Category Archives: Reflection

Finding oneself

It has been a hot mess since I last posted. I told myself I was going to post once a week at least and I am sorry I have not followed through with that. Self doubt crept up on me and so much has been going on, I let it break me.

I am sadly no longer with the Cocoa Exchange and that is honestly ok. I realized I need time to work on me and better my inner self. I have posted before that I struggle with self doubt. I am getting better at that but there are times it still kicks in.  Some of it comes with how I view myself.

I have let myself go. I wear jeans and a tshirt every day- I am ashamed of my body and cover- My health sucks- I am tired of being a frumpy mom. I know- I am not- my kids and my hubby tell me that daily. And I may sound vain- but I need to work on my health and my outward appearance. So I started working out.

I seriously had no idea my stomach muscles still existed! Seriously I hurt. I do 15 minutes on an eliptical, 10 semi squats (I say semi because I struggle with them) 10 semi lunges (again I struggle- don’t judge) 10 sit ups (although I did 20 yesterday- and I suck at those too lol) and about 30 seconds plank.  My goal is to keep increasing those each week. So next monday I want to up to 20 minutes eliptical – 15- 15- 25 and 45 seconds. My big picture goal is to drop 50lbs at least- and go from a size 14 to a size 8 at least. And it isn’t just for looks. I have hypertension and I hate medication- I want to stop taking it and living healthy and being able to keep up with my cross country running kiddos.

I also would like to get back to meal planning- but sadly I am working nights no matter how often I ask to be put back on days ( I was hired to manage the coffee shop portion of a restuarant but was put on night shifts) I am stuck on nights- and that makes cooking dinner hard. Maybe I will start making dinners for lunches and the kids and hubs can have the left overs for dinners.

I usually say I am going to do these things and the let the self doubt creep in- let the “I can’ts” win and give up. But this time I really need to stay focused and stay on top of it. I need to do this for myself and my family. Maybe next week I will even post a picture so we could do a before and after.

Weary and Burnt Out

Like millions of other’s across the nation, even world. My kids have been home since March 12th (I know some were out long before that- bless the parents out there). This week has been the most trying of them all though.

You get to a point where you are just done. You’re mentally exhausted, you are tired, you are stressed. School is going wrong and you contemplating buying your children’s teachers a year subscription to Wine of the Month as you pity them and want to thank them for enduring your children’s shenanigans.

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Stepping out—

So this week has made me go outside of my comfort zone as I realize things about me that I really did not want to realize. Like how I put more pressure on myself than others do. If only I turned my “I failed at….” thoughts into a “I did…..” thoughts. That is honestly out of my comfort zone. And honestly- so is promoting myself. I got to thinking about why my business is not working- Well – because I don’t like drawing attention to myself. I can market for other people- I actually LOVE marketing and am working on some classes through LinkedIn Learning to help me learn more about graphic design. But marketing my own business. I don’t want to seem pushy or needy.  Continue reading

Rejoice….. Always…..

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I think I have officially been smacked by God. Given a wake up call of sorts if you will. Today we went to church as usual but it ended in an unusual way for me.

See last night I went to bed angry and bitter. My mother may have something seriously wrong (sorry don’t want to go into details until I know for sure) and I was angry. I was angry that she let herself get this bad, angry that she didn’t tell me herself, and angry that I couldn’t help but to wonder how long do I have with her and automatically thinking the worse. I should of been thinking at least they are figuring it out. I should of been thinking of now we know how to  make it better. But instead I let bitter and anger take over me.

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Who turned off the heat?!?!?!

If you haven’t heard about it then let me start by saying- yet again a shortage is controlling our money. There is a propane shortage across the nation so clearly that means to raise the cost right? As if making more money will some how magically produce more propane. In my opinion it is corporate greed wanting to profit off of those in need during these harsh cold days because they know we do not have a choice.

Ok off my soap box… In reality the propane shortage is being blamed on the weather, and the fact that we had a really wet harvest so farmers used extra propane for their heaters to dry their corn. Simple as that. But those two things is enough to make 33 states declare a Energy Emergency which allows truck to travel for longer times before having to stop for rest.  With the polar vortex that hit and more arctic blasts bringing the cold to us this will only get worse before it gets better. In fact states like Alabama, Georgia and Tennessee have started to limit their customers to 100 gallons at a time. Wisconsin’s governor has released 8.5 million dollars in funds to help people pay for their propane.  And while we are all trying to save the propane and worrying about keeping our kids warm- we are also having to worry about our pocket books. The companies that sell us our heat (in a sense) have raised the prices from $1.80/gallon to in some places over $5/gallon.

Let me put this into perspective for you… At $1.80 a gallon my propane bill at the beginning of this month was just above $400.. Next time we have it filled (because we have more winter coming) it will cost us between $500-$1000. Yep you read that right they expect average joes to pay close to $1000 to keep their kids warm.

So since Law Enforcement and Teaching (or a para educator in my case) makes oh so much money, here are some tips to help cut on cost and save some propane to hopefully last until spring or summer when the price is cheaper!

  1.  Turn down the thermostat. We have ours set at around 63 degrees. No matter how high I turn it up not a lot of heat is making it upstairs so we might as well just keep it down. I know 63 when it is like -40 doesn’t feel to warm- but during the day when no one is home- turn it down even lower! 
  2. Seal things up! In our house we have a few doors with those old skeleton key holes. We have put duct tape over them to keep the cold air from creeping in. We have also placed towels at the bottom of all doors leading to the outside to seal up any air that may be coming in. We have also placed towels on some windows to block some draft and will be getting some plastic to put over them. 
  3. Alternate heat- if you have a wood burning stove- use it! We do not have one,  but my daughter has a heater in her room (one of the electric ones that shut off when it warms up enough and will turn back on when cooled to a certain point). We have that set at a decent level and keep her door open so the heat can flow out into some of the other upstairs rooms. We plan on investing in a few other heaters- but if we could we would burn wood!
  4. Double up! My kids have extra comforters on their beds to help them stay warm. And they of course sleep in the appropriate winter pj’s 
  5. Leave the oven open! When you are done baking- turn off the oven and leave the door open! It truly does help a little bit and hey- every little bit is worth it!
I am sure that there are a gazillion other ways that you could help save some money. These are the few we are doing now… I would love to maybe get a few heaters but first we must pay off the propane bills (like I said- it was over $400!). We are in for more of this cold weather! In our neck of the woods it has been a roller coaster (60 degrees one day and then -2 the next sort of roller coaster) so this may go on for awhile. When is spring again?!?!?!?
Sound off! I would love to hear from you! What are some money saving tips you have for these times of need?
~I was not compensated for this post in any way. These are some random thoughts of mine in regards to my personal situation.~ 

Why I do not work for free!

I must say I faced a first in my blogging career. I mean I have had companies ask me for free posts but after telling them my rates they thank me for the information and move on or they work with me. I do not think for the amount of work it takes a blogger to promote things my price is unfair. This is my job. During the summer I do not get paid by my real job (a para educator) so I need to supplement some income. I have kids and I have bills just like everyone else. I take my blogging seriously and I expect companies to respect that as I respect that they are trying to promote a product or service. I am in sense…. an advertiser. I do not work for free.

So why am I telling you this. Well I had a company, Rose Wholesale,  who found it necessary to try to bully (and yes I will use the word bully) me into doing free work.  I received the below email:

Hi ,

I have visited your blog for a while and I found it very cool. You tell us the life bit by bit sweet and warm. 
Your thoughts and opinions on fashion and life style are very unique attracting me deeply. And I really like it. 
You are the best person we are looking for.
Our website, (removing as to not give them any link juice), is a fast growing online retailer offering high quality products at amazing prices. There are many various clothes, bags, ect.
I’m wondering if you are interested in launching a giveaway campaign on your blog with us together. And We are very happy to give you gift card, you can buy anything you want ,and write a review after you receive our product,or give it to one of your blog readers through some game or lottery.  
Please let me know if you are interested.  
I am looking forward to seeing your reply
best wishes”
This all sounds simple and innocent. I inquired more about their ideas. They replied back with a lengthy expectation for the giveaway. I inquired about the review and received this response:

If there is a great effect after the giveaway, we will place order for you ( the gift you can select there is no limitation)
Hope to hear you soon”
So in other words- If the giveaway does not do well there will be no review (which is a form of payment to me). I politely responded with the following:

Ok I have been doing some thinking and I can not guarantee the outcome of the giveaway. This blog is one of my sources of income so I would need some sort of payment regardless of the outcome of the giveaway. A giveaway takes time to construct, publish, promote, deal with winner selection and notification ect.. 
Here is my proposal- 
I will post the giveaway. The post will contain an entry form where it will encourage readers to follower all your social media and to visit and browse your site. Doing steps such as those will be bonus entries so that I am following the guidelines of my social media/blogging restrictions.  The blog post itself containing that entry form will have 2 links to your main page and at least 1 to something with in that page. As to the prize I believe giving them a gift code for a set dollar amount will draw more attraction and more entries so that people can pick what fits their style. The length of the giveaway will determine the amount of the gift code but will run no less the 14 days. It will be promoted on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ every other day then during the last 3 days it will be promoted daily.  It will also be promoted on my Pinterest board for giveaways. Once over I will select the winner and notify them. We can do one of two things- I could provide them with the gift code or I can forward their information onto you for you to provide them the gift code. 
Given the amount of work I will be doing to give you all of the above I will request a paypal payment in the amount of $100 (usd). If you wish to do something more large scale with a higher prize amount (prize amount greater then $200) and I recruit other bloggers to help me promote I will do that for additional fee (not to excede $50 extra dollars). Payment must be submitted before the giveaway is published or I will consider the deal cancelled. 
Please let me know if you have any questions or concerns. I hope we can reach a deal on this as I believe it could truly be a great event!
Thanks!”
Unfortunately the company felt my price was to steep and instead of negotiating a new price they just said no and said my price is to high. I replied with a polite:

I understand. As stated in the original proposal it is set that high due to the amount of work it takes me to do a giveaway (creating and publishing and promoting). This blog is my job and one I take seriously. Maybe in the future we could work together so if anything changes. Best of luck to you. 
Thanks!”
I thought that would be an end to the conversation. With both parties ending on a professional note. I have done giveaways for trips, for items that are worth over $100 and then some and I feel I have quiet the loyal and large following. But apparently I was wrong because this is the response I received:

To tell you the truth, your fans is small and there is no other special. You need to do step by step.
We have cooperated for may bloggers they usually agree to us at the first time and do the work for us very well. But they don’t have the request like you. Their blogs are very fashionable.
And i want to sponsor you do giveaway at first time this will add you fans.Then we can have a discuss together.What do you think of it?”
Wait? What? My fans are small and I have no other special. I need to start step by step and they seem to think they can get me more fans? Seriously? Did they really just say that to me? I was surprised! I never had a company try to tell me how to run my blog and insult me as a way to get me to work with them! So here is my response to Rose Wholesale and any other company who may think that it is ok to treat a blogger like this:

Wow. I now I must be honest with you. One way to get a blogger is NOT to attack them and criticize their blog. Clearly you have not looked at my blog because if you have you would see that 1) I am NOT a fashion blogger. I promote clothing once in awhile but my main concern is recipes and promoting a serious illness. You also would see that I have 4,000 unique pageview a month- over 17000 combined followers (Facebook and Twitter being my main sources) and have worked with high end companies who do not insult bloggers they way you just have.  So I am sorry if you feel my price is “steep” for being a “small” blog. But I remind you- you contacted me first and expect me to work for free. I am an advertiser. I advertise for companies for a price. Surely you being a business person can understand that. I value my work and other companies do to. At this point I see no further communication needed as I will not work with a company who will stoop to the level of manipulation you have just to get some free advertising. 
Have a good day and again I do truly wish the best of luck for your endeavors. “
So to all the companies out there- I highly recommend fully reviewing a blog before  contacting them. And if you disagree with their terms just say thank you and move on. Do not try to bully them into your terms because you end up angering the blogging community more then anything else. We are not just bored mom’s looking for hand outs. We are advertisers who work hard and put our hearts into the things we do and will give you our best work.  








~I clearly was not compensated for this post. I am not working with the company listed hence why there are no links.~ 

R.S.V.P Where did you go?

So today I was thinking as I was getting ready for my daughter’s birthday that gone are the days where people actually follow the RSVP etiquette.

First- what does RSVP even mean? Well it is French for “répondez, s’il vous plaît,” which means “please respond”. It is common on wedding invites, birthday invites, dinner party invites. It is just the way the host knows what to plan on. How many people do they need to feed and accommodate  for.

I remember as a kid my mom would always call up the other mom and politely let them know if we were attending the function we received an invite for or not. But since having kids of my own I have noticed one thing:

Yep- The RSVP has died. The past few years for birthday’s I have filled out invitations. I have provide both my cell phone number and an email address to make the rsvp process convenient for those we have invited. However each party I only hear from a few. For example last year for my daughter’s birthday we heard from 2 people prior to the party- 1 person the day of the party and about 5 minutes after it started stating they were on their way, while everyone else just showed up. My son’s birthday was similar, a few notified me ahead of time that they were coming, a few informed me that they were not, but most just showed up.  That brings me to this party for my daughter. I have heard from 3 friends, out of 16. But I am pretty sure more then that will show up. But it makes it hard to plan. Do I plan for all and have a lot of left over cake or do I plan for the few. It is so frustrating! What ever happened to a quick- hey we will be there? I have called on every single invite my kids have received. It is the polite thing to do.

So if the RSVP has died why do we bother still putting it on birthday invites?  But the bigger question is- what are we teaching our children? What sort of etiquette are we displaying to them? I may be old fashioned as a 32 year old but I am ok with that.

So I am curious to know- am I the only one who has noticed that the RSVP died? Do you still call/text/or email when you receive an invite?

New Year and a New Us!

So I have been seeing a lot of New Years post and swore I was not going to post one. But then I saw one that my sister in law at For Him and My Family about Praise and it reminded me of all I have to be thankful for this year.

We have had an amazing 2013. This year we have actually been able to afford things! Sorry I know that sounds odd but my husbands job prior to law enforcement has been off and on. Plus we had an $1100 house payment and when we moved we dropped to a $500 house payment. We also sold our old house finally. We took a loss on it but hey- we sold it! That was an important thing!  On the house note, we also found an acreage to rent and now have our horses with us!

Another thing that happened were our first real family trip. We took our kids to the East Coast during the summer. There we went to the Beach, which was also my husband’s first time seeing the ocean, we went to DC and to Gettysburg. We drove for that trip so my kids got to see fun things like Arch in St Louis, the mountains, and a few baseball stadiums (my son was all over that lol). We also made an unplanned stop at Jamestown and took an unexpected ferry ride.

One of the best things that happened though was landing a full time job. I know, but I will no longer be home and what not. However, my kids are growing up. They are at school all day and one can clean the house so much. So I got a job at their school! I am a Special Education Para Educator now. That job is extremely rewarding and really inspiring. Not to mention the perk of being off when my kids are off!

God has truly been good to us this year. We have had some great times, made some great friends and attend a good church. What more could we ask for?!?!?!?!

With that said I can not wait for this year and see what all 2014 has to offer. We are hoping on doing a smaller scale trip (just camping up by Mt Rushmore), my daughter will be showing horses this year, and we are hoping to get her into riding lessons. My son is excited for Baseball and we have Cub Scout camp and more to look forward to! I am looking forward to being able to enjoy the summer and not having to wake up early to sit in an office every day. The other goal I have is to finish my photography lesson and maybe start a client list! Lots to look forward to and here is to the continue blessings of God!

Happy New Year and the best to your family from ours!

Sleep? What is that?

Insomnia: The inability to fall asleep or to stay asleep. Hmmm… I wonder if that is what I have. Lately I have not been sleeping at all. Some of that could be because my hubby works nights and he is in Law Enforcement so I worry. I do notice that I sleep better when he is home. But some of it is my back. A long time ago we were in a really bad car accident. It totaled our F150 and since then my back has not been the same. I do fine for a little bit then go to the chiropractor a few times. But I find that it doesn’t help. I think it is my bed.

Our bed is about 8 years old. It was one of those nice pillow top beds. But, it seems to of lost its umpf. It is no longer comfortable and I toss and turn trying to find comfort for my back pains. Especially on days like recently when I pulled a muscle and I sit with a heating pad on it half the day. But that isn’t the worse of my problems.

Did you know that chronic sleep loss can leads to problems like weight gain, high blood pressure, and a decrease in your immune system? Wait- back up— blood pressure? Maybe that is my issue! Over the past few years (when my lack of sleep started kicking in) I have been diagnosed with High Blood pressure. I have lost weight and started eating healthier and my blood pressure has improved some. But I would love to go with out any medication. I am only 32. To me- I should not be on blood pressure medicine!

It is known that while you sleep you allow your body to heal. To refresh itself so to speak. So getting enough sleep can help in more then just health. It can help your mood (come on- you know you are cranky when you don’t get enough sleep!), and it can help you think clearly and be alert. In fact- there was a study done back in 2010 that showed one in six deadly crashes were the results of sleep deprivation! When you are tired you are not so “quick” to react or could fall asleep at the wheel.

So what brought me to research this? Well- for one the pain. I would love a bed that would properly support my body while I sleep so that maybe I could wake up with out having to twist every which way to get all the kinks out. Also the fact of I have noticed that I am ALWAYS tired. I can easily nap in the afternoon, or I find that I doze of while cuddling with my kids when watching a movie as early as 8pm. I just can’t be doing that. My kids deserve better. They deserve a happy, healthy and awake mom! So now I am on a mission. I need to find a bed that actual works. I have heard a lot about the Sleep Number and Tempurpedic but I don’t know where to begin or what we can afford. I just know something needs done. Until I can figure out the bed issue I am going to be trying some different things to help me sleep better. My goal is to quit drinking soda after a certain time (to quit all together would be amazing). I am also going to shut down the computer at an earlier time of night and maybe drink a relaxing cup of chai tea. Maybe if I can get myself relaxed I can sleep a bit easier.

I would love to hear from you though- Do you have a Sleep Number Bed or a Tempurpedic and how do you like it? What do you do to help you get the right amount of hours of sleep?

Sources:
http://www.health.harvard.edu/press_releases/importance_of_sleep_and_health
http://www.webmd.com/sleep-disorders/features/9-reasons-to-sleep-more?page=2

Need #organization HELP!

As you may have read we have recently moved! Things are slowly falling into place. Our house is a nice 4 bed, 2 bath house that was built in 1910. With that said- it is a decent size house with large rooms- but ZERO closet space and storage areas!

I just thought I would take a break from organizing and trying to figure out this space to show you what I have been up against

First- The down stairs. There are 2 “mud rooms” that we have when you first walk into the house. One we keep my exercise equipment in and the dog’s kennel. Then the other we have turned into a pantry (see below picture). The pantry one has a closet for coats and loops into the Kitchen while the main one loops into living space. We even have a nice little built in and a laundry room on this level. Then you have a bedroom (I think it is a bedroom as they have turned the closet into a bathroom). Since there is not a closet we turned it into our office. This is where we need help with! All those books and craft stuff and computer thing and sewing items…Lots of room, just nothing to put it in/on. Need to find a storage solution for that! Then upstairs we have one big bath (with no cabinets!) and 3 bedrooms and then a room that is- I don’t know what! The pictures for those speak for themselves!

Downstairs Issues: Pantry, and Office

This is my closet (there is one rod and then some hooks. 

Bathroom has just that one vanity! There is a tiny medicine cabinet on one wall but this is it! Then as you can tell- the extra room as nothing but walls and a door to the outside (used to be a deck out there)

Kid’s closest. Jen’s is really tight and has no rods so her clothes are on hooks right now. Danny’s is bigger but just has that one row of hooks. He also has that nice built in that he uses. 

So that is it. I wish I could have someone come in and completely organize and make my house look so pretty like you see on those HGTV shows lol. The upstairs bathroom needs updated massively. I do my make up and hair in our down stairs bathroom currently. I need some of those nice organization units for in closest and well everywhere! I love all the original wood work though. I am so happy we finally found a place we can call home!