My Top 10 Book Recommendations

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I have always loved reading and writing. Once I grew up, got out of school, and began college, reading got put on the back burner. I often question why I put something that I am so passionate about below everything else. I couldn’t find an answer. So, I am on a journey to start reading again in my adulthood– the problem: I am not really into “adult” books. (You know the self help books that everyone seems to be reading and writing lately) So, I am about to recommend my favorite books that I have read in the past couple of years (Because, I am still working on reading 2 books in a year). Most of them, are probably going to make you judge me because I know Jr. High and even elementary age kids reading the same things, but these are the books that actually make me want to read.

1.Because of Winn Dixie

This one HAD to be at the top for me. As a kid, it was one of my favorite movies and books. I re-read the book a couple of years ago and it was still just as captivating. As an adult, this one is very do-able if you have limited reading time. I was reading it for a class one semester and read the whole thing in two days.

If you are unfamiliar with the book, it is about a young girl that just moved to a different city with her dad. She finds a dog at the beginning of the book, which leads her to meet many different people. It is a heart warming novel that even a fourth grader could read if they wanted to. (Disclosure: There are some tear jerker parts of the story, but it is mostly pure joy).

2.The Lipstick Gospel

This is a great book for Christian girls that are college age. (Though it could be read by anyone and any age) It is also a quick read if you are trying to get in a habbit of reading again, this could be a great start.

Its an autobiography about a sorority girl that just went through a hard breakup. She ends up flying across the world to Europe where she meets Jesus. It is by Stephanie Mae Wilson and it is her true testimony. I could read this book over and over again and the best part is that you can get it for free on her website. Visit stephaniemaewilson.com to get the free digital download of the book.

3. The Who Was…? Book Series

Here is one of those books I said that you would judge me for recommending. I love a good biography (especially if it is about a historic figure or someone I look up to) . This series has such a great selection of biographies including Dr. Seuss, Jesus, Harriet Tubman, and Mark Twain. They were written for elementary aged students, so they are very easy to read and include all the important information, some funny facts, and illustrations. These books are right up my alley !

4.The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

Disclosure: I have not read Tom Sawyer yet. I am sorry. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn are some of my husbands favorite books from his childhood. Last year, I wanted to get into some of the classics that I had (for some reason) never read. I figured that I’d start with these since they were so important to Cody. I started with Huck Finn because I had heard more about it, but (half way through) was teased by my husband for reading them out of order. Tom Sawyer is now on my list of must reads this year, but Huck Finn made it into my top 10.

If you are like me and never really got familiar with these books, but I’ll give you a quick summary of Huck Finn. Its about a boy that’s pretty much an orphan (his dads a drunk and only comes around when he needs money ) and his mom died. Huck gets sick of being abused by his dad and decides to run away and fake his death. He later runs into a local slave that he knows, Jim. Jim also ran away to be free. Huck decides to help Jim and they both raft down the river, where they run into lots of exciting adventures. I don’t want to ruin it too much for you, but it really is a great read!

It took me a few months to read. Although it is good, it is a bigger book and because of the way that it was written, it may take some extra time to get through the pages. If you are looking for a great book to invest some time into this one is perfect. (But maybe read Tom Sawyer first since it references it a lot.)

5.The Giver

If you have ever seen the movie, it does not do the book justice. This book is set in the future, which makes every aspect tug at my heart in someway (like, “What if this really happened?” and ” Oh my gosh! That’s pretty similar to this!!”) If you think like that too, then you will love this book. It’s more of a junior high level book, so it may take a little longer to read.

It’s about a future where you really have no choices or differences. (Skin color is not a thing, divorce is not a thing, miscarriage and infertility is not a thing, and poverty is not a thing. ) The government has found systematic ways to get rid of all of these things. (It goes into more detail in the book as to how this started and why the world is this way)

In the book, everyone is assigned their jobs. Some people are nurses, some are teachers, ect.The main character is a boy named Jonah. It takes place around his 12th birthday, which is the age that everyone receives their assignments. Jonah gets a strange assignment that he has never heard of which allows him to begin training under The Giver. While training, he gets to see glimpses of how the world used to be. You’ll have to read the book to find out how he reacted and how he kept this new information a secret.

6. The Harry Potter Series

Here’s another series for ya! I have always loved the Harry Potter series ! I haven’t read it in years, but this series is on my reading list for this year…fingers crossed that I get to it. I feel like this is too popular to have to explain what they’re about. However, I will say that the books are so much better than the movies. The details are better and the characters are more rounded out. Overall, this is a series that I can read over and over again and never get sick of it. The books are super big though, so it will probably take a while to read even one with a busy schedule. (Unless you are a quick reader) .

7.The Life We Bury

We have picked up a new hobby when road tripping: audible. I have a lot of trouble staying focused while listening to books, but I found that a good mystery book will always keep me interested. The next 3 books are all audible mystery books that we could not get enough of.

The life we bury is about a college student (Joe) that visits a nursing home to interview someone for a project. The interviewee turns out to be an ex-convict that got released with months left to live. He was convicted of rape and murder over 30 years ago. As Joe continues the interviews, he comes to believe that the man is innocent and is determined to prove his innocence before the man dies.

8.Safe Houses

Safe houses started my love for audio books. This book switches between 2 main characters. (So it can be difficult to keep up with on audio book) . With this being said, it is a great read that will have you listening to every detail to try and solve the mystery.

One of the stories in the book is based in 1979. The main character overhears a C-I-A conversation that was top secret. It shares her story as she runs from the C-I-A and tries to decipher their code words.

The other story takes place in 2014 . The main character’s parents have recently been mysteriously murdered. She begins to go through her parents things and uncover the reason for their murder.

9.Something In the Water

This book draws you in from the very beginning and has you questioning the entire time. It is so easy to binge read this mystery thriller and I am sure you could re-read it multiple times and find something new every time you read it.

It’s about a couple that finds a lost treasure on their honeymoon and decide to keep it. After this decision, their lives start to get more complicated and the husband eventually goes missing. While continuing to interview criminals for work, the wife begins to take advice from the criminals in an attempt to figure out what happened to her husband and if it has something to do with what they found that day. It is a page turner and you will not regret reading it.

10. Mrs. Frisby and The Rats of NIMH

This is another children’s book, but it’s such a good read. I was obsessed with the movies when I was younger, so when I found out that the movies were based off of a book, I had to read the books. Sometimes it’s refreshing to read a lower level book that reminds you of your childhood. Books are supposed to be a great way to escape everyday life and that is exactly what this one did for me.

It is about a small mouse that is widowed. Her son is ill and she heard that her home was going to be destroyed soon. She searches for a way to move her family without exposing her son to the cool air that may kill him. In a panic, she reaches out to the rats of NIMH for help.

This story seems boring or basic, but it spices up when you find out that the rats are geniuses. They have figured out how to create electricity in a hole under a rose bush and have libraries where they all know how to read. You will have to read the book to find out the secret of why the rats are so smart!

Whether you are trying to fit reading into your busy schedule as an adult or you are just looking for a new book to read, I hope this helped you. Lots of these books are easy reads to fit into your everyday life. Thanks for reading along and if you have any recommendations of your own, let me know!

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How We Knew RV Life Was For Us

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“Y’all are crazy!” “How are you really going to pull this off ??” Statements that I’ve heard over and over since I started telling people about our plan to get an RV, live in it, and travel around the country full time. My only answer to these statements is, ” Yeah we are a little crazy and we have no clue how we are going to pull it off… but God does.” This was not a long time planned thing. A year ago this was no where on our radar, but here we are. Today I am going to walk you through the crazy process we went through and how we decided that RV life was for us.

Cody an I have always loved traveling. After our first mission trip we fell in love so hard that we thought we would be full time missionaries. (that could still be true, you never know what God has up his sleeve.) In 2016, I remember planning out our 10 year plan. We were going to do long term missions and eventually start our own organization. I was caught off guard when someone on our mission trip that year told us that our future was going to be different that what we were planning, but it was still going to serve God and the kingdom. I had no clue what that really meant (and still am not sure if I do.) I just remember thinking, ” So we aren’t going to get to do missions in Greece one day?” and I was a little bummed.

Fast forward and we got married. Reality started to take place. We had bills to pay, school to attend, money to make. We had way less time than we ever thought. We started settling. I was planning on graduating and then getting a house. Long term travel was no longer in the picture. I just wanted stability. Just like all the other small chapters of our lives, the chapter of becoming adults and being unstable ended.

In August of 2019, we were planning on spending the summer of 2020 in Spain. I threw out another crazy idea.( I have lots of them, but most don’t happen) ” Why don’t we spend a year there?!” Cody said I was crazy and getting a visa would be too difficult but we still threw around the idea of spending 3 months there. We just weren’t sure if it would be during the summer or in the fall. These plans came to a very sudden halt when COVID hit.

Everywhere was locked down and we saw no hint to when things would begin to open again, much less when we would be able to safely travel abroad. I began to look for houses. I wanted a change. I just wasn’t sure what kind of change.

Here’s a little fun fact about me: I have always felt like a homebody. I told myself that I don’t like change. I don’t like to move. I want a place to call mine and that is all I need. I was wrong in every single way… and I am somehow just now seeing this. We were in our first home for 6 months before I decided I wanted to move. We were in our second home for less than a year when I pitched the Spain idea. I am realizing that change is no issue to me. I do love being around family… but family can come to me and I can always come back to them. I am fine going where ever… as long as Cody is with me. (sounds sappy, but it’s true.)

Anyways, I was looking at houses. We even tried to buy a fixer upper in Ponchatoula, but our credit wasn’t where it needed to be yet. I had no clue at the time, but not getting this house was a God send. I started looking at potential houses in Florida, Colorado, Texas, and Hawaii. I just couldn’t find peace about any of the places I was looking into. Them I had (yet another) crazy idea… We should get a camper and travel for a few years!!! Cody was not on board. The price was way more than he thought acceptable. He was concerned about money. He didn’t know about leaving our family. Lots of factors went into our thoughts on if we should stay or just go! I couldn’t explain it, but I just had an easy feeling about this one.

I didn’t say another word about it. I just prayed that night while Cody was in the other room. I remember telling God that if this was just another one of my crazy ideas to let it pass. I wasn’t ever going to mention it again. If it was something that He had placed on my heart and this was His plan for my life, then let Cody agree to it, but I was not going to interfere by talking about it. Without saying another word, the first thing Cody said when he woke up was, ” Do you really want to get a camper?” Cody had no clue about my conversation with God at this point, but the fact that those were his first words to me confirmed that this was, in fact, God’s plan.

As time went on, Cody started to doubt it. He was getting nervous about leaving and being financially stable and all the other things that are completely normal to worry about, but I knew this was our calling.

In August, we took a one month road trip through Colorado while tent camping. This was where Cody really jumped on board with the camper idea. He said, ” This is life. This is living. This is where we are happiest. On the road, exploring new places.” That trip sealed the deal.

When we got our stimulus checks, we used them to pay off all of our debt. (except our credit cards) We spent the next few month restraining from traveling and working our butts off. We got our credit up a substantial amount, got the loans and by early December, ( a month before our lease was up) we had the camper and truck.

We aren’t sure what the future holds. We don’t really have a plan. We are just living in the moment and looking into all the options possible for income on the road. We are excited for this journey and where it is going to take us. Make sure to follow along. Our first big trip kicks off soon and I will make sure to to write all about it, vlog about it, and constantly update Instagram. Thanks for all the support!

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Valentine’s Day Gift Guides for Him & Her. (For the last minute couples)

I am a last minute shopper. I will admit it full heartedly. I will plan the perfect gift for a year, then forget to make the time to buy it until the week before. This one is for all my fellow last minute shoppers. Valentines Day is one week away. If you still don’t have a gift, I have you covered! Today I am sharing some great gifts that have exceptional turn around time (and just so no one feels left out I have included a list for guy gifts and girls gifts) We have no time to waste, so lets get started!

GIFTS FOR THE GIRLS!

1.Jewlery

Anyone could tell you that girls love jewelry. If you didn’t already know that….well, now you do! You also don’t have to go all out spending hundreds on diamond jewelry. Most girls are good with the basics. Just stop at her favorite local boutique, the Kendra Scott store (if there is one near you) or check out @silassisterco & @c.cain_art on instagram (if you are near the Baton Rouge area) to find handmade earrings for a great rate. (and support local businesses) Basically as long as you don’t have to order the jewelry online, you will be able to get any of these pieces before Valentines.

2.Something Casual

Just get her something casual that she’s had her eye on and make a themed date around it. For example: If she has been needing some kitchen stuff, make her brunch, get her a Dash mini waffle maker, some nice serving spoons, and some groceries. Heck!! You could even get her to cook a romantic brunch with you if you think she would be into that.

https://bydash.com/products/heart-mini-waffle-maker?variant=33051212152886&currency=USD&utm_medium=product_sync&utm_source=google&utm_content=sag_organic&utm_campaign=sag_organic&gclid=Cj0KCQiA6t6ABhDMARIsAONIYyyUISsXMUNTwV4b0pDsFl5uvCjYDh8z612jEN4r3TkFFTCSf-XsaP4aAo2gEALw_wcB
only $11.99 at Target right now .

3. The Classic : Flowers

If she has work that day or night, go ahead and get flowers, her favorite snack, and (maybe even) her lunch delivered. Show her (and her coworkers) how much you love her. This, along with a dinner somewhere, could be all the gifts that your loved one wants this year.

4. Concert Tickets

So, concerts aren’t really happening right now, but plenty of artists are holding virtual concerts or have recorded concerts on youtube. Set up a cute picnic in the living room, back yard, or local park and spend that whole night jamming out to your favorite artist. You could even throw in a couple of band shirts to make it really feel authentic.

5. Personalized Food

Ha! It sounds weird, but just hear me out! So many people are learning how to do really cute custom cookies now. Find a local or check out @caseycambre on instagram for cookies. You can also get her favorite cakeballs from @candacescakeballs on instagram if that’s more her style. You can pretty much personalize anything you want .. even M&Ms. (Though I don’t think you’ll get those in time for this year’s valentines day).

GIFTS FOR THE GUYS!

Ladies, you can’t expect your man to be the only one buying a gift. Guys have to feel the love too. Also if you are thinking of doing a date, just go ahead and ask if he has made reservations or wants you to before you plan anything. It could ruin the day if you both have a date or whole day planned around 2 different things.

1.Outdoor Gear

I really don’t know a single guy that wouldn’t want something outdoorsy. You can go as small and cheap as a fishing shirt to as big as a kayak. The options are endless.

2. OOni Pizza Oven

Okay, this one is a little bit on the pricier side… but guys can be really hard to shop for! This pizza oven is great if your man is a pizza lover or enjoys cooking. It works so well and is super easy to transport if you want to take it camping.

3. Date night

Guys always plan the dates. You plan the date for once. Make sure it’s somewhere he enjoys eating or go do something he enjoys for the day (like fishing or gaming). Make the day all about him. (Believe it or not, guys actually don’t need much to feel like you love them).

4. Leave a surprise.

What ever you do, DO NOT leave a sticky note in his lunch box or surprise him at work with flowers. No indeed. That is not going to fly. Instead, have all those cute gifts waiting for him when he gets home. Go ahead and make him some bacon roses, have his favorite food and snacks waiting for him and maybe even a nice home cooked meal.

5. Couples Massage

Guys love massages and most likely, he needs one from working and picking up all the heavy stuff. Go ahead and make it a couples massage so you get something out of it too!

Last minute gift buying does not have to be stressful. Let this post spark some creativity and light a fire under you butt to plan the perfect valentines day.

If you need other last minute gift ideas, check out my other gift guides. They are all focused around being last minute or budget friendly! 

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2020 Wasn’t That Bad

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The new year is here and in full force. 2020 was labeled a horrible year for most. Alot of people suffered losses of loved ones and their dreams were crushed with the mandate to quarantine, but others found 2020 to be great. They found out that they were capable of so much more than they thought and they found creative ways to see family, maintain businesses, and build relationships. I fall in the 2020 was good category.

I have always been a positive person, so I’m not really sure I would have ever seen this year as “the worst year ever” even if I had accomplished nothing. That isn’t the case for me, though. I accomplished alot and plan on accomplishing even more during 2021. (I am not saying that to be cliche. I truly mean it. I have big things planned for this year.)

This post is just going to be a small review of 2020… so, LET’S GET GOIN’!

2020 started off great we headed out to Banff within the 1st 2 weeks. It was my first trip that I planned all on my own and it was Cody’s Christmas gift. It was a learning process, but you can read all about it, because that was my first ever blog post!

Outside of the hot springs in Banff.

Canada kicked off my blog which was a long time dream of mine. I have always loved writing. (I even used to write chapter books back in grade school) I knew I wanted a way to share our adventures with our friends and family and I finally got up the courage to start the blog in 2020.

When school started in January, I decided to take all online classes so I could make more time to work, make money for summer road trips, and save for a house. God switched that plan up a little bit, but I fully believe that He already had this year planned for me when I was picking my schedule for the semester. Because of the school schedule I had lined up, I was able to continue school with no interruptions when we shut down for quarantine.

Since I had a ton of free time because work was closed, I had more time to focus on school and to pour into the blog and my soul. I spent hours a day going on walks, reading on the balcony, having dance parties, and writing blog posts while binge watching my favorite shows.

Once numbers began going down and places started opening back up, Cody and I had had enough and started going on trips. We spent nearly the whole month of May at the beach catching up with our friends and family. We also took a 1 week trip to Chattanooga and another month long trip across Colorado.

Gulf shores, AL
Foster Falls , TN
Alamosa, CO

When we returned home at the end of August, we had tons of wedding festivities lined up for 2 of our good friends that were getting married in early October. So September revolved around celebrating them & I am not even mad about it. Celebrating people always brings me joy and I always wish I could do more for them … so when it’s 2 people I care this deeply for, I will happily go all in !

In October, we decided to start saving up for our camper. We finally got our stimulus checks and used them to pay off most of our debt and worked our butts off to get the rest paid, so we could work towards our dream life.

We spent pretty much the rest of 2020 doing this and enjoying the time we had with friends and family.

I know everyone’s 2020 story looks different. Some are filled with sadness, some are filled with pure joy, others are just boring, and a few are similar to mine… good, full of accomplishment, but still weird. Now, 2020 has passed and we have a new year to make memories for. Take this time to think of how you want your 2021 summary to look. Don’t let society label how your year will look. If things get messed up, look at it as a blessing and see how it helps you… not how it hurts you. You got this!

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Top 5 Things to do in Gatlinburg, TN

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Gatlinburg is a great destination for people that love city life and the outdoors. It’s the perfect spot for group trips because there is a little something for everyone. You can go on a walk and see mountain views and then drive for 20 minutes and take a tour of the city. In today’s post I’ll be summing up some of my favorite things to do in the Gatlinburg area.

1. Ripley’s Mirror Maze

There are two and one is way better than the other, so make sure you go to the right one. The one we like so much is inside of a candy shop. If you purchase tickets, you can go back as many times as you want that day. This is the perfect thing for families, but it can also be great for just adults… and let me tell you how. There are 3D glasses that you can buy for $3 extra that will distort the room. It is the main thing that brings this attraction from something for kids to something an adult will love. If you drink, go drop in on a few of the moonshine tastings around town and then go take another visit to the mirror maze with your glasses on…. good luck getting out!

2. Rowdy Bear Ridge Lazer Gun Coaster

Rowdy Bear Ridge is actually a whole adventure park, but it looked closed when we went… not sure it it was because of COVID or other reasons. I found the lazer gun coaster on Groupon originally, both my husband and his friend love lazer tag, and the tickets were under $20 (even without groupon)… so we went for it. When we got there we found out that the ticket price includes 2 rides on the coaster.

On the coaster, you sit beside someone you know and each of you get a gun. There are targets below the coaster that you have to shoot. Each color is worth a different amount of points, but if you max out the points on your gun, you get a free ride on the rowdy bear alpine coaster.

This is a great family activity because it can include and entertain all ages. It can also call for some friendly competition between family members. (If you are into that)

3. Sugarland Distillary

I will stand by my opinion that Sugarland is better than Ole Smokey. The atmosphere is amazing. The people just seem like they love their jobs and they are so helpful and friendly. If you stop at Sugarland you HAVE to do the moonshine tasting. You will pay $5, but it comes with a coupon for $5 off of your next purchase. (& you can combine them and collect them for a few days which is helpful if you go multiple times or want to split a jar with a friend or 2.) With the tasting you get to try 12 different flavors and a bonus cocktail made from 2 of the flavors you are tasting. Every day the flavors are rotated and changed, but I haven’t tried very many flavors that I didn’t like. (Hazelnut and apple pie are the best along with all of the sippin’ creams)

4. Ripley’s Aquarium

This is by far the best aquarium I have ever been to. There are so many different sections to see. There is a play area if you have young kids (it’s about halfway through so you can stop if you have so they don’t get tired of just walking around) . They also have a glass bottom boat tour over the shark aquarium. My favorite part was the Ripley memorial section. There is a short movie about his life and a room full of Ripley fun facts and things that he discovered from all over the world. This place is great for families or adults. All ages can have fun here.

5. Rowdy Bear Alpine Coaster

We have gone on a few alpine coasters when visiting Gatlinburg, but this one really stood out. You can pay extra to get the lazer tag feature and play lazer tag while riding the coaster. When you get on the ride there are Christmas lights everywhere, which gives the best experience on a night ride. (These may only be here because I went in December) Overall the riding experience was great. They also had different deals to get multiple rides on the coaster.

Gatlinburg is one of our favorite places and every time we go, we find more things to do. If you are planning a trip to this area any time soon, I hope these things helped you find great ways to spend your time.

My College Experience

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Wow! This Holiday season has been a little weird, kind of stressful, really exciting, and a bit bitter sweet. In the midst of all the holiday chaos and COVID panic, Cody and I decided to make a HUGE move and I graduated from college. I’ll touch more on our big move in another post. (why, how, what our plans for the future are, and all the other big questions.) But, today’s post is all about college and life after graduation.

This whole year has been weird, so it’s only right that my graduation be weird and confusing too, right? I actually finished school this summer with a summer semester. The commencement was originally moved to August due to COVID, but since numbers weren’t really dropping, it got moved, again, to December. I ultimately decided not to participate in commencement due to the guidelines, budgeting, and the fact that I hadn’t attended school since July.

Since I didn’t make a big deal of graduating, I wanted to share a little post to wrap it up and honor the past 5 years like they should be. No matter the circumstances or the degree, I feel like graduating is a huge accomplishment and deserves some celebration. So, here we go … my 5 years of college, summed up!

I graduated high school in 2015 and was 99.99% sure I wanted to be a nurse. (My engagement ring size and style was even based on the fact that I didn’t want to rip my gloves at work) I only had 1 week between my high school graduation and my first day of college. I am kidding you not, I worked on homework on my senior trip and family vacations. I wanted to graduate early and was pretty determined to.

My high school graduation night.

I had a dorm my first semester, and let my tell you, sharing that small of a space with someone you don’t know is really weird. I didn’t have roommates that I didn’t like, it was just odd… like how do you set boundaries when you both share a desk and a sink ? My first roommate moved a month in because she was a germaphobe and just couldn’t deal with the shared showers (I can’t blame her). My second roommate wasn’t horrible, we just didn’t talk much. (So you can guess how that went. )

My dorm room.

This semester I worked 2 jobs, went home on the weekends, took 18 hours of classes, and still finished with all A’s and B’s . So, far college was off to a great start.

As my next semester carried on I had moved home and dropped one of my jobs. My grades dropped and I began to get exhausted. My plans of summer classes got canceled. I was burnt out. I thought a break for the summer would refresh and recharge me. Little did I know…

A week before the next semester started, I got engaged and our entire city flooded. My home and Cody’s had flooded and we were both living with friends or family by the time school started. I still kept my 17 hours of classes that I had planned… that was a mistake.

Cody proposed at the aquarium.
Some of the flood photos

At the end of the semester… about a month before the semester had ended I remember saying to Cody, “If nursing doesn’t work out, I may try teaching.” I had made this statement so many times in the past about so many different things. I am super multipassionate and have so many things I want to do with life, so this statement had always been a thing that I say, shrug off, and we move on. That was not the case this time. He said, “Why don’t you?” We weighed out the pros and cons and it seemed right. I had failed microbiology and anatomy for the second time this semester… I was just wasting money at this point. So, I did it. I switched my major to early childhood education. I wanted to be a first grade teacher.

The next semester was the semester before we got married. I had so many wedding events to attend, but my education classes were so intriguing and exciting so I didn’t struggle at all. I was so excited to be learning new things.

Before my first observation in the education field.

I decided that I wanted to be a kindergarten teacher the following semester after observing the same kindergarten class 10+ times that semester. I fell in love with the kids at that age. We had some issues with financial aid after that semester, so I took a semester off to get that straight and worked at PJ’S and at our church pretty much full time.

When I returned I only had a year before I started methods (1 step before student teaching.) Things were getting more serious, but I was still so excited and happy with the major I picked I loved the kids and all of the education classes. They were all so full of positivity and fun.

Come fall of 2019, everything changed. I was in methods … I had made it… so I thought. This class was not full of positivity like all the others had been. It demanded so much time and so much money. And they talked about all the ways you can fail. I paid, I spent the money, I went broke. I couldn’t work. I was stressed. I finally broke after my first full week of teaching. I decided to drop. I needed a break. Maybe this wasn’t for me. Maybe I just needed a break and then I would be able to tackle it again… I wasn’t sure. The only thing that I was sure of was that I needed to get out for my mental health, financial health, and for my marriage.

After lots of thought and prayer, I decided to switch to general studies. I could graduate by the end of the summer. I still had no clue what I wanted to do, but I knew college was not it.

The next semester was so easy. All of my classes were online except one, so I wasn’t really phased when everything shut down. In fact it gave me a ton of time to focus on my school work.

So there you have it. 5 years. Engaged. Married. 1 major natural disaster. 2 pandemic. 2 changes of my major. I made it out ! I’m not really sure where I am going, but I’m on my way. I still have so many plans with life and can’t wait to see exactly what God has up his sleeve for me.

To anyone reading that’s still in college: It’s ok. You’re going to make it. You are doing great and if you feel like what you are doing isn’t working, try something new. Don’t listen to societies opinions or what you think will make someone else happy. Do you and do your best at it. It is enough.

Top 5 Go-To Budget Family Christmas Party Games

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The holidays are upon us, Christmas is just two weeks away, and parties are around every corner. I love hosting parties and always find myself as the host of most of the holiday parties around here (which I have no problem with.) The only problem that I run into every year is what games to play. Today I am going to share five Christmas party games that we have found to be big hits at our Christmas parties

1.White Elephant

This is a usual at almost every Christmas party we attend. There are different names for it and different ways to play, but no matter what you call it or what rules you use, your friends are sure to love it. This game requires everyone to bring a gift. Make sure you choose a reasonable price range. The gifts can be funny or serious. (A couple of funny ones usually ensure a good time)

How to play:

. number a few pieces of paper or cards (if you have 9 participants, only number to 9.)

. Have your guests draw 1 card from a hat or bowl.

. The guest that chose the card with the number 1 on it gets to go first. They can choose any gift in the stack without knowing who it’s from or what it is.

. Once guest number one has revealed their gift, the guest that picked number 2 gets to choose between taking guest number one’s gift that is already revealed or choose a mystery gift from the stack.

. If guest number 2 chooses a mystery gift, carry on with the game and move on to player 3. If player 2 has stolen player one’s gift, allow player one to choose a new gift.

. Continue with these rules until each person has got a chance to pick a gift.

.Once everyone has a gift, allow player one to have a chance to steal a gift. If player one chooses to steal someone’s gift, they will give their current gift to the victim.

2. Santa Clause Drinking Game

This game has simple rules. You just place a Santa hat on the corner of your T.V. and turn on a Christmas movie or show episode. (Depending on how much time you want to spend on this) Every time it looks like a character is wearing the Santa hat, everyone drinks. You can also make this as intense as you and your guests want. We usually just take a sip of wine or whatever we happen to be drinking, but if you are up for getting a little crazy, you can do shots.

3.Snowball Shake

This game went viral, so I am sure you know how to play, but if you don’t know, I’ll explain.

You will need an empty tissue box, some string or a belt, and some ping pong balls.

To play, you are going to loop the belt or string through the tissue box and fill the box with ping pong balls. Then you will tie the box around the players waist using the string or belt. (This is where the rules can become your own) Choose to pit 2 players against each other and have the person to shake all the balls out first win or (to move the game along) you can time them and see who can shake the most balls out in the short time frame. However you decide to play, your guests will have a blast watching everyone shake their butts to win the game!

4. Cookie or Gingerbread House Decorating.

(If you choose to do a gingerbread house, I would pair everyone off into teams) all you need to do is set a timer and let your guests get to work. Allow them to use all the icing and sprinkles their heart desires and don’t forget to have fun. Have at least 1 judge (or let everyone vote for someone that isn’t their own) the best looking house/cookie wins!

5. Christmas Charades

You can find printable cards anywhere or make your own. If you don’t know how to play charades, you will just need to pair everyone into 2 different teams. You will need to have 1 player from the 1st team come up and try to act out a card. If their team guesses the card correctly, they can keep choosing cards until the timer is up. Once that team’s turn has run out, record the number of cards guessed correctly and move on to the next team. Allow all of the players from each team to participate and the team with the most cards guessed correctly at the end will win.

These are just a few small ideas. Most of them don’t require alot of materials or a huge budget. Remember to have fun with it and find a game that your guests will love too. Take a break from the hustle and bustle and enjoy a chill might with your friends. Merry Christmas !

5 Easy and Popular Party Foods

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I know I have been talking a lot about food lately, but it IS the holidays and good food is everywhere ! I just can’t help myself. I won’t be sharing any recipes today but I will be sharing some easy, fun foods that I love enjoying at any holiday party! I always have great ideas for parties and party foods, but when it comes down to it, I just procrastinate a little too long. These are some party foods that I can always turn to if I am running behind and looking for a treat that will be loved.

1.Pepper Jelly Dip.

My first pick is so easy, yet so good. Pepper Jelly Dip is perfect for when you are throwing together a quick party or forgot to make a dish for tonight’s Christmas party. All you need is a block of cream cheese, a jar of pepper jelly, and some crackers to dip in it. Go ahead and bring a serving knife or butter knife because cheap plastic knives and a cracker won’t cut through the cream cheese easily.

2. Bacon Wrapped Smokies

Need I say more? So easy & you can find the recipe online for cooking instructions. These take a little more time to prepare, but they don’t require a lot of ingredients and they are a crowd favorite at every party we serve them at. You just need bacon, a pack of smokey sausages, brown sugar, and tooth picks.

3. Peanut Butter Cup Cookies

Cody’s mom always makes these around the holidays. They are great if you have a sweet tooth . I have made them for teachers as Christmas gifts and we have served them at parties. You just use chocolate chip cookie dough and a peanut butter cup and place them in a mini muffin pan & POOF!! You have a perfect sweet treat for any holiday event.

4. Deviled Eggs

Okay, so these are kind of hit or miss but my family and I love them. They are a staple at any family gathering. Once the eggs are boiled and peeled, the prepping process is so easy. They are a great finger food to have at any party.

5. Cake Balls

Homemade cakeballs are always a hit. Never fails. You almost can’t mess this one up. They have to be baked and frozen, but they are so simple. The hardest part is the chocolate coating, but even if they look bad they are still usually a hit because they taste so good.

I hope some of these holiday food ideas save you at this year’s holiday parties. We love these items at almost every party and they are usually the things that people gather around and clear out before the party ends. If something caught your eye and you do want me to make a recipe post, leave a comment. Happy holidays !

Easy Green Bean Cassarole

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Time for another pre-Thanksgiving recipe! I can literally shovel this stuff into my mouth at any time of year…Green bean casserole! This is by far my favorite Thanksgiving food of all time.

WHAT YOU’LL NEED:

. 1 (10.5 OZ.) can of condensed cream of mushroom.

. 1/2 cup of milk

. 1/8 TSP. of ground black pepper

.2 (14.5 OZ.) cans of green beans (I prefer cut green beans, but any type will work)

. 1 1/3 cup of crispy fried onions.

LET’S GET COOKIN!!

1.preheat oven to 350° Fahrenheit

2. Mix pepper, milk, and cream of mushroom in a 1 1/2 quart baking dish.

3. Stir in green beans and 2/3 cup of crispy fried onions.

4.Bake for 30 minutes. Stir.

5. Top with remaining onions. ( I never measure this part. I just cover the top on the casserole completely)

6. Bake for 5 minutes or until onions are golden brown.

That’s it! Such an easy recipe and a crowd favorite for any holiday (or enjoy it any time of year!) I hope your family enjoys this dish as my as my husband and I do!

Gift Guide for Boys (8-12)

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It’s the most wonderful time of the year and everyone is bustling around looking for Christmas gifts. People can be hard to shop for, especially if you are trying to find a gift they will actually like. I always have the most trouble buying for the boys and men in my life….what do they even like?! I’ve put together 5 gifts that are sure to be a hit with any 8-12 year old boy in your life.

My first gift idea is a classic…nerf gun. For real, guys never get sick of a good nerf gun. They make so many different kinds, so you can get creative and get one big one or get a set. (Maybe even one for the whole family & have a family nerf war?!)

The next idea is darts and a dart board. Get a set. The boy will like it because it’s entertaining and it looks cool in their room. It also helps with coordination if they practice. This one is under $30!

Next is a little pricier… a lazer tag set. It comes with 4 vests and 4 guns in different colors so you can play as a family or your son can have his friends over for a fun backyard game of lazer tag.

Another pricey but good gift idea for boys is an activity table. This one has 3 table tops with a different game on each one. It comes with foosball, air hockey, and pool. Its a miniature table, so it won’t take up a ton of space in their bedroom, but it will give them entertainment that will last. (I mean how cool would this have been as a kid?!)

The final gift idea is a gaming chair. These are a little pricey, but most boys like to play video games and these chairs make that time so much more fun. Gaming chairs have speakers and a space for your headphones so they can surround themselves in the game and enjoy it alot more. Perfect gift idea for any boy that loves gaming!

Other than video games, gaming consols , or phone gear I think these gifts would be great… pretty much just because most of these can be enjoyed with their friends too. I hope these ideas help when you are thinking of gifts for your son/brother/nephew.