ADHD or LIVING?

I am seriously beginning to think that my children got their ADHD from me.  Two or three years ago, you would have never heard me say that. I have always been laser focused and have never had a hard time staying on task or getting things done. Lately that seems to have all changed.  I don’t know if it is something that just comes with age or the fact that my life is so vastly different than it has been most of my life, but something has definitely changed.  I’m certainly not hyperactive like my girls are, but I sure am having a hard time focusing these days.  I am suddenly easily distracted.  I have a hard time staying on one task at a time.  I start one thing and then end up doing something totally different without even realizing it until I am in the midst of it, and then nothing ends up getting completed. Sometimes I even find myself daydreaming.  It is like I have all these things running around in my head and I can’t stick with one of them until completion without thinking about ten other things. The sad thing is that some of those things that are distracting me aren’t even really that important, but they are still rolling around in my brain.  I seem to also be more forgetful these days. If it doesn’t get written down on my calendar as a “to do” item, it isn’t getting done.  It is so weird and is starting to really bug me because it is so out of character for me. I even talked to my husband about it the other day.  It’s not like I am busier than I ever have been. Yes, we have a lot going on, but we have always had a lot going on.  I used to work full time and still had a ton going on, so why am I having these focus issues now?  Is it because I have more down time to think when I didn’t before? Maybe it is because I was just on autopilot back then and not really living my life. I was almost like a zombie in those days. I was just going through the motions. Now that I have been on the road to rediscovering who I am as a person and what I want out of life, more and more things are opening up to me. Plus, I am having more revelations about myself (like right now as I type). I truly think that those things are why I am having this issue difference with focus now.  My life has changed greatly and I feel like I am finally free.  I am free to be me. I am free to do what I desire.  I am free to be the person God called me to be. I am free to dream (or daydream). I was so consumed before with being perfect (the perfect teacher, the perfect wife, the perfect mother, the perfect person) that it was all I focused on.  I didn’t allow distractions in because that would mean that I was weak.  While I still struggle with thinking that I need to be perfect, I have come a long way in rewiring my brain.  I am changing, but I am changing for the better.  I am starting to think that distractions aren’t necessarily a bad thing.  Distractions can lead me down a whole new path that can change me for the better.  

So what if I have ADHD now? Maybe I have always had it but I stuffed it down and refused to allow it in to my life.  Maybe I am just getting old. Either way, I am learning to embrace it.  It’s ok to loose focus sometimes, because it just may mean that your priorities are changing.  Those things distracting me that I said really weren’t important earlier actually are important because they mean something to me.  Those things are shaping me into a better version of myself. They are helping to change me into the person I long to be.  They are allowing me to define what perfection really means.  It isn’t about having the cleanest house on the block or being the best teacher or mom.  Perfection is truly living your life and being present in the moment. It is about embracing your flaws. It’s about being happy. It is about love and kindness. It’s about choosing to be who God calls me to be.  If being distracted helps me to get there, then bring it on.  

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Fashion Finds: Target

I am excited! My Target (you know, my favorite store) is finally getting a makeover and it’s amazing!!! It isn’t done, but it already has so many improvements! My favorite improvement so far is the dressing room.  They finally have the lighted mirrors and more space so that my dressing room selfies are so much clearer! Yay! The only drawback it the glare it leaves on my glasses.  I didn’t realize how bad it was until I got home and started editing the pictures. Oh well, maybe I will just take them off next time.  Anyway, I found so many cute things there to share with all of you! There was so much more, too, but I got tired of trying stuff on.  That only means that I will have to make another trip later on. Haha! Like I ever need an excuse to go to Target! If you haven’t followed me for very long, you will quickly learn that I love cold weather, sweaters, turtlenecks, cardigans, jackets, jeans, and boots! You will see most of those in these outfits. Strangely, several of the pieces I tried on are not available online yet.  However, you should be able to find them in stores so I included what brand they are. Check out all the cuteness I found on this trip.

Jeans

Jeans/Cardigan/Tank

Jeans/Sweater

Jeans/Tunic Sweatshirt

Jeans/Sweaters

Jeans/Sherpa Hoodie (Universal Thread)

Cardigan

This cardigan is so soft and the picture doesn’t do it justice. It has small hints of pink and purple threads mixed in with the grey.

Sweater Dress

Sweater Dress/Jacket (OBSESSED!) (A New Day)

Dress

Sweater

Sweater/Jacket

This jacket is a size too big on me, but I wanted to show you how cute it is.

Jeans/Top

Jeans/Top/Denim Jacket (Sherpa Lined)

Jeans/Sweater

How cute are all of these outfits? Happy Shopping!

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Book Club: This Tender Land

It is hard to believe that it is the last Friday of October and that November will be here next week. It is just crazy to me.  The last Friday of the month means that it is Book Club day, which is one of my favorite days each month.  I love that doing this book club each month forces me to read because it is something that brings me so much joy.  I have loved reading my whole life, but I had gotten away from reading regularly because I let life get in the way.  This book club forces me to make time to get wrapped up in a story, and I love it.  This month we read a book fresh off the printer entitled This Tender Land by William Kent Krueger.  It came out last month and was an instant best seller, and I could see why after only a few chapters in.  I really enjoyed the journey that this story took me on.  Not only did it instantly take me back in time when the world was much different, but it also kept me enthralled in the story page after page. I was totally wrapped up in each character’s storyline.  It was really a great read, and I enjoyed it immensely. 

This story begins in the summer of 1932 when 4 unlikely friends set off on an adventure after escaping from the Lincoln Indian Training School in Minnesota. The Lincoln School was a place where Native American children who were taken from their families were sent to be educated. Mrs. Brickman and her husband ran the school.  They both seemed to despise children and gained pleasure from their suffering.  The students called Mrs. Brickman the Black Witch.  She would lock them in a quiet room, farm them out for hard manual labor in the community, barely feed them, and turned a blind eye to beatings and other inappropriate actions towards the children by an employee of the school.  Needless to say, these children suffered greatly at her hands.  Mose was a descendent of the Sioux tribe and came to the school at a young age after he was found next to his dead parents in a ditch.  His own tongue had been cut out in the attack, so he communicated through sign language. Odie and Albert O’Banion were brothers who ended up at the school after their father was killed during a bootlegging run. They were not of Native American descent but were told that they were sent to the Lincoln School because the state orphanage was full. The last of the 4 was sweet Emmy Frost, the daughter of 2 teachers at the school.  Her father had been killed in a farming accident a few years earlier and her mom had a sweet spot for the 3 boys and wanted to take them in as her own. After Mrs. Frost was killed in a tornado, Emmy was left to live with the horrible Brickmans. Those events lead the 4 to band together and escape from the Lincoln School and begin a long journey down the river to St. Louis in search of family.  The events that followed would change their lives forever.  

This is a story of heartbreak and struggle.  These 4 children faced things in their short life that no children should ever have to face. Murder, imprisonment, abuse, snakebites, loss, and more plagued their journey. They also came across people who were a danger to them and people who showed them great love along the way. Their determination, resiliency, and love for each other helped them along their journey. While their journey to freedom only lasted a little over a month, it felt like it was years in the making.  Although they experienced and lost so much in those few short weeks, their bond only grew stronger as they became the family they all longed for. I really loved this story and highly recommend it.  It certainly did not disappoint.

My pick for November is a bit different than the last few I have chosen.  I am moving away from the historical fiction genre for this pick to give us a little variety.  I thought I would spice it up a little this time. This month I am choosing Redemption Road by John Hart.  This story is more of a mystery/thriller this time.  It is a New York Times Bestseller from the only author to ever win the Edgar Allan Poe Award back-to-back. Here is what Apple Books has to say about this novel.

Redemption Road took five years to write, and that investment shows. John Hart’s thriller is masterfully written and haunting.  At its center is suspended policewoman Elizabeth Black, who under investigation for the murder of two men who abducted and tortured a teenager Channing Shore. Liz is plagued by nightmares, not all of them related to Channing’s horrific ordeal. Hart has not only created a strong, vulnerable heroine to root for, he’s written a Southern gothic crime novel that’s flush with eeriness and themes of righteousness and redemption.” 

I hope you will come along and read with me.  

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

Teal Pumpkin Project

I finally feel like I am back among the living.  I am certainly not back to 100%, but I am much better.  I am run down and tired still, but I can at least function now. If I could just get rid of this horrible cough, my life would be much more manageable.   It basically prevents me from talking or carrying on any conversation whatsoever. Whatever it is that I had has really kicked my butt.  I have been pretty useless for over a week.  I am super sad that I had to postpone lunch with one of my besties from college who I haven’t seen in years.  How sad is it that since I moved a little over a year ago, we have lived in the same county and have not seen each other once? Life gets in the way too much.  I know that I really need to work to make time for the people that I care about, but it sure it hard.  Anyway, being sick for over a week has really been miserable.  

Now on to the topic of the day! Today I am making my yearly PSA about Halloween.  It is just a week away and many of you are buying candy to pass out to all of the trick or treaters in your neighborhood.  I am urging you to consider also purchasing a few non-edible treats.  As the mom of a child who has had her diet severely restricted due to how her body reacts to certain foods, this is a topic that I am passionate about.  I always tell people about this whenever I can this time of year.  Unless you are living under a rock, you have seen story after story about the rise in food allergies among children.   I can’t tell you why more and more children are suffering from food allergies, but I know that it is happening at alarming rates.  I am here to tell you that it is serious.  It isn’t something to make light of, and it isn’t a bunch of moms overreacting.  Food allergies can literally be the cause of a child’s death. They are real, and they are scary.  Halloween is one of the scariest holidays for children with food allergies.  Some of you may say that a child should just stay home if their allergies are that bad. If you say that, then you can’t possibly have a heart.  Kids should not be punished for something they have no control over.  I firmly believe that it is our responsibility as adults to ensure the safety of ALL kids.  We have to do better at that job. 

Several years ago, the allergy community created the Teal Pumpkin Project.  Families that were willing to offer non-edible or allergy friendly treats were asked to place a teal pumpkin on their porch to let children with allergies know that it was safe to go to that house.  This allowed those children the chance to experience the joy of Halloween.  Thankfully this movement caught on and has now spread around the country. Hundreds of families now participate in the Teal Pumpkin Project, but it isn’t enough.  We have to continue to spread the word and urge others to also participate.  There are still so many communities that have never heard of the Teal Pumpkin Project. I have actually never seen a teal pumpkin at any other house besides my own. All you have to do is to purchase a few non-edible treats or trinkets that you keep in a separate bowl from your candy.  Then place a teal pumpkin on your porch to serve as a message to those with allergies that it is safe to visit your house.  You can paint your own teal pumpkin or you can purchase them now already painted at many retailers.  I am certainly not telling you that you can’t pass out candy.  I am simply asking that you also provide a safer alternative to candy. Give those kids who can’t eat the candy the chance to experience something that all kids look forward to each year. 

I always share the story of my daughter from a couple of years ago on Halloween.  She went out and got a bucket full of candy (she can come into contact with her allergen but just can’t ingest it).  She came home and dumped out the bucket and began sorting through what she could eat and what she couldn’t.  The pile of things that she could not have was huge and the pile she could have consisted of less than 10 pieces of candy.  I watched as she sat there with tears rolling down her face thinking how unfair it was, and my heart broke.  Not one of the houses that we went to had allergy friendly treats.  In fact, we were the only house in the entire community we lived in that had a Teal Pumpkin out.  There are hundreds of children just like my daughter that want so badly to fit in and do the things their peers do.  Many of them are even worse than my daughter and cannot even come into contact with their allergen.  I am begging you for the sake of all of those children to please take part in the Teal Pumpkin Project.  Ask the kids when they come to your door in their cute or scary costumes if they have any allergies, and please offer them an alternative.  I can promise you, it will make their night and it will give all of us worried moms a huge sigh of relief.  You could literally save a child’s life and make their day a little brighter.  

Getting allergy friendly treats is as simple as buying one less bag of candy and instead buying a few inexpensive trinkets.  Often these things are less expensive than candy.  Below is a list of ideas of allergy friendly treats with links to purchase them in bulk. You can also purchase assortment packs from Amazon like this or this. The good news is that these don’t go bad so you can save whatever is left year after year. 

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

A Mother’s Burden

Well, I am struggling again today.  This sickness sure has a strong hold on me.  Thankfully I did get a little more sleep last night, only waking up every 2 hours in a coughing fit instead of the entire night of it.  I guess that is improvement.  I am thankful that my kids are old enough now that they can take care of themselves when I am not at 100%.  I can actually take the time to rest when just a few years ago I couldn’t (or at least I wouldn’t).  One of my friends shared one of the pictures above on Facebook last night, and it really struck a cord with me.  While this sculpture shows the burden of housework, we all know that a mom’s burden is so much more than the housework.  There were so many years that I felt like that woman depicted there. It was like I was carrying the weight of the world on my shoulders every single day.  My husband was deployed a lot, the girls were young, my youngest daughter’s medical condition was wreaking havoc on her body, and I was giving everything I had to my job and students all while trying to project an image that I had it all under control.  In reality, I really didn’t.  I was drowning, but I wasn’t going to dare let that show to anyone.  That’s what mother’s do, right? We don’t let it show when we are struggling, and we would never admit that we need help. That would be a sign of weakness, and mothers aren’t supposed to be weak.  Instead we pile on more and more to our backs, and keep pushing through.  No matter how far this country has come, how society has changed, or how supportive our husbands are, women still put that pressure on themselves.  By putting it on ourselves, we are projecting it on to every other mother we know.  If Suzy can handle all that she has going on with a smile on her face, then I can surely handle whatever my life throws at me.  That is our mentality.  We see others who appear to have it all together so we feel like we have to do the same even though we know that none of us has it all under control.  It is an endless cycle perpetuated by our own flawed thinking. I am so guilty of it.  Back then I would NEVER admit that I needed help or that I was struggling.  I wanted everyone to think that I had it all together.  I wanted to look like I was strong and could handle it all. 

Why? Why do we do that to ourselves? Why do we think we have to project the perfect image? It is so messed up.  We have to break the cycle.  We have to be willing to show our weaknesses and ask for help. It is the only way to help each other.  There is so much power in knowing that you aren’t alone, yet we are afraid to share our struggles with others.  Sure we have mom friends that we vent to, but do we ever really share with them how we are feeling deep down? I don’t, and I would bet that you don’t either.  We all just silently carry the crushing weight of the world on our shoulders day after day. I am here to tell you that you aren’t alone.  We all feel the same way.  We all struggle.  We all secretly cry at night sometimes when no one is watching.  We all get that feeling of barely keeping our heads above the water.  We all feel like we are failing.  We have all been there.  We have all suffered through it alone, but we don’t have to do that any more.  We can stop the cycle. We can share our feelings. We can ask for help.  We can carry the burdens together. We don’t have to walk alone.  We just have to open up, be willing to show our failures, let others see that we aren’t perfect, and support each other. Stop acting like you have it all together when you don’t. Other moms need to see that you struggle too. Can you imagine what it would feel like to know that Suzy carries the same burdens that you do? There is power in knowing you aren’t alone. That power lifts some of that weight from your back. Yes, moms are superstars.  We can carry that weight, but we don’t have to do it alone.   

Anchored,

Fashion Finds

Because I look and feel like death and have for several days, today’s style post will be a little different.  I didn’t get to do my shopping photo shoot like I had planned because I have felt so bad. I am fighting some really nasty stuff. I ended up at an urgent care place on Saturday because it had gotten pretty bad.  They thought that I might have the flu based on how I looked and felt, but they did not test me for it because it was too late to start meds for it at that point.  Instead they are treating me for an upper respiratory infection, but I am pretty sure the meds aren’t working and it might actually be the flu.  I don’t think I slept for more that 5-10 minutes at a time last night.  Despite taking prescription cough meds, I was coughing ALL NIGHT LONG.  Every inch of my torso aches from coughing so much over the past few days.  Needless to say, I have been miserable.  I almost gave up on posting altogether today, but I just couldn’t do that.  I decided that instead I would share with you a few items that have been on my shopping wish list that may or may not end up in my closet in the weeks to come.  I would like to try some of them on before buying, but it doesn’t look like I am going to get to do that any time soon. Maybe a little online retail therapy is just what the doctor ordered! LOL! Anyway, here are some things I am eyeing right now!

Target-Leopard Slip on Sneakers/Wedge Sneakers/Microsuede Heeled Scrunch Riding Boots

I have actually tried these leopard ones on and almost have bought them twice.  I am obsessed! They are so cute! They really need to be mine! All Target shoes are currently 20% off with Target Circle.

Target-Ribbed Knit Dress (currently on sale)/Hooded Tunic Sweatshirt/Hooded Camo Sweatshirt

Amazon-Color Block Striped Cardigan/Quilted Pullover/Fall Graphic T-Shirt

Amazon-Crossbody Saddle Purse

Old Navy-Sherpa Pullover/Long Cardigan

These two pieces are 40% off TODAY only with code STYLE.

Old Navy-Flannel Shirt/Oversized Scarf/Crewneck Sweater/Diamond Quilted Vest

These pieces are all currently on sale. The Crewneck Sweater is only on sale in certain colors.

Aren’t these all so cute? It did make me feel a little better just looking at them! I haven’t pulled the trigger yet on any of them, but I have a feeling it is coming soon. Here is to hoping I am back to 100% tomorrow! Happy shopping!

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

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.

Starting Over, AGAIN!

This morning I went to a new hair salon to see a new stylist.  This is the third one that I have gone to since moving here a little over a year ago.  The first place I tried here ended up being a disaster as it turned out that I was allergic to something they use there that we could never figure out.  It was happening when I got color and when I didn’t get color. Then it happened when she didn’t use any product at all.  It was so bizarre. You can read more about it here.  After going there several times (I really did like her.) and having an allergic reaction every single time, I decided I needed to just go somewhere else since we couldn’t pin point what I was allergic to.  The second place I tried was ok.  I didn’t have an allergic reaction there, but I just didn’t love my stylist or the salon.  I really had a hard time understanding her as English was her second language.  Plus, I just didn’t love the atmosphere of the salon or how she cut my hair. One time I was there, they had not turned on the air conditioning all day, and it was boiling hot in there.  They finally turned it on, but it was already late afternoon in the heat of the day so it didn’t really make a difference.  I gave the girl the benefit of the doubt and went there a couple of times, but I just wasn’t feeling it.  It wasn’t a positive experience for me. Needless to say, I have delayed getting my hair done because I have been nervous to try someone else since I still don’t know what I am allergic too.  It’s also really hard to trust someone that you know nothing about to not screw up your hair.   I am in a Facebook group for the community we live in, and people are always asking for recommendations in there.  I have seen several posts of people asking for stylists and have just been watching them for a while.  I noticed that this one girl’s name kept coming up.  People were raving about her.  She works at a brand new salon that just opened back in the spring.  Of course, I Facebook and Instagram stalked her to check out some of her work and was impressed, but I was still hesitant. I got to the point that I couldn’t stand my hair anymore, so I decided to go ahead and book an appointment with her. 

I headed there this morning with a little bit of nervousness just not knowing what to expect, but I really needed a haircut and needed to get rid of some of the grey.  I had to do it.  I will start by telling you that it was a great experience, and I will be going back to her.  She made me feel super comfortable right off the bat, and she really listened to my hair struggles.  Of course, the salon was nice as it is brand new.  Since this was my first time there, I only did a single color on the roots to cover the grey.  Next time we will likely play more with highlights and/or lowlights now that I know that I like her.  The grey is gone, which is really what I care about, though. So far, I’m not reacting to anything, and I really don’t think I will since I have used Redkin products many times before with no problems.  She did an amazing job with the cut, too. I will say that I was a little conservative in how much I told her to cut just to be sure I like what she did.  My hair is super thick and has a mind of its own, so you have to really understand hair to cut mine.  Next time, I will definitely go shorter. (Sorry husband!)  My hair feels lighter and more airy and the back actually has shape to it now.  I really couldn’t be happier.  I think I have finally found the right person in the right salon! It has been a long, hard road to this happiness! Who knew that getting your hair done could be so stressful and traumatic?!?!?  I am just so happy to have had a positive experience, no reaction, and a great haircut! 

It really is hard to move to a new place and start all over with new people.  Finding doctors, dentists, hair stylist and more is nerve wracking.  I always find those for the girls right off the bat because they are the most important. It tends to take me longer to find people for myself.  I really like to do my research before I try someone new no matter what the profession is. I go on recommendations by trusted people, but sometimes that takes time because you don’t know a lot of people that you trust yet.  I finally went to a doctor on a recommendation from a new friend a few months after we moved, and I really liked her a lot.  I recently learned that she left the practice after having a bad car accident, and I now have to start all over again. I have no idea who to go to now. I guess I will have to stalk the community Facebook group again to find someone.  Hey, it worked for the stylist!  It is just so hard to find someone you like and can trust.  That really is one of the toughest things about moving.  It will take some time for me to work up the courage to find someone new, but I know it will happen eventually just like it did today with the stylist. I just have to be patient and do my research. 

Anchored, 

Wake Up and Unplug

This past weekend we traveled 10 hours to visit our family in South Carolina.  It always seems like the longest drive in the world. Why is sitting in the car so exhausting? You would think that just sitting there for long periods of time would be a form of resting.  Somehow, it doesn’t work that way.  Anyway, I did my post on Friday as we were driving down the road.  Now, you may think that was a good use of time, but that isn’t the case for me for two reasons.  One, and the biggest, is that I get very carsick and have my whole life; so riding down the road while staring at a computer isn’t really a good idea. The second reason is that we take back roads most of the way through the mountains where there is very little reception. Connectivity was sparse.  Needless to say, it was not easy or pleasant to get that post up.  I quickly realized that I wasn’t going to be able to do the same thing for my Monday post as we drove back home yesterday.  We are also from a very small town in the middle of nowhere in South Carolina. For some reason, my parents’ house is like a black hole. There is absolutely no cellular service whatsoever there.  There is also no such thing as Wi-Fi there because they live too far outside of the city limits to get any kind of Internet service hooked up.  It is really bad and super frustrating.  It is extremely hard to even get a text to go through much less connect to the Internet.  It really makes no sense considering there is a cell tower less than a mile down the road, but it is the truth.  Now, I promise there is a point to telling you all of this.  The point is that when we go home to visit family, we are all forced to unplug.  My children, of course, think it is torture. I will admit that it drives both my husband and me nuts too.  It is especially difficult when all of my businesses rely on the Internet and cellular service.   While it is super inconvenient and very frustrating, I realized this weekend that it does allow us to really connect with our families while we are there.  My mom was supposed to be watching my youngest nephew on Saturday but she wasn’t feeling well. That gave me the opportunity to connect with him in a way that we had not done before.  It was the first time really that he ever had anything to do with me as a total mama’s boy. I thoroughly enjoyed just hanging out with him all day, as well as, spending time with my grandparents and husband’s family while we were there. I even had actual conversations with my children, which is rare these days.     

We really should take the time to unplug more often.  I think that is important.  We get so wrapped up in our phones and computers that we sometimes loose those real genuine connections.  I think that is especially true of someone like me who really prefers to text than talk on the phone and who has a really introverted personality.  It is so much easier to connect through a device than it is to connect face to face.  Plus, that is what is more comfortable to me.  I know that I am super guilty of hiding behind my phone or computer so that I don’t have to feel uncomfortable. As we stopped for dinner last night on our way back home, I suddenly noticed that all 4 of us were sitting at the table on our phones and not at all communicating with each other.  I guess that we were all in withdrawals from being unplugged all weekend and were trying to catch up.  It honestly happens all of the time, though, but it has never occurred to me just how sad it is until last night.  This is the world that our kids are growing up in, and it is our job as their parents to teach them proper communications skills.  That job is even harder with the amount of technology these days.  Last night I started thinking that we were failing miserably as parents.  With our busy schedules and the fact that we are rarely all four in the same place at the same time, it is difficult to find time to connect with each other. Each of us always has our phone within arms distance at all times, and my kids are often closed up in their rooms on their computers.   It was a wakeup call for me last night.  We really need to focus on spending time together as a family unplugged.  It has to become a priority. We only have a few more years before both girls are gone.  We will have missed out on so much if we don’t start to put down the phones and close our computers.  I know we will regret it if we don’t make a change. It is going to take a conscious effort and will probably result in a lot of growing pains and maybe a few meltdowns, but it is an effort that I think is worth putting forth. This is honestly a lesson that we can all use. Stop, put the device down, and communicate with your loved ones on a regular basis.  If you have to physically lock your phones in a box during family dinners, do it. If you have to miss an important call, do it.  Trust me! That call can wait, that Facebook post isn’t going anywhere, and those sports scores will still be there in 30 minutes. Face to face interactions are so important. It is how we learn, grow, and make true connections. We all have to wake up and unplug before it is too late.    

Anchored,

Friday Favorites: TOH Winter 2019

Trades of Hope came out with a Winter Look Book at the beginning of this month featuring 12 new pieces that are all about the holidays.  Today, I wanted to share with you my favorite pieces from the line. The pieces in this collection range from our very first beanie to some really amazing ornaments.  There is sure to be something that everyone loves.  I am obsessed with all of it, so it was hard to narrow it down to just 5 of my favorites. I really wanted to feature the whole line, but that would make this post go on and on forever.  What makes it even more incredible is that every single piece helps to empower women (and some men) around the world out of poverty and human trafficking.  

1. Stars of Haiti

My heart aches for the mamas in Haiti that have to leave their babies at orphanages because they cannot provide for them.  They actually love their children and want to keep them.  Trades of Hope’s partnership with artisan groups in Haiti allow them to do just that.  By providing these women with a sustainable business, they are able to not only keep and provide for their children but are also able to send them to school and get them medical care.  We are helping to break the cycle of poverty there.  I love the pieces that come from the artisans in Haiti because they have found a way to take the discarded and turn it into treasures.  These star ornaments are no different.  They are made from recycled cereal boxes.  These ornaments come in a set of 3.  You can adorn your tree with them or give them as gifts.  

2. Adventure Begins Journal

I am not typically someone who journals, but this journal may make me start.  It is made by our artisans in India, the home to ¼ of the world’s poorest families.  It is very difficult for women there to find jobs and are left living in the slums and unable to provide for their families.  Our artisans in India are given a sustainable job and are able to use their income to rise up out extreme poverty.  This journal is made from genuine leather and features 90 pages of lined, handmade paper.  I can tell you that the pictures do not do it justice.  It would make a great gift for anyone this holiday season. 

3. Farmhouse Star

I am completely obsessed with this star and am ready to ditch my usual angel on the top of my tree for this star this year.  It is made from whitewashed iron.  If you are into the farmhouse chic style, this is totally your jam. Our artisans in India also make this piece. Most of the poor in India lack education, which makes getting one of the scarce jobs even more difficult.  Through their partnership with TOH, these artisans are able to provide education for their children to break the cycle of poverty.  

4. Snow Top Beanie & Himalayan Mittens

These two pieces are sold separately, but I couldn’t choose just one.  I thought that they worked so well together so I might as well group them into one.  Haha! Both pieces are hand-knit by our artisans in Nepal.  First up is this adorable black and white beanie that is hand-knit with 100% wool.  It is lined with fleece inside and is sure to keep you warm this winter.  Next up are thes fun colored wool mittens that come in two sizes (S/M and L/XL). They are also lined with fleece and are super warm. Women in Nepal are often socially marginalized and discriminated against. By purchasing this beanie or mittens, you are helping them provide food, clothing, shelter, and education for their families.  These two pieces would make great stocking stuffers for anyone on your list. 

5. Sincerity Blanket

It is no secret that I was in love when our first throw was released in the spring and this one is just as amazing as it.  This new blanket features a black and off-white diamond pattern.  It is made from blended cotton and is handspun by our artisans in India.  It even gets softer with each wash.  It truly is gorgeous.  Sales of this blanket help to provide education for families and empowers these women to become the heroes of their own stories.  

How amazing are all of these? The stories behind them just make them that much more special.  We have several other ornament sets that are just as amazing as the Stars of Haiti including a set of puppies, mittens, and some gorgeous ones made from Capiz shells in the Philippines.  We even have a cool nativity made in Peru.  You can view them all here. Why not give the gift that keeps on giving this season?

Anchored,