Our Honeymoon!

Our honeymoon to Jamaica was amazing! We started planning our honeymoon pretty early on, since we got engaged in December and only had about 6 months to plan everything for our wedding! We both wanted to go somewhere tropical where we could just relax and be at the beach, and we both loved the idea of an all-inclusive resort. We had never been on a trip together, and we wanted it to be fun, beautiful, and laid-back. We started looking into Sandals resorts, and we picked Sandals Montego Bay after looking at lots of reviews and talking to friends who had been there. We booked the resort and our flights, and then it seemed like something far off that would never come. After the wedding, it seemed so surreal to finally be married and to be boarding our first flight together – and as husband and wife!

We were both so pleased with the Sandals experience! Everything was so beautiful when we arrived, and they took care of everything for us, including a waiting room at the airport with drinks and sandwiches, a shuttle to our resort, and taking care of our luggage every step of the way. Our room wasn’t ready yet when we arrived, so we went out to the beach to sit and look at the views. We were so excited and felt so fancy to be at this big beautiful resort on such a beautiful island!

just arrived in the sandals open air lobby!

the view from our room and a bathtub on the balcony!

The water in Jamaica was so clear and beautiful, calm with very little waves. We went snorkeling one day and got to see so many beautiful fish and the reefs were amazing. We also saw TONS of jellyfish! They were tiny and almost clear with a hint of pink – that’s the only way you could see them. We got stung but it just felt like tiny electric shocks, nothing major. But the really great thing about Jamaica is that there are basically no sharks…my worst fear! I made sure to google about that before we booked. We spent our days having breakfast at the main buffet, lathering up in sunscreen, and then hitting the beach for a few hours! We mostly ate lunch at the beach bar and grill because we were right there, and then we would come in to the room in the afternoons to cool off, shower, and rest or nap. At night we would get ready and go to dinner somewhere on the resort – we had Italian, Asian stir-fry, and English pub food. There were several restaurants on the resort, but two required reservations and we only did that once. We loved Tokyo Jo’s, the Asian stir-fry restaurant – and it was right outside our hotel room so it was easy to get to! The English pub was close, too, just steps from our room. We went to the piano bar one night and also did karaoke! Mostly, we enjoyed the water and the sun and just spending time together with nothing to do. I read one book and a few trashy magazines, and we reapplied the sunscreen as often as we could. This skin was not made for the sun, but Andrew always gets a great tan. So unfair! 🙂

my  handsome husband reppin’ my dad’s business, ham jones guitars

We were at the resort Tuesday to Tuesday, and Sunday was the one week anniversary of our wedding! So we booked a candlelight private dinner out on the Greek Gazebo location – our dinner actually did not go according to plan, because there was a mix-up and they had reserved our location for another couple, as well. So that was a little bit of a bummer, but we still had fun and got to enjoy the beautiful sunset out overlooking the water!

The last day we were there, we rented out a cabana over the water, and that was probably our favorite thing about the trip! We spent the day covered by the shade, catching such a good breeze, and they served us breakfast and lunch out there with a private butler for the day! His name was Cory and he was so great. He talked to us all about Jamaican culture and we just loved being able to relax in the shade all day for our last full day of vacation.

We loved our experience and would love to go back for an anniversary! I would love to go back every year, but you know…teacher salary! It was hard to come back to reality but we have so many amazing memories from our first trip together as husband and wife! The only tip I would give is to pack even lighter than you think you should. I’m not a super heavy packer, but honestly I could have done without several makeup items, and could have packed wayyyy less clothes! All you really need are sunglasses, bathing suits, cover ups, flip flops, and a few dresses or outfits for dinners! Thank you to Sandals for making our honeymoon so much fun!

Hitched!

erica akroyd photography

It’s official! I am a married lady now! The wedding day and even the entire weekend went by in such a blur, and I tried to really be in the moment like so many people have advised – but it still goes by quickly and you feel like you got bits and pieces of a lot of things, but it’s hard to put everything together as a whole, if that makes sense. Our wedding day was sooo wonderful, minus my hair stylist not showing up – but we got that fixed pretty quickly and the rest of the day was smooth sailing! There’s always got to be a story, right?! And our honeymoon in Jamaica was amazing!!! Just what we needed. A week with my husband (!!!), relaxing in the clear water and white sand, getting some sun and rest, with no responsibilities and no commitments.

What a WHIRLWIND this summer has been. I thought this would be a summer where I could relax, work on the blog, lay out by the pool, run errands for the wedding…I barely had time for any of that! What it really ended up being was hours of final details, emails, and meetings for the wedding, trying to work out and meal prep so I was feeling my best, my sister was studying for her board exam to become a Nurse Practitioner (she passed and starts her new job in Charlotte TODAY!), Andrew was working on summer school and summer baseball and football coaching…the list goes on! All of that mixed up with other weddings and showers, my bachelorette weekend, and trying to pack up my sister’s things, move Andrew out of his apartment and into mine, unpack all of our wedding gifts and donate tons and tons of clothes and household items, and try to pack for the wedding and honeymoon! There was stuff EVERYWHERE for weeks and weeks and for someone like me, that’s a nightmare. So now that we are home from our honeymoon and I’ve been able to unpack every last box and make a few decor swaps, it’s starting to   f  i  n  a  l  l  y   feel like a home – our very first home together!

It has been raining since we got home from Jamaica, so that’s no fun – but other than that, I’m so happy to be back to real life, to finally have all three dogs back together with us again, and to be able to catch up with people after the hectic last few months!

So now there are about 2 weeks left until school starts up again and I am trying to just really enjoy every moment of them. I need to get my name changed, so I’m working on getting that done ASAP, and other than that, it’s mostly just settling in to our new home and finding our new routines until school begins and our routines change completely again! Haha! I’m planning on some blog posts about wedding details, the honeymoon, and maybe our apartment, as well as regular non-wedding related posts in the next little while, so stay tuned – don’t give up on me!

Wedding update // 39 days to go!

I can’t believe that in a little over a month, we will be walking down the aisle and saying, “I do!” Such a crazy and surreal feeling. All of our big things have been taken care of, and here’s an update on the few things we have left:

My dress is currently being altered, and I can’t wait for that to be finished so I can have my hair and makeup trial and bridal portraits done by Whitney! Once it is done, I’ll invite my mom and future mother-in-law for the big reveal at the bridal salon. So exciting! I have a perfume for the day of, all of my jewelry, shoes, and I’m excited to finalize a hair style soon. I’m borrowing Whitney’s veil from her wedding in April, I have something blue from my granddaddy and Andrew’s dad, and I have lots of old and new!

All that’s left now is finalizing small details and conducting final meetings with vendors. We will meet with our DJ soon, and we have our meeting with the venue planner tomorrow! We will finalize menus, head counts, the day of timeline, our ceremony, etc. We need to have some signs made and get programs printed once we have everything set in stone…and that’s about it! The rehearsal and meal are planned, and I’m so excited for the day before the wedding to see family and friends, get nails done with the girls, and have my last day as a “single” gal! I’m planning on having a little slumber party with my bridesmaids in the hotel suite the night before the wedding.

We have had four – FOUR – showers thrown by the most kind people who have made us feel so loved. We have one shower left and it will be an around-the-clock themed shower thrown and hosted by my sister and best friends. I can’t wait! Then, a bachelorette weekend with my bridesmaids and favorite ladies at the beginning of July, and after that, it’s just a final countdown until the wedding weekend! I’m trying to stick to a fitness routine and skin care routine, and just make sure I’m taking time to relax so I don’t get stressed out or overwhelmed! I am mostly just thrilled to be marrying Andrew and starting our new life together (with the three doggies, of course).

I may check in once more before the big day, but I definitely plan to share more details afterwards, like pictures and details from the day itself, the gifts I selected for the people I love, how I handled the planning process, etc.! I have enjoyed planning our wedding for the most part, and we’ve done it in about 6 months! I know the day will be a blur, and I know everything will NOT go according to plan. So I just plan to soak up and enjoy all of it, and forget about minor issues. At the end of the day, we’ll be married – and that’s the whole point!

FriYAY feels!

at the rally for teachers and students in downtown raleigh this week! #redfored

Friyay! This week, I joined 20,000+ teachers, parents, students, and supporters in the march downtown to demand more funding for students and classrooms, more resources for mental health, class size changes, and better working conditions. It was cool to be part of something bigger than me, and to come together with thousands towards one common goal.

This weekend, my sister is having a graduation party and I can’t wait! I’m so proud of her for busting her butt the last 3 years to become a Nurse Practitioner. She’s going to be amazing! Andrew and I also have an end of the year party at one of our friend’s houses from school, so it will be really fun to kick back and celebrate!

I said I would report back on my Tula skincare purchase. I ordered the discovery kit to see what I thought – and once it was empty, I re-ordered the full size face wash, this exfoliating mask to try, and the pro-glycolic resurfacing gel toner. In hindsight, I would swap out the face mask for the probiotic day &  night cream next time – the moisturizer is amazing, but I didn’t order it because I still have my Murad moisturizer from my Spring FabFitFun box that I love! The face wash goes a long way and it cleans my makeup off really well without a lot of scrubbing or effort on my part. I can’t say that my breakouts have cleared up 100% because that’s just my luck in life, but I do love the way it makes my skin look and feel. We’ll see how it continues to go!

Still loving these slides and wearing them at least twice a week. SO comfortable.

This week I got to the gym as many times as I said I would! Huge feat for me. I feel great, sore, and ready to keep this up! My wedding dress should be here soon, so I want to feel my best when I get it on!

New favorite affordable mascara (still holding onto this one as my other all time favorite) and the lip I’ve been rocking constantly (in the color Baci). I’ve loved the Stila stay all day liquid lipsticks since my college years, but this color is so good.

I’ve been stacking this necklace stamped with our wedding date lately, with this “A” necklace that I always wear (Andrew got me the “J” necklace for Christmas last year, and it broke one morning at school. I ordered the A thinking I could slide on the J charm with it, and I couldn’t get the J back on due to the clasps…so now I wear his initial instead!).

my necklaces!

I got to meet my friend Kelly’s little man Jacob last Sunday. He is only a week and a half old and he is perfect! He came a few weeks early but he is healthy and doing great. I am so happy to have another friend with a baby – my other friend Kelly had her baby Kate in December. So many baby snuggles in my future!

Two things I’ve been practicing with for wedding events and the actual wedding day after INTENSE research and review reading:  This sunless tanner (use the application mitt!) and some hair extensions so my thin hair can be on fleek. No shame. My legs are white, white, white and until I can lay by the pool (with SPF, of course), I’m trying to look a little bronzed in my white dresses for showers and events surrounding the wedding. I don’t think I’ll use it for the big day because I would hate to risk being streaky and I would never forgive myself if I stained my dress! But it has been working really well so far! The extensions are real hair, high quality, and matched my  hair really well. They are just a few inches longer than my real hair. They just give it some life and fullness, and whatever I decide for my wedding hair, my hair stylist suggested them to just give me a little more oomph! I ordered them from Bellami Hair in the ash blonde color.

I ordered this tote way back in April (it was a definite splurge, a treat yoself item I bought when I finally got approved for my Master’s degree extra pay!). It was on backorder because I got the petal pink color – I guess it’s all the rage this season! I have had my eye on this bag since about a year ago, but couldn’t bite the bullet. My best friend Whitney got one for Christmas and I decided I just had to have it. I haven’t gotten a purse since this bad boy last summer which I’m still carrying, and I haven’t gotten myself a NICE purse in……..ever? So it arrived yesterday and I’m just delighted.

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

The best salad recipe

Last weekend, two of my mom’s best friends threw me a shower in Asheville where I grew up. It was the most fabulous time – it’s always weird opening gifts in front of people that you more or less asked for, but everyone keeps telling me that’s what I’m supposed to be doing! We had it at my mom’s friend Lelia’s family cabin, which is so charming and authentic and amazing, full of old timey treasures. Andrew’s church threw us both a shower a few weeks ago, too, and that was our first ACTUAL wedding event and was so thoughtful. We have two more showers coming up in the next month or so and I am thrilled, mostly because that means I get to spend some time with people I love! And get dressed up and eat yummy food, too – can’t forget that part.

Speaking of food, the whole point of this post is that at my shower last weekend in Asheville, there was a salad that was    t   o      d   i   e     f   o   r. I mean TO DIE FOR. So delicious, fresh, light, but filling. It was packed with nutrients and it was so good I went for a second plate of salad instead of meatballs and sausage balls (well, maybe I snuck a couple more of those on my plate, too. Don’t judge me – this is my time!).

This, this is the salad. Strawberry avocado chicken pasta salad. You’ve got your healthy fats, fruits, veggies, protein, carbs, and dairy – the whole gang in one recipe! I followed the recipe exactly, except my avocados weren’t quite ripe enough, so I only used one before giving up. The creamy balsamic dressing is so easy to make and so worth it. My sister helped me whip this up last night for lunches this week and it did not disappoint.

(spiffy salad dressing container not mandatory)

Some tips:  1. Make sure you have a BIG bowl to mix all this in. This is a big salad that makes 8 servings. 2. I would wait to add your dressing before you eat the salad if you are planning on having single servings – if you’re serving it all at once at an event, then I would toss it the night before or the morning of! 3. I used goat cheese, because…goat cheese. It’s my favorite in the world. 4. I forgot to buy pecans, so I used a mix of walnuts and slivered almonds that we toasted up in the pan real quick. 5. Finally, the mason jars look great in a picture, and I know they seem to be all the rage on Pinterest for salad lunches, but I hated eating my salad out of it. In fact, I ended up dumping mine out onto a plate at school!

still into my la croix

I never thought I’d go on so much about a salad, but here I am. Perfect for lunches,  a side dish, a party dish, or even a complete dinner (I certainly wouldn’t judge you if you toasted up some bread to go with it). Thanks to my mom’s BFF, Aunt Judi for finding this gem and serving it up! I feel like I have a new recipe to add into my mix of solid crowd pleasers. On a side note, I did learn something new about Andrew when he got into his salad at lunch today – the man doesn’t like strawberries?! Who am I even marrying?! But to be fair, I don’t like watermelon and I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been called un-American for that. Oh, well.

Enjoy the recipe and let me know if  you make it and love it as much as I do!

FriYAY feels!

Friyay! And YIKES. It has been a long time since I wrote!

I’ve struggled with the blog thing because my life is so busy right now, and to be honest, I’m never sure who’s following along. Then someone will randomly tell me they love reading my posts, and it is so nice and gives me the pick-me-up I need. I don’t get paid or have any partnerships for MAXOUThappy, so when I have extra time or inspiration I write more, and when I don’t…I just don’t. I’d rather it be real than forced. And that’s life sometimes. Between teaching, working a second job, my best friend’s wedding, mine and Andrew’s wedding, baseball season, three dogs, and trying to keep some semblance of eating well and being active, I have been covered up lately!

All this to say thank you for not giving up on me if you are reading this.

We had spring break for school last week, and it flew by (as usual!). I had lofty plans of working on the blog, doing photo shoots, working out every day, etc. but a lot of that did not happen. Some big things that I DID accomplish, though:  Spring cleaning of the apartment, lots of laundry, my taxes, cleaning out my closet and room and donating a million bags to Goodwill, getting our rentals and rehearsal food booked for the wedding, and most importantly, getting in some QT with my fiancé and celebrating his birthday! I also somehow managed to make some online purchases – but these are items that I have been researching and really considering for weeks now. Bulk impulse buys are worse than bulk thought-out and deeply considered buys, right?! SOMEBODY BACK ME UP.

I have been having a hard time getting my 30 year old skin under control. I have always suffered from breakouts, but something has shifted now that I’m older and I’m having hormonal skin issues as well as workout-related breakouts. I bought a fancy charcoal mask that had amazing reviews at the start of the new year and it WREAKED HAVOC on my face. I have been seeing the Tula skincare line everywhere and have heard only wonderful things, but I have a hard time putting serious cash down on stuff that I’m not sure will work, especially on my finicky and super sensitive skin. After much deliberation, I bought the discovery kit so I can try some of these out without breaking the bank and see how they work for me! I’ll report back. Has anyone else tried it and loved it?

I got these camel colored mules for spring and summer, and if they’re as comfortable as they look I will probably continue to wear them into fall! I am always ballin’ on a budget, but in the last few years I’ve tried to incorporate one or two things each season that are high quality staple items for my closet that will last for years. I can’t afford to do that with everything I buy, but these shoes seem so worth it. I got them last night and I know I’ll be killin’ them in the classroom this spring on repeat. Let those teenagers try to say something. Comfort + style can’t be beat. Plus you can get 15% off by entering your email address (just unsubscribe later if the emails bother you!).

i mean they’re just lovely.

I think I’m super behind to the Everlane party, but I wanted to put it out there in case anyone else is behind like me! They partner with ethical factories around the world and use high quality fabrics for a fair price. I need to wait a minute on the online purchases, but I’m looking at this nice plain u-neck tee and these high-rise white jeans for spring & summer.

I’m dying to try this lipstick because it has been so raved about by fancy bloggers I follow. I am considering trying the shade Pillow Talk to see if it’s a good one for the wedding!

I joined a new gym this week to try to vamp up my motivation for my fitness. I am a serial O2 Fitness joiner and canceler, but they just opened a new one near me and I’m giving it a try again! Stay tuned. I’m hoping with the yoga studio, cycle studio, group fitness classes AND regular gym equipment, I’ll have a great variety and I won’t feel stuck.

A few quick, actually easy, and delicious healthy recipes I made for dinner this week:  Lemon garlic crockpot chicken, shrimp fajitas, and Italian chicken tenders (no recipe here; I just drizzle chicken tenders with olive oil + balsamic vinegar and a packet of Italian seasoning. Bake at 375 for about 25-30 minutes. YUM). Hoping to try this delicious and easy beef & broccoli recipe next week!

This weekend, my mom and I are hosting Whitney’s bridal luncheon for a brunch and I am SO excited to get to celebrate her! In ONE WEEK she will be getting married! So weird and real! I can’t wait to stand by her side while she marries the love of her life.

Enjoy the weekend – maybe warmer weather is   f   i   n   a   l   l   y   here to stay?!

FabFitFun // Spring box

It’s here! The Spring FabFitFun box got to me about a week ago, and I am so excited. I mentioned this subscription service when I got my Winter box – it is such a fun treat to look forward to every few months!

This box was FULL of goodies – I don’t think there was even one item in it that I wasn’t excited about! Total value of this box was $347 so it feels like such a deal when you just pay your subscription price of $49.99! The picture below breaks down what each of the items was in this spring box:

I LOVE the Murad face lotion – it is so smooth, and I really feel like I can already see a difference in my skin tone and texture already. It smells good, too! I have been using it every day. My only complaint about it would be that it doesn’t contain an SPF, so you’d still have to follow with that. I am excited to try the Free People cooling face mask, although face masks kind of give me anxiety. Is that weird?! I just feel like they’re closing in on me when I wear them! But I have several friends who swear by them, and I’m going to give it a try for puffiness and relaxation – if it’s not for the entire night, maybe my brain will feel less weird wearing it. They’re sold out right now, so they must be good!

The Rachel Pally clutch is SO cute, reversible, and just in time for spring! Maybe my favorite thing in the box next to the face lotion, just because I can get so much use out of it, and since it’s reversible, it’s even better!

When I opened the box, I immediately wanted to light the Anderson Lilley candle, because the fragrance was already filling up my room and it smelled SO good. Plus, I love the copper holder. Perfect for taking a bath or just relaxing at home.

I’ve been using the ISH lip palette every day for my lip color, and I love the variety of colors and how smoothly they each go on. Definitely a bonus! I have also been using the massage roller a ton this week – it is amazing. Andrew likes it, too! I can’t find the link to the actual roller – but I would definitely purchase it for myself just because of how great it feels! I haven’t tried any of the other items, but like I said, every part of this box was exciting to me!


my two favorite items from the box!

My favorite part about the FabFitFun subscription is that it is full of goodies that I normally wouldn’t spend full price on – this way, I get to try and use all of these full-sized products without breaking the bank! Win-win. My least favorite part of the subscription is the side-eyed judgement looks I get from my dogs while I’m taking photos for blog posts – haha!

catching judgement from the doggies

FriYAY feels!


cloth & paper notepad, feyoncé mug was a gift!

FriYAY!!! The weekend is upon us. This weekend, I’m at the beach with some of my favorite people, celebrating my best friend Whitney for her bachelorette weekend! She’ll be getting married in about a MONTH – I can’t believe it and I can’t wait to stand up there next to her while she marries the love of her life! Her bridal shower was in February, which was a ton of fun, so I know this weekend will be grand. I’ve really been looking forward to it!

I’m so ready for spring and Whitney’s wedding has kind of been that stepping stone for me – like, by the time she gets married, spring will be HERE. And then before you know it, the 100 degree, 100% humidity days will start rolling in just in time for mine and Andrew’s wedding in July! I especially love the warmer weather for when I go watch Andrew’s baseball games after school. At the beginning of the season, it’s frigid by the end of the game, but by the end of the season, I’m getting sunburned and sweating. Either way, I still love it!

Speaking of Spring, all the florals are out in stores in full fledged glory. I’m loving this dress – and you can’t beat a price like that for a nice dress from Loft!

I’ve been using Tarte’s Shape Tape Concealer for a couple of months now and have COMPLETELY fallen in love with it. I’m still using my Bare Minerals BarePro foundation, but once it runs out, my next purchase will immediately be the new Shape Tape foundation. I can’t wait to try it! I’ll have to decide on either the matte or the hydrating.

I’m starting to think about the honeymoon in July, and I realized I don’t have a matching set of luggage. When I graduated high school, I got a nice set – but that was 13 years ago! That makes me feel old. I’m l-o-v-i-n-g this set and daydreaming of my new monogram – but this one is probably a more affordable and realistic option!

That’s about all that’s going on with me! Celebrating huge life events like my best friend getting married, preparing for mine and Andrew’s wedding, my best friend Kelly having a baby in May…and our high school’s spring break and Andrew’s birthday are in just a couple of weeks! I’m so looking forward to that week off so I can take care of things I really need to do – like deep clean, de-clutter and donate things I am no longer using, and do my taxes (fingers crossed!).

I’ll be sharing photos and insta stories of Whitney’s bachelorette weekend for the next couple of days, so follow along on Instagram! Enjoy the weekend!

 

Thoughts // Heavy Boots 2

This one goes out to all of the passionate educators who raise our nation’s children, and to all the heavy hearts wearing heavy boots.

I’ve struggled a lot over the last few days on whether or not to post this. I’m not usually one to get political, or rock the boat, or to get people up in arms. But I am personally up in arms, and I’m having a hard time. Is anyone else wearing heavy boots? I explained the heavy boots thing in this post . The recent world events and school shootings, which should not be plural, have been weighing so heavily on me these past few days and I can’t write a joyful post about clothes or coffee or happiness because I’m just feeling really let down by society right now.

I am incredibly passionate about people, and I do believe that there is beauty and goodness in the world. I have to. There are beautiful things happening in front of us every single day. But working in the education system, and more specifically in a public high school, has made these events and this topic hit very close to home, and I feel like I’ve been carrying something around that keeps getting heavier and heavier.

I’m not sure when exactly a teacher’s job description shifted to include needing to protect the lives of children and adolescents in the event of a deadly shooting attack. I remember in high school having my first ever code red lockdown drill after the tragic events at Columbine, and thinking it was so weird and scary to be pretending like something like that was happening at our school. As high school juniors and seniors, we scrunched up behind our teacher’s desk with all the blinds shut, giggling and acting like it wasn’t a real issue, and if it was, it was certainly one that would never touch us. But here it is, over 10 years later, still happening, ever-present. And now, as an adult, every year when we have our annual lockdown drill at school, I shove my students into a closet and lock the doors and shut the blinds and turn off the lights and feel my heartbeat race, even though it’s just a drill. There is an eerie presence of this terrifying reality even in our preparation and training for an event that we pray will never come.

We continue to put band-aids on things without dealing with the root cause of the issue. Violence is not the answer to violence. Arm me with a deadly weapon?! How is this even an INKLING of a thought? Arm me with a school culture that is safe and nurturing, arm me with policies that keep people from purchasing automatic assault weapons. Arm me with mental health resources for children who I can sense, as someone who spends a lot of time getting to know them, are on the verge of a mental breaking point and are in serious, urgent need of attention RIGHT NOW. Not tomorrow, not next week when the paperwork goes through. Arm me with a reassurance that this chronic mental health crisis in our nation is getting the attention it deserves and that the stigma we place on mental health issues is going to change. Arm me with a system that listens and reacts when warning signs are documented and vocalized instead of waiting until it’s too late. Arm me with all of those things, and so many more, but do not place the ridiculous responsibility of carrying a gun at school on our teachers who already have overflowing lists of responsibilities that we can’t possibly keep up with.

It would be silly to say that this isn’t a political debate. Of course it is – policy brings change, and policy means politics. But maybe we should try to look at it as a human race stance rather than a political one:  No matter who our leader is, no matter what your political beliefs are, the fact of the matter is that we, as a nation, have a serious problem. This is a systemic and societal problem that is intertwined in so many layers, and it is too complicated to fix immediately, and I think that is why it’s so hard for me. It’s no one’s fault, and it’s everyone’s fault. It’s hard to see a system with good intentions fail our kids, and it’s hard to watch and feel helpless when world events occur that we should have been able to prevent. I saw a Facebook post of a friend recently that has really resonated with me – it’s hard to take a side when this issue is so intertwined. This is not just a gun issue. It isn’t just a mental health issue, or an education issue, or a society issue. It is all of these things and more, left alone to mingle for too many years without change or action and without enough resources, and now here we are, with a mountain in front of us that no one knows how to move. So we’ve just been circling, and I truly hope that we are on the verge of finding a way up. That we are on the edge of banding together to make something real happen for the betterment of our future.

I love my job. I believe that the work I do on a daily basis is worth something. I love watching these students grow and develop into adults who will hopefully be productive members of society and bring positive change. I will never stop believing that the work educators do, day in and day out, is monumental and in some cases, literally life-changing for children and adolescents. They need us, and they need you, and they need a lot of support. They need hope, they need a voice, they need education to help them find their way, and above all of that, they need to feel safe and secure in their schools, especially when many do not feel safe or secure in their homes. I still believe that there is beauty and magic in the world, because without that belief, these things would be too heavy to carry.

Last night, after writing all this, I attended a teacher appreciation dinner one of my students invited me to. Sometimes the good stuff comes just in time. It lifted my spirits in ways I can’t explain, to just sit and be honored in such a sweet way, and to realize that in some small way, I am doing something. But there is still so much left to be done.

flowers from the teacher appreciation dinner, and a beautiful reminder of good things in this world

The Yellow Bird

I am always looking for new products to try out and write about, and I’ve mentioned several times that I love to support local/small businesses. Whitney is always thinking of ideas for me, and a while back she had told me about The Yellow Bird and how she had met the owner at one of her networking meetings for local creatives and business owners. I started following on Instagram and got a feel for the products and the vibes from the company. I loved everything I saw, especially that it is a family owned business, so finally I reached out to one of the owners of the company to see what her suggestions would be for products to try! I love to read reviews and take trusted recommendations from people who know what they’re talking about. She suggested several items including their face oil set, but I had just started using another face oil so I had to try something else. I ended up ordering the activated charcoal soap that comes with the face oil set, and I ordered two of their new bath bombs and this foot cream.

I was so impressed with how fast this shipped and got to me, even over the weekend! When I opened the box, the most divine smells filled my room almost immediately. Andrew walked in and asked if I had sprayed some smelly stuff in the room! I loved the scents of the bath bombs. I also love that the charcoal soap has lemongrass and lavender, two of my favorite relaxing scents. When I use it, my face feels squeaky clean, soft, and all my makeup comes off really easily. And I love the smell! You can’t go wrong with a bath bomb, but these are so pretty, fragrant, and left my skin feeling so smooth and soft when I got out of the bath.

The foot cream is the real MVP. It’s winter, and my skin is dry everywhere, but my feet and hands tend to suffer the most! This foot cream not only smells so fresh, but I woke up with baby feet that were so soft! It’s not a cream like a lotion – it’s more like an oil or a vaseline type of consistency. I slathered it all over my feet and put on my socks before bed. Wonderful results! And with eucalyptus, lavender, tea tree oil, and peppermint, you can’t go wrong!

This post was not sponsored and I truly just love to share trusted recommendations for anyone out there who can benefit from them. The owner of this company was so incredibly kind through our messaging, plus she used to be a teacher too! If you’re in the market for some all natural, made with care skincare and bath products that will help support a family, this is a wonderful non-corporate option. Treat yoself, get a nice gift for someone else, stock up on your bath supplies or skin care items, and support a small business owner! I am dying to try the charcoal salt & sugar scrub next, and when my current face oil runs out I’ll give theirs a try!