Wednesday, November 25, 2015

3 Ways to Get Your Steps in This Winter

Last week I talked about how one of the boundaries I set for myself each day is getting my 10,000 steps in. I use a FitBit to track my steps, but you could use any pedometer or activity tracker. 10,000 steps is the recommended amount for a healthy lifestyle.

I swear by this because I have been working out every day for almost a year and a half now for 30 minutes a day at least. When I started tracking my steps after Christmas last year I was shocked at how little I was moving each day. My steps during my workout weren't as many as I'd thought and I hadn't been moving as much chasing JaiseAnn as I'd thought either. 

Now that I am aware of my activity, I make added efforts to get steps in wherever I can. In the Winter months it can be hard, though. I'm not as comfortable taking JaiseAnn on long(ish) walks (JaiseAnn was only a good stroller kid for a brief time, she already hates it again). I, myself, am not comfortable going on walks so much because I hate the cold. 

Now that the cold has set in, here are 3 ways I make sure I get my steps every day. 

Daily Exercise

A while back I did this post with Jaelan and she said, "Objects in motion stay in motion." When you start the day with exercise, you're more likely to have the energy to keep moving each day. The added steps from a good workout don't hurt either. 

Remember, though, not all exercise is created equal--and that includes steps. Twice a week I do Zumba and I always end up with anywhere from 4,500-6,500 steps in an hour. Other days I work out doing a DVD at home and I end up with anywhere from 1,600-2,100 steps. This doesn't mean the workouts I'm doing at home aren't worthwhile, they push my body in other ways and that's good, too. 

Set Appropriate Goals

When I wake up in the morning on a non-Zumba day, I have to carefully select my workout. In the winter it's so cold that I have to be aware of my plans for the day and how active I'm going to be. When I do that, I'm better able to choose a workout that will get me the steps I'll need for the day. It's definitely one of the things I take into consideration (along with choosing to do something I want to do) when I choose my exercise for the day.

I also set small goals for myself. We usually have more plans in the afternoon than in the morning, so I need to use my morning to get steps in if I need to. If we're going to have a playdate in the afternoon I will try to have 5,000 or more steps in by naptime. If we're going to be doing something that requires me to walk more, I might go easy on myself and say 4,000 by naptime. 

Find Warm Places to Move

Your house is always a great place to start. Finding games and activities that encourage movement with kids is always fun. We play "chase" and "hide and seek." I also make sure to do some house cleaning every morning, afternoon, and evening to keep moving. While I have been known to literally walk in laps around my living room after JaiseAnn goes to sleep, it's not the most fun way to get in activity. So instead I try to find ways to move during the day. Dance parties are a huge hit--JaiseAnn loves them and they get so much more movement in such little time. Dancing to 5 or 6 songs a day really adds up. 

Shopping is another way to get in steps. This has become more challenging as JaiseAnn has started to hate the cart, but when we go grocery shopping I get a lot of steps in--the same as a quick stroll around our local Target. Sometimes I take JaiseAnn to our mall--it's really deserted and she can walk on her own pretty easily and I can get my steps in at the same time.

You might know of indoor museums and other fun places to go when it's cold out that keep you moving. If it's something you enjoy and keeps you active, do it. It really doesn't matter how sophisticated or unsophisticated it seems as long as you're moving. 

Do you track your steps? How do you keep moving in the winter? 

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

When Do YOU Decorate for Christmas?

So just this week JaiseAnn started recognizing and saying, "Santa!" Which is one of the most thrilling things ever. I'm so looking forward to all the holidays have to offer with her: making cooikies with Grandma, visiting Santa, reading Christmas books, putting up our tree while watching A Muppet Christmas Carol (which she will probably only watch for 10 minutes), and more. We've been coloring Christmas pages this week while listening to Christmas music. 

I've always decorated after Thanksgiving, but in the last few years, I have started decorating the week of Thanskgiving--that Monday or Tuesday. When JaiseAnn said, "Santa" I was determined to have the decorations up before this weekend. We had a lot going on this week and I had a bit of an emotional breakdown a few days ago (too much schoolwork/not enough time, overwhelmed with trying to manage the work from home/going to school/being a mom/taking care of the house thing--and I feel like I'm in over my head right now, pair all of that with JaiseAnn not sleeping as well suddenly. She's up the first hour we put her down (which hasn't happened in months) and then she wakes up SUPER early. Before 6 a.m. For the longest time she woke up between 7 and 8 sometimes even 8:30 so 5:20 isn't working for me--especially since I stay up late working). Anyway, the decorating didn't happen. But it will--either Monday or Tuesday for sure.

When do you decorate for Christmas? Do you have strong feelings about it? 

Monday, November 23, 2015

My Favorite Things {Giveaway}

I have a lot of "favorite" things--which is why when people ask me my favorite thing, I get a little anxious. How can I choose just one?

I love talking about my favorite things, though. So when Brooklyn invited me to share my favorite things in a single blog giveaway and link to a bunch of other bloggers sharing their favorite things, I thought it was an awesome idea. So awesome, in fact, that I think I've decided to do a quarterly favorite things giveaway here on the blog--I seriously decided that just this minute!

So here's how this works. I'm going to tell you about a few of my favorite things--and then one of those things will be sent your way--a bit of an early Christmas gift, but also a Thanksgiving gift. A "thanks for reading and being here" kind of thing. After you read about my favorite things, you can go check out the other bloggers who will be talking about their favorite things AND giving stuff away on their blogs, too! If I were you, I'd check them ALL out and enter--I have.

So my favorite things shift with my season of life and the season of year-hence the idea to do a quarterly "favorite things" giveaway. 

Some of my favorite things right now include. 

This little girl. Seriously. I can't get enough of her. 

I pretty much favorite everything that involves my daughter-except for maybe the getting to sleep at night part. 

Hot chocolate is a big time favorite this year, soups, and the idea of getting comfy on the couch with the fireplace and a good book. I am dedicated to somehow making this happen for myself (if at all possible) over Christmas break. 

Eating out. I love everything about--the food, the company, and the entire experience as a whole. 

Date nights-I love spending a little extra time that is intentionally set aside to just focus on me and Zach. Our date nights are kept pretty simple, but I love them so much! 

Hooded sweatshirts. On me, they are comfy and one of my staples. On men they are sexy. On little kids they are freaking adorable. I really have a big thing for hooded sweatshirts. 

Giving gifts. I love planning out gifts, shopping for them, wrapping them, and giving them. I enjoy it so much. 

And so my gift to you is a chance for a little extra cash to help you out this holiday season. You can buy yourself something or you can use it to do one of my favorite things and shop for someone else. You get $20 in one of 3 ways--in either a Target gift card, an Amazon gift card, or in Pay Pal cash. Your choice! Enter below and then go check out these lovely ladies to find out what their favorite things are and enter their giveaways, too. It'll be fun! 

Brooklyn Jolley // The Morrell Tale // Harris, Inc.

If you're looking for some ideas for buying gifts:

Giving Thoughtfully on a Budget

Tips for Giving Thoughtful Gifts

Non-Toy Gift Ideas for Kids

10 Gift Ideas for Bloggers

And of course I'd love to hear some of your favorite things! 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

My Food and Exercise Boundaries

I mentioned that I think it's perfectly acceptable to create boundaries for yourself--if your body is telling you it needs them. My body needs boundaries in place right now. In order to develop life-long healthy habits, I need to make sure I am doing the healthy things while still giving my body a chance to tell me what it needs/wants. 

I think some people embrace this lifestyle as a chance to "not exercise" if you don't want to or to "not eat "healthy foods" if you don't want to. That doesn't work for me. Not only do I not feel good if I don't incoporate healthy food and exercise into my diet, but I also know that my body does, in fact, need those things. What my body doesn't need is to have to follow a super strict exercise regimine or to eat off of a strict and restrictive meal plan. Boundaries are the perfect middle ground for me. 

 At this point and time I haven't found a way to draw lines with restricting food in a way that works for me, but I have found a way to incorporate healthy choices into my every day life through boundaries that still allow me plenty of room to listen to my body and to choose. 

taking care of my body intuitively

Every body is different and every personality is different, so while I'm sharing what works for me, I don't expect it to work for you, but hopefully seeing my boundaries might help you to set some that work for you. 

My Exercise Boundaries

Work Out/Break a Sweat for 30 Min a Day
I feel a lot better when I work out enough to break a sweat, so I make sure that I do that every single day--in the morning. I wake up and sometimes I don't feel like it, so I just turn on music and dance with JaiseAnn. Some days I go to Zumba. Other days I put in a workout DVD and get busy. This is so much more liberating than forcing myself to follow a set plan that promises a "dream body" at the end. I don't force myself to do things I don't enjoy, but I do tell myself I have to exercise, but I get to decide how. 

Get 10,000 steps in
I have a FitBit and it's possibly one of my favorite things! I make sure that I get 10,000 steps in every day (which is about the equivalent of 5 miles). Sometimes I have to walk around the living room at night or have a last minute dance party before bath time in order to get my steps in. Getting 10,000 steps motivates me to stay active throughout the day and encourages me to find opportunities to move. 

My Eating Boundaries

Eat healthy breakfasts/lunches
When I first wake up, I'm most tired. This is a time when I want nutritionally void foods like waffles or pancakes--or I might crave the sugar boost from hot chocolate. I allow myself these indulgences one day a week--otherwise I pretty much stick to eggs, smoothies, and a few other healthy breakfasts. I know that I don't feel good and I'm more sluggish when I don't eat healthily. I also do the same at lunch time. This allows me to get through the day with plenty of energy and without feeling deprived. 

Plan and Eat Whole Food Dinners with Lots of Veggies
I know that my body needs veggies and I feel so good when eating them, but I hate feeling like I have to eat a certain amount or a certain kind. Instead, I plan meals for dinner that I know I will love. They are made with whole foods and packed with veggies. This allows me to listen to my body and feed myself I enjoy while filling myself with things that I enjoy. 

Without a doubt sweets are my biggest downfall. I'm trying to find the right boundaries for me with sweets that don't make me feel deprived. I am right now attempting (for the 100th time) to not eat sweets during the weekdays but allow them on the weekends. My concern with this attempt is that I will wind up over-indulging on the I'm actually contemplating a "once a day" treat rule. I know that might seem crazy to some people but I am wondering if that might work. I will definitely post when I find the right boundary for treats. 

These boundaries allow me to make the decisions that feel right for me. I don't feel restricted by rules and I feel like I'm free to make choices and listen to my body while still teaching myself a bit more about discipline and moderation. 

What are your boundaries? Any tips or tricks for battling the treats? 

Monday, November 16, 2015

You're Too Sensistive

There are a myriad of things that I've been criticized for regularly since I was little. I talk too much, I take too long to tell a story, I'm too judgemental (an Uncle called me the "Morality Police" when I was 13-not much has changed.)

The thing I've probably heard the most, though, is: You're too sensitive.

I heard it when I got my feelings hurt. I heard it almost any time I cried. I heard it in college when I told pretty much everyone I knew that I loved them. I heard it so early on and so frequently that I really did think it was a bad thing. I thought it was something that needed to be changed. I needed to be less sensitive.

As I've gotten older, though, I've begun to not only appreciate, but treasure my sensitivity. I love that I cry at movies and that I can't handle violent or graphic scenes. I'm grateful for my sensitivity to things that don't make me feel uplifted. I'm grateful for my understanding of my daughter's emotions. We're on the verge of some tender feelings and for the most part, I'm able to feel and understand her--where some might get frustrated.

sensitive quotes

I've come to associate my deeply feeling heart as the person I was made to be. And I feel that at the times I have the deepest emotions or that I'm the most sensitive are the times that I'm doing the things in my life to cultivate that. I'm living a life that is at peace and I can hear my heart more clearly and feel most deeply. In fact, I've learned to truly honor my sensitivity and I'm careful to not do things that might harden my heart. 

Now that I notice my own child's tender heart, I realize that she was made that way. I personally find it so sweet that she's so sensitive. And while I know I'm just getting started on dealing with this emotional girl, I'm more than happy, too. And honestly, is there really such a thing as too much sensitivity? In my opinion, the world needs a bit more sensitivity right now. I would never try to discourage her from being exactly who she is--and I would not do that to myself either. 

I've started to embrace my sensitivity and use it as a barameter of sorts. How impacted am I when I pass the accident on the freeway or when I see an ambulence go by? How quickly do I start praying when I hear of tragedies? And how quickly do I try to reconcile a disagreement with my husband or calm down when motherhood tests my patience? The quicker I try to find a peace, the more in touch I am with my sensitivity. 

Something that has always been criticized about me is something that I've become the most grateful for. One of my most treasure personality traits. I hope to teach my daughter to treasure this among some of the other amazing traits she possesses. I encourage you to, too. 

What are some of your most criticized but most treasured personality traits? Let's talk about and embrace those today!

Friday, November 13, 2015

Mormon By Choice--What Are Your Questions?

I have tried to write a post titled "Mormon By Choice" for a week now and every time I start writing, I get a little lost. I've been thinking a lot about what I want to say, how to convey it well, how to respect everyone reading, etc..and I just keep feeling stuck. I had actually decided I just wouldn't post anything when I thought, "Open up for questions and then answer those questions."

Which immediately followed with, 

"No, nobody will have anything to ask and you'll embarass yourself by highlighting your small readership." 

But the truth is, I'm not here for large readership. I'm here to be another voice of the good and the positive about home and family--and that includes faith. So maybe I kept thinking and allowed myself to entertain the idea again. Only to find myself saying, 

"No! You can't handle the mean comments and that's all you'll get!" 

But ultimately I didn't want fear to get in my way of hoping to share my message, my side.


You see, I was born into the LDS church--which by what I've read all over the internet recently  seems to mean that I don't think critically, am closed minded, and just follow blindly. I am filled with hatred and prejudice and don't even know it. I'm brainwashed. 

So allow me to share a little bit with you:

I was born into an LDS family, but we didn't always go to church. When I was little we went inconsistently. My mom taught me to be kind to others and taught me right from wrong, but I was never raised super religiously. I was never raised to think that people who weren't LDS were bad or less than me--in fact, I had many family members (and still do) that are not LDS. On the flipside, I wasn't taught to be super religious either. Things like language, parts of the Word of Wisdom, and exposure to media weren't very regulated or taught explicitly in my home. I grew up what I would call a very "liberal mormon." I was liberal in a few of my actions and liberal in my beliefs in the gospel. If people asked me if I believed something, my answers were always the kind that appealed to everyone.

When I was in my early 20's I had something of a faith crisis (maybe that's something I should share more openly here sometime). I had some issues with the church's history among other things and I just wasn't sure I wanted to continue belonging to the LDS church. I kept this crisis a bit private-maybe only a handful of people knew. But one of those people was a boy in my singles ward who now has a PhD in Church History--to say he was well-read and well-researched was an understatement. I bought him dinner one night and he came with all sorts of information to answer some of my bigger questions. He didn't sugar coat. He gave it ALL to me and shared the good, bad, and even the ugly. We talked. I might have cried.

I put in months of research and prayer and study and thought and reflection. And I put in  months of listening to my heart and mind and find out what I really felt and knew as truth. Ultimately,   I came to the conclusion that the questions I had were not more important to me than the things I knew and believed in my whole heart to be true. Things like my strong testimony of living prophets, the blessings of the temple, and restoration of the priesthood. In my early 20's, I could say I made the choice to be Mormon. At that point, I dove in with both feet. 

It's not because I was brainwashed. It's not because I don't think critically. And it's certainly not because I am closed-minded. It was not and is not always popular and certainly not always respected. It is not for my family, they would love me anyway. It is not for my church community--while I love them, I'm not attached to them. In fact, I have almost always struggled to fit it's not the community I am there for. I am there because the teachings are true and the gospel brings me joy and peace. It's a choice and a choice I stand by. 

At the same time, I can understand why some people within the church (and outside of the church) are confused and upset right now. I am not one of them, but I can see why--because I might have been 7  or 8 years ago, too. I am in a different place now. My perception of things has changed as has my testimony over the past several years. It's something I've had to work hard for, but something I am so very grateful for.  I'm not mad at the church's decision. I understand it and respect it, but that doesn't mean I didn't think about it or research it. I'm also not mad at those who are confused or upset about it. 

So now, I ask you, what do you want to know about the LDS church, my decision to be a member and stand by it, and/or the news headlines at this time? (The questions don't have to be about anything in particular--including recent headlines--much of what I've read on the internet isn't just attacking the latest changes to the church handbook, but is attacking other aspects as well. I'd love to try answer any questions or try to clarify anything you might be wondering about.)

**I will answer these questions within a week and put up a new post. Please keep comments respectful. While I anticipate comments from those with differing viewpoints and perspectives, this is a place for a courteous conn't versation. Any disrespectful/hateful comments will be deleted.  

Five On Friday 1st Edition

I never really participate in these Friday link-ups but Tayler has been recently and I decided to join in. Today I'm participating in Five on Friday where I share five awesome things that are happened this week. 

JaiseAnn is officially going six+ hours at night now! I am so excited. Getting to the six hour point had it's moments, but nothing too traumatic and only one night where I thought, "This won't work!" But it did and we're here and I am continually surprised at how naturally this progresses and how much more at peace I am with following my gut to gentle parent her. 

I haven't been able to read with my intense work/school schedule. I work at night after JaiseAnn is asleep and try to catch up on homework periodically throughout the week and on Saturdays. But after reading a few book reviews this week, I've decided to put my thesis on pause over the holiday break and allow myself to read--at least until Christmas and then maybe I'll pick my work back up after Christmas, but I'm already looking so forward to a few nights cuddled up on the couch, reading, in comfy clothes. 

I set a goal this year (well I set a lot and I haven't kept many of them) to finish  my Christmas shopping by December 1st. I can say this, I've started! JaiseAnn is almost done. We have her gift of want and need--but need to make her gift of love. I have a friend who is going to help me make her this apron.(And yes, I need help. I don't remember how to use my sewing machine-I haven't used it since my junior year of high school.) (This is how we gift in our family for Christmas). We also need to finish her Santa gift and stocking stuffers, but we know what those are. I have my parents' big gift picked out as well as my brother's. I don't know what we're getting Zach's family. I have limited time so I need to figure it out, but I can honestly say I think I'll make my goal and I'll be able to just soak in the whole month of December. 


Speaking of my thesis. I am taking a Foundations of Educational Research class this semester and our end-of-semester project is a research outline. My outline is based on my thesis and I am so excited to actually have some of my information in an outline--ON PAPER--and somewhat organized. It may be only a five page outline, but it is SOMETHING and that feels so good. I just submitted my rough draft to two professors and am looking forward to/dreading getting feedback. 

This didn't happen this week, but we got family pictures done a few weeks ago and I'm ordering the pictures for our living room as well as for our Christmas cards. I am so in love with the pictures! I'm excited to get them up in our house. 

What is something great that happened to you this week? 

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Creating Healthy Boundaries for Your Body

When you take note of all the things you hear everyday--whether it's in writing, in person, on TV, or some other way, it's important to recognize that there will be all kinds of messages that don't support you becoming your personal best self.

For example, I realized that when I first started screening my messages, I pushed away anything that tried to tell me to lose weight and restrict eating, but I started welcoming the messages that basically told me it was okay to do whatever I wanted. 

It took me a while (and honestly I'm still learning) to figure out that, 

"Treat yo'self!" was just as detrimental to my true health as "thin=beautiful," "thin=confident," "thin=happiness," etc. 

intuitive eating

I have been doing a lot of reading on intuitive eating and finding a balanced approach to eating without restriction, but it's been hard for me. Harder than any other way I've approached this. I feel like a failure almost every day-to be honest.

But I had to stop listening to the voices that told me to have a treat whenever I felt like it. I had to stop looking at the ice cream cones with sprinkles on them on Instagram. I had to stop paying attention to #nationalnameofjunkfoodday which left me feeling like I deserved a treat.

Maybe some days I do need a treat and maybe some days I don't, but only my body knows what's best for me. 

Just like there's no one-size fits all eating regimen that works for people, there's no one-size balanced eating program that works either. Everyone has to find their own balance.

I've finally arrived at a place where I know that for me I have to find balance by setting boundaries for myself. I'm still struggling to find the right ones, but I keep trying and I have faith that I'll find something that works for me. 

So if you're trying to eat a balanced diet and listen to your body, you have to tune out anyone who thinks they know your body better.

That means you tune out the, "It's the weekend and I thought we could have a treat!" from your husband if that's not really what you think is best. It doesn't mean you're restricting if it comes from a place of honoring your body.

You ignore the, "Calories don't count on the weekend!" Instagram post of the person knee deep in fried foods and beer. You might not want to think about calories, but you also might know that  fried food spree won't help you find the balance you want and likely won't leaving you feeling very good. 

Next week I'm going to share my boundaries with you and I'm excited. I have found activity/exercise boundaries that absolutely work for me and I've found some food boundaries that do work and other's that I'm still struggling with. 

Do you have a tendancy to shut out one side of the messages, but listen to the other? Any tips or tricks for helping someone figure out how to listen to him/herself first

Monday, November 9, 2015

Grateful for Women I Admire

As always during the month of November, my social media feeds are filled with gratitude posts. I love it! It's so fun to see the different things people are grateful for--the big things, the little things, the fun things, and even the hard things. I love seeing this perspective. I usually don't participate in it myself, but I love reading those posts. And it encourages me every day to think: What is one of the things I'm grateful for today? 

One day last week I was reflecting on my little life and how much I absolutely love it. My husband, daughter, dog, and home. Our little routines, the laughter, and the friendship. I love our routine of scriptures and prayers at night and I love that family time is a priority for us. I love that I'm home with my daughter. All of these things I'm grateful are laregly influenced by the women who have mentored and encouraged me to make the choices that led to the family life I have today.  

I am grateful for the women I've looked up to and the women I continue to look up to.

There are a lot of times that I feel frustrated with women--they can be so mean and my feelings have been so much more hurt by women than they ever have by men. But there are so many women that I just simply admire and I am forever indebted to them. 

I'm grateful for the women who influenced me in my youth. These are primarily the women that served as my young women's leaders, but also the women I babysat for. These women made me desire a family life and a home centered on the gospel--which is exactly what I was determined to have. Those goals have influenced my life at every stage and I will be forever grateful for the eternal gift they gave me. They took the time to love me, to teach me, and most importantly who they were when they didn't realize I was watching is what really impacted me. 

I'm grateful for the women in my singles ward who lived their lives to the fullest. They were well educated and well employed. They were knowledgeable about the gospel with strong testimonies. Their lives were centered on the gospel and living in the now. They created homes even if they had no one to share them with. They created fulfilling lives and I was inspired by each one in a different way. I was inspired by the way they honored themselves and their Heavenly Father. Knowing those women inspired me to increase my gospel understanding and my testimony--something that has given me peace at times of diffculty, pain, and uncertainty and something that will impact my family forever. 

I'm grateful for the women who surrounded and supported me as a newlywed. I am grateful for those who were happy for me and celebrated with me. I am grateful for those who helped me through the difficult times with advice or perspective. I am grateful to every single woman who supported me in loving my husband and creating and building a solid marriage. 

I'm grateful for the moms--those who are just a few steps ahead of me that I look up to now. Recently I had one of those moments. I watched a mom who I admire acting in a way that inspired me. I came home and talked to Zach about it--"I want to be like that." I told him. And it hit me, I've been looking up to women since I was a little girl. I'm so thankful for the moms who love their kids--in thought, speech, and action and who are intentional about motherhood. 

I'm grateful for the women I've met in this blogging community. Whether you blog and have supported me in some way or whether you show up here often--sharing your thoughts and advice with me when you feel so inclined I appreciate you. I appreciate the insight, the time, and the support. Thank you for being here.

Now it's your turn. I'd love to hear more about influential women today. 

Who are some of the most influencial women in your lives? 

Friday, November 6, 2015

I'm Not the Woman He Married

I have this theory. Everyone always talks about how much we change during our marriages. You might hear some say, "I was so young and naive, I knew next to nothing then. I am such a different person now." We likewise often hear, "He is not the same man I married." Whether or not those changes are viewed as a good thing is irrelevant, we often associate changes in ourselves as a distance away from the person we once were. But when I reflect on the ways I have "changed' since getting married I see it very differently.

Over the past year or so, I've done a lot of reflecting. Really it's been an exhausting amount of reflection. In dealing with my battle with weight/body image, in battling with the struggle to find friendships of my own now that I'm home during the day, in battling some things from my past that have come back to haunt me in a big way now that I'm a mom,  I have been doing a lot of looking back to try to understand and make sense of things.

There are things about the me prior to marriage that I look back on and barely recognize. It's extremely hard for me to admit, but I really wanted acceptance. I don't know why that was so important to me, but feeling like I had a place and people helped me to feel that I belonged. There are things that I seriously agonized over when I met Zach because the judgement from outside sources really affected me. I may not have realized it then, but looking back it's so clear to me now. That girl, I do not recognize her, and, honestly, I can't even relate to her.

 There were people in my life at that time that built me up and I allowed it. It felt good to be someone that people admired and looked up to. I let the love and acceptance of others build me up. There were also people in my life that tore me down and I allowed it. If they told me that something I believed wasn't okay or some part of who I was wasn't okay, I listened. I thought that if people I considered friends were telling me things about myself that I needed to change, then I needed to listen. I believed them. I believed the good and the bad that people said about me. And when the bad hurt too much, I sought more good.

Each and every Fall, I tend to get extremely sentimental and a bit emotional as I recall the events leading up to meeting Zach and the beginning of us and the wedding that followed a year later.The past few weeks I've thought a lot about that girl he met. I have thought about how I was able to hold my ground and stick to my feelings about any subject matter under the sun-except for me--who I was. I could tell you all day the things I believed and felt and I would be the only one with those feelings, but the only thing I didn't really know well enough to defend was myself.

Today, I honestly and truthfully couldn't care less what people think about me, or Zach, or our little life. I couldn't care less what people think about our parenting decisions. I couldn't care less and this girl is a lot more at peace now that she's embraced a little faith in herself. Sometimes I think motherhood liberated me as I had to step it up and become the woman I wanted to be for the sake of my daughter, but I when I think about it, marriage is the root of it all.

Because when I think about it: For six years I've had someone in my corner And this is a different in your corner than any other person in your life. This is a person who's happiness is dependent upon your happiness and who's dreams are your dreams. There is a security in marriage that I never knew to expect and honestly haven't truly begun to appreciate until now. That security allowed me to really navigate "me" and find out who I was. Honestly, my marriage is the safest place I've ever been. Spending six years in that kind of loving and secure place allowed me to grow a bit away from the person I was when I met Zach, and become closer to the person (or spirit rather) I've always been. It's allowed me to grow into the person I'm meant to be.

The safety I got and didn't even know I needed helped me to find my feet and my beliefs. It allowed me to accept myself and to change the way I interact with others--family, friends, people at church/work/etc, to make it the best for me. It allowed me to spend time knowing I needed to change things about myself, but allowing me the time to take to heal in other ways first--because Zach isn't going anywhere. He has accepted me--with him I have the most secure friendship I have ever known and that friendship has allowed me to be honest with myself about who I really know myself to be.. I'm grateful for my marriage which has allowed me to become the person that I am meant to be. 

In what ways has marriage changed you? 

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Giving Thoughtfully On a Budget {+Giveaway}

Giving and receiving thoughtful gifts is important to me. We don't go too over-the-top with gifts, we never have. The quantity and expense of a gift is not what we value and it's certainly not what we want our child(ren) growing up to value. Giving thoughtful gifts--gifts that hold meaning, are needed, or are genuinely useful to people are the types of gifts we like to give. 

When you work with a Christmas budget, it's actually fun to come up with creative ways to give. 

thoughtful inexpensive gift ideas

Get Creative
I will have more on this in a post later this month, but I love to pick a theme when I'm coming up with gifts. If you are gifting to someone who is really passionate about health and fitness, a few healthy recipes along with a few staple ingredients would make a perfect gift basket that is useful and thoughtful with minimal expense. Kitchen or useful household items, cleaning supplies (save money by making them homemade--this is especially thoughtful for people who are more "green" in their lifestyle), bath towels and handmade bath salts/soaps, sheets or pillowcases paired with a favorite the person's favorite scent in a linen spray, or a  or a  A favorite gift Zach and I have received is a gift card to a restaurant with enough money for dessert. It's less expensive and it encourages a couple or family to go out for dessert which is usually quite a luxury and a lot of fun! 

I never would have thought I'd embrace thrifting for a gift, until I've seen some of the amazing cookie jars my friend found at a thrift store or until I discovered an out-of-print book at a used book store. You can get so much for so much less when you thrift. I love the idea of buying thrifted gifts for others--and will make a point of thrifting for JaiseAnn as she grows. Whether you're buying a play set off of Craigslist, a book from your local used book store, or a fun frame from your local thrif t store, or buying a new (with tags) scarf for a friend from thredUP---you can almost always find something for everyone if you thrift. Just visiting a thrift store with a few ideas will be sure to spark more as you browse and look for those on your gifting list. 

If you are getting creative or thrifting, you still might be adding a personal touch yourself-whether you're painting the frame you found or you're making your own bath salts for the little bath set you're giving. Make a dinner or dessert that can be frozen, make a fun and inexpensive apron, make a calendar for your husband with pictures and images that share inside jokes and favorite memories, or put together a kit for date night or dinner. 

For more ideas follow me on Pinterest

Enter This Giveaway
 To help you with thoughtful gift giving--some bloggers and I have gotten together to celebrate Tayler at The Morrel Tale's blogging birthday with some gifts for you. There will be different winners with different prizes--you can keep the prize for yourself, or give it as a gift this holiday season. Head over to The Morrel Tale and enter the giveaway! 

amazong gift card giveaway

What are your tips for gifting on a budget?
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