flash back to my youth and certainly not a trend that I think I will fall back into! LOL! They even had a pair of acid wash jeans with elastic cuffs! No thank you! The other negative for me was that they had a lot of dressier work clothes, and not a lot of casual pieces that I felt were appropriate for my age and taste. I will say that Target has always been a staple for me when it comes to shorts for the summer.  You can typically find cute patterned and solid shorts in a variety of lengths. While they didn’t have as wide of selection as they normally do, I did find some cute shorts to show you.  There were a ton of boxes everywhere around the store and employees everywhere today, so I think they are restocking and possibly adding new inventory.  I will have to go back in a few days and check it out again.  Maybe then I will have better luck.  Here is what I did find, though, that I loved.

Tank Top (unavailable online)

Grey Shorts

Mono chromatic looks are very in right now.  

Crewneck Linen Top

Pink Shorts

Eyelet Tank Top (not my favorite but pairs well with these shorts for a mono-chromatic look)

High Rise Plaid Shorts

So adorable!

High Rise Seersucker Shorts

Tank Top

High Rise Ruffle Shorts

Tie Dye V-Neck Top

High Rise Shorts

My favorite outfit of the day!

Ruffle Top

Shorts

This would make a great cover-up dress for a day at the beach.

Dress (has pockets)

Sleeveless Crewneck Knit Midi Dress

Circle bags are very on-trend right now.

Circle Rope Tote

Straw Tote

Espadrille Wedges

Scalloped Slides

How fun is this?

Necklace

While I didn’t find a ton of casual outfits like I was hoping for, I did find some really great pieces. I will definitely go back soon to check out the new inventory they were putting out. For those of you that are fanatics about Vineyard Vines, Target is doing a collaboration with them that will be released May 18. These pieces will sell out quickly so be ready to head over there on Saturday to grab yours. Happy shopping!

Anchored,

Friday Favorites: Summer Capsule 2019

Many of you know that I recently joined a company called Trades of Hope, and I am super passionate about their mission.  TOH’s mission is to empower women out of sweatshops, slums, abuse, human trafficking, and extreme poverty all across the world by providing them with a sustainable business.  We employ artisans from 17 different countries including the US to create beautiful handmade, ethically sourced jewelry, bags, home décor and more.  We market and sell the gorgeous pieces that these women create so that they can in turn provide for their families.  I am so passionate about helping these women fight injustice. I truly feel like this is what God has been calling me to do.  We work to give back to these women by providing them with things like baby chicks, fruit trees, water wheels, education, and more so that they can rise up out of the dire situations they have been living in and ultimately change their lives and that of their families and communities.  TOH just released a summer capsule collection, and I wanted to share with you my three favorite pieces from that collection because they are not only gorgeous, but the stories behind them are truly touching.  Purchasing any of these products directly impacts women around the world.  

The inspiration for this summer capsule collection is the beautiful, unpretentious wildflower. Wildflowers are vibrant and gorgeous. They can survive and grow in the harshest of environments just like many of our artisans.  Our artisans have faced adversity, yet they have grown despite their challenges. This collection showcases pops of color and the vibrancy of the wildflower.  Altogether, nine new products were released, but I want to highlight my three favorite ones.

Maya Wallet-Guatemala

Guatemala has the highest poverty rate in Latin America.  Nearly half of the children there under the age of five are chronically malnourished, which is one of the highest malnutrition rates in the world. Many of the women in Guatemala are uneducated.  TOH’s partnership with the artisans there has empowered them to rise up out of poverty. These women are given the opportunity to attend school and learn basic principals that will help them move ahead in life, become self-reliant, and financially independent.  The Maya Wallet is just one of many products that TOH carries from Guatemala.  It is absolutely gorgeous. Each one is as unique as the artisan that creates it as they come in a variety of colors, patterns, and motifs.  Our artisans in Guatemala use fabric from their traditional blouses called hupil to make these wallets and then line them with beautiful denim. Each wallet is then trimmed in genuine leather. How gorgeous are these colors? I love the fact that you wait in anticipation of what yours will look like! So pretty!

Catalina Necklace-India

India holds the largest number of poor people in the world, many of which live in rural areas. Twenty-two percent of the population lives below the poverty line. Women and children in India are often vulnerable to exploitation and abuse.  Many are forced to sell their bodies or work in sweatshops to support their families. While India has made great strides in reducing poverty, it is still painfully high. Through TOH’s partnership with several artisan groups in India, women are given a chance to work from home while they take care of their families. These artisan groups are now able to provide education for their children and support their families. The Catalina Necklace is one of the new pieces from the artisan group in India. It is made from sterling silver, reconstituted turquoise stone and sillimanite. It is so dainty and just beautiful.

Limitless Earrings-Haiti

Did you know that in Haiti, many women are forced to leave their children at orphanages just because they cannot feed them? This is the case for the majority of the 500,000 orphans Haiti. A young couple that traveled to Haiti to adopt learned that most of the orphans had mothers that really wanted them but that couldn’t care for them. They were so moved by this that they decided to create the “Unorphanage.” This group now employs hundreds of women and allows them to make an income and keep their children! One of these women, named Gina, is now able to give her daughter the life she never thought she could. Her daughter, Christnelle plays in the onsite daycare while Gina creates beautiful products like these earrings.  She is no longer is forced to feed her daughter cookies made from clay just to fill her belly. These Limitless Earrings are made from upcycled aluminum and are hand cut and hammered into these modern shapes by our artisans in Haiti. They are super lightweight and are a gorgeous statement piece. 

I hope that you are able to see the beauty in these pieces and the incredible stories behind them. Each of our artisans is a true inspiration of perseverance and how you can change a life with determination.  To check out the entire summer capsule, you can preview it here.  If you are interested in learning more about the mission of Trades of Hope or want to hear more stories of our artisans, you can request to join my Facebook group, Anchored Hope.

Anchored in Hope,