6 Things I Loved in September

I’m trying out a new thing. At the beginning of each month I would like to write a review of things I loved from the previous month. I have seen this kind of series on several blogs I enjoy reading including The Confused Millennial, But First, Coffee, and College Fashion–yes I did graduate from college almost a decade ago. No shame. 

September was an interesting month. When Labor Day came and passed, it finally started to sink in that I am no longer a teacher. Until that point it just felt like a really long summer break. Now it’s real. And I think I am the happiest I have been in a very long time. It was a good month. 

Without further ado–6 Things I Loved in September (in no particular order

1. Annual Church Picnic

Every year on Labor Day Weekend, a couple from our church hosts a picnic potluck for the whole church on their farm. It is so much fun and I look forward to it all year long. I was extra looking forward to it because last year on Labor Day I was 28 weeks pregnant with our twins and there was no way Steph was going to be cool with me sitting outside in the heat for the afternoon, so we stayed home. (She was the sweetest, most protective, most loving person ever while I was pregnant. I mean, she always is, but she really stepped it up while I was incubating our children).

This year’s picnic was no disappointment. The boys ran around in their walkers, rode on the tractor, pet the bunny, and took in all kinds of attention–and that was in addition to the awesome food.

2. These Prints from Hobby Lobby

I fell in love with these gorgeous prints at Hobby Lobby. I was supposed to be shopping for something specific (I don’t even remember what it was) but I found these for 50% off and since we are going to redo my office soon anyway, I bought my favorite ones. (You guys, I kind of exhibited self control because I only bought three)

3. My New Life Quote

Your worth is not measured by your productivity.

I saw this quote on Facebook and, let me tell ya, I immediately felt a huge weight lifted off my shoulders when I read it.

I stress out all day long about all the things I don’t get done in between caring for the boys and rarely pay attention to what I DO get done. My worth is not measured by the number of checks on my to-do list. If that means I spent the entire day playing with my babies and didn’t get a million things done, so be it. That’s why I’m taking this year off from working in a traditional setting, right? To take care of my babies

4. Our Boys Learned to Walk

Both boys decided they can walk this month. I am torn about this. On one hand, it is very exciting and I am brimming with pride. My sweet preemies, born tiny and with warnings about delays, started walking at 11 months. We were prepared for all sorts of delays in their development, and while I do occasionally see a couple, overall they are phenomenal. On the other hand, I was secretly hoping they would be late walkers. They are twins. There are two of them. And they are mobile. Next step is running. I’m exhausted thinking about it.

5. Dump Cakes

Granny introduced me to dump cakes this month when she brought over a blueberry lemon one as a surprise. It was so good. She explained how she made it and it sounded super easy, so I tried it out. 

When I had to prepare food for coffee hour at church last weekend, I tried out dump cakes. I made three–Granny’s Blueberry Lemon, Caramel Apple, and Chocolate Cherry. I will have a post soon with recipes!

Despite it being the most simple thing ever, I still pestered Granny with texts about how to do it correctly while I was making them, so I can guarantee the recipes are awesome.

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6. September Skincare Challenge

I challenged myself to celebrate Skincare September by making a homemade skincare line using essential oils. (Because I am obsessed with essential oils). I did not actually use it as consistently as I hoped, but I am already in love with how my skin is reacting to chemical-free, all-natural skin care. I want to use it a while longer (and more consistently) before I share it, but soon, I will have a blog post with an in depth review of how my skin has improved–complete with recipes I used to create my skincare line.

Also, while we are on the topic of essential oils. Stephanie and I used them this month to make all-natural household cleaners and we are both amazed by how amazing these cleaners are. Be on the look out for that blog post, too. 

What were YOUR favorite parts of September? What are your plans for October? Share in the comments!!!!

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Television Shows for People Who Don’t Like to Watch TV.

Confession: I don’t like to watch Television. I know that makes me kind of weird, but that’s me. When I started my first teaching job, my coworkers thought it was crazy that I didn’t have cable. They enjoyed slipping movie and TV references into our conversations to confuse me. 

Steph loves watching TV. It helps her unwind. It bores me to no end. When we bought our house, she wanted to put a television in our bedroom. I did not. If I am going to watch TV, I want to be in the living room on the couch or curled up with a blanket in my chair. Often, I need something to do with my hands in order to focus on the television–like knitting, playing cards, coloring, etc. Maybe I have ADD. I don’t know, but if I want to sleep, I want to go to my bedroom and sleep. Not watch TV. Besides, I cannot figure out how to comfortably watch television from the bed. Also, it’s not like Steph watches television all that often, so I didn’t see the need to have a second TV in the house.

So we compromised. And put a television in our bedroom. 

When Steph and I met, if I watched television at all, I watched Friends or How I Met Your Mother. That’s it. I watched those two shows on repeat. 

Over the years Steph has encouraged me to forced me to branch out and try different shows.

Truthfully, I have enjoyed several of them. The other day I said, “You are so good at finding shows I actually like to watch.”

“You have no idea how hard I have to work to find something you will watch!” She was slightly exasperated.

In an effort to save some other poor soul who has a hard time getting his or her significant other or friend to watch television with them, I’m sharing a list of shows to binge watch approved by someone (me)  who doesn’t like to watch television.

Steph knows when she has found a show I enjoy because I make a rule that she is not allowed to watch it without me.

    

7 Television Shows for People who Don’t Like to Watch Television

1. Friends

Where to watch: Netflix
Average length of an episode: 22-23 minutes
Number of episodes: 236

Friends is a classic. I never watched it while it was on the air. I discovered it because of my first roommate in college. She had the seasons on DVD and enjoyed watching them on repeat, so we watched it all the time. 

It’s a funny show and the characters are lovable (my favorite character is Janice Litman). Thanks to the witty humor, you will have a collection of great catchphrases you can use in real life. A favorite of mine:

“I’m not that great at the advice. Can I interest you in a sarcastic comment?”

–Chandler Bing

My students really loved it when I used that one. 

The many, many love triangles are fun, but not overly dramatic or emotional (I am not a fan of that kind of thing). Phoebe and Monica compete for a guy in coma, Rachel and Monica literally fight over 
Jean-Claude Van Damme, and the bigget one: should Rachel have ended up with Ross or Joey? You really do have to watch from the beginning to the end to be able to create an informed opinion. (I’m Team Joey, by the way. Ross is SOOOOOOO annoying.)

2. How I Met Your Mother

Where to watch: Hulu
Average length of an episode: 22-23 minutes
Number of episodes: 208

I don’t even remember how I came to know and love HIMYM, but I do know that it is probably my all time favorite television show. It seems like the show just kind of captures the stage of life I am in really well and  puts a humorous light on it. It’s real and relatable.

I genuinely love all of the main characters, even if Ted Mosby does occasionally really get on my nerves. I have experienced a full range of emotions while watching.

The Thanksgiving episodes are probably my favorites. We will watch all of them during the week of Thanksgiving. 

A lot of famous guests make appearances on the show including Katy Perry, Jennifer Lopez, Carrie Underwood, Mandy Moore, Lucy Hale, Ashley Benson, Mike Tyson, Enrique Iglesias, and many others. My favorite special guest is Britney Spears who plays Abby, a ditzy receptionist. The character is hilarious and Britney plays it well. 

Finally Marshall and Lily–Marshmallow and Lilly Pad–are the very definition of relationship goals. I love them and their dynamic. 

The downside:

I LOVE the mother. I loved the anticipation of discovering who the mother is and all the twists and turns Ted and his friends encounter on their journey to meeting her. She is PERFECT for Ted.

BUT, the series finale was really irritating. If the final episode had ended at 18:14, it would have been perfect. However, it continued for another 3 minutes and 22 seconds and, in that short amount of time, it almost ruins the whole show.

The final season is truly beautiful and poetic. I am not even ashamed to admit I cried. More than once. I recommend watching until Ted says, “And that, kids, is how I met your mother” and then turning off the television. Pretend nothing comes after that moment. You’ll thank me.

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3. Criminal Minds

Where to watch: Netflix 
Average length of an episode: about an hour
Number of episodes: 299 currently; it’s still in production.

I used to complain about how every movie or show I watched ended happily and how that’s not real life and sometimes it would be nice if that was reflected in media. 

Enter Criminal Minds. 

Sometimes the show is so intense that it keeps me awake at night. The whole plot with The Reaper is terrifying, but gave me exactly what I was looking for. They didn’t catch him right away. It took several episodes. 

The whole show is fascinating. You can learn so much about psychology and human behavior. (Yes, learning from a TV show is a plus for me. Learning makes me happy). I have researched a lot of the things I originally heard about while watching this show and learned a lot of very cool things. Because of this show, I’ve learned how to tell when people are lying to me–which is a super useful life skill. 

Sometimes I do have trouble binge watching Criminal Minds. It’s a show about how serial killers think–getting in the heads of some pretty sick people–there’s only so much of that I can handle before I’m sad and need a happy break.

4. New Girl

Where to watch: Netflix and Hulu 
Average length of an episode: about 25 minutes
Number of episodes: 146

I discovered this show while I was on maternity leave. There wasn’t a whole lot I could do besides watch TV. I was recovering from an emergency c-section and had twin infants. I didn’t get the hang of tandem feedings until they were big enough to hold their own bottles, so feeding took forever–especially since Gryffin didn’t even like to eat. It felt like when I wasn’t feeding or changing babies, I was pumping, so I couldn’t do much of anything except watch television.

Steph told me I was not allowed to watch Friends and How I Met Your Mother on repeat for 8 weeks. In my Mom-Brain-sleep-deprived state I forgot she couldn’t stop me while she was at work, so I randomly clicked on New Girl for absolutely no reason. I was immediately hooked and when I finished all of the seasons the first time (well, all available on Netflix or Hulu–series finale aired May 2018) I immediately went back to the first episode and started over.

New Girl is hilarious. I laughed until I cried more than once watching this show about a group of 30-somethings trying to figure out life, but Season 4, Episode 6 “Background Check” is by far my favorite. The first time I watched it, I started it over before moving on to Episode 7. Twice. And made Steph watch it when she got home from work. 

The characters play a game called “True American.” The actual rules are never explained, but I really want to play.

When I watched the series finale of this show I was very impressed. I have never seen a show ending done as tastefully and perfectly as New Girl. It was a fantastic way to end the show. (The writers of HIMYM could take some notes).

5. Quantico

Where to watch: Netflix
Average length of an episode: about 43 minutes
Number of episodes: 53

Quantico is my most recent favorite show. Not only are most of the main characters women, many of them are women of color, and all of them are bad ass. 

The twists and turns in the plot of this show are phenomenal. Every time I thought I had it figured out, the carpet was pulled out from under me again and I was back at square one. It is rare to find a show that does this to both Steph and me, but Quantico is it.

Unfortunately, the show has been cancelled, so the final episode of season three is now the series finale. I am heartbroken about this. I love the way this show challenges my thinking and requires that I pay attention to every single detail. 

6. The Ranch

Where to watch: Netflix
Average length of an episode: about 30ish minutes
Number of episodes: 50 so far; it’s still in production

I never imagined Ashton Kutcher and Sam Elliot could star in the same show and it turn out so good. I mean, they’re both great actors, but they are so different, and that’s what makes this show great. It captures the relationship between a parent and child who do not understand one another very well.

I didn’t expect to like the show because it’s so “redneck,” but it’s well balanced. Also, if you ever wanted to know exactly what my dad is like, look no further than Sam Elliot’s character, Beau Roosevelt Bennett. Whoever created Beau had to know Dad. There’s no other way they could have possibly gotten it so spot-on.

Several of Ashton Kutcher’s costars from That 70s Show make appearances throughout the show, which is a lot of fun. 

Don’t watch this show if you aren’t a fan of strong language. Personally, I love expletives and don’t understand how to show a truly strong, emphatic emotion without them. Curse words are to sentences what lights are to a Christmas Trees. It’s how you give it that little bit of extra.

In all seriousness, though, they drop the f-bomb a lot, so if you are truly bothered by that or don’t want your kids to hear it, don’t watch. 

7. Leverage

Where to watch: I don’t know anymore. 
Average length of an episode: 43 minutes
Number of episodes: 77

Leverage is a modern-day-Robin-Hood meets Batman story. A group of “bad guys” come together and fly under the radar to provide vigilante justice.

The characters are quirky and make the show a lot of fun. Each of them is a specialist in their “field”: a thief, a grifter, a hacker, and a hit man led by a former insurance investigator who does not have a criminal past; white knight turned dark knight. 

While watching I am often convinced there is no way they are going to pull of the hoax, but they always come through. It is a very creative and fun show. 

I almost didn’t include it in my list because you can no longer stream it on Netflix, so if you want to watch it, you have to pay for it on Prime Video or buy DVDs/BluRays. It’s worth the money, though, so I included it. I wouldn’t say that about just any show. 

Honorable Mentions

There are a few more shows that I like to watch occasionally, but don’t necessarily like to binge watch. You may like them:

  • Will and Grace–I want to be Karen when I grow up, but I can’t call this show binge-worthy. Occasionally the plot is terribly boring and Grace gets on my nerves so bad. I can’t watch more than an episode, maybe two, at a time. 
  • The Good Place–I love what I have seen of this show, but I need to see where it is headed before I can say it’s binge-worthy. It’s hilarious, though. 
  • The Golden Girls–What television list is complete without The Golden Girls? And who doesn’t love Sophia Patrillo? 
  • Grey’s Anatomy–I have a love-hate relationship with Grey’s. Sometimes I just love it and could watch it all day. Other times I find it terribly annoying and can’t stand it. Also SPOILER ALERT!!! how is there even a plot now that there is no Dr. Derek Shepherd?
What about you? What is your favorite show to binge watch? Tell me in the comments!

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30 Things That Make Me Happy

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6 months from today is my birthday.

I will be 30.

If you are wondering how I feel about turning 30, so am I. Sometimes I don’t care, it’s just another age. And sometimes I freak out. My 20s, especially the second half, have been kind of amazing. Overall, I have loved being a 20-something. I feel like when I turn 30, that means I am a real adult. Guys, adulting is not my strong suit. I’m not very good at it.

When you’re a kid everyone says “Don’t grow up. It’s a trap. Being a kid is awesome and being an adult sucks.” Um…no. You know what sucks?

  • Middle school
  • High school
  • Teenage angst
  • Trying to fit in as a teen
  • Trying to figure out who you are as a teen
  • Being a teenager in general
  • Figuring out what to do when you’re told “you’re not old enough” and “you’re too old” all at the same time.

Obviously, I didn’t love my teen years. Except, at the time, I didn’t think it was too bad. Once I experienced life as a 20-something I realized being a teen wasn’t all that great.

After I turned 23 or so, I figured myself out. I decided I am okay with who I am and relaxed and enjoyed life. Now I’m six months away from turning 30. What if this is the part of adulting everyone hates? What if it’s all down here from here?

But also, what if it’s not? What if life is like wine and gets better with age?

See what I mean? I have no idea how I feel about turning 30. Maybe in six months I will.

To countdown the last six months to thirty, I will be posting 7 lists of 30 things. The first list is 30 things that make me happy.

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Rules For The List

My friend Amanda says I have a system for everything. I like parameters, so I have to make lists with goals and rewards for completing those goals.

When I started brainstorming a list of things that made me happy, the obvious came to mind first: my wife, my kids, my family, my friends, my dogs (who are also my kids, but some people don’t understand so I list them separately).

So my rule for creating this list is that I cannot list any of the “obvious” answers. I have to choose things that make me happy outside of easy the answers.

30 Things That Make Me Happy

  1. M&Ms
  2. Making people laugh
  3. Giving gifts that are “just right”
  4. Surprises–I used to absolutely hate surprises. Nothing set my anxiety on edge more quickly than a surprise. Steph loves to surprise me and I’ve learned to genuinely enjoy it.
  5. Meeting new dogs
  6. Music. Both making music and listening. I especially love singing to my babies.
  7. Harry Potter. Repeat after me. The books are better than the movies. The books are better than the movies. One more time, the books are WAY better than the movies. 
  8. The Royal Family–I love them so much. The Queen is so precious and has a fascinating past and Princess Kate and Princess Meghan are just lovely. I was glued to the television for both royal weddings–and have even re-watched both of them on YouTube. I love that they are always in the public eye and yet still  remain so classy. That doesn’t happen in America very often. Confession: I have these Princess Kate paper dolls. I’ve never cut them out, but I enjoy looking at them. I’m waiting for the Princess Meghan ones. 
  9. Chocolate milk
  10. A comfy sweatshirt or cozy sweater
  11. Baby giggles–especially Atticus and Gryffin’s giggles
  12. Snuggling–my babies, my doggos, my wife. Physical touch is my love language.
  13. Essential Oils
  14. Baking–I am the cookie master.
  15. Lip balm. Blistex is my favorite brand, especially the Enhancement Series, but seriously any Blistex is perfect. I also like ChapStick Total Hydration and EOS. I am the person who keeps a tube of lip balm everywhere: my car, my purse, my makeup bag, the diaper bag, my wife’s car, my wife’s purse, my nightstand, my desk, the bathroom counter, the kitchen counter, my pocket, my parents’ house (I bet they don’t even realize it).
  16. A good cup of coffee
  17. The anticipation of the last day of school before a break. I thought when I quit teaching, I would lose this one, but I was wrong. Today is the last day of school and all of next week is fall break. I. Am. So. Excited. I can’t wait to have Steph home with us all week. I have planned all the things for us to do as a family!
  18. Turkey sandwiches–turkey, miracle whip or mashed avocado, tomato, onion, salt & pepper–delicious!
  19. Watching snow fall
  20. Being creative–having a creative outlet always lifts my spirits. I enjoy scrapbooking/crafting, painting, and creative writing.
  21. A new notebook
  22. Good ink pens–especially if they come in several colors like these and these.
  23. Equality–but the fact that we, as a nation, still get this so wrong, does not make me happy.
  24. Beauty and the Beast- I love the live action film starring Emma Watson more than I could possibly even tell you. 
  25. Reading a book that is so good I feel like the characters are real people and begin referring to them as my friends. Yes, I do tend to get so involved in a story that the line between reality and fiction becomes blurred. I’m not sorry.
  26. Hot chocolate
  27. Giving random compliments. If you have never done this, you need to. It is so much fun to watch someone’s face brighten! A couple of weeks ago I complimented the cashier at the gas station on her eyeliner–she had some amazing wings–and her whole entire demeanor changed. She stood up straighter, her shoulders released tension, she genuinely smiled (versus the customer service smile). The way she greeted the next customer in line was completely different because of an action that literally took about 3 seconds of my life. “Thank you. You’re eyeliner is awesome, by the way!”
  28. Being a student. Learning is my fav!!!
  29. Carbs. Why does something that makes me so happy have to be so bad for me?
  30. Good mascara and red lip gloss or lipstick–my current favorite mascara is Covergirl’s Katy Kat Eye Mascara in black and my current favorite red lip is ChapStick Total Hydration Moisture+Tint in merlot.

This was a very therapeutic list to write. Remembering all the things that make me happy definitely put me in a good mood. I challenge you to make your own list of things that make you happy!

Inspirational Dream Journal

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