Who and What

My name is Hailey and my grandfather is a farmer. I'm the 7th generation to live on the family farm, and my babies (when the time comes) are going to be the 8th. My husband and I are even renovating a trailer on my grandparent's farm so we can move back to the family farm sooner. This blog encompasses the things that are important to me. These things are:

~Special Education
~ADHD, including my own battle with it over the years. It's now my superpower.
~Farm Life
~Equal rights for women.
~Goal setting
~Fitness and health
~Financial Stability
~Personal Happiness

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Life with Only 15 Things: A Consideration

I was on Pinterest the other day looking for blog inspiration, when I cam across the image of a man who supposedly only owns 15 things, other than his undergarments. My first thought was, wonder how they're calculating things? I mean, if he buys toilet paper for his apartment, technically he owns the toilet paper so does that count? And my second thought was, dang, that guy must do laundry every other day. But my random ramblings and curiosities aside, it did get me to wondering what I would choose if I could own only 15 things.

First and foremost, let me explain how I am defining 15 things. First of all, I am not counting my jewelry. If you count all the pieces of jewelry I wear as individual pieces, that's nine things, and I never take it off or put new on, so I almost feel it doesn't count. Secondly, I am not counting anything that is rapidly disposable. Shampoo, soap, toilet paper, not counting it. Anything with a soul of it's own, like my dogs, not counting them, or their belongings. As far as I'm concerned, those guys are separate entities. There are probably other things I'm not factoring in, but let's just go with it for the moment. If I could only have 15 things, here is what I THINK I would choose.

  1. My stuffed animal, Clowndog, that I've had since infancy. Yeah, that thing is not going anywhere. He's worn out and pitiful and I don't care. I would actually be fairly traumatized if he were to become irreparably lost and damaged, probably illogically so. 
  2. My dad's Lynchburg College shirt. It's ridiculously soft, older than I am, and my favorite thing to sleep in. I may be a clothes horse, but that one will never get thrown out. 
  3. My High Spirits farm baseball cap. My husband had it made for me before we even started dating, and it's a reminder to me that he believed in our dream from day one. 
  4. My computer. Maybe it's tacky to choose a piece of technology, but my computer allows me to reach out to the world in a constructive way. 
  5. At least one pair of pink cowboy boots. I'm not fussy over which pair, I just want to always have one. They're part of my identity. 
  6. My sewing machine. I find using it to be cathartic and relaxing, so I'd be very hesitant to give that up. 
  7. My piggy bank, which is significant for two reasons. One, Brad and I each made one on one of our first dates and two, they represent how tiny savings can add up to big things, which is one of our core beliefs. 
  8. My Virginia Tech sweatshirt that my grandfather pulled off his own back to give me the day I got accepted. I don't think I've ever seen him so proud. 
  9. Any super comfortable pair of jeans that make my butt look fabulous. I have a few, and I'm not choosy as to which one, I just know I need a pair. 
  10. The t-shirt quilt my mother and I made together when I was getting ready to go to college. 
  11. A pair of footie pajamas, which Brad buys me every year around my birthday or Christmas, but always in between, so he can say it was just because. 
  12. The roofing shingle that came off of the roof at my mother's office and was painting with our wedding symbol by my mother's best friend, Juanita. 
  13. My mother's box of wishes for me that she gave to me on my wedding day.
  14. The silver dollar that my father gave me to carry in the pocket of my wedding dress the night of my rehearsal dinner. 
  15. My wedding box, which is technically more than one thing, but contains memories of so much love, I cannot begin to decide which parts are the most important.
As I look at these things written down, I realize it is fairly reflective of my values. Enough clothing to keep warm and a lot of loving memories. 

Thursday, November 27, 2014

How did we get so lucky?

Throw back to three years ago, when my sister got her class ring the same day Brad put a ring on my finger. 
Today, Thanksgiving, is obviously a time when people sit down with their families and have an attitude of gratitude. However, for me, everyday is Thanksgiving. At least once a day, I look around and ask myself, how the heck did we get so lucky? We have much to be grateful for every day, not just on Thanksgiving.

First, I am thankful for my husband, who is one of the kindest and most patient people I have ever met. For the last few months, while I have struggled to navigate the rugged terrain associated with being a new teacher, he has made sure I have clean clothes to wear, food to eat, and a clean (sometimes cleanish) house to come home to. He has laughed with me over small mishaps, been friendly to my coworkers, fixed things in my classroom and volunteered at my school. He has also reminded me daily that I do not have to do it all, and while I sometimes struggle to listen, it is still nice to hear that he does not expect me to wear my Wonder Woman cape full time.

Our dogs Kona and Sage have proved to be a blessing in our lives. Our planned puppy, Sage, makes me laugh daily as she attempts to navigate the world on her too big puppy paws. Kona is our sky dog that we never expected to have, and is one of my favorite things to come home to. She needed a new home quickly, and we took her on a leap of faith and a prayer. The friend who gave her to us kept saying she couldn't believe how nice we were to take her and to try to make it as easy for my friend as possible.

She reminded me how lucky we are to be surrounded by so many wonderful friends and family. Six months ago, when I was preparing to transition jobs, I was feeling very insecure and alone. I prayed almost daily to find a support system at my new job. My prayers were answered in a variety of forms and I could not be more appreciative. Beth Brown, who has become, as my mother puts it "my Juanita" after her best friend who is willing to tackle any project, big or small, so long as they are in it together, has been the person I tell all my funny kid quotes to, as well as my shoulder to lean on after a rough day. Teresa Woods, who is my mentor, co-teacher and friend, tells me weekly that I am doing a good job, and makes sure that administration knows it as well. The rest of the first grade teachers have offered me everything from advice, to food, to a closet to hide in should I ever need it.

However, I had forgotten in my fear, just how supportive this family can be. Thank you Bev for giving me tips for dealing with parents, and for offering to help me to set up my classroom. Thank you Carter and Lanaux for the flowers you sent me the first week, that arrived just when I needed them. And thank you everyone else in the family for simply hoping and believing with me.

I am also exceedingly grateful for my grandparents, who have given us a tremendous gift by allowing us to renovate and live in their trailer until we can afford to get our own house built. With us in this endeavor have been Jake and Juanita Burnopp, who have helped us as if we were their own and worked with us to take said trailer from death trap to downright charming.

However, the people I will never be able to say thank you enough times to are my parents, who have guided and supported us through everything. Additionally, they have continually provided a great amount of love and support to our friends. How many people do you know that would cancel their dinner reservations to have an impromptu wine and cheese night with their kid's best friend who is in from out of town, or casually tell my friend who worries constantly about raising her daughter well, that she is a good mom.

I am reminded daily that they have raised my beautiful, smart, intelligent and courageous sister and I to be strong, capable women. I am thankful that we were both taught to fight for what is right, stick to or principles, never settle for anything less than what is best, and most importantly to stand by each other. This is especially important because I am thankful to have someone as strong, smart, and brave on my side, as Ally, and would definitely rather has her as my friend and sister than as my enemy. Although she is not with us physically this year, and is fighting the battle of her life at the moment, I have total faith that she will come out on the other side a winner, and that the world will be a better place for her having been through this.

Lastly, I am thankful for hope of a better tomorrow. I am thankful for this hope being shown in tiny ways to me each and every day. I am thankful I get to work at a job where I see children committing acts of kindness and becoming better people on a daily basis. I am thankful to see laws changing so that everyone can enjoy the same rights to marriage, family and let's be honest, tax benefits. I am thankful that more weddings mean more wedding cake. I am thankful for babies born into this family and the amount of love I know will surround them. I am thankful this family will always set one more place around the table and extending the love that this family represents. I am thankful that our family is all accepting whether you have a GED or a PHD. I am thankful because as long as our values keep getting passed along, there is hope for a better world.

Monday, November 17, 2014

52 Lists Project, Week 11: Cultural Events I'd Like to Experience

Photo from: http://www.lonelyplanet.com/india/images. 
This is the time of year in elementary schools where we attempt to teach children about the various Christmas/Holiday traditions of people around the world. It's a fun time of year, and a fun set of subjects to teach. However, it often makes me realize that I personally lack awareness with regard to many other cultures, both in my knowledge of Christmas traditions as well as other cultural events, including some within the US. Here is a list of cultural events I would like to partake in over the course of my lifetime. And yes, many of them are horsey, but this blog isn't called "The Farmer's Granddaughter" for nothing.

  1. A traditional Mardi Gras celebration. I don't really care to catch any beads, but the music, costumes and food definitely hold appeal. 
  2. The pony swim on Chincoteague and Assateague island in Virginia. 
  3. The Kentucky Derby. I've seen Preakness, but the Run for the Roses has a flavor all it's own.
  4. The Summer Olympics. 
  5. An Eastern culture's traditional wedding. 
  6. Run a marathon. And yes, this is a cultural event, because any runner will tell you that runners have a culture. 
  7. Go see the Grand National Steeplechase (Think National Velvet). 
  8. Go on a safari in Africa. 
  9. Go on a fox hunt. 
  10. Ride in Mongolia. 
  11. A cross country road trip. 
  12. New York Fashion Week
  13. Swim with dolphins. (Not sure this totally qualifies as cultural but it's definitely on my list.) 
  14. Celebrate Hanukkah. 
  15. Celebrate Day of the Dead. 
  16. Write on Juliet's wall in Verona. 
  17. Use an elephant as a mode of transportation. 
  18. Go to the Fairy Pools in Scotland. 
  19. Camp on the beach. 
  20. Go to a floating lantern festival. 
  21. See the Great Barrier Reef in Australia. 
  22. Take a wine tour in Italy.
  23. Visit the Coliseum. 
  24. See all the Cirque show in Vegas.
  25. See a musical on Broadway. 
  26. Do a really crazy hike or mountain climb. 
  27. Backpack through Europe. 
  28. Take a ghost tour. 
  29. Attend a luau in Hawaii
  30. Visit a castle. 
  31. Take a horseback tour of Ireland.
  32. Drink in an Irish pub. 
  33. Stay in an Italian Villa.
  34. Go on a fitness retreat. 
  35. Become fluent in sign language. 
  36. Travel somewhere by train. 
  37. Celebrate St. Lucia's Day in Sweden. 
  38. Attend a Masquerade Ball. 
  39. Spend a week in Paris. 
  40. Participate in a mud run. 
  41. Participate in a glow run. 
  42. Oktoberfest 
  43. Visit China.
  44. Visit Japan.
  45. Visit a rainforest. 
  46. Spend a week in Greece. 
  47. Whale watch.
  48. Attempt snorkeling. 
  49. Attend a film festival. 
  50. Attend the Rolex. 
  51. Stay in a really unique hotel. 
  52. See the Seven Wonders. 
What's on your cultural experience bucket list? 

Sunday, November 16, 2014

The Forgiveness of Animals

I am going to go on record saying I am not the perfect pet owner, quite honestly, far from it. On the equine side, I often feel I have failed. My horses do not get their hooves checked daily or even weekly. I have missed a feeding before, or accidentally skipped a medication dose. I've left the gate unlaced by accident. We have barbed wire that we're saving up to convert to something safer, but we're not there yet. I have shown up to find the water buckets both empty, or else a hose left on. I've lost my patience with an already nervous horse. My youngster, Anna, makes me far more nervous than she should, and they don't get nearly enough exercise.

Looking at my canine companions, I do a bit better (they are incredibly pitiful when they haven't been fed). However, there are still days where I am not as patient as I should be, or do something I know the dog training manual would object to. They get too many treats at times. I have become hysterical on more than one occasion when I have accidentally dropped, stepped on, or on one horrible occasion poked in the eye my puppy, Sage.

And yet, I do not feel that I am a bad pet owner. My animals are healthy and kept up to date on veterinary needs. The food they are given is high quality. Actually, I think some days they eat better than we do. The horses get blankets when they need them, as well as fly masks. I may lose my patience, but I am one to yell rather than inflict pain. My puppies spend evenings curled up on couches with us, receiving belly rubs and loads of attention. We work hard to train positive social behaviors and they mind their manner in most social settings.

What continually amazes me, however, is how forgiving animals are. Despite my many shortcomings, my four year old Mini Aussie, Kona, will still lay her head in my lap at the end of a long day. Sage, my Sheltie, has climbed into my lap and licked my face after many a clumsy moment, even though I am terrified I have caused her some kind of serious mental damage. (Irrational, I know, but what can you do.) Anna is quick to come rest her head on my shoulder when I am waiting for water buckets to fill. Libby has been known to groom me as I try to extract burrs from her mane, something I know must be painful.

However, the animal whose forgiveness amazed me the most was always my horse, Squire, who died in 2011. My trainer's mother took Squire off the hands of a couple who had basically left him to starve after their daughter moved away. His hooves were badly damaged, something that proved irreparable over the years. We couldn't pinpoint what mix of breeds he was exactly. You could count his ribs, but his stomach was swollen with worms. He had a limp that was permanent. Scars on his back and rump told tales of ill fitted tack and harsh hands. He was suspicious of men and head shy. We would soon discover that he trailered badly, did not take well to being stalled and disliked wearing a blanket.

Despite all this, Squire quickly proved himself to be a good first horse for an eleven year old. He probably hadn't been saddled in over 5 years, but the first time I rode him, he was calm and tolerant. He spooked easily, but seemed to keep himself in check when I was aboard. He was easy to catch, and enjoyed being groomed, although you had to be mindful not to spook him when he was tied, lest he pull back with a ferocity. He learned to trust my father, grandfather, and a few other men over the years. He struggled to keep weight on those last few years. He was never a beauty, but yet, he seemed to have a wisdom about him. A realization that he had been saved, and the best way I can describe him was content. He did what so many humans are incapable of. He believed the best in a world that had once treated him so cruelly, and forgave, allowing him to live peacefully for 10 years after his rescue.

How many grudges we as humans hold, and many of them are misdirected. How long we harbor anger in our hearts, ultimately damaging ourselves far more than the objects of our discontent. Would we not be better off letting it all go, forgiving those who have wronged us and moving on? I think Squire answered that question for me. You could tell he had been subject to terrible cruelty, true, but you could also tell that he had moved past it in order to enjoy a better life.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Charity on a Budget: 10 Ways to Give When You're Low on Funds

I love the idea of giving to a cause, but here's the bottom line. My husband and I are a little tight on funds. That isn't to say we're broke or struggling to get by. On the contrary, we are reasonably comfortable. However, we are also on a plan to be debt free by the time we're both 28, and seeing as that's only 4 short years away, we don't exactly have the extra dollar to throw at every charity that we pass. So instead, we have come up with other ways to be giving. Here are 10 things we've done as a way to give back, without pulling out our wallets.

  1. I'm a crafter, and I sew quite a bit. I save the scraps from every single project and turn these into wreathes, which I then sell and use a portion of the proceeds to support worthy causes. Most recently I've sent a few dollars to a friend trying to adopt a little boy from Eastern Europe. It's not much but every little bit helps. 
  2. The other thing I do with scraps, particularly the larger ones, is sew them into quilts. I then donate these to Project Linus, which takes blankets to children in crisis. This is also a project I've done with my classroom for the last two years, and plan to do again this year.
  3. I'm an animal lover, so I will, on occasion, go to the animal shelter and walk the dogs or simply play with them and give them some loving. I haven't done this in a while, and it's one I want to get back to in the not too distant future. 
  4. I get my students involved in service projects. I've helped them make cookies for the homeless, cards for nursing homes, and shoebox care kits for tornado victims. 
  5. If we aren't using it, we donate it to the DAV or Goodwill. If it's still got life stretched out of it, we don't throw it away.
  6. Volunteer time with youth. There are so many ways to do this, that you're bound to find one that's fun for you. I'm currently volunteering as an assistant coach for Girls on the Run, a local program designed to promote health, wellness and self esteem in girls.
  7. If you travel a lot, ask for a few extra shampoo bottles each time you go. Take these to your local women's shelter. 
  8. Make it your mission to spend a day doing random acts of kindness. Hold doors, be a polite driver, return library books for an elderly neighbor, take cookies to the fire station. Just spend the day being as nice as possible. 
  9. Take notice of need. A friend of mine recently took coloring books and crayons to the ER, along with books her kids had outgrown, because she had noticed when she was there with a friend that there was nothing to keep kids entertained. 
  10. Include someone going through a hard time in your family dinner. 
What are some other inexpensive ways to give back? 

Thursday, November 6, 2014

An Emergency Meeting of the Human Race

Photo from: http://emertainmentmonthly.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/sddefault.jpg. 
Growing up, one of my favorite shows was Boy Meets World. I hoped for the Corey and Topanga romance, to have a friend like Shawn Hunter, and to be in a classroom with a teacher like Feeny. Even as an adult, this show remains a big favorite, and I have certainly gotten a lot of use out of the DVD series my sister got me last year for Christmas. This time of year, there's one episode that continually comes to mind.

"Turkey Day" was aired on November 22, 1996. In this episode, Mr. Feeny attempts to teach his class about the conflict in Rwanda between the Hutu and Tutsi, but Corey and Shawn find themselves absorbed in a conflict much closer to home. After winning the prize for most food collected for the Thanksgiving food drive, Corey and shawn receive one turkey and one box of stuffing. In an attempt to share their prize, they suggest that their families spend Thanksgiving together, despite their economic differences.

Neither set of parents is happy, but they reluctantly agree and meet at Shawn's trailer for dinner. However, the evening is wrought with tension, both between the families and from other members of the trailer park community. Eventually the kids break off from the adults to escort Corey's younger sister, Morgan, to have a piece of pie with a classmate, Herman, in the same trailer park. Upon arrival, they are invited to join the "kids table" at the home of the classmate. They go around the table, each saying what they are thankful for. Corey and Shawn say that they are glad to be friends, despite their different upbringings.

At this point, the adults have stumbled upon their children and the conversation. Shawn's father turns to one of the residence of the trailer park and says, "Hey Luther, why don't you join us? We're having an emergency meeting of the human race."

I'd like to call one of those right now, and invite everyone to join. Let's have a meeting where we all sit down and talk about our thoughts without calling each other names. After all, aren't most of us old enough to realize that name calling does nothing but pour gasoline on the fire? Perhaps we could disagree with our president without comparing him to Hitler. For an hour, maybe we could be blind, not just to color, but to age, political party and sexual orientation. Maybe we could agree that despite differences in religious beliefs, everyone is entitled to believe and worship in a way that feels right to them. Maybe we could become deaf to differences in dialect, and take words of hate out of our vocabulary. Does anyone care to attend?

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

52 Lists Project Week 10: Alternatives to Traditional Christmas Gifts

Let me first go on record and say that I love gifts, particularly ones I get to make and give to people I care about. But honestly, more often than not, I feel that we go overboard during the holidays. No one needs that much stuff. This year, my husband Bradley and I agreed that we would forgo traditional gifts except for a few things for each other's stockings. Instead, we spent the money we would have spent on each other's gifts on tickets to see Wicked in January and a hotel room to stay the night in. I have to say, I'm looking forward to that trip more than I would any gift I could possible open. That got me to thinking, what could we do for each other, friends and family instead of traditional gifts that would give just as much if not more joy? Here is what I came up with.

  1. Invest in seeds and soil to start a garden in the spring. Talk about a gift that keeps giving. 
  2. The ingredients and supplies to make a completely fabulous gourmet meal. 
  3. The supplies for a home improvement project. 
  4. Invest in taking a class, either together, or for them to try on their own. 
    I'm a huge fan of riding lessons. Photo from: https://www.flickr.com/photos/mixedupmedia/galleries/72157622710980126/
  5. Buy books to give to a local children's hospital or nursing home. 
  6. The materials to put together a special scrapbook.
  7. A yearlong gift of one home cooked meal a month. 
  8. A season pass somewhere they will love. 
  9. Adopt an endangered animal. (One disclaimer, I strongly suggest with this type of gift, you donate anonymously. Otherwise you will feel like they send you whatever you donated back in promo materials.)
  10. Pay for tickets to a play.
  11. Give a year's worth of date nights. However, I advise buying as much as possible in advance because otherwise it seems that these things can fall by the wayside. So, if you want to see a play in June, buy tickets or at the very least a gift card to the theatre so you're more likely to follow through.
    Photo from: https://www.flickr.com/photos/65774439@N07/8620232102/. 
  12. Have a favorite photo blown up and framed. 
  13. Offer to babysit, petsit or clean for a friend. 
  14. Give the last book you read that you loved and write a special note in the front. 
  15. Make a personalized gift basket for a struggle they may be having. (Ex: Give a "Basket of Sunshine" including all things yellow for someone going through a rough patch.)
    Photo from: http://welovebeingmoms.blogspot.com/2013/02/basket-of-sunshine.html?m=0. 
  16. Make a coupon book of services they might enjoy. 
  17. Write a series of letters and write on the envelopes "Open when you need… (a laugh, to not feel alone, to know someone loves you.)
  18. Treat them to a day of pampering at a spa or salon. 
    Photo from: https://fbcdn-sphotos-a-a.akamaihd.net/hphotos-ak-ash3/1005839_570935959651999_1889568006_n.jpg.
  19. Give them a bag of their "favorite things" that you know they use regularly. 
  20. Buy them a week's worth of groceries. This one is especially helpful for newlyweds, college students or new moms. 
  21. If you're crafty, offer to let them pick something they'd like you to make for them. 
  22. Buy a gift card to their favorite movie theatre. 
    Photo from: http://www.examiner.com/article/tom-sturridge-s-new-film-waiting-for-forever-to-be-featured-at-nashville-film-festival-april. 
  23. Write a blog post about how awesome they are. I wouldn't have suggested this before this week, but I did it for my sister, and was amazed by how much excitement it gave her. 
  24. Create a scavenger hunt for them and meet them at the end with one of their favorite things, whatever that may be. 
  25. Create a cookies in a jar recipe for them. 
    Photo from: http://www.culdesaccool.com/2012/11/14/5-diy-holiday-baked-gifts-in-a-jar-with-free-printable-recipe-tags/. 
  26. For a young child, consider buying them a savings bond. They may not be that excited now, but I owe a big thank you to a few of my aunts and uncles who got them for me as a kid. We recently cashed them in as part of getting our "debt snowball" rolling. 
  27. Go paint piggy banks at a ceramics studio and use them to save for something you both want. 
  28. Create a cupcake decorating kit and put it in a cool vintage lunchbox. 
  29. Make a memory jar for them to put happy moments in throughout the year, then read them the following Christmas or New Years. 
  30. Take old t-shirts or baby clothes and make them into a memory quilt. 
    I made this one. You can order them from my Etsy page: etsy.com/krushedandkreated. 
  31. Have something repaired for them they've been putting off due to expense. 
  32. Help someone travel to see a loved one they don't often get to see.
  33. Ask what they need most and pay for it or a portion of it. I did this for my sister-in-law after her baby shower and was able to help her get stuff she still didn't have.
  34. Give an experiences jar of things you can do together over the next year. The best way to do this one is to make sure all the activities are smaller and inexpensive, but still fun and memorable. 
  35. Buy supplies for the local homeless or animal shelter.
    Photo from: https://www.flickr.com/photos/manymuddypaws/3235939987/. 
  36. A year long subscription to their favorite magazine. 
  37. A gift certificate for bowling or mini golf. 
  38. Pay to renew their fishing or hunting license. 
  39. Sponsor a child in another country. (See disclaimer on number 9)
  40. Buy a tree or two to plant. 
  41. Donate a flock of chickens through Heifer International (See disclaimer on number 9. )
  42. Dedicate a day spending time with someone you love committing random acts of kindness for others. 
  43. Go on a wine tasting. 
  44. Consider a membership to a wine, cheese, fruit, coffee or chocolate of the month club. 
    Photo from: http://www.adventures-in-cooking.com/2014/01/melted-hot-chocolate-with-sea-salt.html. 
  45. If you have a time share, give a few days of it to friends. 
  46. iTunes or Amazon Kindle gift cards. 
  47. Teach someone to do something you're good at. 
  48. Host a potluck dinner as a gift for a group of friends. 
  49. If you're great at organizing, help clean something out for someone. 
  50. Take something off their hands. Run to the dump for them, take a trucked to Goodwill, or help them arrange to have an old car hauled away. 
  51. Pay for a family photo session. 
    Maternity shots for an expectant couple would make a fabulous gift. Photo from: https://www.flickr.com/photos/65774439@N07/8620232102/. 
  52. Give their car a spruce, including oil change, vacuuming, gas, etc. 
What nontraditional gifts would you like to receive? Is there a favorite nontraditional gift you've gotten and would like to share? 

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

27 Ways to Beat the Cold Without Cranking the Heat

Earlier this week there was a knock on my door and winter rudely barged in and announced her arrival and intent to stay a while. Sure, there are a few days here and there she will supposedly be visiting her needy mother, but on the whole it seems she has settled herself in for the long haul. I refuse to spend my life savings (not much, considering I'm 24 and have student loans) to stay warm this winter, so instead, I am trying these 27 tricks to beat the cold.

  1. Footie pajamas. I'm telling you, these are a gem that we should never have labeled uncool in our teen years. They're super warm, and if you're like me and have a small puppy that needs to go out regularly, they eliminate the need for socks. 
  2. Speaking of dogs, spend some quality snuggle time with your favorite Fido. They'll love the attention and you'll love how warm and snuggly you feel inside and out. 
  3. Long johns. Yes, I know they're nerdy and uncool, but they definitely do the trick for keeping you warm when you must be in street clothing. If you can't get past it, consider leggings. 
  4. If you're baking anyways, open your oven door while it's cooling down. Just be sure to monitor pets and small children carefully. 
  5. Eat hot, stick to your ribs food. Maybe this is more mental than physical in some ways, but I find that oatmeal, grits, hearty soups and casseroles leave me feeling much warmer. 
  6. Embrace the sun in the day time and open your curtains. 
  7. Stuff towels in crevices and look into improving your insulation. It won't fix everything, but it can't hurt either. 
  8. Close curtains at night to hold in heat. 
  9. Take a hot shower or bath. 
  10. If you're taking a hot shower, leave the doors open and let the warm steam heat the rest of the house. 
  11. Run your dryer during the coldest parts of the day. 
  12. Close the vents in little used rooms. This will help concentrate the heat to areas that actually need it. Shut the doors to these rooms as well. 
  13. If it's an option, make a fire. We definitely enjoy the one at my parents' house, even though we can't yet make one ourselves. 
  14. Switch to flannel sheets. 
  15. Use a neck soother that has been heated in the microwave. These are great for muscle stiffness, but can also help to keep you warm while you read or watch TV. 
  16. Make yourself something hot to drink.
  17. Avoid getting cold in the first place. If you are going outside, wear appropriate clothing, particularly a hat. You can also invest in those little heat pouches that go in your shoes and gloves for super cold days. 
  18. Keep warm blankets on your sofa. 
  19. Avoid using ventilation fans. They suck up warm air alone with smells. Candles can take care of smells without taking out warm air. 
  20. Use your ceiling fan to help to circulate warm air. 
  21. Make sure your air filters are all in good working condition. 
  22. Keep yourself healthy and active. I know it's tempting to curl up on the couch with nothing but hot chocolate and a warm blanket for the next three months, but in the long run this really won't do you any good. 
  23. Change any damp or wet clothing immediately. This includes your sweaty socks. 
  24. Have friends over. Studies show that company makes you feel warmer, and extra bodies in your house add at least a little warmth. 
  25. Invest in a space heater for super cold days. 
  26. Consider getting a new roof or windows. The initial investment is pricy, but it can save you thousands over the course of a few years. 
  27. Curl up close to those you love. 
How do you beat the heat on cold days? 

Monday, November 3, 2014

33 Reasons My Sister is the Coolest Person You Will Ever Meet

I went back and read my post from yesterday and realized I made a HUGE mistake. Somehow, I managed to leave my sister off of my list. Hello, what is wrong with me?! My sister is one of the most awesome people I know. So to make up for it, I decided to make a list of reasons why she is the best.

  1. She's currently studying abroad in Poland. For 4 months. I am simply not that brave. 
  2. She's fabulous at pulling events together. For a government project in high school she organized a peace march to promote kindness to others as well as to yourself. 
  3. She will randomly quote Gilmore Girls with me. 
  4. She understands my obsessive love of all things Disney. 
  5. I have never met anyone with more versatile hair, and she lets me play with it. 
  6. She will try just about anything once. 
  7. She is surprisingly strong given her small size.
  8. She is an excellent dog trainer. 
  9. She picked out my wedding dress, even though we had originally gone shopping for her prom. You should have seen her, carrying four wedding dresses like they were nothing, zipping them up, and rejecting them before I had time to get too much of an opinion, and her expression when we found "the one."
  10. She makes meringue cookies the likes of which you have never tasted. 
  11. She is insanely good at buying other people gifts. 
  12. She's really easy to shop for. The trouble isn't what to get for her, it's which thing, since I have so many ideas. 
  13. She's the kind of person that will randomly show up and hand you a cup of coffee at the exact moment you're thinking, "damn I need some caffeine."
  14. She's really good with kids. 
  15. She's utterly brilliant, both in and outside of school.
  16. She stands up for what she thinks is right. 
  17. She is kind to animals, and spoils those around her rotten. 
  18. She reads books on a deeper level and will have awesome debates with you on their deeper meaning. 
  19. She's the queen of random acts of kindness and just because gifts to brighten your day. 
  20. She knows exactly what she wants and has a realistic plan to get it. 
  21. She's finishing a 4 year degree in two years.
  22. She's insanely proactive and organized. She's 3000 miles away and still managing to plan for her last college semester with ease. 
  23. She has friends from all walks of life. 
  24. She's an insanely hard worker. In addition to taking a full course load last semester, she also worked full time at The Cheesecake Factory.
  25. She can sing well.
  26. She knows how to play some guitar. 
  27. She's a really good actress and performer. 
  28. She's an excellent writer. 
  29. She has a phenomenal sense of humor. 
  30. Her ability to retain information is unheard of. 
  31. She can cook most things.
  32. She laughs at my really dumb jokes. 
  33. She does what she likes, without needing permission from anyone.
I still can't believe I left her off the list yesterday, but I hope this at least partially makes up for it. Love you Baby Girl!

Sunday, November 2, 2014

100 Awesome Things

I was planning to write this post yesterday, but I got caught up in doing other things, but today I am writing with the goal of writing a post just about every day for the foreseeable future. Since e are kicking off November, which many people consider to be thankfulness month, I thought I'd start off by writing down 100 awesome things in my life, big, small and in between. 
  1. My husband. I really don't know how I got so lucky. I mean, how many men do you know that will willingly clean, do laundry, spoil the dog rotten, keep up with the budget, work an extra job so that we can do more fun things, and continually help around the school of their teacher wife, all while doing everything in his power to help her stay happy, healthy, and sane? 
  2. My job. I love my students and my coworkers. Every day they bring a smile to my face. 
  3. My friends and actually getting to see and spend time with them on a regular basis. 
  4. My parents, who feed us dinner once a week, support our decisions and help us out whenever possible. 
  5. My dog, who is the best little puppy anyone could ask for, not to mention insanely cute. 
  6. My horses, who I am hoping to have more time to spend with in the near future. 
  7. Tutus. Is there anything cuter?
  8. Spare change, because when it is saved strategically, it can be used to afford things you didn't think you could. 
  9. My craft room, which I'm hoping to get back into and to finish organizing this month.
  10. Pinterest, which gives me a thousand craft ideas.
  11. My grandparents, who love us and work to help us out on a daily basis, not to mention spoil Sage rotten. 
  12. This blog, as a place to share thoughts and ideas and connect with the rest of the world.
  13. Wine, and all the culture that goes with it. 
  14. Cheese, I freaking love cheese!
  15. Coffee. I can finally drink the stuff again and I forgot how much I love it. 
  16. The farmer's market. I love that I can support local businesses.
  17. Krushed and Kreated, our little craft business that helps us to bring in extra money. 
  18. Etsy, which gives us a place to sell our crafts all over the world. 
  19. Pizza. So many options, so little time. 
  20. Rafe Esquith, who is one of my teaching heroes and who's books give me the idea that I'm not completely screwing up. 
  21. Vegetables, and the ability to cook them so that they taste really good. 
  22. Baseball, which is the only sport I can sit through a game of. 
  23. Babies, and that our family has been blessed with several of them over the last year. 
  24. Random acts of kindness, shown to me on the part of others in small and large ways over the years.
  25. Music, and its ability to capture and inspire. 
  26. The resilience of children and their ability to overcome impossible odds. 
  27. Good neighbors that look out for each other. 
  28. Boy Meets World and the many life lessons it taught with humor and sincerity. 
  29. My bread machine and the opportunity to produce many tasty homemade goodies. 
  30. Memories and the many ways that are available to me as a means of preserving them. 
  31. Dreams and having the courage to chase them. 
  32. Education, and the opportunity to learn something new every day. 
  33. Cooking and the ability to create something amazing and appreciated from start to finish.
  34. Any recipe made with cheese, wine or beer. 
  35. Creative ideas for the classroom and the ability to implement these ideas. 
  36. Compliments from stingers. They don't know me, they don't have to like me, and therefore I know they mean it. 
  37. Disney based art. All of a sudden there's more and more of it and it is so cool. 
  38. Parties and getting to plan a fun time for others. 
  39. My emersion blender. I use it all the time for soup, smoothies and about a million other things. I works great an takes up almost no space in the cabinet. 
  40. Thrift stores. I went yesterday and spent $37. I got a Ralph Lauren shirt, an Ann Taylor sweatsuit set, two nice collared shirt, a long sleeve shirt, a skirt, a pair of shorts with the tags still on them and had a lot of fun doing it. Definitely not something to turn your nose up at. 
  41. Casual dates with Brad. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy going out for dinner, but going to the grocery store is just as if not more fun. 
  42. Food art. I know it can be a lot of work, but there's not much cooler than cupcakes shaped like pandas or apples cut to be kermit the frog.
  43. Cupcakes. As Kid Preseident says, "You can't be sad when you're holding a cupcake. 
  44. Gay marriage and that it's finally legal in Virginia. My cousin finally gets to marry his longtime partner. And just think of how much this could stimulate our economy. 
  45. Goats. Goats have got to be one of the cutest animals ever I want a few. 
  46. Gretchen Rubin, who's book, "The Happiness Project," inspired me to reevaluate my own life and happiness and start this blog. 
  47. Angels in our everyday lives, who come to our rescue and remind us that the world is a good place. 
  48. History and the understanding it brings to our present. 
  49. Horse based knowledge competition and the benefits they provide young horse people bot in and outside of the horse world. 
  50. My gratitude journal and the serenity it brings me each day I use it. 
  51. Free stuff if you know how to track it down and get it. 
  52. Hugs. They've actually done studies on this. Happier people give and receive more hugs daily than unhappy people. 
  53. The permission to be imperfect. I give this to myself and those around me and it is truly liberating. 
  54. Childhood toys that you hold onto. I don't have many, but the ones I do have I don't want to give up anytime soon. 
  55. Really good Chinese food. 
  56. Parents who try to inspire imagination in their children, instead of bombarding them with technology. 
  57. American Girl Dolls. 15 years later I still love these toys. 
  58. Children finding their voices for the first time. 
  59. Kid héros, and their ability to make the world better at a young age. 
  60. Summer vacation. I love my job, but this is a perk of being a teacher. 
  61. Lottery tickets and the rare occasions where we splurge and dream for a little while. 
  62. Crazy mane styles people put on their horses. You have to appreciate their creativity. 
  63. Children's books, and the fact that there are some things you never outgrow. 
  64. Shakespeare and the timelessness of his works.
  65. Our unbuilt house and getting to dream about it. 
  66. Local restaurants and the fact that Lynchburg has a lot of good ones. 
  67. Old cars. I'm not even a car person, but anything vintage and in good shape makes me drool. 
  68. Sewing patterns and the knowledge that following them will allow me to make really neat stuff. 
  69. Popcorn. So many options, so tasty, and not really that bad for you. 
  70. The quiet conversation of life that takes place between those truly in love. 
  71. Random useless facts that it's still really cool to know. 
  72. Bonus family, and our ability to chose to have them in our lives. 
  73. Our mission to be debt free by the time we're 30. 
  74. Rescued animals and their obvious gratitude. 
  75. Rubber duckies. Not exactly functional, but insanely cute. 
  76. Jewelry with a story. 
  77. Therapy animals and their ability to heal. 
  78. Old City Cemetery in Lynchburg and the history it had preserved. 
  79. Really fabulous shoes. 
  80. The ability to continue improving one's self. 
  81. Daylight savings and the magic of an extra hour once a year. 
  82. Really cool barns you just can't help but drool over. 
  83. Really amazingly created fictional characters. 
  84. Creativity and the multitude of ways we can express it. 
  85. Weddings and the fact that so many of our friends are going to get to experience the joy of marriage over the next year. 
  86. Farm kids, and the wisdom our lifestyle bestows upon us. 
  87. Being continually surrounded by good men in my life. 
  88. The horse community and its ability to bring people from many walks of life together for a common interest. 
  89. My extended family and the fact that we are all close and get along. 
  90. Alternative ways of wrapping gifts for those of us with wrapping paper challenged. 
  91. The ability to let things go. 
  92. Fitness and the ability to start over. 
  93. Soup. Cheap, hot and delicious? Count me in!
  94. The sound of rain on the metal roof of our house. 
  95. The home I grew up in and the values I was taught. 
  96. Hands and the effort they put into creating so many things in our world. 
  97. Patchwork quilts and the history they can represent. 
  98. Tattoos and the stories they tell. 
  99. Hekping students to reach their goals. 
  100. Gardens and our ability to grow small miracles. 
What's on your 100 awesome things list?