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How to Make a Charcuterie Board + Video

This post was sponsored by NABISCO as part of an Influencer Activation for Influence Central and all opinions expressed in my post are my own.

We are in the thick of December and holiday parties are already underway. A huge trend the last year or so has been making fun and elaborate Charcuterie Boards for holiday parties and gatherings. I've been itching to make one for ages and thought that the holiday season would be the perfect opportunity to make it happen. 

Growing up my parents always hosted friends during the holiday season and winter months. My dad was always making what we called, "picking platters" which were simply the 1990s version of what we call Charcuterie Boards today. He always had delicious things laid out like various cheeses, apples, meats, and of course Triscuit Crackers. When it was time for us to host a holiday gathering last weekend, I headed out to my local Walmart store to get everything I need for our own take on a Charcuterie Board. 

How to Make a Charcuterie Board:
Making these boards isn't nearly as difficult as one might think. To start, you're going to want to head to your local Walmart and gather all of your supplies. For our board, we gathered three different types of Triscuit crackers. We grabbed the Original, Cracked Pepper, and Rosemary and Olive Oil. Each flavor is bound to spark the interests of one of your guests, and the best part is that Triscuit has such a large variety, that there really is something for everyone. 

Once you have your Triscuit crackers decided on, you'll need to pick up some more items. We grabbed: spinach dip, onion dip, gherkins, black olives, pretzels, mixes nuts, cheddar, pepper jack, and mozzarella cheese, four types of berries, grapes, ham, pepperoni, salami, cherry tomatoes. 

Once your supplies are gathered, it's time to assemble the board. If you're not visually artistic, you can simply search for a board on pinterest (or hello! this post right here!), and use it as a guide for you to place all your items in way that looks visually appealing for your crowd. It really is a super simple process that seems a lot more intimidating than it really is. I've made a video for you at the bottom of this post! 

You can head over to the Triscuit Hub to learn more about Triscuit and the products they offer. Right now Walmart is giving away six $50 gift cards and one $100 gift card to participants who enter the giveaway below. I-C will randomly select seven winners from all program entries and will facilitate fulfillment of the winning prizes

20+ Stocking Stuffers Your Kids Will Love

Each holiday season I feel myself wanting to be more and more intentional with the things that we're bringing into our home. I want my kids to have a combination of really loving and enjoying Christmas, but also receiving items that were really intentional and thought out, and not just things to fill up more space under a tree, or cheap dollar store toys (not discounting that some things from the dollar store really are awesome) that will break in ten seconds and become trash a day later. 

If you, like me, want to get your kids things that they will use, love, and last longer than just winter break, I have an awesome list of things your kids will love. Like all gift guides, no, we're not putting all of these things in our kids stockings, but this is merely to share with you some awesome ideas of things you could get for your kids! 

Adaptive Scissors: Em has been needing a pair of these for at home. They have a loaded spring that helps them open on their own which is awesome. Stockings are a great way to get your kids a stock up on some school/craft items.

Tights: Em is constantly in need of new tights from all the crawling she does! Amazon always has some darling options! 

Headphones: We bought these for the kids a few years ago, and they've held up great! 

Beanie Boos: These have quickly become my favorite stuff animals. They remind me of collecting Beanie Babies when I was a kid, and it's fun to see my kids have an equivalent of that in their time. 

Crazy Straws: You can easily buy a pack of these and divide them among all the stockings in your house.  

Thank You Cards: My parents were so good at having us write thank you cards when we were young, and I want my kids to be in that habit too! I love these ones for young readers and writers that guides them through the format of writing one out. 

New Underwear: Christmas is a great time to replace your kid's underwear. This is something that I usually wait too long on to replace, so I like the idea of doing it at Christmas. 

Kid's Watch: Jay is at the age where he's starting to tell time. This would be a fun gift for him to get this year. 

Lego Minifigure: Who doesn't love a lego guy? 

Disposable Camera: I love the idea of passing this off to my kids and seeing what pictures they take! 

Small Lego Set: You can find a lot of small and inexpensive ones on Amazon! This one is under $4!

Kinetic Sand: Em plays with this often at preschool, so I thought it would be fun to get some for our house too!

Twistable Crayons: I love these twistable crayons because my kids can't peel off the wrappers and leave them everywhere

Playdough: Always playdough. 

Topsy Tail: These are awesome for little girl hairstyles to flip ponytails underneath themselves. I've been wanting to get one for Em for a while, and they're perfect size for a stocking! 

Hair Brush: Because it's needed. 

Fun Toothpaste: Because what little boy doesn't want Spider-Man toothpaste? 

Bath Bombs: My kids and I love bath bombs, so these would be fun for their stockings. You get 6 for $12 and could divide them between a few stockings, and these ones have a toy for kids on the inside! 

Hair Bows: I love hair bows for Em, and this pigtail set is an awesome deal! 

Card Games: We love games in our house, and this is something fun and inexpensive that's great for a stocking! 

Water Beads: This is a fun sensory activity that will keep your kids entertained for hours over winter break! 

Invisible Ink Pens: These are super fun! Write a message with invisible ink, and then use the attached light to reveal the message! 

Socks: I swear I don't know what Em does with all of her socks, but we're definitely adding some to her stocking this year. 

Joke Book: Jay has been obsessed with telling jokes lately, so this has his name all over it. 

Other awesome ideas that didn't require internet links include:
Oranges or pomegrantes in the toe of the stocking
Small boxes of cereal
A new movie for the kids to watch if they wake up too early for presents
chapstick and other toiletries
Treat gift cards like McDonalds, or a local soda/cookie shop
Movie gift cards
New ornaments
Water bottle/sippy cups
Date with mom and dad coupons

What do you put in your kid's stockings? I'd love to know in the comments below!

How We Did A Screen Time Fast

Back in the early spring sometime, Em was diagnosed with sensory processing disorder. She had a string of extreme behaviors that were just beyond what Derek and I felt like we could handle, and beyond what we thought was normal, and so we took her to an occupational therapist to get some tools and education on how we could help her. After the therapist was done talking to me and observing Em, she had diagnosed her with sensory processing disorder, and gave us some tools on how we could best help her. 

One of the major takeaway tools that I took from that was, after dinnertime we were to not let Em look at any screen, of any type. The idea was that it was just over stimulating her brain way too much, and that it was a big cause of some of the negative sleep behaviors we were experiencing. 

Once we implemented no screens before bed, and saw how impactful that was to her sleep (which is still not perfect, but so much better), I thought, "Man, what would happen if we just cut screens out all together?"

At this point it was summer vacation which actually made it really easy to manage the screen time fast and not feel like I was dying as a parent. We would wake up around 8-9 in the morning, and eat breakfast, and then by the time that I got my kids fed and dressed, we were heading right out the door for swim lessons in the later part of the morning. 

By the time we got home, we were eating lunch, and getting the house cleaned up, so it was mostly the afternoons that we had to learn how to navigate. If you're a parent who is struggling with too many screens, I would first say that you need to identify what time of the day is when your kids are on screens, and then decide what you can do to change that. 

For me, it was becoming a messy mom. What the heck does that mean? It means that I became okay with all things paint, play-dough, slime, letting the kids play with their toys in the kiddie pool outside, all the things that used to annoy me, that I would hate cleaning up, I decided to let them have at it. I had realized that I had deprived my kids of these experiences, and once they were introduced, it would keep them hooked for hours! Literal hours. Even something as simple as markers and papers. 

I came to terms with the fact that I would rather spend 20 minutes cleaning up a paint mess and washing my kids in the bathtub (which will eat up even more time that your kids aren't on screens), than I was with having a short tempered child who was becoming increasingly irritable and more spoiled with each passing day. 

When I say screen free, I should say that it was limited to the time that I was watching the children while Derek was at work. There were times on the weekend when I would let them have something for a little bit, or we would all watch a movie together on the weekends, but just aimlessly letting our kids navigate Youtube Kids or playing games on their Kindles was completely wiped out during the week while Derek was at work. 

The results to this were almost immediate. We personally didn't experience huge meltdowns and tantrums from withdraws or anything because we were able to simply replace the activity with things that the kids thought were more fun: slime, paint, markers, etc... 

When the summer was over and we got back into a preschool routine for Em, and Jay's normal school routine, we reintroduced letting them play on phones, but it really is pretty minimal. They usually use them now for about 20 minutes right before dinnertime when I'm getting our food ready, and they're both exhausted and want to veg out. For us, this has been fine, and we haven't had any problems with tantrums like we had in the past. 

I've gotten questions like, "What about my kids who literally will never independently play? I just need a break to get work done or chill out!" I recently learned just a week or two ago that Em is super jazzed about playing in the playroom on her own, if I'm at least in the room. The conversation looks like this:

Mom: "Alright, let's go play in the playroom. I'll go sit on the couch and get my work done and watch you play!" 
Em: "You watch me play?!"
Mom: "Yep, I'll watch while I get my work done!" 

And then we go in the playroom and I get my homework done, or work on the blog for about an hour or so while she just plays and has a great time with her toys. I don't like to pull this card too much but: My daughter is missing parts of her brain and was able to come to the realization and make this work. I'm confident that it's not beyond the realm of possibility for any neuro-typical child. It may take work and practice, but it is possible. 

Your kids just want to be around you. Your kids just want to see you seeing them. Your kids want to have have sensory pleasing activities. 

Some of my favorite sensory activities for kids are: 
Painting little wood projects from Target (Available almost every season with different themes, found in the dollar spot
This bucket of premade slime (bought for our kids for Christmas) 
Printing pictures of their favorite character to color- These are our favorite crayons

For a lot of these activities, like playing with the slime, playdoh, and water beads, my kids love hiding their character toys (peppa pig, paw patrol figures, etc...) in them. This sounds messy, but nothing has been damaged on our end so far. They find it wildly entertaining to cover their toys in the slime and playdoh and then dig them out, or burry them in the bucket of water beads and then search to find them. This makes the play more interactive and keeps it going for a longer stretch of time. 

For setup, the kids usually play at our coffee table, and I sit on the couch. I'll mostly get work done while they're playing, but I'm also present to answer questions, help when needed, and just be a body in the room with them so they don't feel like they've been ditched. I've found being in the room with them, as opposed to trying to hide in my room has actually been more peaceful, and has led to less whining then when I've tried to do otherwise. 

This is simply our perspective, and what has worked in our home, but hopefully something will resonate with you, and work for you and your kids as well. 

What I Got My Kids For Christmas 2018

This post is sponsored by Kohl’s. I was paid for this post and received the included toys as compensation.

Christmastime is officially upon us, and being the super excited Christmas lover that I am, my kids have already planned their Christmas wish lists, the shopping has been done, and I'm anxiously waiting for that perfect moment when the kids are in school, and I can blast the Christmas music and wrap all their presents. 

Kohl's is a store that I've fallen more and more in love with over the last year or so. Mainly because it's the closest department store to my house, but also because it's a one stop shop where I can get all my Christmas shopping done for the entire family in one place. 

They have a huge toy selection with all of my personal favorite brands like Melissa and Doug, Fisher Price, Hot Wheels, and Lego just to name a few. I love Melissa and Doug toys because of their vintage look and feel, and that the solid wood makes them durable and last a long time. They're definitely the type of toy that can be saved for a long time and passed down from one generation to another. We purchased some learning toys for Em like a really fun shapes and number puzzle, along with a counting caterpillar to help her learn those important number skills, while also working on fine motor skills as well. 

Fisher Price is a brand that I vividly remember from my own childhood, so I love that it's a classic that my kids know and love too. I've had my eye on the Think & Learn Code-a-pillar for ages now, and was so excited to see that Kohl's carried it this holiday season. Coding is going to be such a huge part of our kid's futures, and so I love toys that can help facilitate that knowledge from an early age. Em is also obsessed with all things train and Mickey Mouse right now, so we picked her up the Fisher Price Mickey Mouse Clubhouse Mouska Train Express Playset, which I know she's going to be wildly excited about come Christmas day!  

Jay is totally turning into that little kid that loves all things Dragons and ninjas right now. He has about one million Hot Wheels cars cluttering up our house, and when I saw they had a Dragon Blast Play Set, I know he would absolutely love it. I remember my brother got a Hot Wheels track one year for Christmas, and he and my dad spent half the day putting it together, that's the kind of memory I hope Jay has from his Christmases, working with dad, assembling toys, and having fun the entire day because of it. 

Finally we picked up a couple Lego items. Jay has watched probably every episode of Ninjago on Netflix right now, and so I knew a Ninjago Lego set was an absolute must. One thing I'm super excited for though is the Lego advent Calendar. I've had my eye on one for the kids for years now, and I'm so glad that this was the year we could finally make it happen. Jay is Lego obsessed and always building something, so this will be a fun way to count to Christmas with him. 

I love shopping at Kohl's because they have a wide variety toys that are fit every kid's needs and wishes. They really have something for everyone. Right now when you purchase from Kohl's you can earn Kohl's Cash, and you can use that to redeem on future purchases just like a gift card. You can also save additional money by shopping online and having your items shipped directly to your local store for pickup. It really is a win-win for the kids, and for mom's wallet. 

My blog may contain links to other websites. I am not responsible for the privacy policies of those other websites. When you click on a link, your information may be collected by those websites so I encourage you to read their privacy policies. Any affiliate links are not associated with Kohl’s. 

The Messy Home Tour

The internet is loaded with home tours. Tours where the houses are decorated by professional designers and everything is perfect. You can find those tours on this blog, and thousands of others. But what about the real life? No one's house looks like that all the time, and I feel like it does a disservice to other people when they think bloggers live in perfectly photo ready houses all the time. That may be the reality for some, but it's definitely not the reality for me. While I do try to clean my house daily, it's because it only takes a few hours for my home to look like this:

We're going to start this tour in the playroom. What we're looking at here is a mess of fleece blankets that I never know what to do with. They always wind up getting folded in a large pile on the couch, but it only takes seconds for some small hands to rip them off and mess them up again. You can also see a picture frame laying against the wall that's been waiting to be hung since the day we moved in.

Over in the toy area we have my shoes, Jay's jacket that got thrown on the bookshelf, instead of in his room. We have ANOTHER one of Jay's coats thrown on the floor, and some toys not where they should be. We also have Em's carseat in pieces on the floor by the red table. I washed it last week, and it's sat there ever since. (We have a backup one in the car that she's been using.)

Next we have our laundry hallway. This leads to the rest of the house. We have dirty clothes piled a mile high on top of the dryer, socks that will probably never get put away, and some folded laundry lined up along the wall, waiting to make it's way to it's home.

When you come out of the hall and turn your head towards the bedrooms, you're greeted by Jay's bathroom. I don't know how many days worth of clothes are on that floor, but the number is large folks. And about a week of bath towels.

Head into Jay's room and you see an unmade bed, legos all over the dresser (despite the no toys in the bedroom rule), and what you can't see is that there is literally a picture missing off the wall from above his bed, and you guessed it, more dirty clothes on the floor.

Next is Derek and I's bathroom. You can see workout clothes in a heap on the floor, a towel that missed the towel rack after my shower, my hair straightener that I used three days ago and still hadn't put away, and a scale not tucked back in it's proper spot.

Next is our bedroom where the laundry is out of control, Em's shoes, and hair supplies are on the floor. Clothes are on top of the dresser, waiting to go inside, and what you can't see are the leg braces, mountain of socks, and my school books which are tossed all over the floor on my side of the bed.

As we head into the living room we see two pairs of my shoes on the floor, Em's leg braces, the entire paw patrol crew, and a toilet. Yes, that is a literal toilet in our living room. Has Em used it? Nope, but we're holding out hope that seeing it there will spark some interest. And in the middle of the chaos is Em eating her cereal at the coffee table. Where I had to wipe up all the milk and cereal off the table, and her, and yank chunks of crusty cereal out of the carpet.

In the dinning room we have a box with a broken curtain rod inside that needs to be returned to Amazon, and Jay's breakfast hanging out on the table still.

Lastly, we end our tour in the kitchen, where drawers are puled out, paper towels are tossed on the counter like it ain't no thing, the toaster isn't put away, and the broom is all, "Heyyyyy!" Then we head to the counter where there is some of Em's clothes from a package that came yesterday, more leg braces (HOW ARE THESE EVERYWHERE?!) and a huge pile of mail waiting to go in the trash.

So there you have it. Showing every bit of imperfection that I can for all the world to see. And if you thought this was horrifying, you should see my garage.  We'll save that for another day.

The Ultimate Family Christmas Gift Guide 2018

There are lots of bloggers out there who do lots of gift guides throughout the holiday season. I am not that kind of blogger because holy cow, gift guides take so much work, and I do not have that kind of energy. Definitely a sorry not sorry kind of situation. Each year instead, I do one massive gift guide that's inclusive for the entire family... and by entire family I mean mom, dad, four year old girl, and six year old boy, if your family is out of that window, then I'm no help to you. If your family does fall in that range, then I got tons of great picks for your family this year, just in time for Cyber Monday. 

Also because I feel the need to disclaimer all the things, no, I did not buy all of this for my family, this is simply to give a large selection of ideas for you to choose from while shopping this season! 

Hydro Flask: This is the best water bottle for keeping your drinks cold! I love the 32oz one because I only need to fill it twice throughout the day to make sure I'm getting the right amount of water I need each day. Right now it's 25% off with free shipping from Dick's Sporting Goods! 

Ugg Slippers: As I've gotten older, I've found my feet prefer wearing some sort of shoe in the house. I've loved my Ugg Boots for almost 10 years now, so getting their slippers seems like the next best thing. 

Butter Keeper: I've been wanting a butter keeper for literally years now. This one is marble, and would look super cute in any kitchen! 

Modest Nightgown: Do you know how hard it is to find the right nightgown that actually covers all the things you want covered? I love these house dresses because I can wear it to bed, and then get chores done around the house comfortably without feeling exposed or undressed. They're the best. 

Magnetic Phone Mount: I've been wanting a good phone mount for my car for ages. These ones clip onto your heat vent and then your phone just magnets to it. These ones come in a two pack for just under $10 and have over 10,000 positive reviews on amazon! 

Apple Watch: Everyone I know that has an Apple Watch absolutely loves them. They're going to be $199 at Target on Cyber Monday, so shop early before they sell out! 

Apple iPad: I've been dying to have an iPad for years now, but still haven't pulled the trigger. Jet.com (who I've purchased from in the past and are totally reputable), has the latest model available for $249 this weekend! 

PS4: Derek bought a PS3 the year we got married and it's served as our blue-ray player, video game console, Netflix device, and more over the last seven years. The Spiderman bundle package for the Ps4 will be available on Cyber Monday for $199 but shop early! They sell out FAST! Derek got one on Black Friday, and this is basically his only gift this year for Christmas. 

Instax Camera: These modern day Polaroid cameras are wildly popular, and are only $49.99 on amazon this weekend. These are perfect for a mom, teenager, or anyone on your shopping list. 

Loopy Phone Case: Everyone has been talking about how awesome these cases are, and I'm totally in the Market for a new one. They come in tons of prints and colors, and have a silicone loop in the back for your finger so you don't drop your phone. I totally need this. 

Bissell Vacuum: If you're new here, I wrote a passionate post about how much I love my Bissell Vacuum cleaner a few years ago. Mine is slowly, and sadly on it's way out, but when the time comes I'd totally do another Bissell. I know most bloggers are team Dyson, but I'm not that blogger. 

Kitchenaid Mixer: My Kitchenaid is one of my most used kitchen tools. You can get them at Macy's this week for $179, which is a killer deal, and over $100 off! Use code DEAL at checkout!

Bathpack Brushes: Wet Brush is apparently the go-to hair brush in the beauty community, but I've heard so many bloggers raving about these brushes that I had to buy some for Christmas for myself this year. For $15.99 you get three brushes, which you can divide among stockings or for friend gifts. I'm told you won't be sorry. 

Peppa Pig Playhouse: Em has been obsessed with all things Peppa Pig the last few months. For her birthday I bought her a dollhouse that I put together wrong and it since has fallen to pieces. I thought it was a great opportunity to replace it with this one that doesn't need any assembly, and has her favorite characters. I got mine for $29.99 on Amazon on Black Friday, and it's over $100 on Amazon when I'm writing this (Saturday night), so check around. I've linked you to Target where it's currently listed at $60. (Target will have 15% off their entire site on Cyber Monday, so be sure to snag some deals then!)

Peppa Pig's Friends: What good is Peppa's house, without her friends to share it with? Remember Target's site will be 15% off on Cyber Monday, that's when I plan to purchase these!

Razor Scooter: We're blessed to live in an incredibly safe area where most of the elementary kids (as young as kindergarten and first grade) ride scooters to school each day. These are currently on sale (Saturday night) at Target for $18. They may not be that cheap on Cyber Monday, but they will be at least 15% off. Shop around other stores for the best deal. 

smART Sketcher: I was looking for six-year-old-boy gifts and amazon recommended this to me. You insert an SD card that it comes with into the projector and then you can trace one of fifty images. You can purchase additional SD packs, and it has an app that is available on iOS and Android devices. 

Ninjago Lego Set: Jay is obsessed with Ninjago right now, so we got him this small set to put together! 

Mickey Mouse Train: One of our friends in Georgia had this train for their son, and Em was obsessed with it. We got it for her for Christmas this year, and I know her reaction is going to be amazing. (We got it as part of an upcoming project with Kohl's)

Code A Pillar: I love toys that encourage coding and STEM skills. I've been wanting to try the Code A Pillar for years now, and we actually got one gifted to us as part of an upcoming blog post with Kohl's that I'm excited for Jay to open on Christmas.  

Jello Play Kits: I've been seeing these Jello Play Kits around the internet and I'm super intrigued. It's slime meets edible Jello, and I think my kids totally need to play with these. 

Rey To Z Hats: One of my friends owns this baseball hat shop where you can get your kid's initial custom sewn onto a hat, and they even have matching hats for mom. Our kids have these and they are by far my favorite hats that they own. I'm totally getting them new ones to go into their stockings this year! Use code THANKYOU25 for 25% off through Monday 

London Littles Rain Boots: Another shop owned by one of my friends. These rain boots are perfect for little kids and come in so many fun prints. I've been dying to get them for my own kids, but rain boots and leg braces just don't work together, and if one kid has something that the other doesn't... well you get the idea. Let me live vicariously through your rain boots though okay? Use code BIGBEN for 20% off through Monday night! 

How I Balance Being A Working Mom, While Going to School Full Time, and Everything Else

One of the most frequently asked questions that I've been getting since I announced that I'm going back to school is, "How in the world do you do it all?" To give perspective into my life, I'm currently taking 7 college classes, working full time on the blog (if you're still of the minority who believes this blog cannot possibly be a full time job that financially supports our family, I'm sorry, I can't help you.) I'm serving as our ward Young Women President, which eats up roughly four hours a week, sometimes more, sometimes less. I also have zero help with childcare, and I don't have a maid... so basically everything is on me most days. 

With all of that mentioned, the question of "How do I do it all?" is a very fair question. The first thing to mention is that I don't do everything perfectly, and I really have to prioritize what is important to me, and what isn't. 

I made the decision at the beginning of the semester that weekends were going to be sacred to me, and that I would never do homework on the weekends. I wanted this time to be able to relax, and do fun things with my kids. So I made it a priority to get all my school work done during the day when the kids are at school, and in the evenings long after they're asleep. 

Each morning after I drop Jay off at school, I come home with Em, and while she plays with toys, I try and get an hour or two of school work done before I have to start getting her dressed and ready for preschool.  Em is in school for 2.5 hours a day. Most often when she gets dropped off I hit it hard and get as much work done in that two hour block as I can. Whatever I don't get done in that time I have to do when the kids go to bed. After school time is another part of the day that I've safe guarded as a no work time. This way I can help Jay with homework, and spend time playing with the kids without them feeling like they never get my attention, and make dinner so we're not in a drive-thru every night of the week.

When the kids go to bed at 7pm, I start working on school work, and will until about 11:30pm, but sometimes as late as about 1:30am. I'm much more willing to give up on sleep during the week when I know I'm going to be able to catch up again on the weekends. 

My church calling has a really structured schedule, so I'm always able to know and predict when that's going to happen. I have about two meetings each Sunday before church, and then activities on Tuesday nights for about 2-3 hours. If I'm teaching on Sunday, then I plan my lesson on Saturday before church, and if we're going on visits during the week, that happens after bedtime when the kids are asleep, and means that I'll work later on homework that evening. 

As far as the blog goes, I realized that there were a lot of tasks that I was doing each day, that didn't necessarily benefit blog growth, so I cut them out and now only do the most important tasks. It means that I don't write as much unsponsored content right now, which I feel bad about, but I've been blessed to have really amazing sponsors the last few months which has helped me to be able to put out amazing content, keep making money, and keep this place floating along without having to worry too much about whether I'm going to have money to pay for all the medical bills and extra life things that happen at the end of the month. 

Another thing we've been doing for the blog is taking all the photos that we can for posts over the weekend, and then writing as many of them during the weekend as we can, that way I can schedule them ahead of time, and only spend about an hour or so working on the blog each day when the kids are at school, or while I'm waiting in the carpool line, or whenever I get a few seconds here or there. 

And lastly, if you pick up one new thing in your life, it means that something has to hit the back burner. Last year I spent so much time on physical exercise. I ran one marathon, ten half marathons, and completed one 100 mile bike ride. I quickly learned that physical activity would definitely be the thing hitting the back burner this year, and I'm completely okay with that. I'm still exercising about three days a week, but it's nowhere near the volume or intensity that it once was. My goal is to maintain a good base of fitness, eat healthy, and then when school is done in June, hit it hard with some new big goals for 2020. 

Like anything, life is a balance. You have to figure out what is most important to you, and then work all the other things around it. We each get 24 hours, and we each get to decide how we use that time. This certainly is a very busy and tiring time in my life, but it is also so incredibly rewarding. I'm filled with gratitude for all the things that I get to do this year, and I know that finishing my degree is going to have major benefits for my family in the years to come, so it's worth it, every bit of it.