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Choose Happy: Enjoying Life’s Littlest Moments

Happy Summer Everyone!

I hope summer is treating you well, I cannot believe its almost over. Most of you may be scratching your heads thinking, “Didn’t summer just start?”.  However, in the land of Teacherville back to school meetings are right around the corner.  Judging by the aisles at your local stores you’d think school’s already started, especially since I saw Halloween costumes out while shopping today.  ((This is a totally different subject you don’t want to get me started on.))

You may have noticed that I took a little hiatus, and let me tell you- I needed it.  You see, being a stay-at-home mom for summer’s is filled with many ups and downs.  In my head I thought this summer was going to be a cake walk filled with adventures and laughter.  While most days have been full of laughter, it was also more challenging than I anticipated.  With a 1 year-old and 3 year-old my days have been unpredictable, exciting, frustrating, overwhelming, joyful, and exhausting.  I read a quote today that really summed it all up for me:

THIS. IS. LIFE.

As a mom, I’m sure you can relate.  Everyone tells us that the days are long, but the years are short.  Some days feel like an entire week and other days I can’t believe its bedtime.  In the middle of our ups and downs, I found myself feeling overwhelmed and disconnected from my friends, family, and children. After speaking with my FANTASTIC friends ((& mommy support group)) I realized society is putting too much pressure on me to be “perfect”.

That’s when I pulled the plug, on everything.  I put time into my children and less time into my phone and social media.  I could hear them laughing and seeing that they craved my undivided attention.  I put time into my relationship, I no longer played on my phone at night once the kids were in bed.  Instead I sat with my husband on the porch and just talked. Most importantly, I put time into ME. I read a few books, worked out daily, and planned outings with friends.  In doing this, I am refreshed and a much better version of myself.

As moms we do not need to be perfect.  On social media it seems like we all have it together, but in reality I’m sure we spend 80% of our time in sweats with no makeup.  Don’t look at someones life through pictures and think its perfect, because everyone is facing something.  Instead smile at those happy moments people are choosing to share with you, because the world needs more happiness.  Then, pray for everyone.  I’ve learned all to well in this past few weeks that everyone is facing something.  Pray for your friends, family, and strangers every day to help them overcome those dark moments they may not want to share with you. It’s easy to talk about the good and hard to talk about the bad, but everyone has a a bad.  Prayer, communication, and quality time will help make this world a better place.

By simply going back to basics and enjoying what was in front of me, I am enjoying every day life. Yes, there may be yogurt smeared all over my hallway and the kids have nearly hurt each other playing hulk smash today but this is my life. I am going to love it, every scream and tear in between.  So happy I took this break and ready to get back to it.

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Planner

As a teacher I think it’s in my blood to LOVE planners. Literally, I cannot get enough and I’m obsessed with the different patterns/styles available. Major problem with this addiction is it can become quite costly. A decent planner these days can be at least $25 and the customized ones I love so much are typically $60+. (Let’s be fair though, the customized version I typically purchase as my lesson plan planner).

This weekend I stumbled across a link for the cutest free daily planners. I featured it on my blog today because I love it. The florals are beautiful and perfect for springtime. You will also find various templates that are also available for purchase on the site as well. Click here for the free planner shown above.

Hope you enjoy this stellar find! Happy Monday all!

http://shiningmom.com/free-daily-schedule-template/

Beauty · fitness

February Finds: Valentine’s Gift Guide

February, one of the most loved and loathed month depending on who you talk to. Loved because it’s the shortest month of the year & one last hurdle to sweet springtime. Loathed because the biggest Hallmark Holiday if the year Renee place. Don’t fall victim to the last minute candy and overpriced flowers trap. Check out this gift guide and get your shopping completed early.

Gift Ideas for Her:

Adidas Gold Trefoil T

This. Is. Everything. The gold trefoil adds a little sparkle and flare to the classic symbol. Literally obsessed.

Deborah Lipmann Nail Polish Set

Shades of dirty pastels, this is the perfect color set for spring. Polishes are free of toxic chemicals and known for there extra glossy appearance. Long-lasting and gives the appearance of a gel manicure, it will keep nails healthy and beautiful. $36.

Kate Spade Multi Stipes iPhone Case

Kate Spade does it again with this phone case. Beautiful shades of blue with jewels, perfect combo. $45 for the regular iPhone and $50 for the plus.

Rebecca Minkoff Crossbody

Get ready for spring with this beautiful leather bag. Long enough to wear as a crossbody, but offers a top handle as well. The details are gorgeous on this Bag.

Layered Necklace

One of the hottest trends in jewelry right now. From baublebar you can actually design your own layered look for only $48. They have so many options available that you can’t go wrong. Plus if you signup for email you can receive 15% off.

Adia Kubr Beaded Bracelet

Beautiful beaded bracelet with tassels and flowers. Elegant and simple in shades of pink and rose gold. $70.

Pura Vida Bracelets

Not only are these bracelets beautiful, but the story behind the company is as well. Each bracelet is hand-crafted by artists around the world, offering them a better chance at life. Single bracelets are priced as low as $6 and packs can go as high as $60. With that range, styles are available at every price point. Look fashionable and support an amazing cause.

Viktor & Rolf Flowerbomb

The. Best. Perfume. Ever. Seriously, ask for it and trust me. A variety of flowers blended perfectly with vanilla, it’s simply the best. It comes in many sizes so can range from $50 upward. I chose the gift set, because you will receive the most product for this price point.

Gift Ideas for Him:

Adidas Hoodie

Adidas is making a strong comeback in my opinion. I’m currently obsessed with all their latest styles and this hoodie fits the bill. A classic throwback and perfect for loungewear or with jeans.

Adidas Shoes

A twist on the classic adidas superstar shoes, these are perfect for the man in your life. They look great with jeans or workout gear. Keep his feet stylish this year with some new shoes.

Topgolf

Topgolf is busy building entertainment locations everywhere. If you’re lucky enough to have one near you, go! They’re providing a fun evening out where you can golf, sip on beer (or fine beverages, and grab a bite to eat. A unique driving range experience with bays that are outdoors. Classes and lessons are available, plus you can reserve a bay online.

Chrome

Cologne, enough said. Yes, completely stereotypical BUT one whiff of this cologne and you won’t be disappointed. Chrome is the perfect musky blend mixed with citrus. Your man will absolutely love this masculine scent. $65-$100 depending on the amount purchased.

Cuisinart Grill Set

For the grill master in your life, check out this grilling tool kit. Loaded with all the essentials and a reasonable price point, this gift is worthy of a prime rib. $20.99 from Target!

Dapper Wallet

A wallet designed for men! Sleek and stylish, yet sturdy and rugged. This wallet is designed to carry cards and cash, but eliminate the bulkiness of a traditional wallet. The slim design won’t take up excess room in pockets, which is a win when looking for men’s wallets.

Hook Leather Bracelet

For the fisherman in your life. These leather bracelets have the perfect masculine touch with a nice detail. Coming in several styles, they can range in price from $68-$70. Available at Nordstrom.

MVMT Watch

Seriously, OBSESSED with so many of these watches. They come in a variety of styles and colors. I love so many of them. Bonus: they come in women’s styles as well. Prices range from $95-$160. Most fall within the $120 range.

Yeti Roadie Cooler

The ultimate cooler, especially if you have an outdoorsman in your life. The one-piece cooler is known to keep items colder than the average cooler and is durable enough to last a lifetime.

Gender Neutral Gifts:

Beartwo Earbuds

Wireless earbuds that are perfect for working out. These earbuds are noise-canceling, sweat-proof, tiny and hold a major charge. Available on Amazon for $43.

Apple Watch

Available in many stores, stay connected with an Apple Watch. Have your messages readily available while easily tracking your daily fitness goal. Shop around because prices and deals vary depending where you purchase it.

WiFi Digital Picture Frame

The ultimate picture frame, never be stuck staring at a single picture again. Connect the frame to your WiFi and upload photos from your phone or computer. Adjustable settings and a slideshow mode, this is a favorite at my parents house. Only $99.

Massages

You can never go wrong with a trip to the spa. Plan a couples massage or a facial treatment. Men and women alike will both enjoy the pampering and leave feeling refreshed. Check local spas or locations like massage luxe for their deals.

What’s something you’re hoping to snag this Valentine’s Day?? Drop a comment below, love seeing new items and hearing about products. Happy Shopping!

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Meal Prep Mamma

By now you’ve probably heard 384 people say, “meal prep is a key component for success”. While I used to roll my eyes at them, I finally realized its true. Meal prep really is crucial when trying to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

Prior to having children, going out to dinner or stopping to pick up items for dinner was so easy. Fast forward 3 years and even the thought of dragging their cute little hiney’s into the store at night makes me cringe. Have you ever tried walking through the grocery store with an baby that is ready to rumble at any second and a toddler who doesn’t realize donuts are not part of the food pyramid? Well, those two elements combined are enough, throw in the toddler negotiations and I’d be better off trying to talk my way into Fort Knox. Therefore, meal prep became part of my Saturday and Sunday routine. Learn from my mistakes and just listen to everyone.

On Saturdays my husband and I talk about various lunches and dinners we’d like to have that week. To be fair, I choose a meal then he does. We aim for 6 dinners, knowing we will either enjoy one meal out a week. After coming up with the items, we make a list of everything we will need to make it all. Now sometimes we will swap meals out to make sure ingredients won’t go to waste. This takes a little time to perfect, but I can say we’re actually using everything we purchase each week.

On Saturday evenings or early Sunday mornings, I go grocery shopping. Alone. *Insert celebration music*. In an ideal world Saturday evenings would be my choice day, but life happens and grocery shopping doesn’t always happen. Then on Sunday’s I tackle the meal prep. During our littlest ones first nap I chop, package, mix, and cook anything I can for the week. If we plan on having fajitas, I will chop all the veggies and place them in a ziploc or I will prep the seasoning needed for our chicken and place that in a container. Anything I can do to make the weeknights easier. It sounds silly, but it helps and saves SO much time after a long day at work. To just open the fridge and start cooking instead of slicing and mixing, you actually save between 10-15 minutes right there. This manual food processor has saved me so much time, I’m obsessed.

Next up, during lunchtime on Sunday’s I cook our lunches for the week. We love chicken, so I typically cook chicken on the stovetop in various seasonings. Some weeks we use Chinese inspiration and other weeks Greek flavors. By changing how the chicken tastes each week, it keeps us from getting bored. Another trick is to change what you serve it with. We alternate between rice or quinoa with steamed veggies or fresh vegetables and fruit.

After prepping lunches, it’s time to actually portion them out. As silly as it sounds, I purchased meal prep containers on Amazon and it makes me happy to see these filled and stacked neatly in the fridge. Plus, it makes me feel like we’re legit in our mission to be healthy because they look so official.

By planning and prepping, our family has been able to save in so many ways. My husband was eating out or going to the gas station and spending at least $15 a day before we started this. Now, he doesn’t go at all which means we’re saving money. We are also saving calories because when eating out portions are generally larger and contain at least 200 more calories per meal.

So, if you’re trying to find motivation for meal prep here are some suggestions…

  • Choose meals ahead of time.
  • Organize a shopping list AND stick to the list.
  • Make time to prep meals when you have free time.
  • Try new recipes so you’re not getting bored.
  • Invest in some containers, it really does make a difference.

If you’re new to this idea, don’t give up. It takes 21 days for a routine to stick and this is worth it. So, get out there and become a meal preppin’ machine.