Waiting on the World to Change

(A little John Mayer song title reference for you there). I haven’t written in so long, and throughout the pandemic I keep saying to myself, “I really need to journal,” but I somehow never find the time. Today my anxiety and stress pushed me right upstairs and in front of my laptop.

I’ve been thinking today about the book The Things They Carried – did anyone else have to read that one in high school? It is several short stories set during the Vietnam War, but I have been thinking about all of the things we carry and how heavy that load can become. Four years ago when Andrew lost his dad, I referenced the phrase “heavy boots,” another term that I stole from a book (Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close)…and today, my boots feel heavy. I’m sure that with everything going on in the world, many of yours do, too.

There is always a lot to be thankful for, but there is an overwhelming and endless stream of information, opinions that I do and don’t agree with, conflicting stories from trusted resources, and it seems like more bad news comes at every turn. Women are having their OB appointments and delivering babies without their birth partners. Adults and children are stuck in homes that are not safe for them. People are going hungry. Children have been out of school buildings for months. Teachers are trying to grapple with how to educate their students from home and dealing with all of the crazy possibilities for school coming in just a few short weeks. Lives and livelihoods have been lost, and on top of that, there is an election coming in November that will determine huge things for our country in either direction, and the nation is so divided. People are f i n a l l y fighting for racial equity, among other BASIC human rights, but look what extreme measures and tragedies it took for only SOME of us to come together and fight for what’s right? With all of this – the pandemic, the election, the fight for racial justice – there are polarizing debates every time I go online and it is heavy to carry. Please understand that I am not saying it isn’t worth its weight, or that it is somehow heavier for me than for anyone else; that is not what I’m saying at all. We all carry different things, and we all carry them in our own way; the things I carry are not the same as yours, and vice versa, so it doesn’t work to sit around and compare weight.

We are carrying a lot. I am incredibly thankful for my life and I feel truly blessed, but it has been a lot. I know everyone has their own version of that story, and I also know that some have it much worse than I do – I am not here to complain, but to say that I SEE YOU. I see you mamas who are working a full-time job while being a full-time care provider and parent to your children, even if you have a partner. I see you women hustling for your jobs or your businesses and trying to make things work when business is not coming in. I see you people who have had to put important decisions on hold for months because of the current world situation. I see those of you who are missing family and friends, or who have had to miss huge milestones with those you love due to Covid-19. I see those of you fighting and demanding that we do better for future generations. I see all of you who just need a BREAK (which is probably all of us!). I know many of you also had to take on the role of teacher while your children tried to tackle remote learning. Some people have been unable to work or receive a paycheck, and many people have lost someone they loved. I see you. I see how hard you are trying to carry your load with your heavy boots making one step, and then, somehow, another.

Today, I got the news that a really special person in our school lost her fight against cancer, and everything just kind of came at me all at once. So I started rattling off my list to myself of what makes me feel better when I am down, anxious, or stressed out – because today I was all of those things. The things that always work for me are getting outside, walking, exercise, listening to music and singing, taking a relaxing bath, reading to get out of my own head, and, as always, writing. So I walked outside, I exercised, I drove around a little with the music blasting, and then I came upstairs to write. We all have different ways to help ease our feelings when they get too heavy to carry. We have to take care of ourselves or else we will see the effects for a long time to come.

Stress affects so much more than just our moods – it is closely intertwined with our blood pressure, our central nervous system, our hormones, our sleep, our weight…so many major body functions. I hope you find something that works for you, that will help lighten your load. If my list doesn’t work for you, make up a list for yourself that does. This is a stressful time, and it is okay for us to admit that we are not okay all the time, that we need a break, that we need to be alone for a minute, that we need to do whatever it is we need to do to feel like ourselves again. Things are not normal, so how can we be? Many of us are carrying a lot more than we are used to.

I encourage you to find your list – what things help you lighten the load of the things you’re carrying?

P.S. I forgot to add my new favorite way to de-stress…hugging my sweet boy close and getting those good baby snuggles when he lets me 🙂 (I’m talking about Davis, not Andrew…but he’s usually good for a hug, too!)

Holiday Gift Guide // Christmas 2019

I always like to start thinking about Christmas gifts far before it gets here. I love getting Christmas gifts knocked off my list and planning out things to get the people that we love! I also always have the challenge of staying within a pretty tight budget – especially now that we have a baby on the way! Giving a gift to me is a joy, and finding just the right thing for someone is like a fun puzzle to solve.

Regardless of who you’re buying for this year, I’ve rounded up some ideas as usual. Some of these are things I have and love, and some are just things I like the idea of or am planning on gifting to someone else this year!

  • Local / small business / shopping with purpose: These are always special gifts to me because you know that your money is going towards a great cause or a small business owner. If you’re in the Raleigh/Triangle area, my best friend Whitney’s husband Romain has a very talented mom/stepdad duo who run Boykin Pottery – they do all local pop-ups and have beautiful items. I also already mentioned The Yellow Bird but am linking their whole shop here, too. They are all natural and chemical-free! The Flourish Market is a shop that started from a tiny dream and is now booming to give back to those in need. Finally, The Little Market and The Shop Forward are not local businesses and you may have heard of both of them already, but they both give back to good causes and have great options for gifting.

Men are always THE HARDEST people to shop for on my list. For me, that includes my dad, brother, Andrew, and his brothers – but it is still a challenge! There are so many gift guides for men out there, but like I said last year, usually none of them really fit the guys in my life, so I have to get creative. This year I’m thinking about the following items for guys:

  • A nice pullover: Andrew loves a good pullover or vest. Columbia has an early bird sale going on and I’m sure they’ll have great Black Friday/Cyber Monday deals. This pullover is on sale for $29.99 right now! I got him one from Patagonia on a great sale last year.
  • Books: My dad and brother both love to read, so I always like to listen out for a book that I think would interest them or ask if they have one they’ve been wanting to add to their collection.
  • Wireless earbuds (like, truly no wires – even I would love these!) or a wireless phone charger for their desk! Another cool gadget is this waterproof bluetooth speaker for the shower/bathroom/pool, whatever! Here’s another option.
  • A tactical wallet that has card security as well as pocket knife type attachments. I thought this was pretty cool!
  • When in doubt, I find that gift cards are always great gifts for anyone. The guys in my life love Amazon, Home Depot (or your preferred home improvement store – no arguments here!), Dick’s Sporting Goods, and Kohl’s!

Happy shopping! I know there are tons of gift guides out there from all the bloggers, but every little bit helps!

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 🙂

FriYAY feels!

FriYAY! Today is the second day back to school, and I’m just trying to pretend like it’s still summer break. It always flies by, especially when you’re working the whole summer! Here’s what’s new with me:

Last weekend, I got to tag along to one of Whitney’s photo shoots for an engagement session. The couple was so cute, and it was fun to see Whitney in action! She works so hard and takes the most beautiful pictures. The ones I’ve seen so far from the shoot I helped with are amazing! Check her out on Instagram!

Yesterday I worked in my classroom alllll day trying to get everything arranged. This is my third year back in the classroom, and the third time they’ve moved my room – I have a lot of work cut out for me! I’m teaching Parenting & Child Development again this year, which I love teaching. I’m also taking on two new courses, Early Childhood Education I and II where the students go out to help and teach lessons in child care centers in the community! I’m really excited about those classes. I’m mentoring two beginning teachers, and I’m also department chair this year, so I know I’ll have some big responsibilities. I’ve been spending short spurts of time hours looking through Pinterest for classroom decoration ideas! I like to have a bright, cozy, and inviting classroom. Yesterday I bought this plastic toolbox and I’m going to use it for school supplies – I’ll put on cute laminated labels, of course. It would be great for makeup, toiletries, jewelry, or anything around the house, too!

Whitney and I took a SkillPop class last night on branding your business. I have taken a few SkillPop classes and love the whole premise. It’s nice to try new things and the locations are always so cool! I want to do a handlettering class and maybe a watercolor class in the near future! Afterwards, we went and had sushi and chatted for a while. As life gets busier and busier, it’s hard to get together like we used to, so it’s always good to be able to hang!

I think I’ve mentioned before that I don’t watch a whole lot of TV, and I don’t have cable – but I have always loved The Office and Andrew and I are in the middle of re-watching that. We like to have a show to work through and I’m excited for the second season of Stranger Things to come out in the Fall! My sister and I are obsessed with Grace and Frankie – has anyone else seen it!? I love it! It’s hilarious and I love Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin. You have to watch it and see for yourself!

Finally, up next on my list of things to try are this twisted crown braid and this Bare Minerals barePro foundation! I’m a long-time fan of the Bare Minerals foundation powder but hate the mess, and this new liquid foundation has great reviews!

That’s it for now! Have a great weekend! I’m gettin’ my hairs did and I am so excited! Always nice to have a fresh new ‘do.

THE bag

You need to run to your nearest TJ Maxx RIGHT NOW (after reading this post, of course).

I have a friend at work (at the pub) who has great style. She had this amazing bag and I immediately started obsessing over it with my other coworker. We had to have it. After agonizing over it for days, I went after a lunch shift this past Saturday and snagged two:  One for me, and one for the other coworker who wanted one. I sent it to my sister and she immediately caught the bug, too. Luckily, my friend from work had also picked up an extra one for either me my other coworker because we had been so into it (seriously this is ridiculous at this point). So I bought that one off of her for my sister. The bag that keeps on giving!

oliver stealing the limelight

one side has the fun zippers, one has just the steve madden plate

room for all the things

it came with this pouch inside! 

makeup + girly stuff in the pouch

Seriously – if this bag speaks to you like it did to me (like, enough to write an entire blog post about it), GO TO TJ MAXX NOW. Who knows how long they will have these in stock?! Rumor has it there is another one with purple accents, too. For $40 you get this beauty – plus the inside pouch that comes with a cross-body length strap. SO YOU BASICALLY GET TWO PURSES IN ONE. This is going to be great for travel and everyday use. I love it!

Happy 4th of July!

Happy Fourth of July, everyone! Just a quick post to say have a great day. Enjoy time off (hopefully!) with family and friends, wear some patriotic colors, and be sure to eat some treats.

I’m spending today hanging with two of my favorite people:  My sister + Andrew! I plan on doing some yoga in the morning to start the day off right! Then, my sister and I want to finish up our patio DIY project (coming soon!). Our main plan is to grill steaks and scallops by the pool with Andrew and one of my sister’s friends, and then we might catch the Durham Bulls baseball game and annual fireworks show in the evening! Easy, fun, and pretty stress-free!

What’s everyone doing for the holiday? Enjoy the day and the fireworks!