Sunday, January 25, 2015

Plum Paper Planners

Since it is January I thought I'd share my planner with you! MY VERY MOST FAVORITE PLANNER I'VE EVER HAD!!!! My husband and I are both teachers therefore "new year" in my world is September to August rather than most people's January to December new year. So last August I was wanting a fresh planner. Something to keep me organized as a busy working mom. I did a little research and found Plum Paper. I liked the look of the planner designs to choose from. I also compared prices on similar type of planners and found that this was a good price. The Plum Paper reviews were wonderful so I ordered one for myself! Ready to see it?! Here it is....


Beautiful, huh?! I chose the design and was able to have the cover personalized with whatever I wanted. I chose our last name. I also got to choose which month it began. Perfect for my teacher brain! The new year starts in September, of course! So September 2014 to August 2015 is what I ordered! 


Cool, huh? You ain't seen nothing yet!! Look at this...


Do you see that?! Do you see how there are sections for each day that say Mom & Dad, Hugh, Claire, Oliver, Workout, and Dinner?! DO YOU SEE THAT AWESOMENESS?! Super cool, huh?! Yep, I got to choose what I could have in each of those rows too! You can see in the bottom left hand corner of the screen that there is a block left blank too. I did that on purpose for extra notes.

I love the extra room off to the left that allows you to make a weekly list and add additional notes there too. This is what each weekly layout looks like....


And here is how I use it....


I have found 2 major things in working with a weekly layout such as this. 1) Having "Workout" as a category is motivating. It's there and if I don't schedule a workout of some sort....well, then that little white box looks up at me with a blank stare saying, "Uh, Hello?! Remember me here?? This is important to you, remember?!" Scheduling a workout definitely means it is more likely to happen. And 2) Meal planning is a whole lot easier when you ACTUALLY PLAN IT! I quickly wrote down a week's worth of meals here, went to the store WITH the planner, and Bah-Bam!! Got it all and had a week's worth of meals planned and ready to go! Perfect for a busy mom!

At the beginning of each month, there is a monthly layout as well....


There are so many options for customizing your planner and making it work for YOU no matter who you are. There are a variety of weekly layouts to chose from. You can order bars of stickers in bright colors to highlight important dates or use one color per person in your family. You have the option of adding pocket pages as I did....




You love it, huh?! Want one for yourself?! Well, guess what?! Plum Paper is offering a 10% discount to Sister-Dipity readers. To order your own customized, personalized planner, visit www.plumpaper.com. Pick out your design, decide which options are best for you, and then use the code SISTER10 at checkout to get your discount! You're welcome!!  

Many thanks to Plum Paper for having planners that are perfect for busy moms and for the discount for Sister-Dipity readers! 







Thursday, January 15, 2015

Hands Free Mama


Currently on my nightstand, Hands Free Mama by Rachel Macy Stafford. 

I have been becoming increasingly aware (frightfully aware) of what a distracted world we live in more and more all the time. One day last month, I got out of my van to pump gas and was surprised to find that there was a television screen on top of the gas pump. What?! Gas Station TV - television programming to keep you entertained at the gas pump. What is this world coming to? I need entertainment for the couple of minutes I'm pumping gas?! I need another distraction?! Some may find it clever, but I was disgusted.....not with the idea itself (as I'm sure it offers great advertising opportunities) but I was disgusted that even the simple act of getting gas had become "screen" time. We are so heavily engaged in screens ALL THE TIME! Email, texts, video games, televisions - and not just in our living rooms! Is it so awful to be present - to give our attention fully to the people in our lives? Is it so awful to be alone with our thoughts sometimes? Is quiet becoming obsolete? Society has become so "plugged-in" to THINGS that we are missing the connections we should be enjoying with PEOPLE. 

Around the same time I made this Gas Station TV discovery, I had ordered this book from Amazon. The author, Rachel Macy Stafford, is a former special education teacher and now, mother of two daughters. This book is filled with practical, simple ways of shifting your focus, reconnecting with your loved ones, and truly being present each day. Stafford speaks very candidly about the mistakes she made in the past, about her regrets, but also shares how she is learning from the past to live fully in the present! I feel like I can identify with her so well as she is a mother and teacher, like me. She knows. She knows the rush to get out the door on weekday mornings. She knows the pressure to expertly balance work and family. She feels the cloud that hangs over all of us - the cloud saturated with hurry and productivity and efficiency and to-do lists. But then we have these precious little people God has blessed us with....


and we remember....they are only little for so long. They are only in our laps for a short time. And this time with them is so much more important than any screen time we think we need or any to-do list we think needs to be completed. In this book, Rachel Macy Stafford reminds us to put our families first. She reminds us to look them in the eye when they are talking, to give them our undivided attention as much as possible, and to be fully present in each moment. 

I am guilty. I am guilty of saying "just a minute" or "later" at simple, innocent requests. I am guilty of allowing "hurry up" to anxiously come rushing out of my lips on busy school mornings. I am guilty of thinking, "I will read the next chapter with her after I sweep the floor" and "I'll play trains with him after I respond to this email." Ugh. Guilty. Right here. This mama is distracted. I must put it all down for they are only little for such a short while. God gave them to me because he knew I was the best mama for them. So I want to do all I can to BE the best mama for them.

Hands Free Mama is $11.43 on Amazon. Worth every penny. Her website www.handsfreemama.com is another great resource. You can subscribe to her posts via email. Like the content of her book, each post carries a meaningful message that really speaks to the heart of a busy mom. 

Technology is great. But relationships are much more valuable. I've heard it said, "Today is a gift. That is why it is called the present."  I must say good-bye for now. I am going to unplug and go snuggle my lovies!




Thursday, January 1, 2015

So much JOY in 2014

Happy New Year!

As we say "good-bye" to 2014, I can't help but reflect back on what God has done for me and my family this past year! Last January I resolved NOT to make a resolution  but rather commit to a special word to live by in 2014. That word was JOY. Click HERE to see the post where I shared my plan to live joyfully in the new year. I am so pleased to say that I most definitely DID live a year of JOY the past 12 months!


2014 came in with snow, ice, and extreme cold temperatures! No problem for us! We had 12 snow days total, and with Ryan and I both being teachers this meant 12 unplanned family days. What a blessing! We were stuck at home....together! After the rush of the holiday season, this unexpected "vacation" was SUCH A BLESSING! We stayed up late watching movies, snuggling, playing with new toys, having tea parties, doing crafts, putting puzzles together, and indulging in warm, cozy soups and hot cocoa. It was a WONDERFUL way to begin the new year! 

                           

                                 


During these weeks of being snowed in so much, I began a new hobby which soon became a little business! I began making chunky bubblegum necklaces for little girls. I taught myself by trial and error and a few YouTube video tutorials! At times in 2014, my "little business" kept me very busy!



Summer! Oh, summer always brings us JOY! We had so much fun swimming, having picnics, lounging on the beach, fishing, hanging out with friends and cousins, riding bikes, camping, geocaching, and soaking in the sunshine!


 




Ryan and I had been saying for months (eh....maybe years) that we needed to get a new van. We didn't feel our vehicles were dependable to venture very far from home. We finally bit the bullet and bought a Chrysler Town & Country this past summer. I do not know why it took us so long. All 5 of us LOVE our new van! Hooray for a new van!! (and the 3 DVD players!)


In July I drove up north (by myself) to visit a childhood friend that I hadn't seen in many, many years! We spent the weekend reminiscing, laughing, sharing stories about our families, shopping, and making plans for future visits! We met another childhood friend for dinner and the three of us had such a great time catching up! When I look back on 2014, this weekend was definitely one of the highlights that brought me so much JOY!


In the fall, Ryan, Hugh, and I went on a ziplining adventure for the first time! What fun!!



We had so many milestones in 2014 as well...

Hugh turned 11 in June!
Claire turned 6 in December!
Oliver turned 4 in August!

Claire graduated from Preschool!

Hugh finished 4th grade!

Oliver started Preschool! *sniff, sniff*


Hugh and Oliver and Claire played soccer....

Oliver didn't really have his head in the game much! He was really there for the cool shoes and the snacks at the end of each game!

I visited my grandma whom I hadn't seen in a very long time. It was one of the highlights of my year!

Hugh began playing the trumpet!

And me....Well, this past year I lost nearly 30 pounds! See HERE my post about these 4 lovely women who have motivated and encouraged me in 2014! This fall, I was named VFW Teacher of the Year in a 6 county, 36 VFW Posts area! Next week, Ryan and I get to attend an awards banquet for this honor. I am so overwhelmed and humbled by this recognition! I have been greatly enjoying my family....all the snuggles, the funny, cute things the kids say, and the every day moments that keep me so busy but know I will miss when they are grown! I have been cherishing the few quiet times I get with my husband and am looking forward to some upcoming "dates" we have planned! I have been enjoying my job this fall and have been trying some new projects with my students! It has been an exciting time! 

We ended 2014 with a wonderful Christmas!

Definitely a year filled with....


Praise the Lord! Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever!
Psalm 106:1



Monday, December 15, 2014

The Posts of Christmas Past

Today you are in for a visit! A visit from the Posts of Christmas Past! Today I am sharing with you my favorite Christmas posts from previous years. 



The Christmas Shirt is a short story-type of post about this sweatshirt that was created by a dear family friend many years ago. In this post, I share with you the "magic" of the shirt and what it means to me at Christmastime. 



In this crafty post, I share with you the felt Christmas tree I made for my children. 




You do not want to miss this chocolate truffle recipe! These are my favorite treats to make to share with friends, neighbors, and colleagues. They are super easy to make, yet super impressive!



In this post, I share the basket of books my sister and I put together for a Christmas countdown gift for our niece, Addie.


Christmas Bedroom

Ahhh,,,, I love this post! In this post, I share with you my master bedroom all decked out for Christmas. I LOVE my bedroom like this! (Unfortunately, it is currently filled with unwrapped gifts and is rather cluttered. Hopefully, we can get that cleared out soon so I can enjoy my sanctuary again!)



I love Christmas books and have been collecting children's Christmas books since before I had my own children. In this post, I am sharing some of my favorites!


To Wrap or Not to Wrap

In this post, I share the method I use for wrapping gifts and consider different gift-wrapping traditions others use.


Sunday, October 26, 2014

4 Great Health & Fitness Motivators You've GOT to Know

I have been working really hard the last few months on getting healthier - eating clean, exercising, getting enough sleep, and drinking more water! And I have learned SO much the past few months! I have lost over 20 pounds and have had less digestive issues, fewer cravings, and more energy! Woo Hoo!! I thought I'd share with you 4 of my favorite Facebook pages that I turn to for inspiration, motivation, and advice. If you are seeking a healthier lifestyle, I highly recommend that you follow these amazing ladies! (I have requested "receive notifications" on Facebook so I never miss one of their posts!)

1. Neon Runner

{photo via Neon Runner on Facebook}
This mother of two is SUCH an INCREDIBLE inspiration to me! She shares her health transformation and how she went from being over 200 pounds to being a very strong, healthy 129 pounds. She is real. She is down to earth. She is funny! She tells it like it is and holds nothing back. She posts several times a day and I eagerly jump on over to her page when I get a notification that she has posted something new! She talks about great food choices, eating clean, wholesome food, and even shares her famous poached eggs! (My family now gets poached eggs for breakfast several times a week thanks to Neon Runner!) 

{photo via Neon Runner on Facebook}
Go "LIKE" her page HERE and check out her amazing transformation pictures, her delicious breakfast photos, and her strength training video clips! I promise, you will be inspired!



Mandy Ross - Fit For Life is a great resource for living a healthy, well-rounded lifestyle. Mandy is a very busy working mom who is dedicated to not only fueling her own body with healthy, wholesome food but teaching her young children to do the same. She is a very motivating, encouraging individual whose determination is contagious. And let me tell you....this woman is STRONG. S T R O N G, I tell ya! 


This is what Mandy shares about herself on her Facebook page....

I'm a nutritionist, fitness instructor, wife, mommy, teacher... many things! And my PASSION is to help you become the BEST version of yourself!


She truly is passionate about helping people become the best they can be. She does not take "no" for an answer and pushes you further than you thought you could go! Working out with her....well, she busts your butt but does it in the sweetest way possible! 

Mandy shares great ideas for eating healthy and fitting in a workout even when you are a busy mom. She has tons of tips and recipes for families, and shares ways to sneak extra healthy stuff into your kids' food! Her Shakeology pancake idea was a winner at my house! This past week she shared some advice on using a pressure cooker to do a fast, healthy, easy meal your family will love.



I recently had a great conversation with Mandy about being a busy mama and the inevitable "mommy guilt" we all feel sometimes. Without missing a beat, Mandy had a kind, loving, encouraging response that clearly came from the heart of a woman who loves Jesus. She is an inspiration in so many ways. Mandy Ross - Fit For Life is someone you should be following!


Mandy is my "unofficial" personal trainer and very dear friend! She is A M A Z I N G, I tell ya! She is incredibly encouraging, motivating, and inspirational. Mandy is a Beach Body coach and is so good at figuring out what health and fitness plan is right for each individual person. The title of her Facebook page says "Love for Family. Passion for Fitness. Heart for Jesus." That says it all! 


Mandy Haag-Health & Fitness

In addition to constantly motivating and inspiring her readers, Mandy also reminds us to love who we are right now and be proud of how far we have come. 

She shares recipe ideas and offers suggestions for healthy substitutions for not-so-healthy cravings.


I have especially been enjoying her inspirational videos she has been posting.... 

check this out....

Mandy is currently welcoming new fitness friends to join her for a "Drop A Turkey" challenge. 

Wanna join? Click HERE for more details!

Check out Mandy's Facebook page for daily inspiration!



Ashley is a preschool teacher and mother of one precious little boy. She, too, is a busy mama who is intentional in what she eats and how and when she exercises. 


Ashley is a quiet, gentle person who sends a BOLD message on her Facebook fitness page. 
Here is a recent post by Ashley...

I would be lying if I told you I was always motivated to workout. This is so not the case!!! Yes, exercising consistently does help to increase my "want" to workout, but there are days that I wake up and the excuses start flowing, and it takes everything within me to try and shut them out! The next time you have excuses telling you that you don't want to do it, you're tired, or you don't have time just do it anyway!  Push play, go out and take a walk, drag yourself to the gym or fitness studio and give it five minutes. Once you get your body moving, it's easier to get your exercise on and turn the "I will workout" into DONE!!!



I have been in an exercise class with Ashley more times than I can count in the past year, and let me tell you....this girl is on FIRE! She is strong. She is tough. She is determined. She pushes herself a little bit more and a little bit more all the time. She sets such a good example of living a healthy lifestyle. 

Even her attire is inspirational and motivational! 
Ashley has an awesome workout wardrobe! Here is one of her favorite sources for finding workout tanks that send a message....

{photo via Glam Up Fitness Apparel on Etsy}
Inspire Me Fit with Ashley Copeland is a page you want to follow! 
Go check her out! 


These 4 amazing women...


All 4 of them, share their stories and encourage others based on their Christian beliefs and love for the Lord. That right there is a reason to know these ladies. Their daily posts are inspirational and motivational for the body, mind, and spirit. They have put themselves "out there" in an effort to encourage others and remind us we are all God's creation, and we all have unlimited potential. 

The sky is the limit! And they won't let you forget it!