Second Anniversary Giveaway

I hope you all had a wonderful Memorial Day Weekend.  Ours was certainly a beautiful one!  It started off rainy, but quickly turned to blue skies and sunshine.  It was a lovely weekend to be outdoors.  And that’s what I want to share today for First You Must Begin’s Second Anniversary Giveaway: the outdoors.  Particularly, an 11×14 matte print of a picture that my brother, _stevenwilson, captured off the Southern California Coast.  This one is called “Blue Barrel,” and it’s one of my favorites!

2nd Year Anniversary Giveaway

You may recall, that I did a post about _stevenwilson and his amazing ocean photography for a First Friday Find earlier this month.  His work is so breathtaking, that I thought it would be the perfect thing to give away for my Second Anniversary of First You Must Begin.  Especially since my brother’s artwork is a perfect example about beginning something new.  Two years ago, when I started this blog, my brother wasn’t even posting pictures of ocean photography.  Now, due to his desire to embark into the world of ocean photography despite his lack of knowledge, he has grown and developed in the field.  He took his love for the ocean and found a way to share it in such a beautiful way.  I admire the hard work and dedication that he has put into improving upon his talent.  He makes it look easy.

Each of us can begin something new.  We can find something within ourselves that we want to improve, we can dedicate ourselves to a new passion, we can work to face our fears, we can strive to live healthier, or we can simply get up and try a little harder than the day before.  But, first we must begin.  So, here’s a Second Anniversary Giveaway to celebrate all the beginnings in our lives and all the beginnings that continue to blossom into something magnificent.

**Check out the Rafflecopter Giveaway below where you can enter to win an 11×14 matte print of _stevenwilson’s “Blue Barrel.”  All you have to do is tell me how you heard about my website, First You Must Begin.  The winner will be chosen at random by Rafflecopter a week from today.  Good luck!**

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First Friday Find: _stevenwilson

It just so happens that _stevenwilson is my brother.  Well, technically speaking, it is my brother’s Instagram account.  Perhaps you’re wondering why my brother qualifies as a First Friday Find?  I didn’t just find my brother nor did I recently stubble upon his Instagram account.  He and I go back to my birth and I’ve been following his Instagram account since it’s inception a little over six months ago.  However, what I found recently, in regards to _stevenwilson, is that his work is moving beyond a hobby and becoming a true talent that has the potential to make a difference.  Nepotism aside, I would be doing my readers an injustice if I didn’t share his talent here.  And, if you’re not on Instagram, have no fear!  You can access his wave art on-line through Enjoygram.

_stevenwilson

His Instagram account is centered almost entirely around the shots he grabs of waves in the Pacific Ocean using his GoPro HERO4 BLACK.  It’s been incredible to watch the progression of his work become something truly spectacular.  As a result, he’s had requests for copies of his prints and various people asking to feature his work.  Recently, he partnered up with Coastal Playground.  Coastal Playground has a 50/50 program where 50% of the proceeds from products sold are given to organizations that work to keep beaches clean and educate the public on related issues.  So, now, if you want to have one of _stevenwilson’s stellar wave shots in your home, you can order a poster or canvas and 50% of the proceeds will go to a worthy cause.  I personally think it’s such a beautiful thing when people utilize their talents to better the world around them, so you can imagine how proud I am of my brother.

_stevenwilson2

Another thing that’s evolved, since _stevenwilson began this new venture, is an Instagram account that embraces all the imperfections.  As we know, not all artwork is a slam dunk.  Movies have outtakes, literature has drafts, and music has cuts.  Photography is no different.  A few wave photography buddies, including _stevenwilson, have started an account called bottombarrelcrew.  Bottom Barrel Crew gives you a glimpse of the behind the scenes world of wave photography.  Plus, you get to learn a little bit more about the players in the local scene for Southern California.

I’m so happy that my brother has found his passion.  He always enjoyed being out in the ocean, but turning it into something more than a personal experience has been awesome to witness.  It reminds me of the quote by William Shakespeare, “The meaning of life is to find your gift.  The purpose of life is to give it away.”  Thanks for sharing your gift with the rest of us, _stevenwilson.  I’m sure our Mom is so proud, as we all are, of you.

Who Do I Want to Be?

Recently, I listened to a talk given by a religious leader, Dale G. Renlund, which spoke about our ability to try to be something more than what we are now, persevering in our efforts to do so, and being patient with others who are striving to do the same.  The essence of the talk was that our focus should be more about who we are now and what we are becoming rather than what we once were.  In his talk, Renlund quoted a line from As You Like It by William Shakespeare.  In the scene, the eldest brother, Oliver, is being questioned as to whether or not he plotted to kill his younger brother, Orlando.  He responds to the inquiry with, “‘Twas I, but ’tis not I.  I do not shame to tell you what I was, since my conversion so sweetly tasted, being the thing I am.”  In modern terms, Oliver is expressing that he did plot to kill Orlando and he has no shame in confessing it, as he knows he has since been converted from his evil ways.  As I listened to the line from Shakespeare, I kept repeating the words in my mind, “‘Twas I, but ’tis not I,” and then I asked myself, “who am I now and who am I no longer?”  I’m thinking now, though, that the best question to ask would be, “who do I want to be?”

So many different thoughts race to my mind when I ask myself, “who do I want to be?”  The overwhelming thought being that I would like to be healthy.  My greatest desire for myself is to be physically, emotionally, spiritually, and financially healthy.  When I put it that way, though, I see the list, get overwhelmed, and prevent myself from trying at anything at all.  Then, I get the idea that maybe if I just pick one thing that is of the utmost importance it will have an affect on the other categories?  Or better yet, maybe I need to pick just one thing to improve upon from each category?  The physically healthy category should be the easiest, as right now I’m at Level Zero, despite the fact that Master Shifu in Kung Fu Panda claims, “There is no such thing as Level Zero.”  The other categories may be a little more challenging.

Fitness

Physically Healthy

I recently posted the image above on my Facebook timeline because, while this is not actually a picture of me, it is me to a T.  Would you like some proof?  Go ahead and type ‘burger’ in the Search field on the top right side of my website and see how many posts reference my love for burgers.  While the image perfectly captures my current stance on fitness and burger intake, I am embarrassed that I make light of the topic so much.  Contrary to my actions, I really do believe in the importance of being physically healthy.  My road to being physically healthy will look different than your road, as cheeseburgers may not be your weak spot.  So, if you are seeking a healthier lifestyle, then ask yourself what steps need to be taken to make that a reality.  I have plenty of things I can improve upon in the realm of diet and exercise.  If I’m only picking one, I think I’ll go with only allowing myself one burger a week.  Yes, this is a challenge for me.  Remember, Level Zero.

I’m picking this one over an exercise related one, as my cholesterol numbers are less than favorable.  After the Stroke of Luck, they did some customary blood work.  In the past, my numbers were of borderline concern, but these new numbers were embarrassing.  I did learn that postpartum cholesterol numbers are skewed, but to avoid added risk post-stroke, they placed me on cholesterol medicine.  Apparently, cholesterol numbers do not level out to an accurate reading until one year out from delivery.  This means that in July I have the chance to get off of cholesterol medication.  While I am a big supporter of medicine, I think it’s silly to be on medicine for something that can be controlled with proper diet and exercise.  So, long story short, I’m starting with my cutback on cheeseburgers.  I’m going to imagine that in five years from now somebody will confront me with, “Did you once eat so many cheeseburgers that you were on cholesterol medicine?”  Then I can respond, “‘Twas I, but ’tis not I.”

Who Do I Want to Be

Emotionally Healthy

I often wonder what “level” I would be at in the emotionally healthy realm if I did not suffer from Bi-polar II?  Mental illness is a tricky beast because sometimes you fall for the old-fashioned beliefs that if you just do XY&Z, then you can be cured from such an illness without medication ever being needed.  I don’t doubt that doing XY&Z can lessen the blow of a low in the depression cycle, but I’ve yet to witness a natural solution in my nine years with the illness.  So, what other options do I have in this category?  I would like to stop yelling at my kids.

I am not a frequent yeller, but the fact that I yell at all upsets me.  I may be the worst type of yeller, because I don’t yell at all people.  I imagine a person that yells at everyone in their life just doesn’t know any better.  But if I do not yell at strangers, nor my husband, nor my friends or extended family, then I must know better.  My children are the only ones that seem to get my wrath.  I hate it.  It’s such an ugly trait.  It’s definitely less than it once was, but I have yet to eradicate yelling from our home.  I’m not even going to excuse it, per my previous post No Excuses, No Explanations.  No excuses; just solutions here today.  How about a “Yell Jar” instead of a “Swear Jar”?  Heck, this could end up helping me with being financially healthy.  I may have enough money to buy myself something nice.

Spiritually Healthy

If I had to pick a category that I was the healthiest in, it would probably be this one.  However, I am still lacking plenty.  I’ve always been good about bedtime and mealtime prayers, but morning prayer tends to be a hard one for me.  Mainly because I am not a morning person.  I stay in my bed as long as humanly possible, thus not allowing for a couple extra minutes for morning prayer before having to tend to children.  However, studying the scriptures can be just as crucial as morning prayer in becoming spiritually healthy.  Ugh!  It’s a toss up.  Perhaps I will cheat in this category and do two?  Morning prayer and scripture study combined are likely to have the greatest impact on improving my health in all categories.  For the non-Christians out there, a good alternative may be to add time for meditation to your daily routine.

Financially Healthy

Remember my love for cheeseburgers?  Well, I don’t eat them at home.  I eat them at my favorite restaurants.  It turns out that eating out adds up when you have five other companions joining you.  Meals out are pricey with our family size.  Eating out is a huge weakness of mine.  I would much rather spend money on eating a meal out with my family than buying myself a new outfit.  I don’t even have the courage to admit to the amount of money spent from our budget on eating out.  Let’s just say that I will cut down on our restaurant budget and frequency by at least 20%.  Whew.  That feels like a lot to swallow.  I suppose with my burger cutback, this may happen naturally.

It’s as I suspected, improving something in one category has an affect on other categories.  As mentioned in It’s a Habit!, the average length it takes for something to become a habit is 66 days.  To help me with my goal, I just went and installed the app HabitBull on my smartphone.  Only three of the five changes mentioned are really habit forming.  I added the following habits to HabitBull: daily scripture study, daily morning prayer, and a one burger a week tracker.  The yelling will be managed by the “Yell Jar” and the 20% cut in restaurant budget will be tracked through You Need A Budget (YNAB).

Wish me luck in helping me become who I want to be.  Thankfully, like Oliver in As You Like It, I do believe that I can be converted, as I have seen changes already in my life from what I once was.  What a remarkable thing it is to be able to grow and develop into something more than we are today.  Think of all the opportunities that lay before you, if you just ask yourself, “Who do I want to be?,” and then strive to become that person.

First Friday Find: eShakti

Once upon a time, I tried to wear my clothing in a way that would accentuate the fact that I was large busted.  I did this mainly to keep people, mostly guys, from noticing that I also happened to have a large waist.  Through the years, I’ve matured enough to understand that immodest clothing captures the wrong type of attention.  I believe that modest clothing is actually more attractive than being scantily clad.  I echo Emma Watson’s belief that, “the less you reveal the more people can wonder.”  The problem is that cute modest clothing is hard to come by.  There are a few companies out there that cater to a modest audience, but eShakti has been the most appealing in options and pricing in my search thus far.

eShakti is an online clothing website that offers hundreds of clothing options, mostly dresses, that you can customize.  At the encouragement of a friend, I signed up on their website and started my search for the perfect dress.  Before I even had a chance to narrow my search down, a coupon for $40 OFF and free customization (a customarily $7.50 fee if you want it to fit your exact measurements) arrived in my e-mail Inbox.  I was stoked as most dresses were already fairly priced.  My problem was nailing it down to one dress.

Floral Embellished A line Poplin Dress

I decided on the dress shown above, though the color I purchased it in is no longer available.  The dress shown is already modest.  However, I am self-conscious of my arms, so I wanted something with sleeves.  No problem.  There are multiple sleeve lengths to choose from.  You can also choose dress length, necklines, and the option of pockets (who doesn’t love pockets?) depending on certain dresses.  Most of their clothing can be customized, but not all.  Since the specific customization fee was being waived, I went ahead and had my friend do my measurements.  That’s always a humbling experience.  However, I made the mistake of doing my measurements with my clothes on and I feel like I may have overestimated my size.  The dress arrived today and it seems less flattering in the waist than I had hoped for.  Of course, there is the reality to face that my body is less flattering than it used to be in my eyes.

eShakti Poplin Dress

I do like the dress, but I will admit that I don’t LOVE it.  So, why am I still pumped enough about eShakti to share it here for my First Friday Find?  Well, for one thing, the price is right.  I paid $26.31 total, including shipping from India.  The shipping alone cost $11.95.  The dress was originally $79.95, but it was on sale for $55.95.  My friend tells me there is always a sale of some sort available on the site.  Then, I had the $40 OFF coupon just for signing up on the website.  Then, my friend informed me that you get an additional 10% OFF if you order from their website on your smartphone.  So, I loaded up my order, put in all my measurements, and then went on my phone to submit my order and received an additional $1.59 off.  Huzzah!

Another reason that I am sharing the site even though I’m not completely in love, is because I feel like some of it is my fault.  As I mentioned before, I am not confident my measurements were accurate having done them with several layers on.  Lucky me; they included a measuring ribbon in my package.  I plan to recheck all of my measurements.  My husband is more than willing to assist.  Lastly, I know that I am evaluating the dress through my self-conscious eyes.  I generally feel uncomfortable in light and bright colors.  I was determined, however, not to go the usual slimming black route.

Lastly, the quality seems legit.  I haven’t been able to give it the usual wear and tear test yet, but it seems it will hold up nicely.  I didn’t find any snags in the embellishments nor were there any loose threads.  And the surprisingly fun perk of this dress?  Having the tag show no size number, only the word “custom.”

Overall, I am pleased with my purchase, especially for the price, but not thrilled!  However, I’m looking forward to making another purchase with the hopes of thrilling results!  If you happen to sign up on their website and snag yourself a beautiful deal, please share it here!  I would love to hear about the experiences of others!  Happy shopping!

First Friday Find: Walmart Savings Catcher

It’s the first Friday of the month, which means it’s time for me to share another thing that I have found useful!  As a reminder, my First Friday Finds are not anything that someone is telling me to share.  I receive no money for these suggestions.  I just enjoy sharing things that have made my life better.  This month’s find is a feature within the Walmart App called Savings Catcher.  I don’t shop at Walmart enough that it would constitute the need for an app, but with this feature it’s become an app that I use regularly.

Walmart Savings Catcher

My friend, who is an avid Walmart shopper, shared this app with me a few weeks ago.  Basically, once you’ve received your receipt from your Walmart shopping trip, you scan the receipt using the Savings Catcher feature in the Walmart app.  Then, the system compares the items on your receipt with local competitors to see if you could have found one of the items cheaper had you purchased it elsewhere.  If a competitor’s price is cheaper, Walmart will reimburse the difference.  Awesome, right?

Let me share my most recent experience using this app feature.  I had a Walmart receipt that consisted of 40 items.  I scanned the receipt and after a period of 3 days (the usual allotted time for the app to complete its task), I was notified that 11 of those 40 items had lower prices elsewhere.  The savings added up to $2.49. The app indicates which competitor beat them and lists the price difference.  In the case of this particular receipt, Safeway and Albertsons had lower prices on baby food, cream cheese, and spaghetti sauce.  The amount may seem minimal, but this has not been my first receipt.  The money adds up and you can transfer the money into a virtual Walmart gift card, as soon as you’re wanting to cash out.  My avid Walmart shopper friend had already tallied up nearly $50 when she first told me about this app.

I confessed to that same friend that using this app feels like I’m playing some sort of lottery.  I secretly get excited about the idea that the app will find something cheaper elsewhere and I’ll get some money coming my way.  Target uses a similar tactic to get you to trust your money with them with their 5% cash back debit card, which I also have in my wallet arsenal.  I think the difference here is that you never know what you’ll get back.  If I look at the percentage of return I have received so far, it’s actually lower than 5%, but you have to take into account that you’re often walking out with the lowest prices you’re going to find in the first place when it comes to Walmart.

Of course, as with all things, there are drawbacks to it.  First, it’s Walmart.  I feel like that sentence speaks for itself.  Second, if it’s a Walmart exclusive item, there isn’t going to be anything to compare with competitors.  Third, it’s Walmart.  Walmart has lower standards.  I know this to be true because I was going to go to Walmart in sweat pants and then decided to put on jeans when we opted to go to Target instead.

Like I said, I don’t always shop at Walmart, but when I do, I use the Savings Catcher.  I sound like a Dos Equis meme, no?

Walmart Meme

I had to include that meme.  It wasn’t the funniest one that Pinterest offered up when I looked up Dos Equis, but it was the FIRST one in the feed.  What are the chances of it being Walmart related?  Apparently, 100%.

Happy Savings everyone!

First Friday Find: A Five-Year Memory Book

This past Christmas, I was blessed with wonderful and unexpected gifts from loved ones.  My all-time favorite gift from this past Christmas was the mattress that my husband and I got each other.  Our mattress before was aggravating my back with each night’s rest.  This new mattress rejuvenates me.  However, I’m not writing this post to tell you about my mattress.  I’m writing to tell you about my favorite Christmas gift that I actually got to unwrap.  This probably would have been better suited for January’s First Friday Find, but I had yet to fully appreciate the item, at that time.  What is it, you ask?  It’s Mom’s One Line a Day: A Five-Year Memory Book.

This little book is so awesome!  Each page is set aside for a day in the year, starting at January 1.  The page is then broken up into five smaller sections.  Each section starts with “20__” so that you can indicate what year you are referencing and has a few blank lines following it.  It’s such a small section, but not too small, that it allows you to write just the right amount from the events of your day.  Then, when a new year begins, you go back to January 1 and start filling out the second section.  At the end of five years, you will have a record of what you did everyday on a specific day of the year all briefly stated on the same page.
I have made a point to keep my comments appropriate for anyone in our family to be able to pick it up and read from it.  In fact, my daughter has already snuggled up to me and had me read the events from our past month.  As I was reading, she would exclaim, “Oh, I remember that!”  We were both enjoying looking back on just the few short weeks that I had already recorded.  Then, she and I discussed that she would be twelve-years-old when I finished recording in the book.  Can you imagine all the memories we will have made together in that amount of time?
The best part is that it’s so dang simple.  I just keep it by my bedside and fill it out just before I kneel for my bedtime prayers.  It takes just a minute and I can already tell the results will be invaluable.
I was happy to find that they also have a journal option that is not gender or relationship specific: One Line a Day: A Five-Year Memory Book.
Seriously, this is one of my most favorite gifts ever.  Go get yourself one!  

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First Friday Find: Irony & Perspective

Yes, yes, I know, irony and perspective are neither a cool product, nor a nifty craft, nor an interesting website.  It is, however, what I happened to find this week.  A whole heap load of irony and perspective.  You see, I resolved to gain greater patience in 2015, as mentioned in my last post Run with Patience.  In that post, I mentioned that I was a bit fearful to resolve to do such a thing, as often this quality is improved upon by encountering opportunities to exercise it.  Well, the first day of 2015 provided me with my first practice rounds.  This may make for a loooooong year.

I was slightly irritated when I finished feeding my baby his breakfast and I heard my toddler son saying to himself, “No Lego Movie,” repeatedly.  My irritation raised quickly when I found said toddler taking the brand new The Lego Movie that the family had just received for Christmas and running it along our stone fireplace.  I haven’t played it yet to verify, but I’m pretty sure a movie is done once there is an elaborate scratch pattern that covers the entire play area of the DVD.  I put him in timeout, but quickly realized there wasn’t too much point in getting upset with him, he didn’t know he was causing harm to it.  Hopefully I explained it well enough that he now understands.  We shall see.  Patience Test #1 passed.  Whew.

Fast forward to my errands with four kids in tow.  Things were going fairly smoothly.  Aside from the hiccup of one store being closed, we were actually having a pretty good time making our many stops.  The last stop of the day was Target.  We were all in high spirits and I was letting the kids be goofy and have some fun with the cart.  We were all just loving life.  We came upon the cereal aisle, which happened to be having a sale.  I was looking closer at the cereal options in my effort to see what the kids might like best when I saw it! Quaker Honey Graham Oh’s!  This might not mean much to you, but it meant a lot to me.  It was less than two months ago that I had gone on a hunt for this cereal and learned that it is now only sold in two stores: Target and Rite-Aid.  I had checked both of those stores at that time and neither had the cereal in stock.  I even got in touch with Quaker in an effort to get my hands on a box and they said it had been 6 months since they had sent it to Central Oregon.  So, you see, this was a seriously amazing find!  So much so, that I wanted to take a picture and send it to a friend of mine that I knew would appreciate it.  I got my phone out, went to take the picture, dropped the phone, and that’s the end.  Done.  The screen cracked and the phone would no longer respond to my touch.  Patience Test #2 was an immediate fail.

As I was trying to fuss with it to see if I could make it work, I quickly grew impatient with the kids.  Our fun times ended abruptly.  I didn’t let anyone touch the cart because every move they made irritated me.  I surrendered to the circumstance without putting up a fight.  I honestly thought I could cry.  I get that it’s JUST a phone.  But, it also happens to be a phone that I had just recently got in October, which already had been returned TWICE due to camera issues and I was not certain we had insurance on it and I was already feeling overwhelmed by the post-Christmas-financial blues.  The LAST thing I needed was another $700, as that’s what these babies cost without some sort of deal, out of my pocket.  I somberly finished my shopping while checking my phone every few minutes to see if it had changed it’s mind and decided to work.  No such luck.

Thankfully, I did recognize this as an opportunity to practice patience.  I tried desperately to let it go knowing that there was nothing that I could do in that very moment in Target and taking it out on the kids would get us nowhere.  I even managed to chuckle on our way out to the car when my daughter showed me an oil puddle that had made rainbow colors in the shape of a Target symbol.  Once we were in the car, I felt so bummed out that I told the kids we were going to pray.  I prayed that the phone could be fixed, and that if it couldn’t be fixed, that it could be replaced at a minimal cost, and that if that couldn’t happen, that I could have peace in my heart.  I wish I could say peace came immediately, but it didn’t.  So off to Verizon we went.  Does anybody else hate going into cellular stores as much as I do?  It seems like it takes so much time to get anything accomplished in those places.

The phone was officially deemed kaput and I began the mourning process.  Thankfully, my husband had put insurance on our phones, but it still meant a $149 deductible and a wait period of at least two days.  I’m not gonna lie folks, I felt so discouraged and upset with the situation.  I realize it’s just a phone, but the money, time, and failure to not succumb under trial, as I had just resolved to do, got the best of me.

At the end of the day, as I was feeding my baby and still dwelling on the irony of my day in relation to my resolution, I also happened to find perspective.  Accidents happen.  They suck.  Some are absolutely tragic and have a lasting affect.  I found myself recalling news stories from this past week and my heart ached for those who have suffered far greater loss than my stupid phone situation.  It almost makes me more upset with myself that I let it get to me so much in the first place.

So, I hope you’ll forgive me for losing sight of the big picture, for thinking at such a worldly level, and for not being an example of patience.  I truly hope to improve upon this quality and I find myself grateful for all that I do have in my life.  Top on the list of things I’m grateful for is my husband with whom I am celebrating 11 years of marriage on this very day.  I feel so blessed in knowing that we will be together for time and all eternity and a $149 deductible will have absolutely no bearing on that blessing.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go sing The Lego Movie theme song in my effort to embrace the positive.  EVERYTHING IS AWESOOOOME!!

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First Friday Find: Three Life Hacks & 100th Post Giveaway

Can you believe it?  This marks my 100th post on this blog!  Pretty exciting stuff!  Let’s celebrate by doing a modest giveaway, as I’m a modest girl.  More details about the giveaway later in this post.

For those that are new to the site, I thought I would share a little about what a “First Friday Find” is here on First You Must Begin.  In short, it’s anything I find that is worth sharing.  The criteria I give myself when deciding what I share on the first Friday of each month is simply:  What is something I have discovered recently that is worth sharing in an effort to make other’s lives better or easier?  In the past year, First Friday Finds have ranged from an App I’m passionate about (Chatbooks), to a YouTube series that makes me laugh (True Facts), to a craft that was easy enough for me to pull off (Lost Socks), to a book that has helped me as a parent (The Care and Keeping of You) to a silly toy (Splat!) and beyond!  The best part is knowing that no person or company is paying me to say these things, so you can be at peace knowing that I only share from the heart.

That being said, this month’s First Friday Find is a life hack that I discovered while on vacation.  We recently visited family and friends down in Southern California.  A dear friend of ours was willing to host the shenanigans of a family of six and even convinced us that she was sad to see us go when it was time for us to leave.  Either she is an excellent actress or she really likes us.  I’m opting for the latter.  I digress.

When I was using her shower, I noticed that she had sliced a standard loofah sponge to use as a way of keeping the soap from sliding off of those forever-too-small-and-slippery coves for bathing products to sit on.  It seemed so simple and yet so ingenious to me.  Even better than not having to keep the soap from falling, was realizing that I could utilize the soap remnants that accumulated on the loofah sponge.  At the end of the shower, I took the loofah sponge and gave my feet a good scrub.  Huzzah!  A dual purpose life hack!

This life hack brought to my mind two additional life hacks that my husband has taught me from his experience working in the Emergency Department.

Thinking about giving your child a Popsicle and all you can envision is the sticky mess that will inevitably be all over their hands and the floor?  Try grabbing a paper or Styrofoam cup and slicing a hole in the bottom of it, then slide the Popsicle stick through the hole.  The base of the cup catches the drippings and makes for a quicker clean up process.  Styrofoam cups are best since they can be peeled away as the Popsicle gets smaller.  I had to pre-cut the paper cup shown, which slows down the process a bit.

The last life hack to share will be best appreciated by parents everywhere!  Getting an infant or toddler to successfully take a full dose of liquid medicine, when needed, is near impossible.  Before this trick, I would often be cleaning all the medicine from my baby’s face and neck versus knowing it was safely in his or her system.  Then I witnessed my husband’s technique to get medicine to go down versus coming out.  First, place the medicine dropper in the back corner of either side of their mouth.  I think most parents are aware of this step.  Next, dispense the medicine.  I suggest doing it in smaller portions of the complete dose.  Lastly, here comes the trick, give a quick blow in the the child’s face.  The surprise of the blow causes a reflex reaction for the child to immediately swallow.  TA DA!  Amazing, right?  I’ll be sure to pass along your gratitude to my husband.

Now that I’ve wowed you with these three life hacks, let’s talk about celebrating the fact that this is my 100th post.  Hang on to them hats and glasses, it’s gonna be a stellar giveaway (said in sarcastic voice)!  100 dimes just for you to honor my 100 posts!  That’s right! Ten whole dollars!  Let’s make it a little more personal and make it $10 to Target.  I told you I was modest.  Truthfully, that’s about all I can afford to giveaway this time of year.  I’m a stay-at-home mom with four kids, people!  However, I really am quite excited about reaching 100 posts and it’s been so much fun to develop this website, that I want to share the love!  I hope you’ll want to share the love too by entering the Rafflecopter giveaway below.

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First Friday Find: Lost Socks

You got it!  This month’s First Friday Find is about finding my lost socks.  And, hopefully, your lost socks too!


I am neither artistic nor crafty, so the fact that I did something like this is shocking.  I originally came across this idea while perusing the glorious world of Pinterest.  It was on a blog called Stories by Me and the woman was posting it as a mod podge project.  I did not complete this project doing mod podge, as that sounds too complicated for me.  I simply bought the wood piece, three satin acrylic paint colors, and clothespins from Michael’s to make the project pictured above.  I already had glue and a picture hook available at home.

Painting the wood was so much fun!  Why is painting so pleasant?  I don’t want to paint pictures.  I don’t want to paint walls.  But painting a simple item was somehow therapeutic.  It gave me the same satisfaction that coloring or putting together a puzzle often gives me.  Is it the mindless focus on a project that produces rapid results?  Who knows?  But it sure was enjoyable!

Putting the project to use was the best part!  I was actually excited to do my wash the day I hung it up to see what socks would find their “sole mates.”  Two of the socks found their match and I got oddly giddy.

May you find the same joy that I did in creating this super easy and fun project in an effort to get a handle on all of your rogue socks.

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First Friday Find: The Care and Keeping of You

Yes, I know.  I am well aware that today is actually the second Friday of October.  Last week slipped through my fingers before I even knew what happened.  My husband joked that my First Friday Find should be about some sort of day planner, since I obviously need one.  I have plenty of organizing apps that I love that keep me on task.  So, no problems there.  It’s the whole motherhood of four thing that is giving me a run for my money.  Seriously, now I know why parents say that time flies and before you know it your kids are out of the house.  My days have been racing by faster than my daughters that I just cheered on at their Jog-a-thon.  So, here I am on the second Friday to report of a book that my girls and I are reading called The Care and Keeping of You: The Body Book for Younger Girls.  This book is a gem worth sharing.

I was chatting with a friend when she mentioned that she and her daughter read through this awesome book The Care and Keeping of You.  The book shares all the things a girl might need to know about entering puberty.  And I mean EVERYTHING.  Plus, it does it in a very tasteful manner and is geared towards, well, younger girls.  My friend had said that she read it along with her daughter and that it opened up a lot of good dialogue.
So, I set off to pick it up at the library and I keep renewing it since my daughters and I are gaining so much from reading it.  We’ve been reading bits and pieces here and there.  I think it might be time to face the facts and realize that I need my very own copy for my girls to reference as needed.  Oh how I wish such a book existed when I was younger.  I was so clueless and my Mom was not the type to discuss matters of puberty with me.  Obviously, I figured it out alright, but I just really like the guided direction it gives me with our girls so that we have an open communication line on sensitive topics, such as body images and the woes of puberty.
My husband took a moment to skim through it the other night and he was amazed at how much information it provided for readers.  He was saying, “If I was a single Dad, I would totally be reading this to my daughters.  What a great resource.”  He then went on to say that, “Guys just don’t have this kind of stuff.  This is really useful information for girls.”
So, there you have it!  Three separate people have spoken highly of this book as a tool to teach young girls about puberty and open up some healthy dialogue on the matter.  Those are better odds than my theory that “Two makes it true.”
If you’re a parent of a young girl, I hope you’ll take my advice and add this book to your library!  I know I’m done renewing this book and plan to get my very own copy.
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