• encouragement,  growth,  life

    Busyness is not a badge of honor | Take back your life

    How many times have you answered, “We’re doing good! Staying busy!” when someone asks you how you are? Maybe you haven’t ever done that, but I sure have (way more often than I’d like to admit… or basically anytime I’m asked that question.). When did it become the norm to be so busy?

    While I was talking with my mom (Hi, mom!), she made the remark that she hopes I enjoy life and won’t be so busy all the time which really made me start thinking about my life and busyness in general.

    I don’t really remember being busy growing up, nor do I remember my mom being that busy. She was a stay-at-home mom and I just remember being able to go and do things, but not feeling a sense of busyness. Yes, there was homework everyday and after school activities, but I enjoyed all of that and it didn’t feel like my life was busy at that point. I also didn’t have any responsibility to anyone but myself which was probably most of it.

    Today, though, I just feel busy. I feel like I go from one thing to the next and some days, barely have time to breathe.

    Our society places so much emphasis on what we do and how we fill our time. We’re encouraged to volunteer in our kids’ schools, we’re supposed to get at least thirty minutes of exercise each day, and we need to cook a balanced dinner every night. Don’t forget that we should be getting 7-8 hours of sleep each night, spending time outside, taking time for ourselves, staying up on the news, and keeping our homes tidy. We also have that big thing called a job to contend with every day which brings along with it a commute, childcare arrangements, and clothes that must be ironed. Most of us have children we want to spend quality time with as well as a spouse. And finally, there are those things that we really can’t not do like eat, shower, and sleep.

    When did the equation that busyness equals success become true?

    In my own life, I look back at movies and shows I watched along with books and magazines I read and in my mind, I thought doing it all well all the time was something to strive for. I marveled at successful women in corner offices who wore heels all day, played with their babies all night, and went on lavish vacations with their spouse all while looking like they stepped off of a runway. Busyness became a thing to strive for because if I’m busy with almost every minute booked, I must definitely be doing so much good — and have an incredibly full life. Right? Wrong.

    Busyness does not equal success.

    Busyness does not equal value.

    Busyness does not give you worth.

    Sadly, busyness seems to be the way so many of us signal our worth to others.

    The myth that busyness means quality, worth, success, and value has to stop. So how do we stop it?

    For a moment, picture your perfect life. What does it look like? My bet is you aren’t chained to a calendar or a to do list. You’re probably on a beach somewhere without a care in the world (What? Is that just my perfect life?). While what you immediately pictured may not be possible for you at this very moment (Hello, I have to work to provide for my family unless someone out there wants to send me an endless supply of cash!), the way that makes you feel is entirely possible. It’s just up to you to make it happen.

    So how do we make it happen?

    Let go of the idea that being busy is a virtue. It’s not. Being busy whether you’re busy doing good things or busy doing idle things isn’t that great. Yes, I understand there are some times in our lives where we truly are so busy that we can’t see straight because of circumstances around us, but for the most part, we control how busy we are.

    Decide what’s most important to you. What things/people in your life are most important to you? What do you do just to say you do it or so you receive some type of recognition? What can you back out of? Before Kevin and I got married, I was really involved in my local Junior League. I enjoyed getting to see friends and volunteer in some neat places, but when Kevin and I met and eventually married, I decided to drop my membership. With meetings and volunteer hours, I knew I wouldn’t be able to devote the time I wanted to to my family and that commitment, so I did what was best for me.

    Take charge of your time. There are 168 hours in a week. 40+ of those hours are spent working and 56 are spent sleeping (if you sleep 8 hours/night). That means you have 72 hours to do all the things. What things? The things that are important to you. Get a paper calendar if you don’t already have one. It can be fancy or plain; just get one. Look at each day and see where you have those 72 hours and let them work for you. Don’t become a slave to your time.

    To start with, I encourage you to think about the things you know you waste time on. For me, that’s my phone. It’s so easy to say I’m just going to scroll through Instagram real quick and then 30 minutes later, I’m three months back on someone’s feed. There’s a great app I recently heard about (I can’t remember where) called Moment that tracks your screen time. It will blow your mind when you see how much time you spend on your screen.

    After that, think about other things that are time suckers for you and determine whether or not you can automate them or at least, make them easier. I’ve shared before how Walmart’s Grocery App and pick up service has given me back at least an hour every week. My kids know to write what they need on the list on the fridge and it’ll get ordered. Amazon Subscription delivers diapers to my door once a month. My big kids pack their lunches most days which means they are not only developing responsibility and independence and getting what they want (within reason) for lunch, I’m also not having to decide what to pack and spending 15 minutes each night packing it. If cleaning your house sucks time out of you, see if your budget will allow for a housekeeper every so often.

    Determine what things in your life aren’t negotiable. For me, I need some time with Jesus everyday (and just to lay it out there, when I’m superwoman busy, it doesn’t always happen), I want to spend quality time with my husband and kids, have time to run 4-5 days/week, and have some set aside time to read or do something else just for myself. Those things aren’t negotiable. Yes, there will be days when I have an event for work or the kids will be sick or I just won’t have the energy to run after my boys are all asleep, but as a general rule, these things are most important to me.

    Make margin and begin to live your best life. Hold yourself accountable for your time. It’s your job to make sure you have time to live your best life. Daydream, swing in the hammock, go for shaved ice, have an impromptu date, walk around your neighborhood, watch the sunset. Do those things that make you happy. Work hard while you’re working, but enjoy life when you’re not. Prioritize those tasks that have to be done and do them now so that you are able to relax without a million things hanging over your head. Put your phone down and actually have a conversation with your spouse and kids. Sit around the table and eat together as a family. Bake some chocolate chip cookies. Curl up on the couch with a book. Just talk. Live.

    While it’s overwhelming to think about slowing down sometimes, it really is the only way we’ll be able to live our best lives. You can’t be your best for yourself or your family if you’re not taking time out. Invest in yourself. Invest in your time. You won’t be sorry that you did.

  • life

    Making Monday Matter (How to Have a Better Monday)

    I don’t know about your world, but in mine, Mondays are just “blah.” The work week feels like it drags on forever, but then the weekend comes and it goes by in break-neck speed. It’s just not right! But, if you’ve read this blog for any little bit of time, you’ve probably picked up on the fact that I like to try to make the best of everything, so that leads me to today’s post: Making Monday Matter (or we could just call it “How to Have a Better Monday” or “Set Yourself Up to Succeed” or maybe even “Monday’s Don’t Have to Suck”). Whatever you choose to call it, I’d like to share a few ideas with you on how to make the most of your Monday.

    Monday gets a bad rap, I think. Scroll through social media on Sunday night and you’ll see so many posts lamenting the fact that tomorrow is Monday and people really just need another day between Sunday and Monday. Scroll through on Monday morning and you’ll see reminders of how it was just Friday and can’t we have just one more day. That dreaded day of the week reminds you just how fast the weekend goes and also gives you heartburn over everything you need to accomplish the next five days. But what if we could change the way we feel about Mondays?

    In my quest to feel like I have more of a life and less of a to-do list (more on that another day), I’ve been working to identify what makes me feel accomplished and motivated and what doesn’t. Really, I’m just trying to set myself up for success. I try to have this same approach to Monday. Here are a few things that help me make the most of my Monday.

    • Plan for the week ahead during the weekend. Two things that really stress me out are planning dinners and grocery shopping. I feel like they both take so much time away from the things I want to be doing. I’ve learned that I’m way less stressed on Monday (and every other day) when I’ve planned our meals for the week and have taken care of groceries before Monday. I typically plan our meals for the work week on Saturday and order my groceries from Walmart on Saturday afternoons. On Sundays, I pick up our groceries. What used to take two hours literally takes twenty minutes! I don’t have a crazy meal-plan routine, I just put what I want to cook each day in the notes section of my phone and then build my shopping list. I look at my calendar to see what we have going on each night and plan accordingly. For instance, our kids have a soccer game tonight, so last night, I put together two chicken pot pies that we can have for dinner before the game.

    In addition to planning meals, I also plan clothes for Monday on Sunday night. Our oldest always picks out his clothes and brings them down, while I pick out clothes for the younger two and myself. Doing this on Sunday night makes getting ready so much easier on Monday morning.

    • Make a list of the things you need to get accomplished during the week. I love a good to-do list that I can reasonably accomplish. Nothing makes me feel more accomplished and “on top of it” than quickly marking off a few things early Monday morning. Whether it’s returning a few emails, sending a note, or taking care of some business to start the day, just making sure I’m able to say “Yes, I did that!” a few times on Monday morning keeps me motivated. I have both a list of to-dos at work that I make on Friday afternoons as well as a list of to-dos in my planner for personal things that I make first thing Monday morning. Having a place to easily see what has to be accomplished on Monday is key for me.

    • Make plans to look forward to. I don’t want to wish my week (or life away), but I do like to think about things that make me happy. Try to think of a few things you’ll look forward to after work during the week as well as the weekend. This week, I’m looking forward to our boys’ last soccer game tonight, watching Survivor Wednesday night (it’s a tradition), a good run outside, and going bowling Saturday. Knowing I have these things to look forward to makes me happy.
    • Use Monday as your rest day. I know I’m contradicting 95% (or more!) of people when I say this, but make Monday your rest day. I do longer runs on the weekend, so Monday has officially become my off day. I don’t do any planned exercise at all. Instead of running and working out at lunch (something I do two-three times each week), I intentionally take time off on Monday. Most Mondays, I bring a book and sit in my car and read during lunch. It gives me time to clear my head and relax in what is otherwise a chaotic day.
    • Get your house (or kitchen) clean over the weekend. For me, if my kitchen counters are clean, I feel good. At our house, we tend to throw things down on one counter in the kitchen all week, and it seems like as hard as we try to keep it cleaned off, there’s inevitably a few things that stay there all week. On the weekend, I try to put those things in their places and straighten that counter. I feel more together when that “catchall” counter is clean. Do you have a place or room in your house that accumulates stuff all week?
    • Begin with the right mindset. What are some things that make you happy in the morning? I like to be ready before my kids get up (it’s way less stressful that way), spend a few minutes with my boys before school, talk to my husband, eat breakfast at home, and read a devotion. While I don’t always get to do all of these things as much as I’d like because, you know, life, and five people not always being on the same page, I feel great when I’m able to do most of them. If I start my Monday doing most of these things, I know I’m guaranteed to have a better day.

    How about you? What are some things you do to make your Monday better and set yourself up for success?

  • life,  random

    LIFE LATELY | 4.18.16

    Today feels like a great day to catch up on life. Here are a few things that we’ve been doing lately.

    My cousin got married a few weeks ago. We had a great time!
    We had a great Easter celebrating our Lord and Savior. 
    My family spoiled me with a great 30th birthday party!
    One of my best friends and I went to Charleston to see The Phantom of the Opera. It was awesome!
    The boys finished their spring soccer season.
    We got fish! K.C.’s is Absal (a Pokemon) and Kaden’s is Bubbles. The story goes something like this: Kaden asks for a fish for his birthday. I think a fish won’t be much trouble in the realm of pets. Kevin says ok if we take care of them (I’m really good at not taking care of animals). The boys and I go to the pet store and somehow leave with two fish. They are cute though (the boys and the fish!)!
    This guy lost his eighth tooth! We joke that he’ll be eating ice cream and soup only before long.
    I got a new pair of glasses. I am absolutely horrible about taking out my contacts. Last week, I went to the eye doctor and decided to go ahead and get some new glasses as mine are eight or so years old. I’m looking forward to them coming in.
    Our Saturday with nothing to do turned into a Saturday of cleaning and organizing. I decided to go through the craft/art supplies the boys and I have. I’m happy to report that my kitchen table is now clean and my art cabinets are organized. We made a trip to Goodwill to donate a bunch of clothes and household items, too. It always feels good to purge.
    Kevin and I went out to run some errands Saturday night and ended up at a little Italian place near our house. We ordered the Stromboli to split. It was divine!
    That’s what we’ve been up to lately! What have you been doing?
  • life,  random

    iPhone Photo Dump with One Sentence Captions

    In honor of us (finally!) getting our new iPhones (they were pre-ordered in September on the first day you could pre-order them and are shipping THIS week!), I thought I’d empty out some photos from my ancient iPhone 4. That’s right, folks, not even a 4S.

    K.C. loves babies, especially Isabelle!
    Friends reunited (and I promise I was only 4 feet away and they weren’t driving).

    My Kaden and his Leaf Man inspired by the book The Leaf Man

    Ladies dinner at our church where I, the hostess, forgot cups and nearly forget silver.
    He is obsessed with my Uggs and pulls them off of me as soon as I sit down.

    I’m reading Proof of Heaven, a quick and easy read that really makes you think and was loaned to me by my MIL.

    The boys love packing Operation Chirstmas Child boxes and I love seeing the joy they receive when they write letters and draw pictures to put in their boxes.

    This is what happens when you’re on a local radio show that airs from a really good restaurant that happens to serve breakfast.
    We cleaned out the playroom and donated bags of toys to the House of Hope.

    My little turkey with his little turkey!

    I went to a retreat for work last week and this haunted house was right beside the cottage where I stayed (and was awake most of the night because Anna = Scaredy Cat).

    Big Brother was at home sick (we’d been up all night and in Urgent Care all morning), but Kaden and sweet “Baby Lydia” (as he calls her) still had fun at her third birthday this weekend.

    He loves to cook.

    Two of my favorites just enjoying talking to each other.

    Super Isaac!

    My heart!

    Singing in the rain… and dancing in every puddle he could find while using his new umbrella running into church late this past Sunday.

    K.C.’s first basketball practice last night!
  • a day in my life,  life

    A Day in My Life

    When I saw that Leslie’s normal Friday Confessions for this week was going to be A Day in the Life, I knew I wanted to participate. I was planning to do a post like this soon, so this worked out perfectly.

    What didn’t work out so perfectly – normal, that is – was our day. I decided to go ahead and record our Thursday even though parts of it were a little unordinary.

    5:45AM: I wake up before the alarm goes off and think it’s time to get out of bed. I realize I have 15 more minutes before I need to get up and run when I glance at our clock, so I close my eyes.

    6:00 AM: Alarm goes off and I hit off instead of snooze, sleeping through my morning run. (I typically run 3-5 miles four mornings a week before work.)

    6:43 AM: Frantically wake up as I’ve officially slept way too late. Wake up sleeping husband who has also overslept.

    6:45 AM: Jump in the shower, very thankful that I had my hair trimmed and colored yesterday and won’t have to wash it this morning. (I normally wash my hair every day, mostly because I run and get sweaty, but I always try not to wash it the day after I’ve had it done.)

    7:05 AM: I’m showered, my makeup is on and our boys have made their way downstairs to our bed. I give them good morning kisses as I walk to the kitchen to turn on the waffle iron.

    7:08 AM: I get the kids’ clothes out (I typically do this at night, but we had a softball game last night and watched Covert Affairs after the boys were asleep and then fell asleep ourselves.), look in my closet for a dress I don’t have to iron, and get dressed.

    7:12 AM: I tell the boys to go potty, put their clothes on, and to get ready for breakfast. I go to the kitchen to mix up waffles. As I’m pulling out the Bisquik, my pretty pink ceramic drink dispenser falls and breaks into a million pieces. My sweet husband comes in to clean it up and saves the morning while I go curl my hair.

    7:20 AM: Boys have made it to the den and Kaden wants to help make breakfast. Since the waffles are already cooking, he asks to set the table (proud of him!). He gets out forks and napkins for everyone. Kevin’s fixing our drinks and I’m taking up the waffles.

    7:25 AM: We’re all at the table eating breakfast and talking.

    7:35 AM: I’m done with breakfast, clear off a few plates while Kevin grabs the others, and run to brush my teeth. I also brush the boys’ teeth and ask them to put on their shoes while Kevin finishes getting ready.

    7:45 AM: I’m already running late, so I refill my water, grab my bags, and kiss all my boys goodbye for the workday. I don’t have time to make lunch.

    7:50 AM: I talk to my best friend on my morning commute. We’ve been doing this since college.

    8:10 AM: I make it to work. I spend my first few minutes of each day checking my email, voice mail, doing a daily Bible reading and devotion, logging into Facebook to check my company’s page, and reading through my media report from the afternoon before.

    8:30 AM: I get my real work started for the day. I return emails, voice mails, and begin to proof. On my desk today are a few information pieces that I need to get to the appropriate department by the end of the week. I also finalize billboard locations, look at a proof of a new commercial, and talk with my boss about some upcoming commercial concepts. I send emails to our talented designers regarding various projects and get the status on some other things. During one of my meetings, I decide not to go to the gym for strength training and a run (since I missed mine this morning) during lunch (I normally do strength training during lunch twice a week and can squeeze in two miles on the treadmill with enough time to shower and get back to my desk.) since I have a busy afternoon and I’m tired (we have been go-go-go lately, and while I can normally get up and run, something about these late nights and no downtime has me spent!).

    12:07 PM: Since I didn’t pack my lunch today (I normally pack lunch three of my four workdays each week), I decide to pick up Chickfila. I know I have a busy afternoon with a tight proofing deadline, so I want to get out of the office. I call my grandma and talk to her while I drive to Chickfila. On my way back to the office, I order an ice cream pie for K.C.’s birthday and talk to Kevin.

    12:40 PM: Get back to work. I took my lunch in to eat at my desk. I always close my door when I’m having lunch at my desk to eliminate people walking in and wanting to talk. This rarely works as more people come to visit and walk right in while I’m mid-lunch than when my door is open. Oh well. I check out a few blogs, read my personal email, get in touch with someone about something at church, and call my husband back while I’m having lunch about a detail on an upcoming trip we have to DC (can’t wait to share this!).

    No pickles: just how I like it unless my K.C. is around. Then, I order extra pickles and give them all to my boy.

    1:00 PM: It’s time to start proofing. I spend the next few hours proofing a magazine that heads to print this week. I check for grammar, but I’m also checking content and design. I stop after every five spreads or so to check email, proof a few ads, return calls, book some ads and other things that need to be done, and talk to my boss about some upcoming things.

    5:13 PM: I finish proofing our magazine with two minutes to spare. I deliver it to my colleague who’ll take the next stab at it. To say I’m pleased with our new design that my fab designer has done is an understatement! I go back to my office to check my email one last time before leaving for the day.

    5:26 PM: Leave for the day. I talk to my same friend from the morning on our drives home.

    5:50 PM: I make it home. All my boys are home before me. I give them all kisses, talk to Kevin for a minute, and watch the boys running around in circles laughing. They are having a ball.

    6:00 PM: I’m in the kitchen working on dinner and straightening up. We ran our dishwasher during the day, so I unloaded it and reloaded it while getting things out for dinner. I make hickory smoked pork chops, Annie’s Organic Macaroni and Cheese, and fresh blueberries for dinner.

    I also work on another batch of chocolate bricks for K.C.’s birthday. Kaden sets the table, K.C. fixes our water, and Kevin helps me get all the food out and to the table.

    6:50 PM: We sit down to eat dinner. One of the boys always says the blessing and we talk about our days.

    7:10 PM: We’ve finished dinner. The boys are playing while Kevin cleans up the kitchen. I put the leftovers in other containers for our lunch tomorrow. My sister and our niece stop by to see us. I help my sister with a few college-related questions. Her boyfriend stops by and the boys run to see him.

    7:30 PM: We decide to go outside. K.C. wants to play baseball and the girls and I could definitely use some practice since we’re playing on our church’s coed team. We play for a bit and then I do sidewalk chalk with Kaden because he doesn’t want to play baseball.

    8:40 PM: We go inside and it’s bathtime for the kids. They’re typically getting out of the tub at this point, but we stayed outside and played later than normal. We normally have them upstairs by 8:45-8:50 during the school year, but in the summer, we try to make it upstairs between 9 and 9:15. The later to bed, the less we read. While I give the boys a bath, Kevin is gathering up our trash because Thursdays are trash mornings. Once the boys are clean, I put up the laundry Kevin has folded and jump in the shower myself.

    My running clothes pile always tends to be the largest!

    9:00 PM: The boys are out of the tub and ready for bed, but they’re hungry. Kevin takes a quick shower and the boys and I go to the kitchen for a snack. As K.C. says, “My tummy was full, but baseball made me hungry.” He must get that from me! He has some bread and cheese and Kaden has a ham sandwich. (We typically don’t feed them food this late, but they were hungry and I’m not the kind of parent that won’t give them something. They usually eat fruit or baby carrots when it’s this late, but I’m not opposed to a sandwich.)

    9:20 PM: We’re all upstairs and we read our Bible and say our prayers. Since it’s late, we don’t read any other books (we usually read 3-5 books at night in addition to our Bible and devotion). We turn the lights off and snuggle with our boys until they’re asleep.

    9:45 PM: The boys are good and asleep and Kevin and I go downstairs. We talk and relax. My sister texts that she’s going to spend the night, so we hang out with her.

    10:15 PM: We decide to watch Wreckless. We watched it On Demand last week and really enjoyed that it was filmed in Charleston. I eat a bowl of cereal while we’re watching as I’m daydreaming about my next Charleston trip.

    11:17 PM: Wreckless is over, Stephanie goes to bed, and Kevin and I talk for a few minutes. I read some on my daily Bible reading plan. I’m playing catch up in the Old Testament, so I’m only in Exodus. I’m reading 3 additional days’ worth of OT each day to be caught up by the end of this month. Kevin watches ESPN or something as I’m drifting off to sleep.

    11:37 PM: I take a screen shot of my iPhone at 11:37 PM and put it down. I talk to Kevin a few more minutes, watch some TV, and snuggle up with him. I’m probably asleep by 11:50 PM.

    Maybe I should add updating my apps, deleting voice mails (don’t ever leave a voice mail on my cell; I’ll return your call anyway), and getting rid of junk mail to my to-do list for tomorrow!

  • encouragement,  faith,  life

    Tackling It All

    Last week was a relaxing week. Seriously. I’m not prone to really sitting down and relaxing much, but last week was, and truthfully, looking back, it was much needed. It was the first week in my recent memory that we didn’t have anything we had to do. Sure, there were things that needed to be done around the house and things we did, but nothing we had to do. No places we had to be at certain times. It was great, and I really think I needed it after the busy holiday season.

    During the last week, we watched more movies than we probably saw all of last year. We cooked dinner at home, I read some and I even got those things that I always want to do each week – things like menu planning – done.

    Last night, as I was standing in the kitchen deboning chicken for some chicken and rice I’m making tonight and snapping the ends off of some butter beans, I was watching Kevin and the boys play basketball. In those totally not quiet moments, I just kept thinking “thank you.” I love my life – as chaotic as it sometimes is – and I’m so thankful for my sweet little family.

    But sometimes, I can get overwhelmed. Mostly, this is my fault as a strong characteristic of mine is to try to do it all well, but mostly, I know I can’t. I can’t do everything for everyone and be everything for everyone – something I finally realized a few years ago.

    When it comes down to it, there are a few things I really want to do well.

    I want to be the best, loving wife I can be for my husband. I want to be tuned in to those things that matter to him, support him, listen to him and be there for him. I want to be the kind of wife he’s happy to come home to and I want him to always know how loved, cared for and really, cherished, he is by my actions.

    As a mother, I want the boys to know that they are our most special gifts and spending time with them is the best thing in the world. I want them to know that I’m their biggest cheerleader, their best friend and love them more than anything in this world. I want them to know I’m all in whether we’re reading a book, building with blocks or cheering them on at practice.

    I also want to be the best daughter, sister and friend that I can be. I want to know areas where I can serve and I want to do it joyfully. I want to do my best to share Jesus with those I come in contact with and I want to continue placing priority on running stronger and being healthier.

    All these things are fine and good, but I realize that without a firm foundation, without rest and without renewal – I can’t be my best at these things.

    This morning, my daily devotion had a reference to Isaiah 58:11. When I read this verse, I related.

    Chaos will happen, toast will get burnt, mornings will be hectic and bedtime will sometimes be long, but with God as my source, He will strengthen me and give me rest when I’m weary. He will give me those things that I need to be my best for Him and for my people. And with His help, He won’t let me fail.

    So to those of you who are reading: whether you try to do it all or be it all, are tired from stress or the everyday and for those of you who may be struggling to feel fully there and feel like you’re just getting by on a thread, hang in there and turn it over to Him. He’ll give you rest and on top of that, fill you with what you need. Just trust Him.

  • 27 at 27,  birthdays,  life

    27 at 27

    It’s my birthday! And in honor of it, I thought I’d make a list of 27 things I’d like to do during my 27th year. My birthday week has started off great and I’m looking forward to celebrating with my sweet family tonight!

    And since not many posts are complete without a photo:
    My sweet co-worker brought in doughnuts for me this morning! Can you guess which one I picked?

    1. Run a half marathon.
    2. Read through the Bible.
    3. Do the 100 Day Burpee Challenge (I’m on day 12).
    4. Go away for a romantic weekend with my husband.
    5. Run everyday for one month even if it’s only a mile.
    6. Write down one thing that makes me happy each day.
    7. Take the boys to a Clemson game.
    8. Start a scrapbook of my races.
    9. Finish our 2012 family photo book, the boys books and start on this year’s books so I’m caught up and not rushing to finish them at the last minute.
    10. Tithe.
    11. Adopt a family or child at Christmas.
    12. Pay It Forward.
    13. Run a sub 44 minute 10K in a race.
    14. Memorize two Bible verses a month.
    15. Read one book every month.
    16. Try a new recipe once a month.
    17. Make an appointment with a trainer at the gym to revise my gym workout.
    18. Spend a whole day just lying on the beach.
    19. Take a fun anniversary trip with Kevin.
    20. Print my blog into a book.
    21. Visit Washington D.C.
    22. Make peach jam with my mom and Nana and put up some fresh butter beans and corn. (Can you tell I’m from the South?)
    23. Make our wedding video into an actual video.
    24. Go to a Braves game with KT.
    25. Reorganize our upstairs office/workout room.
    26. Eat cleaner.
    27. Spend a long weekend somewhere Kevin and I haven’t ever been before.

    I’m also linking up with Shanna today!

  • boys,  family,  Kevin,  life

    What a Fun Night!

    Do you ever have one of those days or nights that causes you to think, “this is the life!”?  We had one of those kinds of nights last night.

    When I got home from work (after the first day back in almost two weeks!), I took some already browned hamburger meat out of the freezer and got to work on tacos.  KT and the boys got home a few minutes later and that’s when the fun began (and the quiet ended!).

    While I finished up dinner, Kevin put together this giant (as in over 6′ tall) castle that you can color that the boys got from their cousins for Christmas.  It seemed that a fun night of castle coloring and playing was going to be had after dinner.

    The boys ate good (and fast) and were off to start playing in their castle.  They were both the kings, as can be expected, but KT and I got to get in on the fun, too.  K.C. and I ended up outside of the castle; he as a dragon, and I, a witch.

    The dragon and the witch decided they’d have much more fun if they started using their Nerf guns.  It turns out that both the dragon and the witch are pretty good shots (just ask my husband the number of times I was able to get him!).

    Nerf gun wars then turned into tickle fests which turned into laughs and smiles from us all.

    After all the excitement, it was bath time which led to cuddle time and sweet, sleeping babies.  There was even some football watched by my husband and some relaxing by me.

    Nights like these are fun and hold a special place in my heart.  I love my husband and our boys, and I’m thankful for fun nights filled with lots of love and laughter.

  • Christmas,  Confessions,  family,  fitnes,  Friday's Letters,  life,  marriage

    Friday’s Letters, Fitness, Confessions, and a Giveaway

    Linking up with Ashley at Adventures of Newlyweds for Friday’s Letters
    dear husband: You make my heart smile!  Thank you for taking me to Sweet Frog last night.  And for looking at the 15th wedding album.  And I love you! 🙂  Can you guess which is mine and which is his?


    dear boys: 18 days until Christmas!  This weekend is going to be fun!  Candy Cottage, Bethlehem, and lots of playing.  

    dear cookie pole: Your little jump into the manger scene at 6 a.m. because somebody (ahem – me) forgot to let you make a mess the night before was not very well received by a certain little 3 year old who said that your trick wasn’t “very funny.”  Step it up, Cookie Pole (ahem – me).  

    dear self: Thank you for taking some much needed rest this week and allowing yourself to start feeling better.  I know you really hate that you missed running your normal runs, but trust me, it was good for you.  

    dear work: I feel so energized this week with tons of great ideas!  

    dear husband: You’re really handsome, cute, and sweet, but I would really like my Strawberry Margarita OPI nail polish that came in the mail earlier this week now and not in my stocking.  I really just ordered it to get free shipping on some stocking things I ordered for you. (Aren’t I sweet and thrifty?) Love you!  

    dear parents, sister, in-laws: I really hope you enjoy dinner at our house tomorrow night!  And speaking of in-laws, I don’t really like that word because my in-laws aren’t your typical in-laws, they’re really family.  

    dear voice: Please come back.  Using you to only sing along with the radio and children’s songs for the past few years has taken it’s toll.  I need you to work some magic, get over this cold, and be ready to sing Rutter’s Angel’s Carol next Sunday.

    dear parents: I’m really excited about the prospect of going skiing over Christmas!

     dear readers: Thank you for coming back again and again!  I’m enjoying getting to know each of you!  If you read this blog and I don’t follow you, please shoot me an e-mail at thethingsimlearning@gmail.com so I can be sure to check out your blog and read it regularly, too!  Also, I’ve got two things I’m thinking about doing and want to see who’s interested: 100 Followers Giveaway of a few of my favorite things and a January Fitness Boot Camp Competition.  I get quite a few questions about my workouts and running, so I’m thinking that we can all have a virtual workout competition come January (you know, when we’re all setting goals to get in the best shape ever and trying to get rid of those extra calories we’ve consumed over the holidays!).  I’m thinking goals and prizes!  What do you think?  Are you in? AND COMING MONDAY THE MOST AWESOME GIVEAWAY – an iPad Mini!  Come back bright and early Monday morning!

    dear someone: I really want a cute Just Married ornament for Christmas.  
    dear Jesus: Thank you for being the Reason for the Season.  Thank you for the excitement the little ones have to countdown the days of the Advent Season and for sweet voices who answer “Jesus” when we ask why we celebrate Christmas.  Thank you for your grace, forgiveness, love, and guidance.

    My friend Jen has the awesome link up each Friday and I love participating in it.  Usually, I can say that I’ve run so many miles, worked out so many times, and feel good about it.  This week?  I can’t really do that.

    Thanks to a pesky little (or rather-big-acute-unwelcome-unpleasant-suck-all-my-energy-make-me-feel-like-a-bad-wife-Annabelle) sinus infection that’s been living with me, uninvited I might add, for about a month, I haven’t done what I normally do.  I broke down and went to the doctor Monday afternoon after KT convinced me that my home remedy of orange juice and “sweating it out” wasn’t working.  Enter two rounds of antibiotics and less exercise than I’ve done in a year.

    This week, this is what I’ve done:

    • Monday: Rest
    • Tuesday: Gym workout – abs, upper body, glutes; short run of about 6/10 of a mile
    • Wednesday: 2 miles/14:40; 50 pull ups, 50 push ups, 125 sit ups with 10 lbs.
    • Thursday: Gym workout – abs, upper body, glutes
    • Friday: 4 miles/30:00, 200 sit ups with 10 lbs., 20 burpees (I’m joining the burpee world!)
    I’ll be back on track next week!

    This is my first time linking up with Leslie for Confessional.

    I confess…

    … that I like making bows instead of sticking them on my presents.  I know it’s not necessary, but pretty packages are just more fun to open.
    … that I try to fit too much in sometimes.
    … that I’m secretly (and not-so-secretly) thankful when my husband suggests we eat out or pick something up, sometimes.  I really like to cook and enjoy doing it for my family, but there are some days I just get excited when we pick up food.
    … that I could seriously make a photo book a month.  I love them.  Good thing I don’t do this.  My husband might not like me too much.
    … that I used to watch all ten seasons of Friends during Christmas break in college.
    …. that I like the way pickle juice tastes on my Chickfila, but I can’t bite into a pickle.
    Don’t forget to like my Facebook Page and follow me on Twitter and Pinterest!
    HUGE GIVEAWAY COMING MONDAY!!
  • boys,  fall,  family,  Halloween,  K.C.,  Kaden,  Kevin,  life,  races,  running

    A Pumpkin-Filled Weekend

    We had a great weekend which was mostly filled with Pumpkin Fun!

    My sister, Stephanie, is a senior in high school and was recognized before the last home football game of the regular season on Friday night.  After work, we loaded up the boys and went to see her get her award and watch the Bobcats play.

    Saturday morning, I ran my first race since August.  When I woke up, the wind was howling and I just knew I was going to freeze.  I got ready for the race and walked out the door with two long-sleeve shirts and my ear band just in case.  When I got outside, I was pleasantly surprised at how great it felt.

    It was in the mid-60’s and overcast during the race which was about perfect.  I ended up finishing second overall and was the top female finisher with a time of 21:39.  I felt great during this run, but wish I had pushed it.  I wanted to finish below 21 minutes and PR, but I didn’t start off as fast as I usually do and had to run over an Interstate overpass twice, so I’m blaming my extra 39 seconds on that.  I didn’t know if Kevin and the boys were going to make it, but when I got close to the last traffic light we ran through, I saw them.  It always makes me feel so good when I see him and our sweet boys at the finish line! {You can check out previous race recaps here.}

    The boys also got to participate in a Pumpkin Run to get candy, but I didn’t get to see it as it was during my race.  They looked happy with their pumpkins full of candy though!

    Madeline, our niece, and me after the race.  She finished 3rd in her age group!
    We had a great time playing outside after the race Saturday and I ended up running another 2.15 miles with K.C. in the jogging stroller.  If you want a good work out, try running with a 40 pound five year old in a jogging stroller that weighs probably 20 pounds in the wind… after you’ve run a race! 
    We spent the afternoon watching the South Carolina* game (ok, so I might have written some posts and looked at the proofs of my bridal session) and playing outside before we went new shoe shopping for the boys and to eat Mexican.  Poor Kaden was so tired and fell asleep in the car when we were on the way home at 7:00 PM (and didn’t wake up until almost 7 Sunday morning!).  Kevin was able to get him in bed without him waking up, and the rest of the night, we had some one-on-one time with K.C.  He wanted to color, so we did that and made treat bags for his and Kaden’s class.
    After church Sunday, we went over to Kevin’s parents for lunch and to carve our first pumpkin.  The boys were so funny about cleaning out the pumpkin.  They don’t really like to get their hands all dirty and sticky (for which I’m thankful!).  
    Sunday night, KT and I went to my parents for dinner, more pumpkin carving with my grandparents, and to move some things.  Since I was little, my granddad has gotten a pumpkin for my sister and me each year and we’ve carved it with him.  The last two years, it’s been Bruce Hall, Kevin, and me.  We had fun (and I may have stolen Kevin’s diamond nose from our first pumpkin!)!
    Do you have any Pumpkin Carving Traditions?