friday favorites #4

¡Feliz viernes, amigos! Let's get this party started! Grab your coffee, avoid some responsibilities, and let's chat about all the awesome stuff that happened this week.

Friday Favorites

Teddy Bear in his bouncer

Basically all he has wanted since the day he was born is to be included in all the family activities. If he's not sitting up so he can see everyone, he gets very moody. I brought out the bouncer early last week, and it has given me the freedom to finish an entire mug of coffee on multiple occasions. He can see his big sister from this perch, play with all the fun toys attached, or his personal favorite, just sit back and suck on his hand while observing the world.

Toddler Talks

Pippa asked me after school, "Mommy, can I have a snack, lay down on the couch, and watch Handy Manny?" Isn't that what we all want out of life?
Which brings me to my next favorite...

Handy Manny

Netflix has way too many options for a 2 year old to handle. Some of the shows she chooses range from cute, to weird, to super annoying (I'm looking at you, Caillou.) When she chose Handy Manny as the show she wanted to watch the other morning, I was skeptical. A show about tools? Come on, Pippa.
But I actually like this show! As in, I try to trick Pippa into picking it every morning. They include quite a bit of Spanish in the show (huge win for me), and I think I've learned how to repair a few things around the house. Thanks, Manny and Tools!

Softsoap Antibacterial in Crisp Clean 

In all honesty, Justin picked this up at the store because we were almost out of soap in our bathroom, and it was super cheap. For some reason, we can't get enough of how good it smells. I keep finding excuses to wash my hands...

Lifting heavy weights

I have really noticed a difference in how my clothes are fitting since I've started incorporating heavy lifts into my workout routine. I start with heavy lifting, then finish my workout with a plyometric cardio circuit. I feel like I'm really maximizing my short time at the gym, and my workouts fly by. Unlike running on a treadmill.

Chicken and Wild Rice Soup

I used this crockpot recipe. So filling, so delicious, and full of hidden vegetables! A perfect winter recipe.

Favorite Reads

So you want to start a side business, but you don't like selling? This article is for you.

Mamas working on losing that baby weight: here is some GREAT advice. This woman is a wonderful role model both spiritually and physically.

Maybe the holidays don't have to be so stressful. It's a choice!

Decision detox - I need this in my life. Also, she is hilarious.

This Advent devotional series.

So what's making you smile this week?


simple systems: organizing schedules

Staying home with my children. Teaching part time. Building my business at night. I truly thought it would be the best of both worlds. I pictured slow mornings with the babies, finishing my coffee, playing blocks and puzzles with my toddler, gazing into my baby's eyes while he cooed back at me. Then I could get glamorous in my pencil skirts and cardigans and pass the children off to someone else while I shared my passion for the Spanish language for a few hours. I would work my side hustle in the evenings with vigor, pursuing my other passion of helping others look and feel their best.

And some days are actually like that. Other days...aren't. Other days are me running out the door 10 minutes later than I intended, a hurricane of sweat in the Florida heat. Some days I happily escape to teach after a morning spent scrubbing marker out of the couch. Some nights I collapse into bed at 10 p.m. after finally completing my lesson plans and correcting, feeling guilty for not even touching my business. Not every day is idyllic, but I am so thankful that there are so many ways I can use my talents to serve others and provide for my family. 

One thing stood out to me very quickly this fall as I stepped into my new role of being a mother of 2, part-time teacher, and part time business owner: my organization needed serious improvement.

So many people advocate using your phone calendar, passion planners, or other intricate systems. I knew that in this stage of my life, there was no way I could stick to most of those. I never bothered to open the calendar on my phone, and I needed to keep things simple. 

I have finally developed a simple system that works for me. I'm sharing it here in the hopes that it will help someone else find their organizational sweet spot! Here's how I juggle faith, family, work, business, and down time.

1. The Family Calendar
We use a dry-erase calendar in the kitchen where we write in church and school activities, doctor appointments, social events, going to the gym, and family time. It's that whole metaphor of filling a jar with the big rocks first (the most important things in life), then the pebbles (other things that matter), then finally filling in the open areas with sand (things like Netflix). The most important things MUST be scheduled in first before filling the open areas in our schedule. That means spiritual life, and family time take priority. Next comes scheduled workouts, work time, and family budget meetings. Finally, social events are added in. 

2. The Desk Calendar
I purchased a large desk calendar for my workspace to manage my lesson plans for teaching, appointments for my business, and Wellness Nights I book with friends. I also copy many of the same things from the family calendar, because I know I will need to see it in several places. This is my personal calendar.

3. The Planner
I found an inexpensive small day planner at TJ Maxx to carry in my purse in case I need to keep track of dates while I'm out. I honestly don't remember to open it up much, which is why I needed the desk calendar - it's open, in front of me, and hard to avoid. The planner is more of a backup. 

4. The iPhone
If something is really important, I set an alarm on my iPhone to remind me a day or two in advance so I know I won't miss it. 

5. The Notebooks
I have 3 notebooks - miscellaneous, business, blog - to keep track of ideas I have for each area of my life. The miscellaneous one holds shopping lists, to-do lists, Pippa quotes, and the like. The business notebook keeps track of my income producing activity and ideas for growing my business. The blog notebook is so I can write down blog post ideas as they come, and brainstorm, organize, and edit content.

As you can tell, I prefer hand-written to electronic when it comes to organizing my life. The act of writing it down helps me remember, and I have found that I am more likely to look at a physical item rather than open an app on my phone. This system can be somewhat redundant, as I am writing some calendar items 3 or 4 times, but it keeps me from being a flake. I need that - others may not. 

The most important thing I learned through this process is to find the system that works for you. To make something a habit, it must be convenient, and in plain sight. As badly as I wanted to consolidate my planning to electronic devices to save paper and space, it just wasn't working for me. I didn't find it convenient. I never checked it. Find the simple system that your family can stick to. It feels good to no longer have the nagging feeling that I'm forgetting a doctor appointment or deadline - it's all right in front of me.

How do you organize your family schedules? Do you prefer paper and pen, or electronics?


Christmas gift ideas for teachers

It's that time of year when the Last-Minute Lesters among us are gravitating to the Dollar Spot at Target along with every display table at TJ Maxx. That's right, it's Secret Santa, awkward work gift exchange, White Elephant season! There always seems to be a few people on your list who are difficult to shop for, simply because you don't know them very well. You want your gift to be meaningful, but don't know where to start. One of those people may very well be your child's teacher.

As a teacher of 5 years who is also married to a teacher, our family has been on the receiving end of countless thoughtful, generous, and lovely gifts and gestures each Christmas season. For the very first time, I find myself in the position of buying for my own child's teacher! 

How the turntables have turned...
Teachers are the people that spend almost as much time with your child as you do! They care for your baby (or grown baby) during the day, nurture them, guide them, influence them, and love them. You want your gift to reflect the appreciate you and your child have for all they do. You also probably don't want to break the bank. Especially if you have more than one child in school!

So without further delay, here is my list of gift ideas for teachers written by a teacher!

*Disclaimer* Teachers don't expect gifts. That's not why they do their job. This is simply to give you some ideas if you're already planning on doing something nice for your child's teacher to step away from the classic "2 Teach is 2 Touch a life 4 Ever" plaque. Though I'm sure that would be lovely.

1. Hand-Written Letter
My favorite and most memorable gifts from students or their parents have been hand-written letters or messages. They are personal and meaningful. If your child is old enough to write, have them write one, too! Teachers handle a lot of negative situations throughout the year - you have no idea how much a bit of appreciation can brighten their entire day, month, or year! This is nice to do regardless of if you buy something for the teacher or not. 

2. Small Gift Card
$5-$10 to Starbucks, Amazon, Target, etc would be so thoughtful! It's an opportunity to let the teacher treat themselves - something many educators simply don't do. My volleyball team once got me a gift card to Caribou Coffee and I made it last an entire school year. I absolutely loved being able to treat myself every so often, and I thought of my athletes every time I bought a coffee. 

3. Devotion Book
We have always taught at private Christian schools, so a devotion book would be right up our alley. If your child's teacher is not religious, or you're not sure, a book of positive quotes or meditations would work, too!

4. Books
Most teachers I know love to read. If you know what they like to read, surprise them with a novel, a biography, or a personal development book. If you're not sure, try a gift card to Barnes & Noble. 

5. School Supplies
I have yet to meet a teacher who doesn't like a fresh stack of Post-It Notes. Most of us got into the field of education simply so we could continue to buy school supplies every September (kidding...kind of). A monogrammed notepad, fancy pens, cute paperclips, drawer organizers, or a fancy notebook or planner are always welcome!

6. A Favorite Beverage
Yes, I know coffee or tea can be overdone. But with a little bit of detective work, you can find out what's keeping that educator fueled throughout the school day. Be it green juice, soda, lattes, or flavored water, stock them up! If you're feeling bold, find out what their adult beverage of choice is, and sneak them a bottle of their favorite wine or a six pack of beer when the kids aren't looking ;)

7. Something They Love or Collect
My husband loves the Green Bay Packers. I've known other teachers who have been very vocal about their favorite sports team, color, animal, or things they collect. I bet if you ask their child they would be able to identify this almost immediately. 

8. School Survival Kit
When I used to teach full time, I felt like I lived in my classroom. I honestly probably spent more time there than I did at home. I made sure to keep deodorant, concealer, lip balm, a scarf, gum or mints, protein bars, water bottles, an extra phone charger, hand lotion, dry shampoo, a hairbrush, and let's be honest - candy in my desk drawer. Restock your favorite teacher with some personal items for their classroom!

9. Essential Oil
One of the most thoughtful gifts I received one year was a small bottle of essential oil with a roller ball applicator. If essential oils are your thing, a small bottle with suggested uses attached would be a fun gift!

10. Framed Print, Picture, or Quote
Etsy has some adorable and affordable prints that could be perfect for male or female teachers. A picture of your child and the teacher in an inexpensive frame would be lovely. You really can't go wrong with a framed quote or inspirational saying.

There you have it! Don't put pressure on yourself to do an intricate art project or Pinterest DIY, unless that's your thing! Teachers will be so touched that you thought of them, and will appreciate any gesture, big or small. 

I know I have a lot of teacher friends. What would you add to the list? What are your favorite gifts from students?