Fashion Finds: Target

I am getting a late start today. I had a bunch of stuff to take care of this morning before I could sit down and focus on this post.  We have had a crazy few days with so many things going on.  My youngest had a two-day cheer competition over the weekend where she and her team rocked it and are the new BATC National Champions! It was insane! I lost my voice from screaming and cheering so much.  As I have said before, we are still getting used to the whole cheer world as it is very different than the gymnastics world that we have been in for years.  The 2.5 minutes that they are up there performing is so nerve wracking and exciting at the same time. Anyway, that took up all of my weekend so I feel like I am way behind on everything now.  The laundry has really piled up! Then you have the whole dumb daylight savings thrown in the mix, and I feel like I am going to be playing catch-up all week long. Oh well, it is what it is, I guess!

Today I have some new cute outfits that I found for you at Target.  Even though we had snow last week and it’s still cold here, I figured it was time for me to check out the spring/summer pieces that are out in all the stores. I tried on a ton of things and found some really cute pieces and some pieces that looked way cuter on the hanger than on me. I even tried on a couple of bathing suits! Gasp! I know! My pale self was not bathing suit ready for sure! Needless to say, I will NOT be showing you pictures of that! LOL! If you are looking for a bathing suit, though, they do have some cute ones. I know the dressing room ladies are getting tired of me. I try on so many things, and I try to put them all back so they don’t have to. They still have to count how many pieces I have each time. Oh well! Check out some of my favorite pieces that I found.

Dress

I LOVE this dress! It can pretty much be worn year round.  Adding a red scarf with tights and booties would be so adorable for the colder days or adding a statement necklace in turquoise or yellow would be cute for the spring with some wedges.  

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Shorts

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Shorts

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Shorts

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Shorts

Jumpsuit

I am still on the fence about this one.  I love a cute romper/jumpsuit, but I’m not sure if the flowers are a little too overpowering for me.  I would not normally wear a pattern quite this bold, but I kind of like it. I do like the fit of this, too. The legs are a little long so I would definitely have to wear a heeled wedge with it.  I think I could probably have gone down a size in this as well.

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Skirt

Ok, I am obsessed with this skirt! I love wearing high-waist skirts like this with a shirt tucked in because it defines the smallest part of my body.  It has an elastic waist that can be tightened with the bow on the side.  It has pockets, and it’s super comfortable.  I LOVE it! I am wearing a medium, but I think I could wear a small in this as well because I had to pull the ribbon a good bit to make it tight.  I think the sizing is very flexible, though. You can’t tell in this picture, but the skirt drops just below my knees.

There were so many other cute things there that I wanted to try on, but I ran out of time.  If you have the chance, go to Target! You know it is my favorite store, and it never disappoints.  As I was perusing the bathing suits, I also saw some cover-ups that were adorable.  They have tons of shorts too in lots of different colors. There is just so much goodness! Go check it out!

Anchored,

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,

Sense of Smell

Today’s post is going to be totally random! LOL! Sorry! I want to talk about the sense of smell. Some people who are visually impaired would say that they have a heightened sense of hearing because they are forced to zoom in on that.  Children with autism sometimes have heightened senses that cause sensory overload. You hear about things like this all of the time.  I on the other hand seem to have a heightened sense of smell, but I have no reason to or anything to force me to zoom in on that sense.  I think this has been the case for most of my life.  I guess you could also call it a sensitive nose, meaning a lot of smells bother me. I smell things that other people don’t smell. It’s weird.  I will tell my husband for days that something smells in the refrigerator, but that I can’t figure out what it is.   I make him smell it repeatedly, and he always says that he never smells anything. Sometimes, I will be cooking some ground turkey or something like that and it will smell weird to me.  I immediately will stop cooking it and throw it out because I think it is bad even when my family will tell me that it smells like it normally does.  I think that my husband thinks I am nuts sometimes because I am constantly asking him to smell things or asking him if he smells something.  Smells also trigger my migraines.  For years, I was not able to wear any kind of perfume because the smell would give me a migraine.  I finally found one that I can tolerate.  If I am in the car with anyone that has on perfume that is strong smelling, I get carsick. I was even late to the essential oil game because I was too afraid that the smells would bother me.  Now I use them all the time, but I have learned which oils that I have to avoid and which ones I can use in only small doses.  It’s really weird. 

Check out my new blue-light blocking glasses from Amazon!

I started thinking about all of this yesterday because I was having a particularly sensitive smell day. I ordered some blue-light blocking glasses (Amazon) because I am on my computer all day long, and I think it is contributing to my migraines.  Yes, everything gives me a migraine! Anyway, they arrived yesterday, and I put them on. I couldn’t even wear them for a full minute because they had this ridiculously bad smell to them.  I decided to let them air out for a while hoping that the smell would go away, but after a couple of hours, it was still there.  As soon as my husband got home, he put them on and said he didn’t smell anything! I don’t know how because it was so strong to me.  Maybe he has the opposite of me and has a damaged sense of smell! I eventually tried cleaning them with soap and water and that seemed to get rid of the smell! Thankfully, I am able to wear them today. 

Hat (Amazon), Scarf (similar Amazon), Jacket (Amazon)

The second smell issue yesterday happened at my daughter’s school.  In the afternoons, parents have to park at a lot across the street from the school and then stand outside at one of the doors to the building and wait for them to be released. Yesterday, when I picked her up, there was a wind chill of 20 degrees so it was really cold standing out there. That didn’t bother me nearly as much as the horrible smell.  It was clear to me that a skunk had been around the school somewhere and had sprayed because there was a very strong skunk smell.  It was so strong that it was making my eyes water (trust me, it was from the skunk smell and not the cold)! No one around me seemed to be bothered by it, though.  No one even commented on it anywhere around me.  Maybe I am nuts.  Maybe there wasn’t a skunk.  I sure smelled one, though! I kept burying my nose in my scarf so that I couldn’t smell it. 

Then the third incident occurred that evening when my husband and I were headed out for our weekly Wednesday date night.  We were in his car on the way to a restaurant.  He likes to blast the heat as soon as we get in the car.  He turns the temperature to like 80 so it starts blasting in your face.  It drives me nuts, but he has always done this.  Anyway, the heat was blasting, and I started feeling like I was suffocating. The air was so thick and hot, but it also had this weird burning plastic smell to me.  It was like the heat and smell were taking my breath away. Of course he couldn’t smell anything so I again looked crazy.  

Things like this happen to me all the time.  I don’ t understand it. Why is my sense of smell so strong? Is it all in my head like my husband thinks? Maybe?  I don’t know. I just know that I smell things that don’t smell good to me and they trigger a migraine.  I don’t know if there is some correlation to smell and migraines or what. By the end of the day yesterday, my head was definitely hurting. Does anyone else have a sense that is exaggerated? Tell me I am not crazy and other people feel this way too. 

Ok, before I hit publish on this post, I looked up “heightened sense of smell.” You guys!!!! There is something called hyperosmia that is defined as a “heightened and hypersensitive sense of smell.” According to healthline.com, “People with hyperosmia can experience strong discomfort and even illness from certain smells.” It goes on to say that it is sometimes caused by migraines.  OMG! I just self-diagnosed myself with something else! Don’t you love Dr. Google? Haha! Maybe I’m not crazy! Or maybe I am!

Anchored and Rambling,

Organization: Professional Purge

The time has come when I have to begin the purge of all of my teaching supplies.  Because I was a teacher for 17 years, I have accumulated A LOT of stuff.  You always hear that teachers have to spend their own money to decorate and supply their classrooms, and I am here to tell you that it is true.  Any decoration or poster or anything else found in my classroom over the years was either purchased by me or made by me.  As a special education teacher, many of the materials and books I used for teaching were also either purchased or created by me. I have probably spent several thousands of dollars and a countless number of hours on my class over the years. It is really sad that teachers are forced to do that, but I can tell you that I would do it all over again because I wanted the best for my students. I wanted anything that I could get my hands on that would help them.  I wouldn’t change that for the world.  Now, because I was a special education teacher and taught multiple grade levels at once, my collection of teaching tools grew exponentially each year. Every kid was different in what they needed and every year/group of kids was different. I would need different things to reach them.  I never wanted to get rid of things because I never knew when, or if, I would get another student that would have similar needs and be able to benefit from it.  Needless to say, I now have at least 50 boxes of school stuff that I have been carrying around since I quit teaching full-time almost 4 years ago.  

Since I know that I will not be returning to teaching, at least for now, I really do need to thoroughly go through every single item in every single box and get rid of things. There are so many things that I can likely take to local schools that other teachers could use.  It certainly isn’t doing me or anyone else any good for it to sit in my attic or basement taking up unnecessary space.  I have to really reduce the amount that I have.  It is time.  It is going to be really hard for me to let it go, but I know that it is something that I have to do.  We just don’t have the space for it. How do I even start? The task is so overwhelming to me that I have put it off for almost 4 years.  The pictures don’t even fully show the scope of how much stuff I have and need to go through.  I don’t even know how to determine what to keep and what to give away.  It is going to take me days to get through it all.  I have to do it.  That’s what I keep telling myself.  I honestly think that this purge is going to be the hardest one that I have done yet.  I thought that purging my clothes would be the hardest, but now that I have done that, I think this one will be the hardest. It will definitely take the longest amount of time to complete, that’s for sure. 

Is there another profession out there that requires you to have your own supplies and stuff? I don’t think I know of one that requires this extent of stuff.  Do other professionals hang on to things for years? Probably not! Why do teachers do it? I don’t know a single teacher that doesn’t. If you aren’t a teacher, you may not have professional things that need to be purged, but there is something that you are hanging on to that you need to let go.  Maybe it is memorabilia.  Maybe it is items from you college or high school years.  Maybe it is a crazy collection.  There is something. I encourage you to go thorough it and let stuff go.  If I can do it, so can you. As I have said before, I am learning not to be controlled by my possessions.  I am learning to let things go, and it is so freeing.  It is time.  Just make yourself do it because I know you can. 

Anchored and Organized, 

Virtual Friends

I was lucky enough to see 4 of my very best friends that I haven’t seen in a long time this past weekend at a gymnastics meet.  It just so happened that their kids were competing at different sporting events in the same location that we were in. What are the odds of that?  Anyway, we didn’t get to talk very long, because we each had to watch our kids, but it was just enough that I was able to recharge myself. I honestly didn’t realize how much I missed them until I saw them.  Being in a new place is always tough, and I haven’t made many real friends here yet. My husband says that it usually takes me about a year or two before I find a good set of friends each time we move. I’m thinking it could take longer than normal here since I am not teaching.  I have written about my tribe of friends before and how each group or individual has impacted my life. Some of them come and go and we loose touch, but there are those few that I keep in touch with virtually or by phone and see every now and then, and I know they will always be there for me.  I have managed to add to my tribe in each location we have lived. Typically, my friends have always come from teaching.  Now, I spend much of my day on my computer at home alone with our dog and my afternoons and evenings running carpools to practices.  It has been hard to connect with people when I don’t ever see anyone except my family.  I have a few people that I have met through my kids’ sports that I think could become part of my tribe, but we are no where near that stage yet. I guess I didn’t really realize how much I missed actual face-to-face interaction with my friends until I saw some of them the other day.  We chat with each other all the time through Facebook messenger or text, but it just isn’t the same as face-to-face interaction. It’s just not. This is something that I am struggling with in this phase of my life.  The older you get, the harder it is to make really good friends.  I have been so lucky in the past to have had such amazing friends and people that came into my life.  I still have them, but it’s not the same as being there in the same place with them and seeing them all the time.  Now all of my friends are essentially virtual friends.  It’s weird to think that, but it really is true.  Other than my family, I interact with everyone through social media or text.  I guess that is part of the world that we live in now, and I am grateful that I do have that means to connect with them and keep in touch. It’s just weird. 

I consider myself an introvert and I am happy to be by myself and left alone most of the time. I would rather text you than talk on the phone with you. I know it doesn’t make sense, but it’s true.  However, I think no matter how introverted you are, you need real human interaction away from a device with true friends. You need it for your own sanity and wellbeing, and you just really need human contact outside of you family. I fear that our kids will not develop those real human relationships that are so important because they are glued to their devices 24/7. I can probably count on two hands the number of times that my kids have had a conversation with a friend or peer that was actually talking on the phone.  They only communicate through a device with typing and pictures. Oh and they don’t even use real words.  It’s all acronyms and Emojis. It’s insane! They even do it at school.  My high schooler’s teachers encourage them to bring their phones and computers to class, and they do most of their work and interaction with their teachers and partners for projects all online.  My own kids communicate with me through text from the same room! I worry about what the world will be like when our kids are adults with their own kids. I worry that we are doing wrong by our kids by letting them have devices all the time.  What do you do, though? How do you find the balance when EVERYONE communicates that way? It’s kind of scary.  It’s almost like we are creating robots who don’t know how to interact with real humans. It’s something that I am craving right now, but that they don’t even think about. I do love that my kids are so involved in sports because all of the hours at the gym are hours that they are off of a device and are forced to interact with others. At least they are getting human interaction somewhere. I’m just not sure it is enough.  While I miss human interaction with my friends and struggle with just communicating virtually, my kids don’t. They have never really had that kind of relationship with many others.  Their relationships have always been developed virtually. While it is tough for me, it’s all they know.  It’s all that most kids really know.  My daughter had great friends from her previous gym. Does she keep in touch with any of them now? Nope! Other than watching their Instagram stories and sending them random pictures to keep up their Snap Chat streaks, she doesn’t interact with any of them at all now. It’s sad.  I don’t know how to fix it in this society, though.

All throughout my childhood, I had one very best friend.  We did everything together. We were always at each others houses and we even went on vacations and to camps together in the summer.  Neither of my kids have ever had a friend like that. They hardly ever get invited for sleepovers and they rarely ask to have someone come to the house. Part of that is from moving, another part is their crazy practice schedules, but the biggest part of it is that they just don’t interact with people like that.  They don’t make those deep, long lasting connections with their peers. They only have superficial virtual friendships. It really makes me sad.  I think they are missing out on so much. 

I once read something that said that virtual friends are like imaginary friends. That’s almost true. It’s sometimes like you are talking to yourself and you don’t really know that there is someone that cares about what you are saying on the other end or if they will even respond. Some would even say that a virtual friend is better than the real thing, but I would have to disagree with that.  I want to the real thing. I want the real human interaction. I am craving it. I want that for my kids.  I am thankful that I actually get to see my virtual friends from time to time. I sure do wish it were more often, but I will take whatever I can get.  I really hope that we can find a balance, especially for our kids. We need to unite as moms and take the devices away and force real interactions. We have to be in this together, though, or it will never work. We have to take a stand together. Moms for Real, Meaningful Connections (MRMC)! Let’s do it!

Anchored,

Fashion Finds: Purses

I thought I would switch things up a little today.  Instead of showing you clothes, I thought I would share another love of mine…purses. Honestly, I don’t know many women that don’t love their purses.  I have a very large collection myself ranging from inexpensive purses from Target to more expensive name brands like Coach (which happens to be my favorite brand). You don’t have to spend a fortune to find a cute purse that you love, but I think it is totally okay to splurge every now and then on something that costs a little more. I will tell you that I have never paid full price for any of my name brand purses.  I either get them on super clearance at an outlet, or from places like TJ Maxx. I have put together a list of some different styles, patterns, and colors that I am loving right now.  No, I do not own all of these, but they are all super cute.  They are also in a variety of price ranges. 

I used to be obsessed with using big totes as my purse to fit all the things, but lately I am more into crossbody’s and wristlets. I am tired of being weighed down by all the stuff in my purse.  Smaller ones force me to not fill them up with junk! Mini fashion backpacks are very on trend right now too.  I haven’t jumped on that bandwagon yet, but I have been eyeing a couple of them for a while. I especially like the ones that are convertible and can be worn as a backpack or a shoulder bag. Anyway, I have found several different styles for you depending on your individual style and needs.  

Clutches/Wristlets

  1. Gifting Clutch-A New Day True White (Target)
  2. Mosaic Clutch (Trades of Hope)
  3. Zip-Top Charging Wristlet Clutch (Old Navy)
  4. Vince Camuto Boadi Clutch (Nordstrom Rack)
  5. Kate Spade New York Women’s Cameron Street Eliza Wristlet (Amazon)

Crossbody

  1. Faux-Leather Crossbody Circle Bag (Old Navy)
  2. Coach Crossgrain Messenger Crossbody (Amazon)
  3. Marc Jacobs Empire City Leather Crossbody (Nordstrom Rack)
  4. Everyday Essentials Saddle Crossbody (Target)
  5. Zuri Crossbody (Trades of Hope)

Fashion Backpacks

  1. Coach Andi Backpack (Amazon)
  2. Urban Originals Jet Set Backpack (Nordstrom Rack)
  3. Canvas Backpack (Target)
  4. Wayfarer Backpack (Trades of Hope)
  5. Vera Bradley Hadley Backpack

Totes

  1. Faux-Suede Half-Moon Tote (Old Navy)
  2. Steve Madden Trevor Faux Leather Work Tote (Nordstrom Rack)
  3. Tambourine Tote Handbag (Target)
  4. Marc Jacobs Luggage Tag Tote (Nordstrom Rack)
  5. Bohemian Bag (Trades of Hope)

Shoulder Bag

  1. Calvin Klein Pebble Shoulder Bag (Nordstrom Rack)
  2. Lancaster Paris Matte Smooth Leather Bucket Bag (Nordstrom Rack)
  3. Satchel with Front Zipper Pocket (Target)
  4. Fossil Rachel Satchel (Amazon)
  5. Bethany Bag (Trades of Hope)

See something you love? Let me know below. I am having a hard time picking a favorite, from each category, but here is what I am thinking at the moment.

Favorite Clutch-Mosaic Clutch (Trades of Hope)

Favorite Crossbody-Marc Jacobs Empire City Leather Crossbody (Nordstrom Rack)

Favorite Backpack-Coach Andi Backpack (Amazon)

Favorite Tote-Tambourine Tote Handbag (Target)

Favorite Shoulder Bag-Fossil Rachel Satchel (Amazon)

Really, though, I love them all! Do I NEED any of them? NO!!! Will I buy any of them? Not now, but maybe in the future. We’ll see!

Anchored,

Friday Favorites: Trades of Hope

Well, due to unforeseen circumstances I am late getting this post started today.  Better late than never, right? Anyway, today I wanted to share with you something that I am very passionate about and that is probably the number one favorite thing in my life right now.  At the end of January I made the decision to join a company called Trades of Hope.  I have shown you pieces from there before, but I was not really a part of it then. Other than maybe seeing me mention it here, most of you have likely never heard of Trades of Hope.  I had never heard of it until a few months ago. I was actually introduced to it by a friend.  The more I learned about the company, the more I fell in love, and the more it pulled at my heartstrings.  I know you are questioning how a direct sales company could really pull at my heartstrings, and I will tell you that it is because this company is changing the world.  Two women and their two daughters started this company several years ago.  They have a belief that every woman should have the opportunity to change her life, and I completely agree. Because of this, they had an idea to empower women across the globe out of sweatshops, slums, sex trafficking and extreme poverty by creating jobs and a sustainable business.  Around 70% of people living in poverty around the world are women.  The men in their lives and countries treat many of them poorly.  In some countries, they are treated as second-class citizens. Some are even sold as bond slaves in order to pay their family’s debts.  Statistically, we have learned that empowering women has a rippling effect on not only her family, but also her community.  A woman will typically invest her money, use it to feed and clothe her family, send her children to school, and use it to help her community. The founders of Trades of Hope (TOH) made it their mission to empower these women out of poverty through job creation and education. Trades of Hope now partners with women all over the world (in 17 countries, including the US) to help them market and sell their beautiful handmade products which include jewelry, scarves, bags, and home décor.

Here are just a few of the things that these women face daily:

*Women in Haiti are forced to give their children to orphanages not because they don’t want them, but because they are not able to feed them. 

*Women in Pakistan are treated like second-class citizens and are often sold as bond slaves to pay their family debts. Just this week I was able to sit in on a live video chat with the leaders of the artisan group there along with two of the artisans. Just hearing the horrible things that they face and the danger they are in daily just because they are women blew me away and totally broke my heart.  However, this artisan group is now providing these women with a safe space to work and an education so that they can better their lives and that of their children. 

*Many women have to sell their bodies on the street in order to feed their children. 

*Some of these women are forced to work 16 hours a day and are forced to leave their young children home alone. 

*Women in Costa Rica are struggling to raise their families in a gang and drug infected area.

*Women in Cambodia are often the victims of acid attacks, which are used as a form of punishment typically passed out by an authority figure who feels disrespected. One of those women named Ya had this to say about her opportunity to partner with TOH:

“I am gradually trying to rebuild my life and to make a future for myself, but the only thing that gives me the courage to do that is that I know that I am not alone and that I may be able to do something to help others. I am starting this small business to make goods by hand so that other women in my condition, many of whom are left to raise their children on their own, can have the chance to earn their own living in safety and some measure of self-respect.”

If you have never watched or heard of the film, Poverty, Inc. (available on Amazon Prime Video), I highly encourage you to watch it. You can see the trailer below. It talks about how we always see these countries in desperate situations and people in poverty and our first instinct is to offer charity.  We send money; we send clothes; we send food and water. All of that is great, but it doesn’t fix the underlying problem of why these people are poor in the first place. These people don’t want our charity. They want a way to help themselves. They want an opportunity to be able to provide for their families themselves. They want a sustainable income. This is where Trades of Hope comes into play.  By giving these women small business loans, giving them opportunities for education, and by teaching them a skill, these women are able to get themselves out of dangerous and dire situations.  These women, our artisan partners, are able to create the most amazing pieces that my fellow Compassionate Entrepreneurs and I are able to see to all of you through fair trade.  Our artisans are paid 3-6 times more than they would be paid in their countries. We pay them 100% of their asking price up front. 

Here are some of the things that I have been able to do through this company already just in my first month of joining. While they may seem small, it really does have a huge impact on these women’s lives. I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone and create a ripple effect by sharing the mission with everyone I know. Together we can make a difference.

  1. Help empower women in India, Uganda, Peru, Asia, Cambodia, Guatemala, Haiti, Pakistan, and Kenya
  2. Plant 4 fruit trees for families in Africa that can be used as food and a source of income
  3. Provide 12 baby chicks whose eggs can soon be used as food and a source of income to a family in Africa
  4. Provide a school uniform for a child in Haiti
Waterfall Necklace made in Uganda

I have been so impressed by this company and its mission.  It truly touches my heart.  If you are interested in learning more about this company or the pieces these artisans create, check it out here. You can also ask to join my Facebook group where I share artisan stories, my favorite pieces, and newly released products. I am sure that I will also be sharing some of the gorgeous handmade products in my future Friday Favorites here because I love them and the stories behind them so much!

Anchored in Hope,

Ahhhhh!!!!

It is really hard to believe that tomorrow will be March. The year 2019 is really flying by.  Maybe it is because we have been so incredibly busy. We have traveled for 6 out of 8 of the first 8 weeks of this year and there is no end in sight.  Competition season is brutal especially now that both girls are competing in 2 different sports at the exact same time. Don’t get me wrong, I love watching them both do what the love and brings them joy, but it’s exhausting! We have had 12 competitions between the two of them in 8 weeks! That’s insane! In addition to that, we’ve had so many other things going on.  We closed on our new house. I launched my business with Trades of Hope. We got the rental house ready to show, and two of us had the flu! No wonder I am “mama tired!” Whew!

Speaking of the rental. It went up for rent yesterday around noon.  We had the first showing at 6:00 last night, which sent me into a cleaning frenzy because I still had the playroom a mess from my purge, dishes in the sink, and laundry everywhere. Then, the agent came by this morning to change out the lock box on the door because it had an issue, and she told me that there is already an application in from last night and there are two more showings tonight.  She gave me hope that we will be done with showings after tonight! That is HUGE for two reasons! One, we don’t have to keep the house spotless anymore so I can continue my pre-move purge.  Two, we can get out of our lease early so we don’t have to pay rent and our mortgage at the same time! I am jumping with joy! That will be an enormous relief! 

March is going to be a busy and exciting month as well.  We take possession of our new house on the 13th.  Then I have Closet America coming the next day to put together my new closet as well as some guys to come give us an estimate on refinishing the hardwood floors and staining them a darker color.  Once all of that is done, we can start the moving process.  That means I have 3-4 weeks left to get everything purged and life simplified! I’m not sure I will get it all done, but I am really going to try! I am so ready to move and to finally be settled here.  I would totally move tomorrow if we could. The only thing I am dreading, though, is that we are totally on our own this time. We have never had to do a move ourselves.  The Navy has always packed and moved us.  Thankfully, we have a good month and a half to get out of the rental so we can take our time.  It is really going to stink, though, as we do the transition to have some stuff here and some stuff there.  I wish I could wave a magic wand and it will all be done!

Well, I guess that is all of the random-ness that I have to share with all of you today. Unfortunately for you, my brain is running 90 miles a minute, and I am all over the place.  I am actually doing three things at once as I try to type this out. I currently have 7 tabs open on my computer doing a million different things, and I feel like my brain has 7 more tabs open in there somewhere. Will life ever slow down? Does that happen? Honestly, I am not sure that it is in my nature to slow down.  I’m not sure how I would like not having a million things to do. It has been that way my whole life. My mom is the same way. Both of her daughters have long been gone, yet she is still just as busy as I am.  Maybe it is just something in our genes.  I don’t know.  I just don’t know any other way to be. I take on too many things at once. I can’t say no. I think I strive on stress, though.  It doesn’t make sense, but I do it anyway. Sometimes I want to scream like right now when I cannot focus on one thing at a time.  Other times I can just go with the flow and plow through it. Life is crazy and I have just come to except that fact.  One day I will slow down and just be still.  One day…

Anchored,

Organization Hack: Playroom

Today I am tackling the playroom.  My kids have gotten older and they don’t really play with the majority of the toys in the playroom area anymore.  They are both basically glued to their electronics most of the time.  I think it is about time for me to get rid of all that stuff.  Since we moved into the rental, the playroom area has been a disaster as you can see above.  It is down in the basement so I just avoid going down there. The girls made attempts when we first moved to unpack and put stuff away, but they quickly gave up and just left a heap of partially emptied boxes everywhere and stuff all over the floor. My job today is to go through it all and really get rid of the things that they never play with.  I always find it is best to do this when they aren’t around because they can’t whine and tell me that they will play with it one day and convince me to keep it for sentimental reasons.

Since I am sure you really don’t care about what I am getting rid of, I thought I would share some of the tips and tricks that I have found that have helped keep our playroom manageable over the years, especially when they were young.  Now, our playroom is not Pinterest worthy or some fancy room you will see on HGTV.  It is real world.  It is played in, and it is loved.  Most of all, it is functional and doesn’t cost a fortune to organize.

This cube shelving thingy is probably the number one best thing ever in the history of playroom organization! LOL! This was actually given to us by some friends that were moving and didn’t want to take it with them.  I told my friend that she was insane for letting it go, but inside I was screaming with joy that she was.  This unit came from Ikea. If you can afford it and have the space, I highly recommend it.  It is the perfect solution for keeping toys together and contained.  We use the fabric bins (Walmart) to store everything. When my children were younger, I took pictures of the things that went in each bin and velcroed it to the front of the bin.  My kids then knew exactly where to put things when it was time to clean up. It was also easy for them to grab a bin and carry it with them wherever they were playing in the room.  

This smaller shelf (similar-Target) with the pink and purple wooden bins (similar-Target) was the first storage piece we had in the playroom before the big unit came along.  It came from Target years ago and is no longer available. Ours has served its purpose for many years, but I have decided that we are letting it go.  It will not come with us to the new house because it is pretty banged up and in need of repair from all of the moves. The only reason I am showing it to you is so that you can see that you can do a similar organization system with a small bookshelf. You can also see that some of the pictures are actually still stuck on the front of these buckets even though we no longer need them or use them.  

To make the pictures for the bins, I simply pulled out a few items from the bin and snapped a picture. It was just enough items so that the kids understood what went in the bin. I sized them on my computer into small squares. Then I printed them all on heavy cardstock paper.  After I cut them all out, I laminated them with my small laminating machine (Target).  You can always cover them with clear contact paper (Target) if you don’t have access to a laminator just to give them an extra layer of sturdiness and protction.  Then I simply used Velcro dots (Walmart) to attach them to the bins. I used Velcro so I could easily switch them around as new toys came in and old ones disappeared.   This system really does help with clean up for little ones. 

Now, you may be asking what you should do with the larger items that don’t really fit into the bins. Well, I have a solution for that too. These large plastic tubs (Target, Walmart) are great for playrooms.  They work really well to hold things like stuffed animals, play sets (ours were Littlest Pet Shops, LalaLoopsies, and Shopkins), legos, and so much more.  They do come in various sizes, but the largest ones are the ones we use.  You can find them in a variety of colors and you can even embellish them with vinyl like the one you see here or you can also add a picture on them like the bins so your kids know where things go.

To organize art supplies and American doll accessories, I use the plastic drawers like this one or this one at Target.  As you can see, my kids stuff them to the brim, but they know what goes where.  These are another thing you can add pictures to so that kids know where to put their toys away. For things like markers, crayons, and colored pencils, I use these smaller three drawer sets(Target).  This tower is made of two sets on top of each other. Again, you can label them with pictures or vinyl if your kids can read. 

I have found through my years as a special education teacher and a mom, that labels are the best thing to get your kids to keep things organized.  Whether you use photographs like I did, toy logos from the Internet, or words for kids that can read, labels make it so much easier for them to know exactly where things go. Having an organized system just makes everyone’s life easier when you have little kids. 

I am about to head back down to the basement to finish purging the thousands of toys down there that my girls are way too old for.  I hope to have just the cube system left standing and the rest ready to sell or donate. Wish me luck!

Anchored and Organized, 

Mama Tired

Those of you that are moms will understand when I say that I am “mama tired.” Let me try to explain it to all of you non-parents that don’t understand, but it is likely impossible to truly put into words.  Being a mom is a job. It’s a job that you do 24/7. It is a constant state of being. There are no vacation days, there are no sick days, and there is no time off.  I had the flu last week, but that didn’t matter. I still had to do the mom thing. The job of being a mom never ends. It also isn’t an easy job. It’s honestly the hardest job in the world. There is no instruction manual that tells you what to do in every situation. You can’t go to college and study how to be a good mom. You basically have to make it up as you go and pray, cross your fingers and your toes, knock on wood, and say all the “Hail Mary’s” and hope with every fiber of your being that it was the right decision. Sometimes it is, but many times it isn’t. Then you have to live with the consequences and spend your life trying to make up for it or fix it.  

Being responsible for the well being of another human being and the kind of person they become is like no other pressure in the world.  You are constantly stressed. You are constantly worried. You are constantly second guessing yourself.  Some days you want to curl up in a ball under the table and never come out.  That’s just how it is.  I don’t know a single mom out there that wouldn’t agree.  We all love our kids to death and wouldn’t want to loose them or take back having them ever, but it is exhausting.  It’s not just a physical exhaustion either. It is mental exhaustion just as much as physical.  Your mom brain NEVER turns off.  Even when you are asleep, your thoughts and dreams are about your kids.  There is no off switch.  

Some, actually most, moms even go through an identity crisis more than once. You begin to loose who you are as a person separate from a mom.  You are so wrapped up in your children that you forget who you were before they came into your world.  You become mom only, and you loose the rest of you.  It’s so easy to do, and it just adds to the exhaustion.  You are no longer feeding yourself.  You are no longer able to see anything beyond your job as a mom. You need a break, but you can’t take one because there is no such thing. Even when you are away from your kids, you can’t shut off being a mom.  You still think about them. You still worry about them.  You talk about them constantly.  You cannot escape.  A real escape does not exist when you are a mom. It just doesn’t. 

Moms can feel the weight of the world on their shoulders, and that world is our kids.  You can see it in our posture. You can see it in our eyes. No make-up or concealer can cover up mama tired.  We all know it is there.  We can recognize it in each other, but many moms don’t talk about.  They suffer alone. This is where you can go wrong. You have to have someone that is in your same shoes that you can talk to, vent to, and commiserate with.  It is so important. I am lucky enough to have friends that I can do that with.  We have even been called “the mommy council” by one of our husbands because we are the first people we turn to for advice.    We bounce things off of each other. We tell each other about the things we are struggling with. We plan a group gathering when we know that one of us is really struggling. We support each other. We don’t judge. We are each other’s relief.  Even when we are miles apart, we are still there for each other every second of every day.  We have this Facebook Messenger group that we have had for years.  It is one long thread of unending support and nine mamas who are in a constant state of exhaustion.  We celebrate each other. We cheer each other on. We know that we aren’t alone. We love each other unconditionally.  I am certain that if I didn’t have this amazing group of friends that I would be under the table curled up into that ball all the time.  I encourage all of you to find that person or that group that you can be “mama tired” with because it makes being “mama tired” okay.  It lets you know that you aren’t crazy.  It lets you see that how you feel is normal and okay. It lets you rediscover who you are outside of being a mom.  It helps you get back to you. Whether you are new at being “mama tired” or you have been doing it for years, you aren’t alone. There are millions of us out there that feel the exact same way and it’s all going to be okay. I promise!

Anchored and Mama Tired,