February Mission Board (and January recap)

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Well...my start to the new year did not quite go as planned. Rather than losing a few holidays pounds and getting back on track with my fitness routine, I ended up gaining even more weight and barely working out at all. Sadly, at one point this past month I weighed more than I did when I started "Plan the Pounds Away" two years ago and likely the most I have ever weighed in my life! While I was definitely disappointed in myself for not meeting my health goals this little setback gave me another reason to love my Inkwell Press planner. Instead of focusing on the goals I struggled with, I can see all the ones that I met successfully! So let's take a little closer look at my January Mission Board before I start writing on February's.

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First up is HEALTH! I listed three things I wanted to focus on here. Simple, one word statements because none of them were new or exciting. They're just things I need to continue to work on- SLEEP, WATER, and WORKOUTS! Looking back at my Daily Habit Tracker (which I actually filled out this month) I can see that I did pretty good in all three areas. Weekends or days we don't have school continue to be more difficult for me when it comes to drinking water. I did MUCH better sleep-wise. I was bummed my FitBit was acting up and didn't track my sleep a couple days. The Blogilates Flat Ab Challenge was another success. It was just my cardio workouts that continue to be a struggle mostly because I hate using the treadmill and it's difficult to jog outside when the streets are full of snow and ice!

HOME- In my continued effort to purge clothes and toys seasonally, it was time to sell or donate old toys in our house. My boys got plenty of new toys for Christmas and there are quite a few they just don't play with anymore, so we needed to purge and make room for the new stuff. I gave some toys to friends with younger children that were still in good condition. Everything else I sold on the Facebook Marketplace or donated to our local thrift store. Purging always feels so good!

One of my ME TIME goals for 2018 is to read more, so to get started I needed to get some books! Not only did I get a couple books, but I already read one! I was able to plow through The Hate U Give in one weekend. I highly recommend it!

My second ME TIME goal involved this blog and my YouTube channel. My goal was to start doing a bit of re-design with logos, cover banners, etc. to begin the process of changing my name from "Plan the Pounds Away" to "Just Beth." Again, I went above and beyond with this one and have pretty much completed the whole change over on all my social media sites!

My first FINANCIAL goal was to decorate my budget planner for 2018. Tracking spending and income isn't all that fun and exciting, but I figured decking my planner out with some fun stickers will make it more enjoyable. I was right! I'm actually enjoying using my Erin Condren Deluxe Monthly Planner. Secondly, I wanted to continue to put any extra money we had at the end of the month towards our mortgage and we were able to do it for the second month in a row! Woo hoo!

I also had two BE SOCIAL goals for January. I wanted my boys to make wish lists of things they'd like to do during one-on-one time with mom or dad. My eight year old LOVED doing this and thought of all kinds of things! My six year old wasn't really interested in making a list, but I think he'll still enjoy some one-on-one time no matter what we're doing. So that my husband and I can go out for a real date night my other SOCIAL goal was to find a baby-sitter for some night in February. Done!

FOOD- Simple, one word goal here too.....TRACK! I failed pretty miserably at this the first few weeks of the month and as a result I saw my weight sky-rocket to the highest it has ever been. Now that I've refocused I have been doing a much better job of tracking my eating.

Our 2018 DREAM BIG goal is to take a trip for our 10th anniversary this summer. The first step was to ask potential baby-sitters if they'd be willing to watch the boys for a few days. We checked with both sets of grandparents and they agreed and we even found a span of days that seems to work for everybody. Now we need to figure out how to go about booking tickets, hotels, etc. Any advice? It's been years since we've traveled anywhere! Is it worth getting a travel agent to help or can I get just as good of deals if I use something like Expedia?

Finally, my WEIGHT GOAL was to get back to 150 pounds. Ummm....not even close! Instead I inched WAY to close to 160, but now it's headed back in the right direction and I'm ready to move on to a new month with new goals!

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My HEALTH goals for February are not related to weight loss at all. Instead I need to remember to schedule my annual physical and thanks to my big 40th birthday this past summer I also need to schedule my very first mammogram. Yippeee!

I struggled to think of a HOME goal for this month. I'd love to finish re-doing our living room. We still need a new end table and coffee table, but that has more to do with bugging my husband (who would like to build them) and is probably not a realistic goal. The only thing I could think of is maybe putting together a video about my cleaning routine since I've gotten quite a few requests for something like that. That being said, I don't do anything fancy or follow any sort of specific schedule so I don't know how interesting or helpful it would really be.

ME TIME- I read one book in January, so I think a realistic goal for February would be to read another one! I've got a book I borrowed from my mom that I've tried starting to read already, but it's not terribly interesting so if you have any other book suggestions I'd love to hear them.

I also didn't have any great ideas for a FINANCIAL goal for this month. We did MUCH better spending-wise this past month since we are past the holiday/birthday craziness. I think I'll keep it simple here and just again write to put any extra income we have towards our mortgage. I am determined to get rid of that pesky PMI (Private Mortgage Insurance) in 2018.

I have two BE SOCIAL goals for February. The first one is already planned...the annual Women's Retreat with my church. This is one of my favorite weekends every year! My second goal is to see if we can find one day/night for my husband and I to each spend some one-on-one time with our boys. February is pretty booked already, but hopefully we can figure something out.

My FOOD goal this month is probably the one that is both most important for weight loss and will be the most challenging for me. I want to aim to eat 1500 calories or less six days out of the week. I will allow myself one day to go over. I think the key here will be actually tracking my meals (using the My Fitness Pal app) ahead of time, so I can make sure I stay under my goal. 

The next step towards meeting our 2018 DREAM BIG goal of going on a trip for our 10th Anniversary this summer is to actually book tickets, hotel, etc. Now we aren't planning on a huge trip...we'd really just like to go to Chicago, spend some days hanging out and seeing the sights together, and get tickets to see Hamilton. Technically, Minneapolis is totally a drive-able distance to Chicago, but we're thinking flying might be easier and give us more time there. Once again if you have any advice to give I'd LOVE to hear it! Is it worth getting a travel agent to help or should I book things myself with something like Expedia? Where in Chicago are good places to stay? I've been there before, but it has been many years. Also, what are some of your favorite sites to see in Chicago? Restaurants to eat at?

My FITNESS goals for February...the first one is no different from any other month. I want to get in three cardio workouts a week. Maybe this month I'll be able to get outside for some walk/jogs a bit more than I did in cold and snowy January. Since I know I do well with monthly fitness challenges I also decided to bring back one I did last February from the Sisterhood of the Shrinking Jeans- "Lose the Love Handles."

Finally, my WEIGHT GOAL this month is 153 pounds. February is a short month, so basically I am aiming to lose one pound a week.

That's it for February! I'm planning on having a great and successful month and hope you do too!

Thanks for reading!

New Year's GIVEAWAY

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Congratulations to Jennifer from California on winning this New Year's GIVEAWAY!


Happy New Year everyone! I really struggled at the end of 2017 health-wise. Now that it's the new year it's time to get back on track with my eating and workouts! I'm sure I'm not the only wanting to get healthier in 2018, so I decided to use some of my IWP Rewards to buy some great Inkwell Press products for another GIVEAWAY!

Many of you have used my IWP Rewards Code to receive $10 off your purchase of $50 or more at inkWELL Press: http://r.sloyalty.com/r/uJ1K4xEHFAwP . When you used this code I receive Rewards points I can use towards the purchase of Inkwell Press products and since I have all the Inkwell Press products I need (for now...) I love to use my Rewards to give back to my followers!

The winner of this contest will receive an Inkwell Press Meal Planner AND an Inkwell Press Fitness Planner!

Entering the contest is easy! Just follow the prompts in this Gleam widget. The only requirement is you must be subscribed to my YouTube channel, but you can earn additional entries into the contest by visiting some of my other social media sites. The contest starts on Wednesday, January 10th and will run through 11:59PM (Central Time) on Tuesday, January 16th. You must be at least 18 years old to enter and a resident of the United States. Winners will be notified via e-mail after the contest has ended and must respond within 48 hours to receive their prize or new winners will be chosen.

Here's a peek inside the Fitness Log and Meal Planner. They are great tools for weight loss or just for staying a little more organized!

Good luck to everyone! Thanks again for all your support!

January Mission Board (and December recap)

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Last year I totally forgot about filling out my January Mission Board. I had waited until the last minute to write down my Yearly Goals, so it didn't cross my mind until we were already into the month that there was a Mission Board to fill out. This year I'm not forgetting! I'm ready to get started on my 2018 goals, but first let's take a look back at my December Mission Board and see how I did last month.

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I had two HEALTH goals in December. First, was drinking eight cups of water a day. I did okay....about half of the time. Basically, it's the same old story. I do great days when I am teaching, but weekends and/or days off I struggle to get all eight cups. My second goal was to schedule doctor's appointments for myself. DONE!

My HOME goal was to go through all our board games and card games and get rid of anything we didn't want or need anymore. We also bought some new furniture for our living room from IKEA. We still haven't had time to put it together, but I'm excited to eventually get all our games organized.

ME TIME- Still no pedicure! But I did an AWESOME job playing piano. In fact, I played a bit of Christmas music almost every day!

My FINANCIAL goal for December was no unnecessary spending! I suppose buying new furniture from IKEA was technically unnecessary, but in my defense our current living room furniture is at least 13 or 14 years old, so we were due to get something new.

A couple months ago my BE SOCIAL goal was to set up a Girls' Night with some of my old high school friends. We had a date on the calendar and then at the last minute we had to cancel, so this month's goal was to reschedule that Girls' Night. We've got a date on the calendar for January, so I can check that one off!

December's FOOD goal was to eat out less. Hmm...we still went out a bit, but I suppose it was better than November at least. :)

My FITNESS goals were pretty simple this month. As usual I was aiming for three cardio workouts a week. I got in two a week, but they weren't exactly hard workouts. I really struggled with getting good, quality cardio workouts since the weather has officially changed to winter. I miss jogging outside and don't work real hard to get in some workouts indoors. My other FITNESS goal was a daily workout routine using hand weights, ab exercises, and/or my SI Joint Exercises depending on how my back was feeling. Um...yeah...I totally sucked at this one!

WEIGHT GOAL- Big fail here too! Good thing I have a new month and a new year for a fresh start!

So...let's take a look at my goals for January!

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First up is HEALTH! I listed three things I want to focus on here. Simple, one word statements because none of them are new or exciting. They're just things I need to continue to work on- SLEEP, WATER, and WORKOUTS!

HOME- In my continued effort to purge clothes and toys seasonally, it is time to sell or donate old toys in our house. My boys got plenty of new toys for Christmas and there are quite a few they just don't play with anymore, so we need to purge and make room for the new stuff.

One of my ME TIME goals for 2018 is to read more, so to get started I need to get some books! My second ME TIME goal involves this blog and my YouTube channel. "Plan the Pounds Away" is almost two years old now and I'd like to do a bit of re-design starting with logos, cover banners, etc.

My first FINANCIAL goal is to decorate my budget planner for 2018. Tracking spending and income isn't all that fun and exciting, but I figure decking my planner out with some fun stickers will make it more enjoyable. Secondly, I want to continue to put any extra money we have at the end of the month towards our mortgage.

I also have two BE SOCIAL goals for January. I want my boys to make wish lists of things they'd like to do during one-on-one time with mom or dad. One of our 2018 goals is to spend more one-on-one time with the boys. I also need to contact our baby-sitter and get a date on the calendar for February.

FOOD- Simple,one word goal here too.....TRACK!

Our 2018 DREAM BIG goal is to take a trip for our 10th anniversary this summer. The first step is to ask potential baby-sitters if they'd be willing to watch the boys for a few days.

Finally, my WEIGHT GOAL is to get back to 150 pounds. I actually meant to write below 150 pounds, but I didn't want to scribble it out, so 150 it is!

I'm ready for 2018! I hope you are too! Thanks for reading!

2017 Year in Review

Just like that another year is almost done! I turned 40 this year and like everyone says the older I get the faster time goes by. Before 2018 is officially here I thought it would be fun to flip back through my Inkwell Press planner and reflect on the year and see how I did at meeting my goals.

My mission this past year was "To be so busy loving my life that I have no time for hate, regret, worry, fret, or fear." It was a quote that really resonated with me in part due to the political climate in our country after the 2016 election and because I knew the next year had the potential to be really stressful at work and at home. With all of that in mind....I wanted to spend 2017 focusing on all the wonderful things in my life and not worry about the things that I can't control and I think I was REALLY successful at doing that! 2017 was a really good year!

Now onto the actual goals....

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Personal- Continue to grow my blog and YouTube channel

At the beginning of 2017 I had just reached 700 subscribers on my YouTube channel. As of today that has more than doubled! Wow! Thanks for all the amazing support! Honestly, knowing there are people out there watching my videos and being inspired by my journey helps keep me motivated to continue.

Social- "Date" my husband, Plan regular nights out with friends

My husband and I have been married for 9 1/2 years and we have a great marriage. However, we are often so busy being parents, working, taking care of the house, and whatever other projects have our attention that we sometimes get a little "blah" when it comes to our relationship. Back when we were first dating we did fun, cutesy things like leave little post-it notes around for each other or surprise each other with a fun activity or gift. This year I wanted to try to remember to "date" my husband...not necessarily go out on dates (although if we did that more it would be great too), but do small, little things to remind him why I love him. At the beginning of the year I did a better job of doing the cute little things like leaving notes. Then about 6 months ago something amazing happened.....we found a baby-sitter! A baby-sitter that we love, that our boys love, that is knowledgeable with food allergies and administering Epi-pens (which is a big deal for us), and most importantly that is we trust. Now we are actually able to go out on dates! I just need to remember to schedule them....don't worry! That goal is already in my 2018 planner! 

My other social goal was to plan regular nights out with friends. This mom needs to get out and have some girl time too! I did get together with some of my girl friends, but probably not as often as I would have liked too. Quite a few of the girls' nights we had planned ended up needing to be cancelled and we never got around to rescheduling them.

Financial- Budget & track spending, Spend less on "unnecessary wants"

I am the "money manager" in our family mostly because I'm too OCD to relinquish that control to anyone else. Our family is doing just fine financially, but there's always room for improvement. In 2017 I wanted to do a better job of budgeting and tracking our spending. I also wanted to try to spend less money on "unnecessary wants." This past year I tracked our expenses and income every month in an Inkwell Press hard cover journal. It worked pretty good and it definitely opened my eyes to some places where we could make changes. I'm excited to continue this financial journey in my new Erin Condren Deluxe Monthly Planner in 2018!

Health- Maintain workout routine, Get more sleep, Meet weight goal & maintain it!

Since I started this whole "Plan the Pounds Away" thing in early 2016 I have developed a pretty good routine for getting in workouts. I typically do one 5-10 minute workout everyday (well, most of the time)....hand weights, squats, ab work, etc. Then I try to get in three additional more intensive/cardio workouts. This usually happens while my boys are at school, but sometimes they even work out with me! I love this because the whole reason I started this health journey was to be a better example for my kids!

I still struggle with getting enough sleep. It's just so easy to stay up late...I get things done (like laundry, writing blogs, cleaning, etc) or I just sit and do nothing or watch TV. Either way I often find myself up way past midnight which means I'm typically getting 5-6 hours of sleep. Not good! When I don't get enough sleep, I get sick! Now I have discovered that when I track my sleep in my planner using my FitBit, I do make an effort to get to bed earlier but I don't do that all the time.

"Meet my weight goal & maintain it".....well, that one hasn't gone so well. I always try to be 100% honest on this channel/blog and the truth is I currently weigh 5 pounds more than I did at the end of 2016! I haven't lost any weight at all this year! Well, I've lost a pound or two and then gained it back and then some. When I wrote my goals for 2017 I wanted to lose another 5-10 pounds and then make sure I lived a healthy lifestyle where I could maintain that weight. Here's what I've learned over the past year:

  1. The weight goal I thought I could achieve probably wasn't realistic. My doctor pretty much confirmed this at my yearly physical when she said my weight at the time seemed just about perfect for my height, age, and activity level.
  2. Having a back injury put you out of commission for months makes weight loss VERY difficult! I was actually quite successfully maintaining a weight between 147 and 149 pounds for the first seven months of the year. Then when my back went out in July I gained and I just haven't been able to keep it off since.
  3. I am so happy with my healthy lifestyle that I don't really care what the scale says! I have developed and maintained routines for two years now and have seen the positive impact it has had on my family. 

So, that's not to say I don't want to lose those five pounds again. I do! I want to get back to a weight below 150 pounds and then that's it...I will be happy being "Just Beth."

Home- Purge toys & clothes seasonally

This has been such a good habit to get into! Pretty much at the beginning of every season I go through my clothes and my boy's clothes and get rid of things that don't fit anymore or that we don't wear. It's also a great time to take note of clothing items we might need for the next season. I do the same with toys that are broken, missing parts, or that my boys just don't play with anymore. I am finding that my boys are at the age where they don't play with quite as many toys (especially big ones that take up a lot of space) so we are in the process of revamping our living room. I'm so excited to have a more "grown-up" looking space!

Dream Big- Save for a big trip!

Ha! This goal changed within weeks of writing it, but I just couldn't get myself to cross it out. While I would have loved to save for a big trip it seemed much more practical to put our money towards something else. At the end of each month, I looked in my hard cover journal where I tracked our income and expenses to see how much money we could put into our mortgage. Currently, we have to pay PMI (Private Mortgage Insurance) every month along with our mortgage payment until we pay off a certain percentage of our house. It seemed more beneficial to put our money into eliminating the PMI, so eventually we can have that extra money each month to put towards something more fun...like a trip!

So there you have it....my goals for 2017. I think they were great, realistic, and with the help of my Inkwell Press planner I was able to meet most of them! Now I am looking forward to seeing what 2018 brings!

2018 Inkwell Press Planner Set-Up & Goals

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I can't believe it's time to set-up my planner for another year! The new year is just around the corner and I've procrastinated long enough, so it's time to get to work, write in my planner, and set some goals!

I started with my "Year At A Glance" page. I wanted a page that I could look at quickly and easily to see both my school schedule and my boy's. We are in two different school districts and I always need to see which days they have off that I don't or vice versa so we can work out schedules and child care. Last year I found a key somewhere from Inkwell Press that I printed and used. I haven't been able to find that same key yet, so I may end up writing it in later.

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Next I used some stickers from Knockout Printshop on Etsy to mark birthdays and wrote in other events and school-related days off on my monthly calendars. Last year Knockout Printshop made some awesome academic stickers for winter break, spring break, etc. that I LOVED using for my monthly pages, but she didn't make them this year. Boo hoo!

Finally it was time to fill in the 2018 Goals page! I always struggle with coming up with a mission statement. In 2016 my mission was "Take Care of Me." My 2017 mission was a quote that really resonated with me- "To be so busy loving my life that I have no time for hate, regret, worry, fret, or fear." I wanted this year's mission to be simple and something that I came up with, so here it is....

My 2018 Mission: "Be kind. Be happy. Be healthy. Be organized. Be present. Be me!"

I got the "be kind" from my new favorite You Tube channel Christopher Allen. Every video he makes inspires me to be kind to everyone. "Be happy"....duh! Who doesn't want to be happy? Of course I want to continue to "be healthy" that's where Plan the Pounds Away started with me trying to live a healthier life! I am typically very organized. I am a planner girl after all! Ha! However, being organized also means I am a compulsive multi-tasker and often am doing so many things at once I am not really able to "be present" for my family and friends. Finally, just "be me!" I want to continue stay authentic to myself on both my YouTube channel/blog and in my every day life.

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Now onto the actual goals....

Personal- Read More, Just Beth

I have had reading more on my monthly mission boards before, but this time I wanted to make it a bigger goal. Before getting married and having kids I read all the time. It's time to get back into reading for myself now! Plus both my boys are at the age where they are starting to read for enjoyment on their own and I want to set a good example for them.

I'm not quite sure how to explain "Just Beth." It kind of goes along with my mission statement and being authentic to myself, but I am also considering changing up my YouTube channel and blog a little bit. Don't worry! I will still be making planner videos and everything else I have been doing. I just don't know that weight loss will be my main focus anymore.

Social- Regular date night with a sitter, One-on-one "dates" with boys

My husband and I have finally found a regular baby-sitter that we love and trust, so we need to take advantage and schedule regular date nights out and not just "couch dates." I also want to make a point of scheduling more one-on-one "dates" with my boys. They LOVE getting alone time with mom or dad!

Financial- Track expenses, Get rid of PMI

I bought an Erin Condren Deluxe monthly planner that I featured in a previous unboxing video. I will using that to track our income and expenses for 2018. 

My other financial goal is one I have been talking about quite a bit during 2017. We want to pay off enough of our mortgage so we can get rid of PMI (Private Mortgage Insurance). 

Health- Drink water, Sleep, Track food, Maintain workout routine

I wrote down a lot of health goals, but none of these are new. They are all things I have been regularly tracking in my Inkwell Press planner for years! I need to stay on top of drinking my 8 cups of water a day. I also get in bad ruts of not getting enough sleep which usually results in me getting sick.  I want to keep tracking my food using the My Fitness Pal app to keep me accountable and finally maintain my workout routine.

Home- Keep cleaning routine, Purge toys & clothes seasonally

I've had people ask me to share my cleaning routine before. It's not exactly something that's easy to explain or write down, but that may be something I try to do in 2018. I also want to continue to purge toys and clothes seasonally. 

Dream Big- 10th Anniversary trip

I actually am really excited about my Dream Big goal for the first time ever. This upcoming summer my husband and I will celebrate our 10th anniversary. Our lifestyle typically doesn't include expensive trips, but we'd love to be able to go away for a weekend somewhere. Since we met doing theatre and still love to go to the occasional show when we can get a sitter...we were thinking maybe a couple days in Chicago or if we can afford it, New York City! 

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So there you have it....my goals for 2018. Although it took me a lot longer to think of goal this time around I am really quite proud of them and think they are realistic and achievable. Here's to another great year!

Holiday Planner Giveaway!

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Congratulations to Rosa from Illinois on winning the Holiday Planner GIVEAWAY!!

 

As I'm sure you all know I LOVE my Inkwell Press planner. It helps keep me organized, helps me set realistic and attainable goals, and stay motivated. I know many of you have enjoyed using Inkwell Press's products and may have even used my IWP Rewards Code to receive $10 off your purchase of $50 or more at inkWELL Press: http://r.sloyalty.com/r/uJ1K4xEHFAwP

When you used this code I receive Rewards points I can use towards the purchase of Inkwell Press products. Of course since I already have my 2018 planner ready to go I thought I'd give back to my supporters during this holiday season and use those points to buy a planner to give away to one lucky winner!

Here's what you'll win....

An Inkwell Press 2018 Coil-Bound Flex Planner

An Inkwell Press 2018 Coil-Bound Flex Planner

Entering the contest is easy! Just follow the prompts in this Gleam widget. The only requirement is you must be subscribed to my YouTube channel, but you can earn additional entries into the contest by visiting some of my other social media sites. The contest starts on Wednesday, December 6th and will run through 11:59PM (Central Time) on Tuesday, December 12th. You must be at least 18 years old to enter and a resident of the United States.

Winners will be notified via e-mail after the contest ends and will have 48 hours to respond to receive their prize or new winners will be chosen.

Good luck to everyone! Thanks again for all your support and HAPPY HOLIDAYS!

December Mission Board (and November recap)

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Wow! November absolutely flew by! I can't believe it's already time to fill out another Mission Board....and I seriously need to start thinking about filling out my 2018 Inkwell Press planner. Ahh! What's my 2018 Mission Statement going to be? Do you have yours already?

Okay, before I worry too much about 2018 let's focus on the end of 2017 and see how I did at meeting my November goals. My main focus for the month was THANKFULNESS and I really loved writing my daily thankful thought in one of my three boxes each day. I also actually tracked my other daily habits for the first time in many months. Yea me!

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Which brings me to my first November goal in the HEALTH hexagon.  For November I was going to try to get 7+ hours of sleep every night! As you can see I didn't do real great here...I got 7 hours or more about half of the time. I guess that's better than none, but I definitely could have done better.

My HOME goals for the month revolved around getting ready for Christmas and all the birthdays we have coming up in our family. First, I needed to decorate our house for Christmas. Done! Second, I needed to buy gifts. I like to get all my gift buying done in November, so I can relax and enjoy all the festivities in December a little bit more. Thanks to Amazon and a few local retailers I am virtually done with all my holiday and birthday gift buying. Yeah!

For November I also had two ME TIME goals. The first one was to get that pedicure that has been on my Mission Boards and To Do lists for that past couple months. Sadly, I still haven't done this! My second goal was to write a thankful thought every day which as I mentioned before went great and I will definitely be doing again next November.

My FINANCIAL goal was to create a budget for all the gift buying. Also done!

BE SOCIAL- Since everyone gets so busy around the holidays, I wanted to start setting up some play dates over winter break for my boys. I have two set up already, but I may try to contact one or two more of their friends to see if they want to get together over the long break.

Three cardio workouts a week was one of my FITNESS goals again this month. My other FITNESS goal was to do the Blogilates 30 Day Flat Ab Challenge.  I did really great at both of these goals this month with the exception of the past couple days. I have gone back to doing my SI Joint Exercises the past couple days as I've been noticing my back starting to feel a bit off and I want to make sure I deal with that before it turns into any sort of back pain. The weather has been warm enough to still get some of my cardio done outside which is amazing and I always love Blogilates Ab Challenge. It will be back on a Mission Board again, I'm sure!

I kept my FOOD goal simple this month....DON'T EAT CRAP! No late night ice cream, no chips and cheese dip just because, no handfuls of chocolate chips while cooking, and no eating out just because I'm too lazy to cook something myself! I definitely did a better job of controlling my eating, especially in the evenings. Of course, Thanksgiving and a couple birthday celebrations threw a wrench into my weight loss goal, but overall I feel like I really didn't eat crap!

My WEIGHT GOAL was to get back below 150 pounds. I didn't quite do that, but I at least lost a little bit of weight since October. That goal just might reappear in December's Mission Board.

So...let's flip to December and start filling out the last Mission Board in my 2017 Inkwell Press planner!

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First up is HEALTH. I am going to take a break from tracking my sleep even though it could definitely still use some work and go back to tracking my water intake. I've been having some medical issues lately that I know drinking more water could help with. I have a few of my hydration stickers left over from Knockout Printshop, but once those run out I plan on using my new hydration stencil from Dear Lily Designs on Etsy.  My other HEALTH goal is to schedule some doctors appointments and do a better job of taking care of myself! Any other moms out there who do a great job scheduling appointments and taking care of your family, but totally forget about your own health needs? Ugh!

My HOME goal for December is to go through all our board games and card games and get rid of anything we don't want or need anymore. I really want to get new furniture in our living for our entertainment center and some shelving for storing games. Currently all our games are stuffed in cupboards in the basement where they never get seen or played with and since my boys LOVE playing games we want them stored where we'll be able to access them easily. I don't know if we'll be getting the new furniture anytime soon, but at least I'll have the games organized and ready for when we do.

ME TIME- Maybe this will be the month I finally take some time for myself and go get that pedicure. It's seems a little silly writing this in December when the weather will likely be cold and snowy, but I still need to treat myself once in awhile too, right? My other ME TIME goal is to play some Christmas music on the piano. It's such a great way to relax and enjoy the holiday season and I know my family enjoys listening too!

We spent quite a bit of money last month buying all the Christmas and birthday gifts we'd need through the end of January, so my FINANCIAL goal for December is....no unnecessary spending!

A couple months ago my BE SOCIAL goal was to set up a Girls' Night with some of my old high school friends. We had a date on the calendar and then at the last minute we had to cancel, so this month's goal is to reschedule that Girls' Night.

December's FOOD goal is to eat out less. When I was going through our spending for November I saw just how much we we were either going out to eat or ordering take out or delivery and it wasn't good. 

Since my back hasn't been feel great the past few days I'm going to keep my FITNESS goals pretty simple. As usual I will be aiming for three cardio workouts a week again. I will probably have to resort to more treadmill and exercise video workouts as winter hits Minnesota, but that's okay. I still can't believe I've been able to jog outside this long! My other FITNESS goal will be a daily workout routine using hand weights, ab exercises, and/or my SI Joint Exercises depending on how my back is feeling.

Finally, I will once again skip over the DREAM BIG goal and make this spot for my WEIGHT goal. Can I get below 150 pounds when there are Christmas cookies to be eaten? We'll find out! Stay tuned for my end of the year review in just a couple weeks!

Thanks for reading!

 

 

November Mission Board (and October Recap)

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My main goal for October was to establish a weekly routine for getting household jobs done, spending time with my family, and making time for my workouts/health needs. I tried to do this in September when school started but struggled a bit balancing everything. I'm glad to say that as far as my routine goes I did MUCH better in October. I've been trying to accomplish my household chores (laundry, groceries, cleaning, etc) two mornings a week while my boys are at school and the other three mornings I get in my cardio workouts. Then I have most of the weekend free to enjoy time with my family!

Unfortunately not all my October goals turned out so well. Let's take a look at the Mission Board and see where I'm at before I start filling out my November goals.

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First up, HEALTH goals....I was aiming for 8+ cups of water a day and 7+ hours of sleep a night. My success here really varied from week to week. Some weeks I did great getting in my water, but not getting enough sleep. Other weeks I did better with my sleep, but not at drinking water. Overall, though I don't think I can check this goal off and I'm fairly certain one of the reasons I am currently sick AGAIN is because I haven't been doing so great at these two goals (and because I'm around germy children all day!). :)

HOME- This one is done! I cleaned up the yard (well, except for the leaves that continue to fall), but I put away our pots, plants, yard decor, and patio furniture.

I had a couple ME TIME goals this month. First, I was going to go back to a goal from earlier this year that I wasn't able to complete because of my back injury. I finally was able to practice piano and schedule a day to play at church. In fact, I'm playing this upcoming weekend! Second, I was going to get a pedicure which I've needed for a long time. While I'd really like to do this it just hasn't been at the top of my priority list each week so I still need to take some time and get it done....maybe later this week if I can get healthy.

My FINANCIAL goal for October was to start setting up my 2018 Budget Planner in the Erin Condren Deluxe Monthly Planner I bought a couple months ago. I started filling out some pages at the beginning of the planner to see what monthly expenses we have that don't occur at regular intervals like life insurance, car insurance, annual trips, etc.

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For FITNESS I once again concentrated on doing the  7 Best Sacroiliac Joint Pain Exercises daily to continue to strengthen my back and I tried to get in three good cardio workouts a week. I also added some hand weights back into my daily routine. I did really good at these for the most part because like I mentioned earlier I've gotten into a good weekly routine this month.

BE SOCIAL- Another girls' night! We've got a date on our calendar for November....just need to figure out where we want to go!

Finally, my FOOD goals for October were to make healthier lunches and eat out less! This one was a big giant fail! As I mentioned in last week's Plan With Me video I have really been struggling with eating...eating too much, snacking all the time, being lazy and eating out. It has not been good!

That also means I did not meet my WEIGHT GOAL for the month. I didn't even come close! Thanks to our family trip to Duluth a couple weeks ago and some major overeating last week I am sadly inching closer to the weight I was when I started this journey. Ugh!

Now onto November and figuring out what I can do to get back on track both health-wise and weight-loss wise.

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I am just going to concentrate on one HEALTH goal this month. I've been tracking my water intake for awhile now and most of the time I do pretty well. I know that the only times I really struggle with getting my 8 cups of water is when I'm not teaching, like on the weekends. So...I think the goal that will help me get back to being healthy most right now is getting enough sleep. This darn World Series between the Astros and Dodgers is keeping me up WAY to late these days, but I know I can always find something to keep me from getting to bed at a decent time, so for November I am going to try my darnedest to get 7+ hours of sleep every night!

My HOME goals this month revolve around the upcoming holidays (both Christmas and LOTS of family birthdays). First, I need to decorate our house for Christmas. I LOVE decorating for Christmas! I don't like to start too early, but I also want to take full advantage of the holiday season so I will probably start decorating the week before Thanksgiving. Second, I need to buy gifts. I like to get all my gift buying done in November, so I can relax and enjoy all the festivities in December a little bit more.

For November I also have two ME TIME goals. The first one is to get that pedicure I keep putting on my To Do List that never gets done. It may be past flip flop season, but it's still nice to treat yourself once in awhile. My second goal is for the month of November I want to write a thankful thought every day. Just one or two words that I will write in one of my three daily boxes in my planner each day. I did this last year too and really enjoyed it. It also gives me a good chance to practice some lettering or doodling that I suck at, but like trying anyway.

For November my FINANCIAL goal is to create a budget for gift buying. Not only do we have Christmas gifts to buy, but we also have TONS of birthdays in the months of November, December, and January. Seriously, almost all my nieces, nephews, parents, sister, etc have birthdays during those few months! To make sure we don't go overboard and have money left for paying bills and buying food, we need to make a budget for all those gifts!

BE SOCIAL- It may seem a little early to be thinking about this, but everyone gets so busy around the holidays that I want to start setting up some play dates over winter break with my boys. There are some friends we have that are difficult to get together with when school is in session, so we should look at our calendars now and find some days that we can get together over winter break.

I will keep my three cardio workouts a week as one of my FITNESS goals this month. My other FITNESS goal will be do to the Blogilates 30 Day Flat Ab Challenge. I've done this challenge a number of times before and have also enjoyed it and noticed a difference in my abs. Maybe this month I'll even get brave enough to take some before and after photos of my flabby belly...no promises though!

FOOD- This is the one area I REALLY need to get back on track with this month so I'm going to keep it simple....DON'T EAT CRAP! No late night ice cream, no chips and cheese dip just because, no handfuls of chocolate chips while cooking, and no eating out just because I'm too lazy to cook something myself!

Finally, I'm going to write down a WEIGHT GOAL this month too. With all the birthday celebrations and Thanksgiving I know it will be a challenge, but I really want to get back below 150 pounds. I was successfully maintaining a weight around 148-149 pounds for a long time before I got derailed in the month of October. The weight went back on quickly, so hopefully I can get it to come back off quickly too!

That's it for November! Be sure to check back in at the beginning of December when I fill out my last Mission Board of 2017 and to see how I did at meeting all my November goals. Have a great month!

Thanks for reading!

2018 Inkwell Press Planner GIVEAWAY

Congratulations to ALove4Me and Sarah from Minnesota on winning the 2018 Inkwell Press Planner GIVEAWAY!!

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Hey everyone! It's time for another GIVEAWAY! Back when the new 2018 Inkwell Press products launched in September I bought a few different planners. First, because I wasn't completely sure which one I wanted to use and secondly, so I could get a closer look at some of their amazing new products. After looking through the different planners I ended up choosing the coil-free Classic version for myself and that leaves me with these two planners to give away to a couple lucky winners.

Here's what you could win....the Coil-Free liveWELL Planner in the Flex version along with some Inkwell Press stickers or the Coil-Free Daily liveWELL planner. If you want a closer look inside these planners check out my video titled “2018 Inkwell Press Planner Unboxing & Flip-Through.” 

Entering the contest is easy! Just follow the prompts in the Gleam widget. The only requirement is you must be subscribed to my YouTube channel, but you can earn additional entries into the contest by visiting some of my other social media sites. The contest starts on Wednesday, October 11th and will run through 11:59PM (Central Time) on Tuesday, October 17th. You must be at least 18 years old to enter and a resident of the United States. Winners will be notified via e-mail after the contest has ended and must respond within 48 hours to receive their prize or new winners will be chosen.

If you have a preference for which planner you receive if your name is drawn, please let me know in the comments below. Also, feel free to share this contest with friends and family who you think might be interested in winning a planner.

Good luck to everyone who enters and as always thanks for supporting my channel!

Check Out My New Cocoa Paper ANGEL Planner Cover!

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After a few weeks of pondering I finally decided on my planner for 2018....the Inkwell Press Coil-Free Classic. At first it never occurred to me to get a cover for my planner, but then some people in one of the Inkwell Press Facebook groups I am in started talking about different planner covers. The one mentioned most often was the Levenger Softolio 2.0 (Junior) and I immediately fell in love with it. The problem was it was SUPER expensive and I didn't really care for the color options. Then people started talking about some other options for planner covers and I ended up checking out Cocoa Paper. It seemed like a really great company and I loved their color selection and more importantly their price. It was less than half of the cost of the Levenger!!!

So...I placed my order for the Cocoa Paper ANGEL Planner Cover in Gray and a few short weeks later it arrived! My 2018 planner fits perfectly in it! Actually, my current 2017 Coil-Bound Planner fits in it too and I LOVE it!

Check out the video below to see my Cocoa Paper Unboxing and to get a closer look at my new planner accessory.

Thanks for watching!

Recipe of the Month: Lasagna Pizza Casserole

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I love this easy-to-make, family-pleasing recipe! The best part is you can make it ahead of time, put it in the fridge (or freezer), and cook it when you need it!

Here's the recipe:

LASAGNA PIZZA CASSEROLE

INGREDIENTS:                                                                                                                                    

  • 1- 16oz package of egg noodles, cooked
  • 1 pound hamburger, browned
  • 1 jar (32 oz.) pasta sauce
  • 1- 15 oz. can of tomato sauce
  • 1/2 cup sugar (I usually use a bit less)
  • 1 tsp. oregano
  • basil to taste
  • Italian seasoning to taste
  • 3 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Cook the egg noodles and set aside.
  2. Brown hamburger.
  3. Add pasta sauce, tomato sauce, sugar, oregano, basil and 1 1/2 cups cheese to the hamburger.
  4. Grease 9 x 13 pan.
  5. Put in half of the noodles then top with half of the hamburger/sauce mixture.
  6. Add another layer of noodles and another layer of sauce.
  7. Put the rest of the cheese on top and sprinkle with desired amount of Italian seasoning.
  8. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour, COVERED!
  9. Remove cover and bake for an additional 5-10 minutes or simple turn the over to broil for a few minutes to brown the cheese a bit.

ENJOY!!!                                                                             

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October Mission Board (and September Recap)

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My main goal for September was to find a good work/life balance. I'm a teacher and I knew going back to school was going to be difficult. I haven't quite achieved the perfect balance yet between school work, time with my family, and time for myself, but I'm going to keep working on it!

Before I set goals for the next month, let's take a look at how I did meeting my goals for September.

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With school starting I decided to focus on two HEALTH goals that would hopefully keep me from getting sick which tends to happen at the beginning of every school year. First, I needed to make sure got at least 8 cups of water a day, if not a whole lot more! I also needed to get back to going to bed earlier and make sure I'm getting enough sleep. Except for a few days here and there I definitely got in my water. I LOVE having a water bottle refilling station right outside my classroom door! My sleep goal was 7+ hours a night. This one was a bit more challenging, but mostly because of my kids....who kept waking me up ("I can't find my stuffed animal." "I need lotion." "Can you help straighten my blankets."). Once again though, I did manage to meet my sleep goals most of the time.

I also had two HOME goals for this month. I wanted to get out my fall decorations and go through my clothes and do a bit of purging. Check and check!

My goal for ME TIME this month was to take full advantage of the time my boys were in school and I was home in the mornings to help me get back on track fitness-wise. I started out great the first week and even tried jogging a couple times for the first time since my back injury back in July! Then I got stuck in a rut of doing other things in the morning...housework, getting my car fixed (multiple times), volunteering, going to school early to get work done, shopping, etc. I did a better job this last week again of getting in some good workouts, but I definitely don't think I fully met this goal.

FINANCIAL-  I wanted to set up an appointment with our financial adviser and increase the amount of money we are putting into our Roth IRAs every month since we are no longer paying for daycare expenses. Done!

My FOOD goal for September was to get back on track and make sure I was counting every calorie using the My Fitness Pal app on my phone. No more sad faces in my planner! Um....I'm pretty sure I still had lots of days I didn't calculate my calories. Boo!

This month I had two BE SOCIAL goals....date night and girls' night! The girls' night was a success! Date night...ugh! Once again our baby-sitter had to cancel, so we're hoping to reschedule soon, but as of now it still hasn't happened.

Finally, my FITNESS goals...I was going to continue to do the  7 Best Sacroiliac Joint Pain Exercises daily. Then as I said for my ME TIME goal I was going to workout three mornings a week. This month was not a good one for meeting goals...I did not do these regularly either!

I guess I better work a little harder to meet my goals for October, so let's take a look at what they are!

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First up, HEALTH goals....no changes here! These goals have been working for me and I'm staying healthy so once again I'm aiming for 8+ cups of water a day and 7+ hours of sleep a night.

HOME- It's time to clean up the yard and put away the toys and patio furniture before the snow starts to fly!

I've got a couple ME TIME goals this month. First, I'm going to go back to a goal from earlier this year that I wasn't able to complete because of my back injury. I'm going practice piano and schedule a day to play at church. Second, I need a pedicure...bad! 

My FINANCIAL goal for October is going to be to start setting up my 2018 Budget Planner in the Erin Condren Deluxe Monthly Planner I bought a couple months ago. I wish I couple be putting more money into our mortgage or savings accounts like other months, but realistically we'll be paying for my car repairs and won't have the "extra" money to do that anyway.

FITNESS is one area I definitely need to improve this month since I struggled quite a bit here in September. Once again I'll be doing the  7 Best Sacroiliac Joint Pain Exercises daily and trying to get in three good cardio workouts a week. I'm also going to add some hand weights back into my daily routine.

BE SOCIAL- Another girls' night! Only this time I'm working on planning a get together with some girls I haven't seen in a LONG time.

Finally, my FOOD goals for October are to make healthier lunches and eat out less!

Since I have not been losing much weight lately...basically I've been maintaining for months I decided to add a weight goal again this month. I don't have a lot left to lose to get to my ultimate weight goal, but for this month I'd like to try to lose about a pound a week. That makes my weight goal for the month 148 pounds!

That's it for the month of October! No DREAM BIG goal again this month. I wanted to use another one of the cute, decorative stickers instead. :)

Thanks for reading! Hope you have a great month!

Quarterly Goals Check-In

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Can you believe there are just three months left of 2017? I can't! Last year I don't think I ever looked back at my yearly goals and mission page and I certainly never filled in the quarterly break down page. So this year I am making a point to look back at my yearly goals page and fill in some ways to help me achieve my goals quarterly. I love how my Inkwell Press planner is designed to help me succeed!

Here are the six things I can do over the next three months to continue to help me meet my yearly goals.

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Check out the video below for a more in-depth look at how I came up with this goals!

Thanks for watching!

2018 Inkwell Press Unboxing & Flip-Through

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Check out what I got in the 2018 Inkwell Press Planner launch! Get a closer look inside the planners and hear my first impressions of these new products from Inkwell Press.

To receive $10 off  your first purchase of $50 or more: http://r.sloyalty.com/r/uJ1K4xEHFAwP

September Mission Board (and August Recap)

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Well...August was definitely MUCH better than July! We started the month spending a fabulous week at a resort in northern Minnesota with my entire family. The weather was great! The kids had a blast! And best of all, my back finally started to get better!

So, let's take a quick look and see how I did at meeting my goals for the month of August.

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First up...HEALTH. I was aiming for 8+ cups of water every day again this month and I did a pretty good job. Once again, I failed to use the habit trackers, but if I flip through each week I can see that most of my water drops are filled in. Yeah me!

ME TIME- I finished my book that I started in July at the beginning of the month. Unfortunately, I never even opened up another book. Big fat fail!

My HOME goal for August was to go through my boys clothes and make sure they have everything they need for the new school year. I also removed anything that doesn't fit anymore and either stored it away for my youngest to use or donated/sold the things neither of them will be able to use. If you're interested in seeing my process for this I will link my video on Kids Clothing Organization.

August's FINANCIAL goal was a little different. Instead of putting any extra money towards our mortgage, we put any extra income into our boys savings accounts.

For my BE SOCIAL goal I looked back at my yearly goals page and remembered I wanted to work on "dating" my husband, so I contacted our baby-sitter and we have a couple date nights scheduled for the next couple months. Yeah!

FOOD- This month was full of birthday celebrations. My youngest son turned six and I turned the big 4-0!!! We also had a number of other family birthdays we celebrated, so my FOOD goal was to enjoy the birthdays, but don't go too crazy! Honestly, I could have done a little bit better with this, but at least rather than wasting calories on plain, old cake that I don't really like....I got a delicious Dairy Queen ice cream cake for my birthday!

My last goals were FITNESS related. I wanted to do a daily routine that would help strengthen my back and core. I had planned on doing the "5 Low-Impact Moves to Strengthen Your Back and Core" from the Advanced Pain Management website, but after my third trip to the hospital the doctor figured out the source of my pain was likely my SI Joint and recommended I try these exercises instead:  7 Best Sacroiliac Joint Pain Exercises.

My other FITNESS goal was step-related and was inspired by one of my subscribers who for her 40th birthday set the goal to get 40,000 steps. Weather was not my friend the week of my 40th birthday which made it extremely difficult to get 40,000 steps. I tried again the following week with no success. It's hard, people! 

Now onto September....WAIT! What? How in the world is it September already? Didn't I just get my 2017 Inkwell Press planner? Speaking of Inkwell Press...will you be buying something in the launch on September 6th? I will definitely be buying something, actually I may buy a few things because I'm not quite sure what I want to use in 2018 yet!

Anyways...let's not worry too much about 2018 yet. Time to think about September!

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With school starting it's time to focus on the two HEALTH goals that will hopefully keep me from getting sick which tends to happen at the beginning of every school year. First, I need to make sure I continue to get at least 8 cups of water a day, if not a whole lot more! I also need to get back to going to bed earlier and make sure I'm getting enough sleep, so I will be using my FitBit to track how many hours I sleep each night. My goal is to get at least 7+ hours every night.

I also have two HOME goals for this month. I want to get out my fall decorations. I probably won't do this right away at the beginning of the month, but I want to make sure I have everything put out before October is here. My second HOME goal is to go through my clothes and do a bit of purging. I got my boys' closets cleaned out last month....now it's my turn!

Both my boys will be in school full-time this year! I can hardly believe it, but my baby will be in all day kindergarten and my oldest is starting second grade. I had the option to go back to teaching full-time this year, but decided to stay part-time for now. I LOVE being able to get my boys off to school in the morning as well as have the flexibility to volunteer in their classrooms or get them to appointments without having to take time off work. I am also really excited about the opportunity this will give me for some more ME TIME. I mean really most days from 9-11:30 (when I leave for work) will be ME TIME. Yipppeeee!!! But seriously, my goal for ME TIME this month is to take full advantage of that time to help me get back on track fitness-wise. I am still not completely sure my back can handle jogging, but I may give it a try sometime. My goal is for three mornings to get in a good workout...a long walk, cardio of some kind, abs, hand weights, etc. The other two mornings will be me time to take care of house hold things like laundry, cleaning, and grocery shopping. Then I can have evenings and weekends to spend quality time with my boys.

FINANCIAL- This goal also stems from my youngest starting kindergarten. We will no longer have to pay for daycare/preschool. Yipppeeee again! Before we get too used to having that extra money I want to set up an appointment with our financial adviser and increase the amount of money we are putting into our Roth IRAs every month.

I have been absolutely terrible with eating lately! My FOOD goal for September is to get back on track and make sure I am counting every calorie using the My Fitness Pal app on my phone. No more sad faces in my planner!

This month I have two BE SOCIAL goals....date night and girls' night!

Finally, my FITNESS goals...I am going to continue to do the  7 Best Sacroiliac Joint Pain Exercises daily. Then as I said for my ME TIME goal I am going to workout three mornings a week. What kind of exercise I do will depend on my back and the weather. It may be a long walk or a workout video or a simple hand weight and ab routine. I'm hoping to at least give jogging a try again, but I'm very cautious about that. So I'm leaving this goal kind of open and just saying three workouts a week.

That's it for the month of September! No DREAM BIG goal again this month. I wanted to use another one of the cute, decorative stickers instead. :)

Thanks for reading! Hope you have a great month!

Fun Kids Lunch Idea: People Sandwiches

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I made "People Sandwiches" when I was a kid and have enjoyed sharing this fun lunch idea with my own boys. Best of all....they LOVE getting to make their own sandwich and usually eat a few more fruits of veggies because of it!

Check out how we make "People Sandwiches" in the video below:

Thanks for watching!

Back to School: Lunch Making Supplies

Although this blog and my YouTube channel are mostly about using my Inkwell Press planner and my weight loss journey, my most popular video is called Making Easy, Healthy, and Fun Lunches (Allergy-Friendly too!) | Yumbox Lunch Ideas. It has more than 24,000 views!!! I made it in April of 2016 shortly after starting my channel, so the quality is pretty terrible, but apparently other people have been searching for school lunch ideas just like I did when my oldest was getting ready to start kindergarten. Since my youngest will be starting kindergarten this year I thought it was a good time to update you on my favorite lunch making supplies before the start of the new school year!

So back in the summer of 2015 before my oldest was starting kindergarten and my youngest was going to attend 3 days of all-day preschool I started researching lunch boxes, different foods, and other creative lunch ideas. I knew I wanted my boys to have healthy lunch options beyond the hot lunch provided by the schools. This was especially important since I knew getting my picky 4 year old with multiple food allergies to eat healthy away from home was going to be a HUGE challenge!

The first thing I found in my research was different bento lunch boxes. If you're not familiar with bento lunches, look it up on good ol' Google and you'll find hundreds of different kinds. It was overwhelming! I kept coming across great reviews for Yumbox and decided to buy one and try it out for awhile. After a couple summer picnics with it I quickly purchased two more and started looking for a lunch bag that would work with it. The Wildkin Double Decker Lunch Bags worked perfectly! The Yumbox fit in the bottom section and could even lay flat. I also found some nice flat ice packs that could fit in there too and keep their lunches cool. The top section of the Wildkin bags works great for a drink, snacks, or anything else you might need to pack. To help get my boys excited about eating lunch at school and their new lunch boxes I let them pick out the colors for both their Yumbox and lunch bag. I also purchased an additional Yumbox to have on hand in case one was dirty. Since then I have purchased one more Yumbox, so we now have four total. With my youngest attending school every day this year and needing a cold lunch due to his food allergies, I will probably be purchasing a couple more!

Next I started looking for things to help make the boys lunches a little more fun and interesting. Since my youngest is already super picky I hoped that making the food look good would encourage him to actually eat it. Lots of the bento lunches I found on Pinterest and around the internet showed food cut into shapes, so I started looking for cookie cutters at garage sales, thrift stores, and online. Many of the cutters I bought at the beginning are dirty and rusty now, but these Stainless Steel Vegetable Cutters and another set I found from Pampered Chef still look like new in April and I even run them through the dishwasher!

I also bought these Silicone Baking Cups that could be used to divide the Yumbox into even more sections. This is perfect for giving my boys lots of different healthy options to choose from. Sometimes I pack foods that I suspect my boys won't eat (like healthy vegetables!), but I try to pack a variety of foods for them so I know they'll never be hungry....and who knows? Maybe someday they actually will try a bit of those peppers and cucumbers!

The last lunch supply I would like to recommend is this Nalgene Kids OTF Bottle.  It gets jostled around in their lunch bag, lays on it side, and still doesn't leak! 

It's been two years (that's two full school years people!!!) since I purchased all these items and I can say that except for a few of the rusty and dirty cookie cutters I bought from garage sales or thrift stores every other thing I bought to use in the boys lunches is still working great!

I will leave pictures and links to the items below. (Full disclaimer- These are affiliate links so I may be compensated a small amount if you make a purchase.) You can also check out my YouTube video linked below for a closer look at my favorite lunch making supplies.

 

 

August Mission Board (and July Recap)

Well...July didn't quite turn out the way I had hoped and my summer plans have definitely changed thanks to a back injury that sent me to the hospital mid-month, but that won't stop me from setting new goals for August. First though let's take a look back at my July Mission Board and see how I did at meeting those goals.

This month's ME TIME goals were to read and finally use the teeth whitening kit I bought months ago. I did do some reading this month, but not nearly as much as I did in June AND I totally forgot to mark the days I read on the habit tracker page. In fact, I never turned back to the habit tracker page this month so no use in wasting stickers and trying to figure out when I did read or the other goals either. I did use my teeth whitening kit. It was a generic one from Target that honestly didn't work very well, so I won't be buying one of those again anytime soon. I'll stick with the Crest White Strips instead!

My HEALTH goal was once again to drink 8+ cups of water a day which I did quite well at except for one fateful day....the day my back injury occurred. My doctor actually believes the injury occurred because I was dehydrated and my back muscles were weakened because of it. It was a super hot and humid day and I went for a jog with the boys AND mowed the lawn and probably didn't drink nearly enough water. It was also our anniversary, so after mowing the lawn (and getting cleaned up) we headed to the Melting Pot where I drank wine instead of water and sat in a slightly uncomfortable booth for a long meal. It was at the end of that dinner where I discovered I couldn't stand up straight and my back REALLY hurt. I ended up in the emergency room the next day where once again the nurse commented on how dehydrated I was. Since then I've been drinking water like it's going out of style because I will do everything I can to never feel pain like that again!

My HOME goal for July was to finally put our three season porch back together after removing all the furniture, draperies, and carpet to have new carpet put in. Once the new carpet was in I wasted no time getting everything put back together and we've been enjoying the porch ever since!

BE SOCIAL- My social goal was to schedule more play dates and get a Mom's Night Out on the calendar. We had five play dates this past month and have even more scheduled for August! I also had a fabulous Mom's Night Out with my music teacher colleagues just last week!

July's FINANCIAL goal was to eat our freezer food first. This goal is always successful and eye-opening. Our grocery bills were noticeably smaller each week and we enjoyed lots of good grilled meats that I had stored away in the freezer. 

My FOOD goal for July was to track everything! Admittedly I didn't quite follow through with this one. I had at least one day each week where I wrote a sad face in my planner instead of calculating the calories for my really bad days. Shame on me!

DREAM BIG- This one stayed the same again and we were able to put a little bit more money towards our mortgage. Still hoping we can get rid of our PMI (Private Mortgage Insurance)!

I had three FITNESS goals this month. Unfortunately, my back trouble kept me from meeting two of them. I am still not able to do any intense cardio workouts, especially my favorite walk/jogs with my boys. I also stopped doing my daily hand weight and squat routine so my back could properly heal. I am hoping to do a core/back strengthening workout for my daily routine in August to help in my recovery. My other FITNESS goal was to get 13,000 steps a day. There were certainly quite a few days there where I didn't even come close to that right after my injury, but after about a week I was able to move more and have actually discovered that walking helps my back feel better. I haven't been getting 13,000 steps every day but I decided I'm close enough considering the situation so I'm checking that goal off!

Finally, my WEIGHT GOAL...obviously between the week I spent laid up and the steroids I was on this one was tricky to meet, but I'm hoping to get back on track soon!

Now onto my August goals......

First up...HEALTH. No change here! I will aiming for 8+ cups of water every day again. Must stay hydrated!!!

ME TIME- This one is going to stay the same as well. I need to read at least one or two more books before summer is over! Any recommendations?

With the new school year quickly approaching my HOME goal is to go through my boys clothes and make sure they have everything they need. I will also remove anything that doesn't fit anymore and either store it away for my youngest to use or donate/sell the things neither of them will be able to use. If you're interested in seeing my process for this I will link my video on Kids Clothing Organization.

This month's FINANCIAL goal will be a little different. Instead of putting any extra money towards our mortgage, we will be putting any extra income into our boys savings accounts.

For my BE SOCIAL goal I looked back at my yearly goals page and remembered I wanted to work on "dating" my husband, so I'd like to try to remember to leave him cutesy notes or other things like that and schedule another actual date night out since our last one (our anniversary) didn't end so well!

FOOD- This month will be full of birthday celebrations. My youngest son is turning six and I will be turning forty!!! We also have a number of other family birthdays we will be celebrating, so my FOOD goal is to enjoy the birthdays, but don't go too crazy!

I will not be writing a DREAM BIG goal this month, so my last goals are FITNESS related. First, as I mentioned earlier I want to do a daily routine that will help strengthen my back and core, so I will be doing the "5 Low-Impact Moves to Strengthen Your Back and Core" from the Advanced Pain Management website. I plan to do these exercises Monday through Saturday and use Sunday as a rest day. I will not be doing my usual three cardio workouts this month until I feel my back is strong enough again, but I do plan to get in LOTS of walk and LOTS of steps. My other FITNESS goal is step-related and was inspired by one of my subscribers who has become a "step friend" and huge motivator for me the past few months. For her 40th birthday she set the goal for herself to get 40,000 steps. While that seems a little crazy to me right now since I am still in a bit of pain I know walking is great and I have been wanting to try that 40th birthday challenge every since she told me about it, so.....on August 17th or maybe a day close to it if we end up super busy that day I want to get 40,000 steps! 

That's all for August! The last month of summer will fly by and I intend to enjoy it!

Thanks for reading!

Repost: Kids Summer Activity- Dollar Store Treasure Hunt

I originally posted this video and blog last summer, but since I'm out of commission with a bad back this week I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to repost this fun and easy summer activity for kids who might be starting to get a bit bored with summer vacation. ENJOY!

It's the middle of July and I'm starting to hear my boys say things like "I'm bored" and "There's nothing to do." Now we all know that's not true, but this week I decided to try something new and give them an activity that would keep them busy for awhile and make them work together too!

I started by visiting my local Dollar Tree store and getting some items to fill their "treasure buckets." I intended to buy just a few items for each of them, but if you've ever shopped at the Dollar Tree you know it's hard to leave there with just a few things. I ended up filling their buckets completely FULL, but it was worth every penny.

Here's what was in each bucket: microphone-shaped bubble wand, pens, notebook, pinwheel, small puzzle, "magic" capsules, glow sticks, paint craft, ring pops, water shooter, Army guys, Play-Doh, baseball cards, workbook, and word find book.

Next I wrote some clues that would lead them to their treasure. I made them relatively easy, so that my 6 year old could read them himself and the 4 year old could help a little bit too. I also didn't make the clues too hard to find. You can see a PDF of my treasure hunt clues here.

The hunt itself only took about 20 minutes, but it was so fun! The boys worked together well, my 6 year old did a FANTASTIC job reading the clues, and they enjoyed their treasures. In fact, they played with the treasures from their bucket the rest of the day. Then woke and played with them again the next morning and are stilling playing with them days later! This activity more than exceeded my expectations and I will definitely be doing it again....just probably not until next summer!

Be sure to check out the video of the Treasure Hunt. Thanks for reading!