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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