Organization Hack: Chore Chart

In an attempt to be organized this summer while my kids are home, and to give them some accountability and responsibility while keeping them off electronics all day, I am working on a daily chore schedule.  My kids have never had a set chore schedule.  They know they are responsible for keeping their rooms and bathrooms clean, and they do the dishes and other odd jobs when I tell them too, but they have never had a set schedule.  I definitely think that we have done them a disservice in this area, so I really want to work on fixing that this summer.  Part of the problem is that during the school year, they are never home.  My oldest pretty much goes straight from school to practice and gets home anywhere from 9:30-10:30 every night depending on the night. Somewhere in there she has to study and do homework, so there isn’t a whole lot of time for her to do chores.  We don’t think it is really fair for one to have to do all the chores while the other one gets out of it because of practice.  Our weekends are pretty much booked during the school year as well with meets, competitions, and traveling.  This is why I think the summer is a perfect time for them to take on more responsibility with keeping the house clean.  There are certainly things that they can do each day to help me out.  

My husband and I have also been discussing the fact that we need to really teach them how to manage their money.  We even discussed opening an account in each of their names where they deposit money and learn to keep up with all of it. When I was young (probably around my youngest daughter’s age), I won a monetary reward for a paper that I had written. I think it was $50 maybe. Anyway, my parents took me to the bank and opened a checking account in my name. I got to pick out my own cute little checks, and I thought I was the coolest thing. I was responsible for keeping my checkbook balanced and depositing money that I earned or got as gifts. It was a great lesson for me at that age. We really want our kids to learn that important skill while we are around to help them. I doubt that we will be getting them checks (Who really uses them anymore?), but we could get them a debit card. I was thinking that this daily chore schedule could tie into that because they could earn money for doing their jobs.  It is all about teaching them to be more responsible, be held accountable, and how to manage their money. 

I have been working on a chore chart to get the ball rolling on this, and I want to start it next week.  I have assigned each of them a job to do every day, and each job has a monetary value attached to it. Here is the schedule I have created.   

Monday: Laundry

I typically do laundry on Mondays.  I will continue to wash and dry the clothes and sort them into the designated baskets. They will be responsible for folding and putting away their own clothes as well as towels. 

Tuesday: Dust

They will alternate each week between dusting the main level of the house and upstairs.  For example: One week my oldest will be responsible for dusting every room upstairs and my youngest will be responsible for dusting every room on the main level.  Then they would switch the following week.

Wednesday: Vacuum

This will be the same as dusting. One will vacuum the entire main level and the other will vacuum the entire upstairs level. 

Thursday: Bathrooms

This is another alternating task.  Each week they will be responsible for cleaning their own bathroom, but they will alternate cleaning the master bathroom and the half bath on the main level. 

Friday: Basement

They will alternate cleaning the bathroom and vacuuming down there. 

Daily: Dishes

They will be responsible daily for keeping up with the dishes.  One week one of them will be responsible for loading and unloading the dishwasher all week while the other is responsible for hand-washing anything that can’t go in the dishwasher.  

I have created the chart below to serve as a visual reminder and for us to use to check off competed jobs. My husband or I will initial after inspecting each job and note if money has been earned or lost. I really think that these jobs are doable for them. They won’t take them all day, and it will give them some time away from their devices while teaching them a lesson.  They are not going to be happy about this when I first introduce it, but I think they will do it with ease by the end of the summer. I hope that it will become habit. I know that once school starts again, it will be way more difficult for them to complete their jobs, but I hope that I will be able to modify it slightly so that they can continue to contribute to the family and our home. I don’t think it is ever too late to teach them responsibility and to care for their things. Yes, I wish we would have been more strict about these things years ago, but now is the perfect time to start. 

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Do You Hold Your Tongue?

Hat (Katydid Collection) 

Do you ever have the feeling that no matter what you say it will be the wrong thing? This happens to me regularly.  If you say the thing that you really feel, you know that it will cause harm and make the situation worse.  If you try to sugar coat something, it will come out sounding fake or your point won’t be made. If you say what you think the other person wants to hear, you will eat yourself up inside for not saying how you really feel. There have been many times in my life when I know that I have to have a conversation with someone or I know that some situation is going to come where I have to speak up, and I struggle with what to say.  I spend many nights lying awake going over in my head what I really want to say.  I rehearse it over and over in my mind. Then the moment comes and none of what I have rehearsed is what comes out of my mouth.  Sometimes I sound like a blubbering idiot. Sometimes I dance around the real issue and try to lead the person to come to the conclusion on his or her own, but that rarely works in my favor.  I again beat myself up for not saying what I really wanted to say, and I go over the conversation in my head repeatedly and think of all the things I should have said.  Then there are those unplanned situations where something comes out of the blue that you weren’t expecting and you are so thrown off by it that the right words don’t come.  Sometimes there is no way to win.  You are going to lose. Are you going to lose by letting out your true feelings or are you going to lose because you held back? 

It is so hard to determine the right move.  There is one situation in my life where I, feel strongly about something. However, I am afraid to speak the truth.  I am afraid of the consequence.  I am afraid of how the person will handle it. My conclusion is like that line from Jack Nicholson in the movie A Few Good Men, “You can’t handle the truth,” so I continue to dance around it.  I continue to keep my mouth shut tight.  Is that the right move? I honestly don’t know. I do know that harm is coming from not speaking up, but I also know the harm that will come from speaking the truth. Both are equally detrimental, so how do you know which one is best? It is like putting two piles of poop on a scale to see which one weighs more. Maybe one is slightly heavier, but they are both still piles of poop. You can’t win with either of them. (Sorry, I know that’s gross but it’s the best way I can describe it.)  In this situation, maybe you choose the lighter one because it is slightly easier to deal with, but the heavier one is still there.  It’s still wrong.  They are both wrong. No matter which you choose, you will feel the repercussions.

Recently I had another situation where someone asked me a question, and I gave an honest answer.  That answer didn’t get the best of reactions.  I then second guessed myself and tried to back track to make the situation better.  I am uncomfortable with the uncomfortable.  I tend to lean towards sugar coating and holding back.  That is what is easy.  It is what keeps the peace. We shouldn’t always do what is easy, though.  Bottling up your feelings is not the way to go.  It is important to be honest and speak to how you feel when the time is right.  Otherwise it will eat you up and cause more damage.  Yes, it may be uncomfortable for a short while, but it will be better in the long run. 

Our tongues are quite the evil body part.  The words that come from them can be so hurtful and damaging even if the intent behind them comes from a place of love.  While we do need to choose our words carefully, we also need to use them to speak the truth. The challenge comes when you have to decide when to hold back and when to push forward. Only you can determine what the best course of action is and what the person you are speaking to can handle. We have been taught our whole lives that honesty is the best policy. The majority of the time this is true, but sometimes it really isn’t. It is up to you to determine when it is and when it’s not.  It is really difficult.  I always think that it is best to try to speak from your heart and pray that the right words will come. That’s really all you can do.

Anchored,

One Dress, 7 Ways

Today I want to talk about one of my favorite pieces for the summer.  I love a good maxi dress.  They are so easy to throw on and dress up or dress down.  I wear them with slip-on sneakers, wedges, flip-flops, and sometimes heels.  I wear them around the house, to run errands, or even out for a date night or event. I have them in a variety of colors, patterns, and fabrics, and I love them all. Today I want to show you how you can take one simple, solid color maxi dress and create 7 completely different looks with it.  I started with a basic grey maxi tank dress.  This particular one is from Lularoe, but you can find similar ones in many different places.  I will link some below.  

Dress-Lularoe

Necklace-gift

Earrings-Trades of Hope

Cuff-Trades of Hope

Shoes-Target

Dress-Lularoe

Denim Jacket-vintage Cabi (similar-TJ Maxx)

Necklace-gift

Shoes-Target

For this look, I just added a simple tee over the dress and knotted it in the front.

Dress-Lularoe

Top-Loft Outlet

Shoes-Target

Necklace-Trades of Hope

Dress-Lularoe

Shoes-Converse

Earrings-Trades of Hope

Bracelets-Trades of Hope

This look features a maxi skirt over the maxi dress.

Dress-Lularoe

Skirt-Lularoe (similar-Amazon)

Shoes-Target

Necklace-Gift

Dress-Lularoe

Top-Target (similar style-Amazon)

Belt-Target

Flip Flops-TJ Maxx (similar-Target)

Earrings-Trades of Hope

Necklace-Trades of Hope

Cuff-Trades of Hope

Dress-Lularoe

Belt-old (similar-Target)

Shoes-TJ Maxx (similar-Amazon)

Earrings-Trades of Hope

Necklace-Trades of Hope

Cuff-Trades of Hope

Below are some similar basic maxi tank dresses that will work the same as mine.

I am sure there are even more ways that you can change up the look of one basic maxi dress that I haven’t thought of. I hope you can use this as inspiration to spice up the wardrobe you already have.

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*This post contains commissioned links. Should you choose to purchase items through these links, I may earn a small commission.

Friday Favorites: Bedroom Slippers

I am so glad that today is Friday.  I long for the weekends in the summer because competition season is over, we don’t have to travel anywhere, and our girls don’t have practices on the weekends in the summer.  That means we don’t have any obligations and can do whatever we want to do.  We can stay home all weekend and do absolutely nothing, work on projects that need to be done, go shopping, watch a movie, or even plan a little mini vacation.  Our weekends are so jammed full of things during the school year that we never really feel like we have days off or can get a lot of things done.  That is why summer weekends are the best! 

Today I want to talk about one of my favorite things, but it is a thing I get picked on for loving all the time. I know that it won’t be a popular thing, but I use mine every single day. I will start by saying that I do not like to walk around barefooted.  I never have.  I think that part of that comes from having hyperhidrosis where my feet sweat extremely bad.  My mom says that even when I was a baby, I would have little droplets of sweat on my feet all the time.  It is something that I have lived with my whole life.  Now, though, it is well controlled thanks to my migraine medicine.  Drying me out is one of the side effects of my medicine and the one side effect in the world that would make me happy.  Anyway, I guess I didn’t like going barefooted because my feet were always sopping wet and now it is just a habit.  That means that I either always have on a pair of socks, or I have on one of my favorite things…my bedroom slippers.  That’s right, I wear bedroom slippers all the time! If I am at home, I have them on at all times. I very rarely will walk around without them unless I have socks on, even in my own house.  As I am getting out of the bed in the mornings, I step right into them.  When I get out of the shower, I immediately step into them.  I wear them all the time. Whenever I am traveling, I pack them in my suitcase.  I certainly would never walk around in a hotel without them because that is just gross to me.  Because I wear them so much, I have to replace them frequently (about every 2 years) because they just get worn out easily.  I do wash them a lot too, especially after we have traveled, which I think speeds up the wear and tear.  Anyway, I have purchased a million different bedroom slippers over the years and have found some that I love and some that I just didn’t like.  I prefer the ones that you just step into like a slide or clog versus ones that fit like a shoe with a back to them. Those make my feet too hot and cause me to sweat even more.  The ones with memory foam soles are my favorites, but I also like the ones that just have an extra padded sole. Over the years, I have found that my favorite brand is Dearfoams. Now, these are not about style and cuteness. They are 100% about function and comfort. I admit it…I just love bedroom slippers. I know this won’t be a popular opinion, but if you do like them, here are some of my favorites.

Dearfoams Quilted Terry (Amazon) These are the ones I am currently wearing.

Dearfoams Memory Foam (Amazon)

Dearfoams Chenille Clog (Amazon)

Dearfoams Chunky Knit (Amazon) I don’t really love these because they are too hot for me, but they are super comfortable.

As you can see, they aren’t the most attractive things in the world, but they are super comfortable and no one ever really sees them except my family. I am totally ok with the fact that my love for bedroom slippers is not stylish or something that most people would agree with. They are a necessity for me and I love them! We are actually a bedroom slipper loving family. Everyone in my family wears them, even my daughters. Try them out. Maybe you will become a bedroom slipper family too!

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*This post contains commissioned links. Should you choose to purchase items through these links, I may earn a small commission. 

Listen to Your Gut

Do you ever have those times as a parent when you are struggling with whether or not to step in on behalf of your child? You have this feeling that something just isn’t right but can’t quite put your finger on it, or maybe you know what the situation is and know that it is wrong. Do you step in and say something or question what is going on? Do you hang back to see what happens? Do you use it as a lesson to teach your child to handle their own situations by guiding them with what to do? Do you just let it go and allow them to figure it out on their own even if it means heartache or pain? There have been so many situations over the years where I have had this battle of questions in my head.  These situations have been incidents with teachers, administrators, classmates/teammates, coaches, and other adults.  Early on in my kids’ lives, I felt this overwhelming mama bear instinct and would automatically jump in and try to resolve whatever the issue was. There were times when I really needed to step in and times when I probably should have stayed out of it.  As my kids have gotten older, I really try to let them handle as much as they can on their own. However, that mama bear instinct to protect is always there, and it is really hard to hold back sometimes. My husband has to tell me to stay out of it all the time and reminds me that we have to let them figure it out on their own. There really is a fine line between allowing your child to grow up and handle what life throws at them and being a parent that protects their child. I do believe that there are situations when you have to step in. The problem comes with knowing when that is.  

I am struggling with one of those situations right now, but it is one of those when I am not sure if there really is an issue or not.  I feel like something is off, but I cannot pinpoint what it is nor can my child. She has thrown around the word “hate,” which is not a word we use in this family or one that I have ever heard her say.  The difficult part is that she cannot verbalize why she is using that word other than to say it is the feeling she has.  At this point, I am just kind of sitting back and trying to let it play out, but I keep having this nagging feeling that I need to get to the bottom of it. It is especially difficult with this child because she struggles with anxiety and change.  This particular situation is new and different so it is hard knowing if it is a result of her difficulties with new and different things or if there really is something to be concerned about.  Again, it is that fine line of knowing when to let her learn to handle it or stepping in to protect her. 

We all know that parenting is the hardest job in the world.  We make mistakes.  We step in when we shouldn’t and don’t when we should.  Some of us are helicopter parents, some of us take a total hands off approach, and some of us fall somewhere in between.  We all parent differently, and that is completely ok. We tend to second-guess ourselves all the time, and we are our own worst critics. The one thing that we all do best, though, is love our kids will all our hearts.  We want what is best for them and we desire to do right by them.  The only advice that I can give is to go with your gut.  Do what your gut is telling you to do.  That is what I tend to always do. For the most part, when I have truly followed what my gut instinct was telling me, it has been the right decision.  Try not to lead with your heart because that mama bear instinct in your heart can lead you down the wrong path.  I know that is extremely hard to do, and I struggle with it all the time. Think of it this way… your heart and your gut (for this analogy think of your stomach) are two totally different organs with two different purposes.  You need both to survive but for different reasons. One of the main functions of the heart is to protect the body, and one of the main functions of the stomach is to defend.  You may be thinking that protecting and defending are the same thing, but they aren’t. To protect means to keep safe, while to defend means to ward off, repel, or guard. Your heart desires to keep your children safe at all costs.  Your gut desires to defend your children against whatever negative situation is occurring.  Your heart will do whatever it takes to keep them safe while your gut will stand back and determine the best defense.  That defense could be to do nothing other than to be on guard, or it could be to investigate or attack. Listen to your gut.  It will lead you to the best defense. 

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Organization Hack: Journal Notebooks

Today’s organization tip is one that really works for me but may not work for you. I wanted to share it with you anyway, though, in case it could help get you more organized.  I have had people ask me how I keep up with all the things I am involved in and all of my entrepreneurial endeavors. I have a ton of things going on all the time, so organization is the key to keeping it all straight.   I showed you a few weeks ago how I uses lists on my phone for everything from groceries to a to do list. Those lists help keep me on track, but I cannot keep everything in my phone.  When I am at a meeting or doing training, it is harder for me to take notes and stuff on my phone, and I don’t want to carry my computer with me everywhere.  I am really more of a paper/pencil kind of person anyway.  I learn best from the act of writing it down.  For some reason writing it and seeing it on paper helps me to remember things better.  My solution to keeping up with everything is small journal type notebooks that are spiral bound.  I don’t really like regular spiral bound notebooks like my kids use for school for several reasons.  The first reason is that they are much larger and harder to travel with.  I like the journal ones because they are usually small enough to throw in my purse.  Second, I don’t feel like they are as sturdy as the journal books.  The journals tend to have thicker paper and a sturdier cover. Third, they just aren’t as nice looking or professional looking when I pull one out at a meeting. I also really prefer the spiral bound journals to the ones that aren’t because they are easier to manipulate when you can just fold them over.  I typically get mine at Target or Amazon, but you can find them at many different office supply type places.  I especially love the ones that have inspirational quotes on them. There are really so many pretty ones out there that cost a little more, but you can also find ones that are inexpensive that work just as well.  I will admit that I kind of have an obsession with them and tend to buy way more than I need.  My thought is that I never know when I will need to start a new one so why not grab it when I see one I love?

 I have one for everything.  For example, I have one for the blog where I keep ideas that come to me, ways to improve the overall look of my site, and more.  I have another notebook for my job as the Vice President of the parents club for my daughter’s gymnastics team.  I take it with me when I go to meetings to jot down notes, and I log any phone calls or other things that I do for that position.  I have one for each of my businesses.  I use them to take notes on trainings, ideas, and other important information that I may need.  I have one that I keep in my Bible case where I jot down sermon notes.  I even have one that I call my personal development notebook.  In it, I jot down notes from self-help books I read, notes from podcasts that I listen too, and things that I find motivational.  

Now, I know that you are thinking that it is a lot to keep up with, and it is.  That is why I mentioned at the beginning that this method will not be for everyone.  It is just what I use and what works best for me.  I keep all of these notebooks near me at all times when I am working at home so I can grab the one I need easily.  Then when I go to a meeting or training somewhere outside of my home, I just grab the one I need, throw it in my purse, and head out.  I do not label my notebooks, I just know which one goes for which thing by the cover, but you can easily label them if that is easier for you.  I just know that the purple stripes is for my Trades of Hope business, the pastel one is for gymnastics, the flower one is my personal development, and so on. This method really works for me.  It helps to keep me organized, and I don’t easily loose things that are important.  When you have a crazy life like mine (and most moms) where you have a lot of different things going on that you need to keep track of, it is really imperative that you find a system that works for you. The key is finding something that fits into your lifestyle and that is easy for you.  Your system is likely totally different than mine, and that is ok. Find what works for you and go with it. 

Here are a few of the journals I have and some others I really like from Target and Amazon. The links are in the captions.

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*This post contains commissioned links. Should you choose to purchase items through these links, I may earn a small commission. 

The “N” Word

I thought I would write about the “N” word today because I have asked myself numerous times over that past couple of weeks why I can’t use that word.  Using it would make my life so much easier, but I just can’t make myself do it. It is almost like it is not a part of my vocabulary sometimes. I guess maybe I think it in my head, but I just can’t make it come out of my mouth. Have you figured out what word I am referring to yet? It is the dreaded word “NO.” I CANNOT SAY NO!  Hold on…let me back track for a second.  I actually can say the word to my children (although sometimes even that is hard). I just can’t say it when it comes to someone else asking me to do something or wanting something from me.  It has been this way my entire life, and people have taken advantage of me more times than I can count because they know I won’t say no. It is like people think, “Hey, let’s ask her because she won’t turn us down.” It is a known fact that not only will I say yes, but I will also give it everything I’ve got. I don’t half do anything.  If I say yes (and I will), I will do it to the very best of my ability. No matter what other things I have going on in my life, I will always add one more for the simple reason that I can’t say no.  I feel like that is a huge part of why I am no longer teaching.  When administrators asked me to take on more students (even though it was illegal), I said ok. When extra duties were added to my already full plate, I said ok. When I was asked to be a model classroom for other teachers and my classroom became a revolving door (to the detriment of my students), I said yes. It became too much and I got burned out.

I seem to have no problem saying ok or yes, so why is it so hard to say no?  Here are the reasons I think I, and maybe others, have the inability to say no. 

1. I don’t want to let anyone down. 

I think this is a huge part of why I cannot say no.  I don’t want to disappoint people.  I want people to know that they can count on me to come through.  I don’t want anyone to think less of me.  I don’t want to feel rejected because I said no. 

2. I feel guilty.

If I say no, I feel guilty about it.  I tend to overthink it so much that I will often go back and say yes.  This one kind of ties in to not wanting to let anyone down. It makes me feel like I have failed whoever it is that asked.

3. I have a false belief in what I can handle. 

I think that it won’t be that big of a deal and that I can do it all with no problems. It is like when you fill your plate full of food and it is way more than you can eat.  You say, “My eyes were bigger than my stomach.” I feel like my heart is way bigger than my brain and my body can physically handle. My desire to please others is bigger than what I can actually do.

4. I have a need to be in control.

My Type A, OCD personality means that I like to be in control of things.  I have to have my hand in it so that I know what is going on, and I can make sure things are done right.     

Not being able to say no means that I get overwhelmed.  I get frustrated.  I become physically and mentally exhausted.  It is something that I deal with all the time. It is an endless cycle.  If I could just say no, I wouldn’t have those feelings of stress all the time. I wouldn’t overcommit myself. I know that.  I know that things would be easier, but I just can’t bring myself to do it. It is definitely a character flaw that needs a lot of work. I have friends that are great at saying no. They know what they can handle, and they will not take on more than that.  I am so envious of them. I feel like they have their priorities better aligned than I do. Not being able to say no tends to put things/people that I really care about on the back burner.  I wish I could stand up for myself and tell people no.  I wish I could prioritize better.  

Here are some reasons why I need to learn to say no.

* It frees up my time.
* My stress and anxiety levels would go way down. I could breathe. 
* It keeps me focused on the important things in my life. My priorities get the most attention instead of getting pushed to the back burner.
* Saying no gives you a sense of empowerment. I am in charge of me.
* It gives others the opportunity to step up and say yes.  It doesn’t always have to be me.  Someone else can have a turn.  
* It gives me the chance to say yes to other things that can lead to bigger and better opportunities. 

Saying no is something that I will likely continue to work on for the rest of my life.  I have to build up the courage.  It is so hard, but I know it will make me a much healthier and more balanced person.

Anchored,

Father’s Day Shopping

If you live under a rock like I do, you may not have realized yet that Father’s Day is coming up this weekend. That day tends to always sneak up on me.  I guess a lot of things are usually going on around this time of year, particularly the end of the school year and start of summer vacation, that I just loose track of the date.  When I was teaching, you better believe I always knew what day of the week it was and what the date was all the time.  The moment summer vacation began, though, it all went out the window and I had no clue what day it was.  Now that I am not teaching, this blog actually helps me to keep up with the date. Otherwise, I would be totally lost. Anyway, if Father’s Day has snuck up on you, I am here to help.  I have some last minute gifts for that dad in your life that just might put a smile on his face this year.  Many of these items are available on Amazon Prime, so you still have time to get them here in time for the big day with 2-day shipping.  The others may require you to pay extra for faster shipping or and IOU note. 

1. Wireless Ear Buds

I am not sure that there are many men out there that wouldn’t enjoy these, especially if he is someone that likes to work out or listen to music while working. Most people would go for the Apple AirPods (Best Buy), but my husband really loves his Bose Sound Sport Wireless Headphones (Amazon). There are many less expensive options as well on Amazon. 

2. Grilling Tools

We all know that it is usually the men in our lives that do the grilling, right? Well, what man wouldn’t think it was cool to be able to brand his steaks when he is out cooking on the grill? Check out this branding iron (Amazon) that allows him to change it up to say whatever he wants! If you have a dad that loves to grill and also loves to golf, this stainless steel grilling set (Amazon) with a golfing twist is just the thing for him.

3. Messenger Bag

The Alden Messenger Bag from Trades of Hope is perfect for the guy that goes to the office everyday to carry all of his important papers.  He can look stylish while also supporting women in India who are rising up out of poverty.  It pairs perfectly with the Leather Travel Wallet that is also handcrafted by women in India. 

4. Smart Gadgets

My husband is obsessed with smart gadgets that he can control with his phone.  Things like these ecobee4 Smart Thermostats (Amazon) and this Kwikset Smart Lock (Amazon) are among his favorites. 

5. Outdoor Games

For that dad that loves to hang out and play games outside with his kids or friends, these yard games are a great option. Cornhole is a great outdoor game. Choose his favorite NFL team (Amazon), his favorite College Team (Amazon), or this less expensive portable version (Amazon). This Giant Jenga Game (Amazon), this Bocce Ball Set (Amazon), and this Ropoda Yard Pong Set (Amazon) are also great options.

6. Under Armor T-Shirt

These Under Armour shirts (Amazon) are great for the dad that likes to work out or for lounging around the house.  

7. Watch

I don’t think you can ever go wrong with a nice watch as a gift.  This one by Michael Kors (Amazon) is very sleek and modern.  For a sportier, water resistant option, check out this Casio G-Shock Watch (Amazon). 

8. Drone

Let’s think about it. Is there any man on this planet that wouldn’t think a drone was a cool gift? Boys and their toys! This Snaptain Wifi Drone (Amazon) is said to be great for beginners. 

9. Neck Massage Pillow

I don’t think this really needs much explanation.  Maybe that special dad in your life would even let you use this Massage Pillow (Amazon) every now and then! <wink, wink>

10. Gift Card

If you are still struggling with the perfect gift, you can never go wrong with a gift card to his favorite store. These are really great stuffed inside a handmade card.

I hope you can find that perfect gift for that special dad in your life. Happy shopping!

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*This post contains commissioned links. Should you choose to purchase items through these links, I may earn a small commission. 

Friday Favorites: Top 5

I feel like I talk about sleep a lot on here, but I am going to do it again today.  Why? Because sleep, or lack of sleep, is constantly on my mind.  My body requires at least 10 hours of sleep and always has, but I rarely get 10 hours of sleep these days.  It is not because I stay up late doing stuff or that I get up super early.  It is because I cannot sleep.  I have a really hard time falling asleep these days.  My brain can’t shut off sometimes.  Part of it is because my day doesn’t stop until about 9:30 or 10 with the girls’ activities so there is no time for down time before I get in the bed.  There is no time for me to relax and unwind from the chaos of the day.  Therefore, my brain is still going 90 miles a minute when I lie down. That is why sleep is always on my mind. I’m longing for it all day and then when the time comes to actually sleep, I’m wide awake.  It is super frustrating.  Anyway, when I do fall asleep, I sleep hard, but there are 5 things that I must have if there is any chance of me getting a good night of sleep. They are my 5 favorite sleep aids.

1. Super Soft Sheets (Amazon)

My husband and I are both really picky about our sheets.  They have to be silky soft.  For some reason, sheets that aren’t silky soft make me hot.  I don’t know why, but the rougher the sheets are, the hotter I get. Sheets made from jersey fabric or that are flannel are definitely out of the question. I feel like I am dying of heat when sleeping on those types of fabrics. I also don’t like textured sheets because they make me feel hot too.  Our favorite brand of sheets is Boll & Branch.  They are on the high-end cost wise, but this is one area that we will splurge.  We think they are worth the cost. These sheets hold up well so they last for a long time.  They are made with pure organic cotton, are lightweight, and are super soft. I personally do not recommend the striped ones they have because they are textured and too hot for me. 

2. Sound Machine (Amazon)

When my husband and I were first married, we got an air purifying machine to help with my allergies.  I got accustomed the soft hum that it made. I liked the noise partly because it was soothing, but the main reason was that it blocked out other noises.  With my husband deployed a lot, I would have trouble sleeping when he was gone and I was home alone because every little noise I heard during the night would scare me. That machine helped drown out all those little noises.  We had that machine for years.  I don’t think that it really worked as an air purifier, but we kept it just for the noise. It got to the point that we had to buy a little sound machine to take with us when we traveled because we couldn’t sleep in the quiet.  When we moved, we decided that it was time to get rid of that big air purifier and opted to just use a sound machine instead that made white noise.  We cannot sleep without it.  My youngest daughter took over the small travel one we had and we purchased a new one for our bedroom.  It came with a variety of sounds that you could choose from like waves crashing on the shore, rain, nature sound, and more.  We prefer just the white noise to anything else. The sound machine is a MUST HAVE for a good night’s sleep in our house. 

3. Leg Pillow (Amazon)

The leg pillow is another MUST HAVE for my husband and me. We have been using them for years. We are both side sleepers, and the leg pillow fits perfectly right between your knees.  It helps to keep your spine aligned and your body in a more comfortable position. It helps with lower back and hip discomfort. These also travel with us everywhere.  The ones we have, we have had for years and are similar to the one linked above, but I am considering getting one like this, to see if the cooling pads in it help to keep me from getting so hot while I am sleeping. 

4. Sleep Innovations 2 in 1 Pillow (Amazon)

Just like I am particular about my sheets, I am also super particular about my pillow.  I cannot tell you how many pillows my husband and I have bought over the years trying to find the perfect one.  Let’s just say that the number would be obscene! Anyway a few years ago, I stumbled upon this pillow at and I was immediately hooked.  I love that it has the memory foam on one side and the microfiber on the other side.  I don’t think I will ever try another kind of pillow.  I love this one so much.  I will just keep replacing it every few years for a new one just like it. 

5. Carmex (Amazon)

I know you are thinking that I am crazy, but I have to have Carmex to sleep.  I have said for years that I am addicted to Carmex.  I used to have to have one with me all the time, but I have worked hard to break that habit and think I am much better. While I may not need it with me 24/7 anymore, I still HAVE to have it at night. It is the last thing I do before I lay down.  I have to put on my Carmex or I can’t stand it and won’t sleep.  

Those are my top 5 MUST HAVE favorites for a good night of sleep.  I have a hard enough time falling to sleep on a nightly basis that I will use all the tools I can to make the sleep come faster and longer.  What are your MUST HAVES for sleeping?

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*This post contains commissioned links. Should you choose to purchase items through these links, I may earn a small commission. 

New Beginnings

My post is a little late going up today because I had to go to my daughter’s elementary graduation ceremony this morning.  I wasn’t expecting it to take nearly as long as it did, so I am now behind on everything! That means that I will be playing catch-up all day.  Anyway, yes, my baby is growing up.  She is now officially a middle schooler.  The slide show that they played was the one thing that got to me this morning. (No I didn’t cry because that would have embarrassed her beyond belief.) There was a picture of my daughter when she was in kindergarten next to a current picture.  Even though I sent in the pictures and knew they were coming, it still got to me seeing that little tiny kindergartner next to the young girl I see every day now.  She is still a tiny little thing, but you can certainly see how she has grown and changed over the past few years.  She doesn’t look like a baby anymore, but more importantly she is growing into a beautiful young lady. I can’t help but think about how much she and I have been through together…from her birth and first months of life while her dad was deployed, to all of her medical stuff, to navigating feelings and emotions, to now. It has been a really long and bumpy road so far.  I feel like she and I are in a much better place than we used to be, but I know that road will continue to be full of hills and valleys that we have to navigate through.   I know that things with her will never be easy, but I will tell you that she and I are both stronger females because of it all.  My friends once gave me a little wooden box with this saying on it, “You never know how strong you are until being strong is the only choice you have.” I think this saying applies to both my daughter and me.  We have both had to overcome many challenges because we had no other choice. Those challenges and experiences are what fuels us both.  I am so amazed by her kind, caring heart, her quick wit, and her strength.  She is wise well beyond her years.  She absorbs everything and processes it in ways that go beyond the way many adults do.  She is growing into an incredible person despite all she has been through.

It is sad to think about the end.  So many times that is what we focus on…the end of elementary school, the end of high school, the end of the year, the end of a career, the end of a marriage.  We tend to reflect on the past and feel saddened that something is over.  We think about what we are loosing. What we should really be focusing on instead is the beginning and all that we have to gain.  When one door closes, another door opens.   While it is ok to reflect on the past and remember, it is also important to reflect on the future and what is yet to come.  Our past often helps to shape our future, but we don’t need to dwell on the past.  Instead of thinking of it as the end, think of it as the start of something new…a new chapter, a new beginning, a fresh start. While it is sad to think that I will no longer have a child in elementary school and that my baby is growing up, I am excited to see what this next chapter will bring for her. I am excited to watch her grow into her own unique self.   I am excited for new beginnings.  I welcome them.  Remember the next time you are focusing on the end to stop and think about the beginning. Turn your frown upside down and smile with confidence for what is yet to come. 

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