Friday Favorites: Botvac

I absolutely hate to clean. I always have.  However, I like a clean house. I just don’t want to be the one doing the cleaning. This may confuse some of you since I am always talking about organization.  To me, the two are totally separate.  You can be all about organization and not into cleaning.  That is for sure me.  If I could afford to have someone come clean my house every week, I totally would.  Back when I was working full time a few years ago, I did have someone that came every other week to clean.  Walking into my house after work on the days she cleaned were the best.  Upon opening the door, you were immediately hit with that lemon fresh clean scent and everything was spotless. I swear it was worth every penny we spent on her! Maybe one day we will be able to do that again. It was so amazing!

One of the biggest things I hate to do (besides cleaning bathrooms) is vacuum.  I don’t know why, but I’m just not one that finds that joyful like some do.  I have friends that enjoy vacuuming and find it relaxing.  That is not me at all.  It takes a long time to vacuum my whole house, and I just don’t have that much time on a regular basis.  Enter my favorite cleaning thing…the botvac! A lot of people I know use iRobot, and I am sure it is great too.  I have a Neato Robotics Botvac, though, and love it. One of my friends was talking to me about hers a couple of years ago, and I was instantly hooked. I knew they existed, but it had never occurred to me before that we should get one.  I went home that day and told my husband that we needed one ASAP. Of course, he spent several days doing his research on all of them before he would agree.  Thankfully the reviews were excellent and he finally ordered one for us.  We were both kind of excited for it to arrive.  I was excited for the mere fact that it would cut down on me actually having to vacuum, but my husband was more excited about the technology and the smartness of it.  He is all about Smart devices.  When it arrived, he read all of the directions and set it up.  It even had us give it a name.  We named ours Lola, and she is the best thing!

I can turn her on from anywhere with the push of a button on my phone.  All we do it hit that button to tell her to clean and she immediately gets to work. She can go just about anywhere including under pieces of furniture that normally wouldn’t get vacuumed as often. She can easily transition between surfaces like the hardwood to the carpet.  She really works well and picks up more dirt than you ever thought was there. She has two settings. One is an Eco setting that is quieter and takes a little longer to run. The other is a Turbo setting that is “super powered cleaning with maximum pickup.” When generally use the Eco setting and it takes her about 2 hours to do the entire main level of the house.  If her battery gets low in the middle of her cleaning, she will take herself back to the docking station and charge herself.  Once her battery is completely charged, she goes straight back to where she left off and continues cleaning.  She will even send you a map of the area she has covered when she is done. She also sends alerts to my phone when she gets stuck or needs her bin emptied.  I can set her to go when I am away, and then will have clean floors when I return.  It comes in several versions that range in price, and I recommend that you do your research to see which would work best for you.  We have the Neato Robotics Botvac D7, and it really works well.  I highly recommend making the splurge because it is totally worth the money.  I believe that you can often find them discounted around the holidays and on Black Friday, but it is truly worth the cost. If you hate to vacuum like me or have a busy schedule and need something to make your life easier, this is the thing for you!

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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: Plum Paper Planner

Kind of piggy backing off of yesterday’s post, I wanted to share with you how I keep up with all of the things that go on in my life.  I have posted about my planner before, but I wanted to share it with you again because it is such a lifesaver for me. Plus, I just got my new one last month, and I wanted to show it off! LOL! I am definitely a pen and paper kind of girl when it comes to my calendar.   Yes, I do use the calendar on my phone for the sole purpose of keeping my husband in the loop of what is going on, but for day-to-day use, my planner contains my life. I would even go as far as saying that my planner is kind of like a journal for me as well as an organizer. I write EVERYTHING in it.  If I have an idea about something I want to blog about or do with my business or just any idea in general, I will write it in there.  Each month, I write down my goals for personal growth as well as for my business. All of my to do lists and notes are all in there, too.  If someone leaves me a message or I talk to someone on the phone about something important, I jot my notes in the planner.  It is honestly so much more than just a calendar for me.   It literally is my life on paper.

I have tried many different planners over the years and have found THE ONE.  It will be my go to from now until I die.  I really love Plum Paper Planners.  I love how I can customize them to my exact needs and specifications.  Plus, they are sturdy and hold up really well.  Now, because I write everything in it, I always order a full sized  (8.5” x 11”) one.  This only becomes problematic when I need to carry it around.  It doesn’t just fit in my purse, but I am willing to live with that sacrifice because of everything else it has to offer me.  Ninety percent of the time, it sits open on my desk and isn’t a problem anyway.  They do come in smaller sizes if that is more your jam.  They also have 5.8” x 8.3” and 7” x 9.” 

First, you begin by choosing the size you want.  Then you move on to choosing your cover. To me, choosing the cover is always the hardest part because there are so many cute ones.  All covers are sturdy and waterproof, and each planner comes with a clear plastic overlay.  Once you choose your cover, you can personalize it. You can put a saying on it or your initials or both.  As you can see, I chose to put the year at the top, my initials in the center, and my blog name at the bottom.  Once you have your cover the way you want it, you move on the choosing the customizable layout you want. Plum Paper offers several layouts that you can choose from.  They have student layouts, teacher layouts, vertical layouts, horizontal layouts, grid layouts, daily layouts, and monthly layouts. I like the Vertical ME Planner, which includes the following:

  • 7 Customizable Sections (I customize mine with each family members name, my blog, and Trades of Hope.  Then I left one blank this year so that I could add extras.)
  • Choice of what month to start (I love that you can start at anytime during the year. You don’t have to have one that just runs from January to December.  Mine currently goes from September to August)
  • Choice of 12-18 months
  • Month and Weekly Spreads
  • Monthly Highlight Pages
  • Monthly Notes Pages
  • Double Sided Pocket Folder
  • Durable Aluminum Binding
  • Durable Mylar Coated Tabs
  • Tear Pexroof & Water Resistant Cover with a Plastic Protective Sheet

Once you have chosen and customized your layout just the way you want it, you can then choose to add on pages.  I really love the options they have for add-ons. This year, I chose to add the Direct Sales Add-on to help keep my business organized.  I considered the Blog Add-On, but decided against it for now. I may add it next year, though. Other add-ons (including stickers) you can choose from include:

Home

  • Meals
  • Family
  • Budget

Business

  • Direct Sales
  • Blog
  • Social Media
  • Photography
  • Business Tools

Lifestyle

  • Fitness
  • Self-Care
  • Travel

Teacher

  • Grade Level
  • Tools

Student

  • Assignment Tracker

Notes & Lists

Stickers

Page Protectors

Once you have selected your cover, layout, and the add-ons that you want, you are ready to approve and order your creation.  Orders typically ship in 5-7 days.  It arrives all nicely packaged and ready to use.  I am such a nerd that it is like opening a present on Christmas morning for me. I really am obsessed with it.  I honestly would be lost without it. It truly does keep me organized and on track.

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Friday Favorites: Colors

By now you guys know that I frequently change my mind.  I had another favorite that I was going to write about today, but I changed my mind. I got dressed this morning and it made me think about something totally different.  Everything that I was wearing was all the same color…shirt, shoes, necklace, and earrings were all the same.  That got me thinking about my favorite color.  Going back to me changing my mind, my favorite color has changed more than once over the years.  When I was young, I am pretty sure that my favorite color was green. I know that is odd for a little girl, but I think maybe I wanted to stand out and be different. I don’t know. I just liked green.  Then when I was in my later years of high school and through my college years, my favorite color changed to blue.  I still liked green, but I would have told you that my favorite color was blue back then.  Again, not the most popular color for a girl to pick.  I would have even gone as far as telling you that I did NOT like pink. I honestly don’t know what I had against pink, but I was very much opposed to it back then.  Even when my oldest was born, I was dead set on not having everything pink, so I did the nursery in yellow and blue.  We knew she was a girl, but I chose blue and yellow for the nursery anyway.  I got a lot of flack about that from people too. Even her car seat and stroller were blue.  Of course, my husband was totally ok with that because he is a man; and just like girls are supposed to love pink, boys are supposed to love blue.  It is just a ridiculous rule that society has forced upon us all.  Maybe that is why my oldest hates pink and dresses and anything girly, which drives me nuts. Maybe it is my fault she is that way.  Even though I had something against pink, I was always girly.  I always dressed up, loved clothes, wore makeup as soon as my parents would let me, and was all all-around girly girl.  I was just one that didn’t like pink and loved blue instead. 

A few years down the road my favorite color changed AGAIN.  I don’t know why I can’t just stick to one color.  Anyway, about the time my second daughter came around, surprisingly my favorite color changed to PINK! Shocking, I know! To be so opposed to it for so long that it suddenly becomes a favorite is pretty crazy. Guess what color my youngest daughter’s nursery was…pink and green.  Going back to whether or not my nursery colors had an effect on my children’s personalities or not, my youngest is the girliest of girls.  She loves dresses, high heeled shoes, make up, you name it.  Is it a coincidence that they both turned out the way they did? Maybe, but who knows? I guess my color choices could have possibly had an influence on that.  You may have noticed, too, that my blog logo is pink and green. I think it is a tribute to my first favorite color and my current favorite. That all brings me to today’s outfit and the reason for this post, my outfit is all pink except for my jeans.  I am totally drawn to pink shoes, clothes, jewelry, bags, and more now.  I admit it; I love pink.  It is hard to say that when I was so opposed to for a huge chunk of my life, but it is true.

Top-Lularoe

Jeans-Target

Necklace-Trades of Hope

Earrings-Kate Spade (similar)

Shoes-Famous Footwear (similar color)

I will tell you, though, that my love for pink is wavering just a little these days.  I am starting to love purple more and more.  It could just become my new favorite color.  It really does seem to be hard for me to stick to one favorite color for very long.  Maybe I should just say that I love all colors and call it a day.  Is this normal? Do you all change what your favorite color is, or is it just part of my weirdness? I would love to know. 

In honor of my love for pink, check out Trades of Hope’s newest edition, the Valentía Bracelet, made by Artisans in Guatemala. This bracelet was created to raise awareness for breast cancer.  Each bracelet has a small silver charm with the fingerprint of the artisan that created it. With every purchase of the Valentía Bracelet, 10% of the net proceeds will be given to provide cancer exams to Artisans at Papillion in Haiti. You can also check out an old pink favorite made by Artisans in India, our Triumphant Earrings.  With every purchase of the Triumphant Earrings 10% of the net proceeds will be given to the Pink Ribbon Girls organization which provides the following services to individuals in the United States with breast and women’s reproductive cancers, free of charge:

  • Healthy meals targeting the nutritional needs of cancer patients, prepared by executive chefs and delivered to the home
  • Housecleaning by professional cleaning agencies
  • Transportation to cancer treatments by trained specialists
  • Peer support in the patient’s community for their whole well being

Anchored in Pink,

Friday Favorites: Television

Before I dive in to my Friday Favorites today, let me tell you about how Friday the 13th and the full moon are shaping up in my house.  As a former teacher, I can tell you that all of the teachers you know will have a tough day today.  We will all swear by the full moon.  It really does make kids go crazy.  Add in the fact that it is also Friday the 13th, and you are just asking for a disastrous day. To all teachers, I am sorry and will pray for you today! Anyway, I may not be in the classroom with crazy kids anymore, but our dog is more than making up for it.  Let’s just say that she got very sick starting right at 12:00 AM, and we spent the night and morning cleaning up nastiness from both ends. I know you don’t care, but it really was so gross.  We are pretty sure she ate something she wasn’t supposed to eat and it made her sick.  We are all really tired today because if it. My poor oldest child got the worst of it since it all occurred in her room.  I’m not sure she got much sleep at all, especially with the horrible smell. As you can see, we have had a great start to the day. Oh, and let me not forget to mention that it is dark, gloomy, and rainy outside! I can hardly wait for whatever else this day will throw at us.

Now, I am totally changing topics, and I have to make a confession. I know some of you are going to be surprised by this and some of you are going to judge me, but that is okay. I own it. My own husband thinks I am insane when it comes to this favorite of mine.  He shakes his head at me all the time about it.  I can’t help it, but I love reality TV. There, I said it. It is totally true. I don’t know why it fascinates me or why I get some kind of entertainment from it.  I know that most of it isn’t really real, but I watch it anyway. I sit there watching it sometimes and think about how dumb it is or how fake it is, and I keep on watching it. Sometimes I even feel like I am getting dumber by the minute, but I can’t stop.  My husband always says, ‘I don’t know how you watch that trash.” I really don’t know how I do either.  I’m just drawn to it. Some of my favorites are SurvivorBig BrotherThe Real Housewives of New YorkProject RunwayAmerican Idol, and Southern Charm.  There are tons more but they aren’t all coming to me at the moment.  I used to watch The Bachelor and Bachelorette, but I have grown tired of them and haven’t watched the last couple of seasons.  TLC, Bravo, and HGTV are like my favorite stations. I can turn to any of them and watch all day long if I had the time.  I guess it is like a guilty pleasure or something. I never talk about it with anyone so it’s not like I get joy from chatting about it to my friends.  Maybe it is because it is all so out there and so far from my real life that it allows me to escape from reality for a bit. I don’t know.  I just like them all. 

The other kind of TV shows that I may have a mild obsession with is real-life crime shows like Dateline, 20/2048 Hours, and anything on the ID channel.  No, I do not want to commit a crime or find out how to get away with murder.  I am just fascinated by these shows.  Any Lifetime movies that are based on real cases like JonBenét Ramsey or Casey Anthony fascinate me too.  I was also totally into Making a Murder on Netflix.  I guess I also like fictional crime shows, too, because I love Criminal Minds.  It is one of my favorite shows ever. I just love trying to figure out the mystery and looking at all the evidence.  Maybe I could have been an investigator or detective in another life.  Who knows? 

There you have it. You now know 2 of my guilty pleasures when it comes to television.  I’m not proud of the fact that I get enjoyment from murder and insane reality TV. There are so many other things that I could do with my free time instead of indulging in that, but I guess it is what it is.  I guess I can’t help what I find entertaining.

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Friday Favorites: Blue Light Blocking Glasses

I think it has been well established by now that I suffer from migraines and have for years.  I take two different medications daily to help and sometimes even that doesn’t work.   I have tried many different things to help prevent me from getting them. Some of those things work well, some work for a while and then quit working, and some don’t work at all.  It is a constant trial and error thing with me to try to get relief.  I also have several triggers that will bring on a migraine, and I do my best to avoid those triggers. One of those triggers is light. Bright lights really bother me. They make my eyes hurt and feel strained, and I start to get a headache right behind my eyes. When I was a teacher, I used these awesome florescent light filter pads that covered the overhead lights and cast a soft blue light throughout the room.  Many of my students with autism also had sensitivities to light so this helped them and me.  Score! Other teachers would come hang in my room all the time because it was so peaceful. When I am at home, I often don’t turn the lights on.  I would rather sit in the dark than to have the blaring lights on. We also very rarely use our overhead lighting and use lamps with soft lights instead.  

Blue Light Blocking Glasses/Earrings/Necklace

The light from screens bothers me too.  My husband always gets annoyed when he uses my phone because I have the screen brightness turned down really low. He swears he can’t see anything on my phone.  I do the same thing with my computer and turn the brightness down low.  Otherwise the screen really bothers me.  I don’t know why, but it does.  This brings me to one of my favorite things.  I decided to order a pair of blue light blocking glasses several months ago to see if that would help with my migraines.  I had read a few articles from people saying that it helped them.  Since I already knew the screen brightness bothered me and I am on my phone and computer most of the day, I thought maybe it would help me. I chose a decent looking pair from Amazon that had good reviews and ordered them.  I know you are thinking that I already wear glasses so how could this possibly work? Well, I wear glasses because I am nearsighted.  I can read and see things up close just fine. It is distance that I have a problem with.  I don’t really need glasses to see my computer or phone.  I can totally see fine with just the blue light blocking glasses on to do my work.  Maybe it is all psychological, but they do seem to help me.  My eyes don’t feel as strained when I wear them, and I don’t feel the headache behind my eyes as often as I was.  Blue light blocking glasses were originally created to be used before bedtime to help with sleep.  I do think they help with that too, but I think that wearing them during the day when I am on my computer and phone a lot helps too.  If you suffer from migraines and are on your phone or computer a lot, I would highly recommend that you try them.  Go with the inexpensive ones on Amazon versus the higher priced ones on Instagram.  They work just fine for a fraction of the cost. 

Cole Hann Studio Grand Purple Horn Glasses (CH5019) /Earrings/Necklace

Now, recently I went to the eye doctor for my annual checkup and needed a new prescription because my vision had gotten worse seeing at a distance.  My close-up vision is still perfectly fine.  Anyway, I needed a new pair of glasses.  When I was ordering my new pair, the lady asked if I wanted the blue light blocking lenses.  I had no idea that this was now an option for my regular glasses.  Of course I said yes so I won’t have to change my glasses out several times a day.  The only drawback to these though, is when pictures are taken of me or I take a selfie. My lenses now have a purple tint to them in pictures unless I find the right angle.  I guess it is worth the sacrifice of trying to get great pictures in order to not get as many migraines!

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Friday Favorites: 90’s Movies

I heard a conversation on the radio the other day about the best movies of the 90’s.  That got me thinking about my favorite movies from that decade.  Well, when I went looking to refresh my memory about all of the movies from the 90’s, I found it was harder than I thought to pick my top 10 favorites. There really were some good movies made back then.  If you are a guy reading this, you probably won’t agree with many of my choices as most of these are what I would consider “chick flicks.” It took me a while to narrow it down to these 10, so I had to add a few extras to the list as well.  Now, I will mention that Tom Hanks is one of my all-time favorite actors so you may see more than one of his movies on the list.  I’m sorry, but I just couldn’t help it.  I probably could have made the whole list Tom Hanks movies, but I didn’t. Maybe I will do another post one day just about that.  I was a big Julia Roberts fan back in the day as well. You may see more than one with her in it too. Without further ado, here are my top 10 favorite movies that came out in the 90’s followed by a few honorable mentions.

10. My Best Friend’s Wedding (1997)

As I mentioned, I like Julia Roberts movies.  This one was a cute romantic comedy that I could watch a 100 times and still love it. It stars Julia Roberts, Dermont Mulroney, Rupert Everett, and Cameron Diaz.

9. The Hunt for Red October (1990)

You may be surprised by this one as it’s not nearly as popular as some of the others on my list, and it certainly isn’t a “chick flick”. I actually never watched this movie in the 90’s and probably had never heard of it until I married a submariner.  This is one of those Jack Ryan movies staring Sean Connery and Alec Baldwin.  

8. Braveheart (1995)

This movie staring Mel Gibson is full of drama, romance, tragedy, historical fiction, and more. It is a long movie, but worth every second of it. 

7. A League of Their Own (1992)

This movie with an all-star cast is the first of the Tom Hanks movies on the list.  Along with him, Geena Davis, Modonna, and Rosie O’Donnell portray a heartfelt story of women stepping up to the plate when the men are off fighting in a war.  

6. Toy Story (1995)

I couldn’t leave this movie off the list with the release of the new Toy Story 4 movie recently. This is the movie that started it all and is one that many love the most, including me.  It is the only animated film that made it into my top 10.  This story staring the voices of Tom Hanks and Tim Allen is certainly a beloved classic.  

5. Father of the Bride (1991)

This movie staring Steve Martin, Diane Keaton, Kimberly Williams-Paisley, and Martin Short is one of my favorites for sure.  It makes you laugh and cry all in one story.  It is such a great movie. 

4. Saving Private Ryan (1998)

This is another one of those long movies that is worth every second.  I love this storyline and the meaning behind it all with the horrors that war brings.  It stars Tom Hanks, Edward Burns, Matt Damon, Tom Sizemore, and Vin Diesel. 

3. Pretty Woman (1990)

How could I not put this movie staring Julia Roberts and Richard Gere up near the top of my list? Most women will tell you that this is one of the best movies of all time.  

2. Titanic (1997)

The great, tragic love story staring Leodardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet is certainly at the top.  I mean, who doesn’t love this movie?

1. Forrest Gump (1994)

Not only is this my favorite Tom Hanks movie and my favorite 90’s movie, it is also my favorite movie of all time.  I love this movie so much that I have watched it a million times and can just about recite the entire movie from memory.  If you have never been to a Bubba Gump’s restaurant, you don’t want to go with me. They always throw out trivia questions from the movie and I dominate! I love, love, love this movie so much! 

Honorable Mention:

*Silence of the Lambs (1991)

*Hope Floats (1998)

*Outbreak (1995)

*Jerry Maguire (1996)

*Mrs. Doubtfire (1993)

*Twister (1996)

*Step Mom (1998)

*You’ve Got Mail (1998)

*Legends of the Fall (1994)

*The Lion King (1994)

I really do love a good movie. To me, if it is one that I can watch over and over again, it is considered one of the best. I could be flipping through the channels and come across any one of these movies and stop and watch it, even it the movie is already half over. That’s what makes it a good movie. What do you think of my list? What movie from the 90’s would you add? Now I think I may go try to find Forrest Gump or any of these others and watch it this afternoon.

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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. 

Friday Favorites: NKOTB

Cardboard cutout at Six Flags

I was totally going to write about mascara as one of my favorite things today, but then my favorite boy band was on Good Morning America AND Live with Kelly and Ryan this morning so I decided to switch it up. First, this is going to age me a lot. Second, it’s going to make some of you laugh really hard.  I have been in love with New Kids on the Block since I was a young girl.  That’s right! I was obsessed back then, and I am still obsessed as an adult.  You better believe that I had my DVR set to record both shows this morning so I wouldn’t miss it. As a kid I had all the posters on the walls in my rooms that I ripped out of all of the teen magazines, the huge buttons, the cassette tapes, and even the dolls (I still have a Joey doll in the box around here somewhere)! Jordan Knight was my favorite! I had a huge crush on him, and Joey McIntire was a close second.  I was totally the typical kid that was head over heels in love with the boy band.  I had every album they made including the Christmas one. I knew every word to every song (still do), and I was totally smitten.  I went to my first NKOTB concert when I was 11 years old and although we had terrible seats, I loved every second of it.  We had our binoculars trying to get some kind of glimpse of them from way up high in the stands.  I went with my childhood best friend, and I will always remember it.  

My love for NKOTB was renewed back in 2009 when my very best teacher friends actually became my forever friends as we bonded over New Kids. We heard about them coming back out on tour, and we knew that we had to go.  It was confirmed when we heard they would be coming to our area.  One of us was sitting at the computer waiting to grab tickets the minute they went on sale.  We managed to grab the absolute best seats.  We were on the 5th row!!! We were so excited that we had a countdown to the concert on the back of the door to one of our classrooms.  It was insane, but it was like we were kids again! The night of the concert came, and we had gotten ourselves old school shirts that matched. We were bouncing off the walls because we were so excited. The concert was at an outdoor amphitheater, and it just so happened that night was rainy and stormy.  We got to the concert and it was pouring, but we didn’t care. We were going to go no matter what. We were just praying that it wouldn’t get canceled due to the weather.  We got to the amphitheater early and were sitting in my car in the parking lot as sirens were going off for a severe tornado WARNING! It was scary! We were scoping out a nearby ditch that we could run jump in if we spotted a tornado.  We were laughing and practically crying at the same time, and it is a memory that I will never forget.  We finally got the all-clear message from the radio and the word that concert was still on.  We went in, got soaked, sang “Step by Step” on the news, and had the time of our lives. We all screamed and sang our hearts out until none of us had a voice.  It was the best time ever! 

Since then, we have seen them in concert 2 more times, once with The Backstreet Boys and once with TLC and Nelly.  That last one began with one of my friends leaping over chairs to touch Donnie Wahlberg as he walked on stage near us. I swear I have never laughed as hard as I do when we are all together at a concert. We actually already have tickets to see them again in June of this year, and I CANNOT wait! The concerts now aren’t as much about NKOTB as they are about our friendship and just feeling young and excited again.  I think I will forever be in love with New Kids on the Block, and my friends and I will continue to go see them in concert as long as they keep having them.  One of these days we might just end up on one of their cruises. You never know! I think we would all die if we got that close to them.  LOL! I think that every generation has their own boy band, but I am not sure that there are any that have the following and loyalty as NKOTB does. They are just the best and by far my all time favorite! 

This post is dedicated to my favorite Blockhead Sisters! You know who you are!

Anchored and a Blockhead for Life,

Friday Favorites: Sleep Cycle App

I’m getting a late start on this post today.  My kids are out of school again today (not because of snow even though it snowed again last night) for a teacher workday, so my schedule has been thrown off yet again. I did enjoy sleeping in this morning, though.  I don’t get to do that very often. I am feeling rested and ready for the day. Sleep is such an important piece to your overall health.  I am one of those people who really requires at least 8 hours of sleep a night. I have always known this about me. I know that my body and mind function way better when I have had at least 8 hours.  Even when I was in college, I was the nerd that went to bed between 9 and 10 every night.  For the majority of my life, I have tried to stick to a bedtime of around 9:00. This was especially true when I was teaching because I got up at 5:00 every morning so going to bed at 9 would give me the needed 8 hours of sleep in theory.   I have always had a hard time falling asleep, though. It takes a while for my brain to stop running so I often ended up with only 6-7 hours of sleep. It has really been since I stopped teaching that my bedtime has gotten later and later despite the fact that I get up around 6:00. Part of it is because my daughter doesn’t get out of gymnastics practice until 10:00 most nights so it is impossible to go to bed earlier. The other part of it is that this is the time that I get to spend with my husband.  We will watch TV together or we will just lay in bed and talk for a bit. He on the other hand is a person that can live off of just 2 hours of sleep. That is partly due to necessity because of his job. It has always driven me crazy that he can fall asleep within 2 seconds of his head hitting the pillow.  I’m not exaggerating.  I’m super jealous. Anyway, I do feel like I am tired a lot more during the day now that I go to bed later and get less sleep.  It’s like I can never get enough.

Why am I telling you my sleep habits? I’m sure you really don’t care.  The point is to share with you one of my favorite apps on my phone. It is called Sleep Cycle. My husband introduced me to it about 2 years ago. We both use it every night. This app is really cool because it tracks your sleep patterns and serves as an alarm clock.  You set it at night before you go to bed to the time you need to get up, then set your phone down on a table beside you, and it records your sleep.  Somehow based on the sounds it hears throughout the night, it can determine the times when you were awake, were in deep sleep, and when you were in a lighter sleep.  In the mornings it will tell you how long you were in bed, your sleep quality, if you snored, and how many steps you took that day. Over time, you can look at graphs that show your sleep patterns over days, weeks, and even months. It is pretty cool to see it all laid out in a graph. My husband and I always compare our sleep quality percentage.  My sleep quality for last night was 89%. You can see below my sleep graph for last night. I was awake between 5:00-6:00 and then fell back asleep. The night before my sleep quality was 81%.

The other cool thing is the alarm feature.  You can choose to set it up like a normal alarm that wakes you up at the time you set it, or you can choose to set it up to use a wake cycle.  For the wake cycle, you would set the alarm like you normally do for the time you want to wake up. The difference is that it will wake you up sometime around the time you set it, but it will be when you are in your in your lightest sleep. This a more natural way to wake up.  For example, let’s say that you set it for 6:00 AM.  Then the app senses that you are in a light sleep phase at 5:45. The alarm will start out at a soft volume and begin to wake you up at 5:45 even though you set it for 6:00. Now, you can set it so that it will only do this within 10 minutes of your set time or you can set it so that it can wake you up in your lightest sleep for up to 90 minutes before your set time.  The app actually recommends that you set it for 30 minutes but the choice it yours. This prevents the alarm from waking you up from a deep, dead sleep. It wakes you up in a more natural way which is really cool.

Here are some other cool features to the app.

  • Sound-choose from multiple soothing sounds that wake you up in a natural way by beginning to play softly and then increasing in volume until you turn it off.
  • Vibration-used when the sound does not wake you up
  • Snooze-can be set for anywhere from 1 to 20 minutes of snooze time
  • Weekend-allows you to set the days of the week that you only want sleep analysis but no alarm to sound
  • Sleep Aid-emits a soothing sound to help you fall asleep. (I use this a lot when my husband is away to help me fall asleep faster.)***
  • Sleep Notes-allows you to track how different activities like drinking alcohol, drinking coffee, or exercise affect your sleep quality***
  • Weather-displays the weather when you wake up***
  • Heart Rate-measures your heart rate when you wake up.  It does this by analyzing the color changes on the tip of your finger when placed on the phone’s home button***
  • Philips Hue-allows the phone to wake you up with lights rather than sound***
  • Apple Watch-The app can be paired with your Apple Watch if you wear it at night to track your heart rate throughout the night. (I don’t use this feature because I can’t sleep with my watch on.)

Many of the above features (***) only come with the Premium subscription which is $29.99 per year. Fortunately, when I got the app two years ago, it was a paid app, so I automatically got the premium features without having to pay the subscription fee.  While the free features are cool alone, the premium option gives you much more data and allows you to track your patterns over a longer period of time.  I recommend the premium features, but I understand not wanting to pay for the subscription.  Try out the free version and see what you think.  If you really like it and want more detailed tracking and the options that come with the premium subscription, then go for it. 

Here are some more cool charts to show my sleep patterns over time.

Again, both my husband and I love this app. It is one that we use daily and would both recommend that you at least give the free version a try. It is pretty cool to see your sleep patterns all laid out in the graphs, and the alarm feature is awesome. The app is available for Apple and Android users. Go check it out!

Anchored and Rested,

Friday Favorites: Planner

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I have received several messages about my planner that I shared last week so I thought I would do my Friday Favorites about the planner so you can see it more in-depth.  The planner comes from Plum Paper,and it is customizable which I really like. The other thing I really like is that it is super durable.  It comes spiral bound with a tear proof AND water resistant cover, AND it also has a clear, plastic sheet over the cover for added protection. This planner is built to last.  It is a pricier investment than you would find at Target, Walmart, or any office supply store; but it is totally worth it to me since I rely on it so heavily.

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There are 3 sizes available (5.8” x 8.3”), (7” x 9”), and (8.5” x 11”). Mine is the largest size. Since my life is pretty much in this planner, I need all the space I can get.  You can choose the size that works best with what your needs are. Once you choose which size you want, you then get to choose the layout you want. Layouts can be vertical or horizontal. There are even layouts specific to teachers (including homeschool options) and students. There are so many options to choose from. Just for reference, mine is the Vertical ME Planner, which means I could personalize the items on each page.

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The next step is choosing your cover.  They have a large variety of beautiful designs.  I think this was the hardest part for me.  It was so hard to decide on the design because I liked so many of them. The designs range from floral to geometric to classic to masculine. Once you decide, you can personalize the cover however you would like.  I added my name and the years to mine but you can also add initials or leave it blank. You can even add a photo to the cover it you would like. A photo would be a great option to use a motivation for your year or a reminder of the people or things that are most important to you.

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Now you can get into the really fun part, and that is customizing your planner to fit your needs.  This is where I got to add it the details that I really wanted in my planner.  I chose to personalize each section for the week with the name of each family member and also my businesses with Rodan + Fields, the blog, and social media. The important thing is that YOU get to choose what you want! You even get to choose which month/year you want to start with. I absolutely love this feature. That means if you decide to purchase one today, you can start it with November  so that you aren’t wasting any months. Plus, you can choose between a 12 month or 18 month calendar. Next, you choose if you want them to bind your planner (highly recommended) or if you just want the pages to bind it yourself.

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Finally, you get to choose if you want any add-ons.  There are home options that include meal planning and budgeting. There are business add-ons including things like direct sales, party planning, social media, mileage tracking, and more. There are lifestyle add-ons, like fitness, travel, reflection, gratitude, and prayer. There are educational add-ons for all of my fellow teachers out there including behavior logs, class lists, and homeschooling. There are notes and to do lists add-ons (two that I chose), and there are even cute stickers you can get. Just keep in mind that with each add-on comes an additional cost but they can make your life easier, especially if you are a type-A planner like me.

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For me personally, this is the best planner I have ever used, and I have used a lot of planners. Again, the options to personalize, the durability, and the add-on options are what seal the deal for me.  As I said before, it is an investment, but it is one that you won’t regret and will help you to stay not only organized, but also focused on the goals you want to accomplish.  I will likely not ever buy another kind planner.  Take a look at the video below to get a closer look inside my planner!

 

Anchored,

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