Update on Baby McClannon

We are getting there! Baby McClannon is due at the end of January and I am 28 weeks along today – officially into my third trimester! I had my first baby shower this past weekend, which was such a special time to celebrate with so many people I love! We are gearing up for two more weekends of showers before Thanksgiving, so it is a busy time – but full of great things!

We have an ultrasound appointment next week to check in on baby M and re-check all of his measurements. The doctors have been keeping a close eye on my blood pressure, so they want to keep an even closer eye on baby’s growth. They also put me on a low dose of blood pressure medicine at my last check-up. I had a hard time with this at first, but I know it’s fairly common in pregnancies and I have to remind myself that the doctors are the experts and are looking out for everyone’s best interest – so I’m rolling with it! This most likely means that baby will be induced early, either at 39 or 37 weeks – still full-term. So that part is to be determined, and since it’s out of my hands, I am going ahead and planning on the earliest possibility for my sub plans at school.

Everyone wants to know his name, but we haven’t named him yet! So far we are just calling him Baby McClannon. We have also been calling him Jett, which is what some of my students named him months ago and we have been using it as a place keeper for when we have a real name – but that one’s just for fun! We have discussed names but are not deciding or announcing until we meet our guy. My students are really hopeful that Jett will stick!

Another thing everyone asks is if our nursery is all set. That answer is a big NO – our nursery is more or less nonexistent! I mean, we have the room, and we have a lot of things dumped into the room…but that’s about it! We figured we would wait until our showers are complete and we have our “baby stuff” to start organizing and getting things settled. My goal for that is to work on the nursery over Thanksgiving break! We will paint it and start getting the room together and organized. I’m excited to see it come together! I have a vision, so we’ll see how it actually turns out 🙂

I am planning to take 12 weeks off from work. That means, as a teacher, if you’ve never thought about it…I have to write 12 weeks’ worth of lesson plans for a substitute to carry out for me. I probably won’t even get to meet my kids for second semester, so my long-term sub is going to be starting the semester with my students and I’ll return probably sometime in April, depending on when the baby comes. So that means probably after spring break, when there are no more breaks in the year, right before summer break comes and the school is at its tipping point! Haha! That is giving me a large amount of stress, but I am working through it slowly and surely! I just hope my classes aren’t completely off the wall when I come back! (They will be). This is a PSA for someone to create a foolproof maternity sub plan system for all teachers who go on leave.

So overall, things are moving right along over here! All of our check ups and measurements of baby so far have been “perfectly normal,” which I’m told is the best thing! I am loving being pregnant and I’m so thankful for this addition to our family. I know that it isn’t easy or even possible for everyone, and I am truly grateful for a mostly uneventful and “typical” pregnancy. I can’t wait to introduce our son (!!!) to the dogs, and to settle into our new normal after the initial chaos of bringing home a newborn! I am ready for it and I know it will be so hard, but so worth it. I can’t wait to see Andrew as a dad!

For my Fellow Empaths

Mental health check-in board in my classroom (made by a student!)

I’ve been wanting to write this post for a while now, but I couldn’t get my mind wrapped around what all I wanted to say. Finally, here I am. I have been thinking a lot lately about wellness, mental health, and what that looks like for myself and others. I have always considered myself to be a people person, and time and time again I am labeled the same in personality tests as someone who is highly sensitive to others, and just sensitive in general. I am a feeler; I feel things really deeply, I take on the joys, sorrows, and stresses of others, and I have had to work really hard to get to a place in my life where I feel like I am able to manage that in a healthy way. I just want everyone to be okay – for there to be peace and harmony and balance – and it is overwhelming sometimes to know that I can’t control that for anyone but myself. So I comfort myself by doing my little part, and this post is a challenge for you to do the same.

During October, mental health awareness week is observed. We make sure to illuminate this on social media or mention it to people if we hear about it in time, but in my opinion, mental health awareness should just be a way of life. Taking care of ourselves and checking in on those we care about should be something we do on a daily basis. We all deserve to be seen, heard, and reached out to with care. When is the last time you asked your parents, your friends, your significant other, or your colleagues if they are feeling good, if things are going okay for them, or if there is anything they need? When is the last time you asked these same questions of yourself, the person you have to spend the most time with? It doesn’t have to be serious or heavy, but it should be sincere – and my worry is not that people don’t care, but more likely, that people are too busy trying to make it through their own hectic life that they aren’t stopping to ask anyone else if they could use a leg up or a kind few words of encouragement in the process.

In 2017, I saw a documentary and a TED Talk that changed the way I look at everything. I have always been a feeler and a people person, like I said, but for the first time, I finally had my hands on some real science that made everything click. The documentary is called Resilience: The Biology of Stress and the Science of Hope. It illuminates the alarming results of a massive research study conducted in the mid ’90s, the Adverse Childhood Experiences Study. The ACEs study correlated childhood traumas in the home before the 18th birthday to negative health outcomes later in life, and the results were staggering in shining the light on the connection between psychology and physiology. Trauma – real trauma – literally changes our DNA and our body’s stress response system to make us more susceptible to serious health conditions later in life, not to mention the emotional effects. Most importantly for my work as a teacher, trauma can cause serious behavior and learning problems in school, and can make things like ADHD easier to misdiagnose. The accompanying TED Talk that gives a background of the ACEs study and a call to action is linked here by Dr. Nadine Burke Harris – take 15 minutes and watch it when you can. For the last two years, I have been reading everything I can get my hands on about the effects of trauma on our adult health and on the developing bodies of children and teens – particularly with a lens to be a better educator and help teen students navigate through levels of anxiety and depression that are higher than ever before. My passion with education has always been the human interactions, the relationships, and the lasting memories from the students in my classroom.

I recently saw a video on Instagram, and you may have seen it by now, too – a coach at a high school embracing a student who came to school with a gun. Due to working in a high school, obviously this possibility lives in the back of my mind at all times, and it is chilling – to say the least. But what a display of absolute heroism and compassion that man showed, simply by giving grace and love instead of potentially escalating the situation into something violent by taking a different approach. In the video, the teenager is clearly unstable, flailing his arms around, shouting and crying, hugging the coach back, pushing him away, hugging him again…it is clear that he needs help. I’m not saying we have to hug every threat that comes our way, or that we shouldn’t place consequences on behavior that puts the safety of others in jeopardy…but something has got to give. The video was a strong example for me of the delicate balance of humanity. Suicide is now the second leading cause of death in NC between the ages of 10-17. Yes, you read that right, age TEN to seventeen. We are losing people and we don’t have the resources in place to be able to help them, or to help ourselves when we are run down from trying to carry out the emotional work of educating children. We have compassion fatigue, we have secondary trauma, we have burnout, we have exhaustion. Not to mention, we also have our own stuff to deal with and work through. Wanting to help is not enough. We need action, we need to build resilience, and we need support and resources for when our batteries are too drained to continue to help charge others. This article does a good job of expressing the need for help in dealing with secondary trauma. This one too, for all my teacher friends!

We need more kindness, more grace, more compassion. The world needs to stop blaming others and tearing people down with judgments and passive aggressive remarks. It costs nothing to smile at someone, to check in on someone who seems like they are struggling, or to thank someone for something they did that mattered to you. It is completely free to give someone a break, to put a hand to a shoulder, or to hold someone close when they are crying or on the edge. We have to stop saying people should “suck it up” and “deal with it,” because actually dealing with it looks a lot different than ignoring it and sweeping it under the rug. We have no idea of someone else’s story, and I can say this firsthand through learning things about students’ lives that make my stomach flop and my hair stand on end. The effects of stress and trauma are long-lasting and literally health-damaging. People need to know that they can count on someone, that it’s okay to reach out for help, and that they are not alone on whatever road they’re walking on. It’s daily acts of kindness, love, grace, and compassion – no matter how small or seemingly insignificant – that keep people floating instead of drowning. And the more we all practice these things, the kinder the world becomes.

One day, care plans for trauma and ACEs will just be part of our routine screenings/physicals and education plans. This article details Dr. Nadine Burke Harris’ plan to implement these changes in education – but it is going to take time, and it is going to take all of us. Mental health awareness isn’t just suicide prevention day, or a week during a month of the year. It is every day, it is lifelong. We all need to be okay, and to know how to start working towards it if we’re not. To know that it’s okay to admit we might need some help – and to know that help will be there if we can take the brave step to ask for it. It’s not huge, grand gestures that make the difference, it is small everyday tasks that can change the course for someone who is struggling. The world already has enough negativity and skepticism. What if we all took a small part in spreading something better around?

I’m still here!

I can’t believe it has been since JANUARY that I wrote last. I had just been overwhelmed and busy with regular life and work stuff, and I wasn’t feeling very inspired because everything just kept coming at me fast. But here I am, ready to write here and there whenever I do feel inspired and when I have the time! Just in time for school to start again…because I’m sure that won’t be busy, right?

There is definitely a lot to write about – I’m so incredibly thrilled to announce that Andrew and I are expecting a baby boy in the winter! Baby McClannon is due on January 29. I am about 4.5 months pregnant, so almost halfway there! Crazy to think about. It has gone by so fast in some ways, and slow in others. Waiting to tell people was so hard for us! We got Whitney to take some pictures for us for our anniversary and for a pregnancy announcement, and they are gorgeous. Whitney is so talented and that is not news to me, but the fact that she can make us look this good in the 90+ degree, 85% humidity of NC summer, WITH all three of our dogs…now THAT is impressive. Here are a few of my favorites!

We did early detection blood testing for chromosomal abnormalities – mostly because we knew that it would tell us the gender much earlier than an ultrasound! We both really wanted to know if it was a boy or a girl. We would have been happy either way, and most importantly we just are hoping for a healthy baby! But we got the results on our one year anniversary, which was such a great gift. We were both so excited and in disbelief that it was a boy! But the test is over 99% accurate, so it’s a pretty safe bet 🙂 I am really thankful that I have not had any morning sickness/nausea throughout this pregnancy (but I have had plenty of other glamorous symptoms, don’t worry). I’ve been trying to walk as much as I can to stay active, drink tons of water, and get plenty of rest, and I’m drinking a green juice every morning to make sure I get enough veggies and fruits!

In other news, school starts on MONDAY. Or today, when you are actually reading this! I can’t wait for all of my old students to find out that we’re having a baby – since I teach parenting and early childhood classes, they’re always dying to know when we are going to have kids! Summer has absolutely FLOWN by, and we have moved our entire school into a brand new building while our school is torn down and rebuilt. We will be in the new building for 2 years, and it is amazing to have this humongous, brand new space that we get to make our own. I’ve worked really hard getting my classroom together, and as always, I have so many new ideas I want to implement and try out for the school year. The only drawback is that our start time is at 7:10am. As in, at 7:11am students are late to 1st period class. Staff arrives at 6:40am…so I am going to have to work on not snoozing the ol’ alarm in the mornings!

Those are the biggest new developments over here! I am going to try to blog more regularly again, because I really do enjoy it. I have struggled in the past with this blog because I’m never sure what direction I want it to take since I am so passionate about so many things, and what I want to write about changes so often. I do love makeup, hair, clothes, home decor, etc., but I also love teaching, cooking, reading, and writing about things like making this world a better place and making the people in it more empathetic and kind. So I think most of my hiatus was just kind of taking some time to myself to realize that this blog is really for me, firstly, and that anyone who benefits from my words or simply enjoys their time reading my posts is such a gift to me. So though I will never be an influencer or a famous YouTuber, and though I seriously need to invest in some basic photography tutorials, I am proud that I am a loving wife and dog mom, a future mom (!!!), a passionate teacher, and a sensitive and caring person. Those are things to celebrate. We are all worthy, we are all good enough, and we all deserve to go way easier on ourselves most of the time. So whatever direction this blog does end up taking at any given moment, thank you for simply coming along for the ride.

Good luck to all of the teachers who are starting school today, and good luck to all the parents and guardians sending your little ones off!

Getting to Know You…rself

one of my favorites by j parker photography – she always takes pictures that feel like me

Next week, we start a new semester at school. The first days are always filled with getting to know you activities, team building and relationship building activities, and games or writing prompts to try to form a sense of a nurturing, safe community.

In addition to getting to know my students, I always like to be able to share myself with them so the vulnerability and openness is reciprocal. It always begs the question: What is important or interesting about me? What do I want to share with someone that really gives a glimpse of me, my life, and what is unique to me? Of course I tell them about my recent wedding and my husband who also teaches, and our three crazy dogs, and how I love spending time with family and friends, but those things are all expected. So I like to think about what else I could share.

Recently, Whitney wrote me to ask a favor for a photography business course she’s taking. It asks you to think about things that you’re passionate about or things that set you on fire, and to ask others for their input as well. I made a list for her, which was fun! Then I was intrigued, and asked the same favor of her! Here is the list she sent me:

Things that set Julia on fire:
Nail polish names 
Making checklists
Checking things off of said checklists
A good pen
Compassion
A good dog IG account
Peanut butter
Writing
A crisp glass of sauvignon blanc
Education
A long necklace
A good country song
A well-rounded gift to give
New makeup
A good blog
A good lip color
Snail Mail
Organization
Salty & sweet
Classic with a twist

She knows me so well! Yes to all of those things. I would add to this list reading anything I can get my hands on, cheese, getting a back scratch, corny puns, and my favorite Lululemon leggings. It really is so many little things that make us who we are and make us tick. I think sometimes we just lose a little bit of knowing ourselves because life gets busy, things change, and in just trying to keep up with the ebb and flow of everyday life, we lose track of ourselves and what we need, what we no longer need, and all the little things that bring us joy or give us a sense of purpose.

I will be getting to know these things about my new set of teenagers in just a few days, and I’m excited for them to get to know me, too! We’ll even have a student teacher to get to know and work with until May. I truly believe – and I have said it a hundred million times – that the better you truly know and care for your students, and the more they truly know and care for you, they will do anything for you and the opportunities for learning and personal growth open up ten-fold for them and for the educator in the classroom.

I am so grateful that I have so many special people in my life who are reflective, supportive, thoughtful, and who actively try to better themselves and others around them. Life is a constant reconstruction of ourselves, and I always t think it’s important to check back in and see who you are.

I encourage you to think of your own list; what would be on yours?

Happy Friday!



FriYAY feels!

It has been forever since I’ve had time to sit down and write anything. I’m so glad it’s time for the weekend! Tomorrow I have brunch plans with two of my girlfriends and we are going to a place I haven’t been to in forever, so I’m excited! Other than that, our weekend is pretty open so I’m hoping to spend some time with Andrew and the doggies, relax, read, and just see what comes up.

I’m feeling sassy because I got my hair cut this week! It was time for a change so I went for a “lob.” Once we cut it, I noticed how dead and scraggly it had been before! I love the new length and we went a little lighter, too! My hairstylist has been doing my hair FOREVER – since college over 10 years ago! She recommended this Kenra volumizing shampoo + conditioner for my poor thin hair, this curling wand in the 32mm size for bigger, carefree waves, and this Amika mousse for volume and texture (plus heat protection!). I’m going to give them all a try for a while and report back! It looks so much healthier and I am excited to style it!

the new ‘do!

I am also doing great with my Weight Watchers and staying active so far! I know it hasn’t been long, but if I can keep up the routine for long enough, it will just become normal and that’s what I’m aiming for. Andrew is doing it with me, so that makes it so much better!

In other news, I received a pair of Tieks (!!!) for Christmas and I have been wearing them about every other day. They are amazing! I also received an Instant Pot and I am going to plan to try a recipe or two next week in it! My friend Jenny found a recipe for spaghetti squash in the instant pot that takes FIVE MINUTES. That is absolutely a GAME CHANGER. So I think I’ll try that one next week with some sauce and meatballs. Easy, healthy, and delicious!

I also used some of my Christmas money to purchase these flats in the red and the leopard print! Most of my shoes that I wear constantly are super worn out, and these are cute and affordable enough to try out. I have a similar black pair that I have had for years and years, and one of my students called me out on wearing them all the time – so I figured it was time to upgrade! I can mix them in the rotation with my new Tieks 🙂

I’m loving this Fiore lip color and always love this line of lipsticks from Stila! I stopped buying lipsticks for a while, so now I’m a little low on my stash again and it might be time to restock!

In other news, we start exams next week at school and I’m always sad to say goodbye to my students! Changing semesters is always a great chance to start fresh and try new things, but it is always bittersweet. I had a great group of kids this semester and I’m going to miss them.

That’s it for me; everyone have a great weekend!

2019

one of my favorite pictures from 2018

I cannot believe we are in 2019! Another new year, another time for resolutions and a new start. I agree that anytime is as good a time as any to start up something new or work towards a goal, but there’s something about the feeling of doing it with everyone else that makes you feel like you’re supported.

2018 was good to me, so it is going to be a tough year to beat. Andrew and I got married (!!!), went on our honeymoon to Jamaica, started another new school year, and bought a house! Big life changes. I got to celebrate my best friend getting married and host some events for her, and I got to spend lots of time with two of my bridesmaids’ babies! I went on a few amazing bachelorette parties, attended wonderful and happy weddings, and did all the wedding things. I also got to help renovate a playground with my Early Childhood Education students with a grant we received! I went to Chicago with my family, celebrated turning 31, and got to see a lot of baseball and football games that Andrew coached. A great year 🙂

I always make similar resolutions (see here and here for 2018 and 2017’s posts), but this year I’m really trying to be thoughtful about what is realistic and what is practical for my life in this season. Last year I did so-so with my resolutions and failed hard with my weight loss goals, so I’m really trying to stick to a few simple things this year! Here are my 2019 resolutions:

  1. Stick to Weight Watchers! I just re-joined and spent a lot of time meal planning and writing my grocery lists. I know I can do it and I hope to continue seeing progress! I have a considerable amount of weight to lose, and I want to do it the right way.
  2. Be more active.
  3. Andrew and I both want to set an early bedtime for school nights and read for 30 minutes before bed.
  4. Less screen time. This one is hard just due to society in general, but I’d really like to limit my mindless scrolling on social media. I also want to be more intentional about when my phone is out – like during meals or when I am visiting with friends or family.

That’s it! All doable, all realistic, and all important for me at this time in my life. Whatever your new year resolutions are, I am sending good vibes for us all to be successful! Here’s to 2019, and 360-something more days to try to get it right!

A Christmas gift guide you can afford

I can’t believe it is already that time again – time to buy gifts for the holidays! I luckily have already gotten basically all of my/our shopping done this year, but usually I am scrambling till the end. Last year I put together this gift guide for you guys, and honestly all of that is still relevant for this year, too! I’ve seen so many gift guides out there this season, and even if some of the items are in my realm of budget, most of the items are outrageously expensive. We all deserve to be spoiled, but I can’t justify or afford spending $150 on a blanket or a cardigan for all my girlfriends. OBVIOUSLY once we win the lottery this won’t be an issue, but until then, we are on a two teacher budget so here are some nice gifts you can afford this holiday season 🙂

1. Barefoot dreams socks – I was able to find some of these for even less than this link shows, but these are hot sellers this season! They are incredibly soft and cozy, perfect for lounging around the house or sticking into some boots when it’s really cold out! The perfect cozy splurge, because I can’t afford the cardigan that is over $100!

2. Wicks for wags candles – I always personally think candles are a nice gift, because they can actually get pretty expensive and you always want to have several around! My friend Meghan got me one of these and I LOVE it. I love a gift that gives back, and this shop gives at least 10% of the money they make on candles to help animals in need. Read more about their cause here. Plus, it’s a gift from a local vendor and supports a small business!

3. Joanna Gaines Homebody design book or Magnolia Table cookbook, Chrissy Teigen’s Cravings or Hungry for More cookbooks. I have two of these, and would love to have the other two. Wonderful gifts that someone might not want to purchase for themselves.

4. Dior lip glow – I have seen this product raved about for years by different bloggers and finally bit the bullet on one during Black Friday sales to try it out. It is as good as they say it is!!! A great way to treat someone to a pretty and practical gift that they will get use out of! The perfect hint of color and intense moisture.

5. Slippers – I think a nice cozy pair of slippers is a great gift for the holidays. I like these and these!

6. Flannel pj shorts – if you get hot like I do when you sleep, flannel pants can just be too much. But I love Old Navy’s flannel boxer pajama shorts!

7. Books – Educated is the latest book I read and I am just amazed at this incredible story. I read it in two days over the weekend and could not put it down! I am dying to read Girl, Wash Your Face and Where the Crawdads Sing next. For more ideas, here’s a great list to get you thinking if you know someone who loves to read!

8. The Yellow Bird products – I have written about this company before here. All natural, chemical free products that make for wonderful gifts for anyone!

9. The Little Market is always a great place to shop for items that give back – candles, jewelry, home goods, tote bags, you name it! I love these tassel earrings and this dainty tassel necklace. Whitney got us tassel bracelets for being her bridesmaids in April, and I never take mine off! This tiny pearl necklace is also a perfect dainty piece. I also love The Flourish Market for spending money towards a good cause (local in downtown Raleigh if you’re in the area!).

I also think another great gift idea is to give the gift of a subscription box! One month, three, or whatever you can afford – they all offer different options! Some subscriptions I have used or been gifted in the past and have really enjoyed are FabFitFun, Shaker & Spoon, GlobeIn, Cloth & Paper, and Ipsy. There are also subscription boxes for pets, wine lovers, chocolate lovers, all kinds of things!

I can never find a gift that seems right for the men in my life, no matter how many different types of gift guides for men I peruse. So some ideas I actually DO like for men include flannel pajama pants, slippers, a Yeti mug if they drink coffee, a beard hair catcher for easy clean-up if they have facial hair, or a nice flannel shirt or jacket. There are all kinds of gadgets out there for men but I have seen this digital grill thermometer in a few different places, so if you have a guy that loves to fire up the grill, this is probably a great idea!

Hopefully this list at least sparks some interest or gets you thinking about some things you could get for some people you may be having trouble thinking about! Christmas will be here before you know it – I just got up my Christmas decorations over the weekend, so I’m already feeling behind!

Happy shopping!

FriYAY feels!

I’m alive!

What. A. Week. For the first time, I’m actually writing my Friyay post on a Friday, rather than writing it beforehand and setting it up to post on Friday morning. It has just been that kind of week where I haven’t really had a second to sit down and do anything! But I am relaxing with the dogs, our Christmas decorations are finally up, and I’m watching Love Actually while Andrew is at a playoff football game with another coach. 

Did I mention that I am working towards getting my National Board Certification for teaching? I am terrified! But two other teachers at school in my department are going for it too, so we had our first off campus work day this week. We will submit everything in May and then we won’t find out if we got it or not until next DECEMBER OR JANUARY. So nerve-wracking! 

I went to Target today to get a couple of things we needed and some little gifts and stocking stuffer type items, and the traffic everywhere was insane! But Target, of course, has TONS of gift items that will really come in clutch if you need a little something but you just don’t quite know what. I was able to get a couple of gifts for a gift exchange this weekend very easily. 

I am on the hunt for a great artificial tree! I put up all my old decorations from when I was living in an apartment, and my tree looks SO tiny in our new house! I died laughing when I got it up and stood back to look at it. It will have to do for this year, probably…but I’m hoping things will go on sale after Christmas and I can snag a tree for next year. This one is already really affordable compared to all the other ones I’ve looked at, and it looks good to me!

I want to make this Chex Mix Christmas Crack before the holidays – I love a good salty/sweet combo, and this one adds in peppermint!

I got this mascara recently and I LOVE the way it applies and the way it looks. The only downfall is that it doesn’t wash off easily, but if you already use eye makeup remover, that’s no problem. I love it even with its one fault! I got it when Tarte was doing a sale and I’m so glad I did!

Tomorrow, some of my FCCLA club students and their parents are volunteering at Oak City Outreach Center to serve a meal to those in need. I think it will be good for all of us, and hopefully will help them see how important it is to give to others, even if it’s just giving time. Afterwards, Andrew and I are going to his school department’s annual Christmas party. Sunday, everyone is calling for snow, so we will see! You never know in North Carolina. 

Only 18 days left until Christmas! I can’t believe how fast it has crept up AGAIN. Stay tuned for a holiday gift guide like last year’s coming sometime next week! Happy weekend 🙂

Thanksgiving

our first thanksgiving living at the new house!

Today, I am thankful for so many things. I really try to always remind myself that there is much to be thankful for – because we need that mindset every day and not just on holidays – but Thanksgiving has always been my favorite holiday. I love Christmas, too, but there’s something about just gathering around for some food with the people you love the most that makes me feel happy and comforted.

My whole life, we spent Thanksgivings at my aunt’s house in South Carolina. She has 4 kids, there are 3 kids in our family, and now one of her kids has 2 kids! It’s a huge family affair and used to include our grandparents before they passed, and my aunt Sherilyn always comes, too. I have become really interested in how other families and cultures spend their holidays and time with family in the last few years, and I always ask my students what their plans and traditions are. To me, the loud laughter, chatter, and teasing that is always bouncing around at my aunt’s house makes me feel at home. Even if your family isn’t close or you can’t get home for the holidays, it’s a time to spend with others who welcome you in and claim you as one of their own. I know the holidays can bring sadness and angst for many, so I hope if that is true for you this holiday season, that you are able to find somewhere to spend happy time with others and to take care of yourself in whatever way that may be.

This year, our school football team is in the playoffs! Andrew is the quarterback coach, so as I type this he’s at Thanksgiving Day practice and tomorrow the boys will play the second round of playoffs! So this year we are not going “home,” we are staying home in our new house with the doggies and spending our Thanksgiving meal with two other teacher couples for a teacher Thanksgiving! I am bringing a family recipe macaroni and cheese, these delicious mashed potatoes, and these delectable apple dumplings (I’ve said it before, but you just can’t go wrong with a Pioneer Woman recipe!). I’m waiting for the laundry to finish so I can wear my favorite leggings and shamelessly enjoy my meal – plus, the best thing about wearing leggings for Thanksgiving is you’re already prepared for the inevitable post-turkey afternoon/evening nap!

It’s always easy to find things to complain about or to get caught up in what’s going wrong in life, but it feels a lot better to celebrate the good. So this year, I’m celebrating a lot of things I’m thankful for:  A family that laughs together, a new family that I’m now part of, a wonderful husband, three sweet doggies that always keep us on our toes, a new cozy home that feels just right, friends who are like family, and starting new traditions as we have our first big holiday together as a married couple!

these 3 turkeys are hoping they’ll get some real turkey today!

Happy Thanksgiving and safe travels to everyone!

FriYAY feels!

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Happy Friyay! I am super excited for this weekend because Andrew and I are going to Charlotte to visit my sister and go to the Panthers game on Sunday! The tickets were our wedding gift from her and it seemed like so far away then, but here we are and it feels like no time at all has passed!

I got these mules a couple weeks ago and have not been able to stop wearing them. They are so great! Comfortable, affordable, and they go well with jeans or dress pants for work! I got the toffee color but also love the taupe.

With the colder weather, my skin has been acting out by becoming dry and having a couple of breakouts. I started researching face cleansing brushes and ended up purchasing this one on amazon – I used it for the first time last night and loved the way my skin felt afterwards. Super clean, smooth, and I love that there are a couple of different brush head options to use! I am really excited to see if it keeps helping my skin’s appearance and texture.

Loving this color for fall nails.

I’ve mentioned her store before, but this top and this top are THE BEST purchases in a while. So good. The roll front top is sold out but I’m linking it in case it comes back, and you can add your email to be notified when it’s back in stock!

This week, I started honestly trying to be more active and more thoughtful in the choices I made for groceries and meals. I pack our lunches and make dinner every night, so this week at the grocery store I got healthy items so we didn’t have any other choice! I am trying to get into the habit of exercising after school and then making a healthy dinner for us with good portion sizes.

I can’t wait to read this book and have heard such good things about it!

That’s it for me! Everyone enjoy the weekend!