Saturday, August 19, 2017

Beginning of the School Year: 2017-2018


It's hard to believe that another summer break has come and gone, and yet here we are two weeks into our school year already. Things have gone well so far. Other than the usual difficulties that arise as the children and I readjust to waking early, things are going quite smoothly overall. This year is also a bit challenging for me as a homeschooling parent, as I am now teaching two high schoolers. My youngest child is attending our local public elementary school, which has an excellent special needs program, and she has a fabulous teacher.

I am often asked what program I use to teach my children at home. I always laugh when I get asked this question because I am definitely an eclectic homeschooler. I use varying companies and methods with each of my children, depending on individual learning styles and preferences. Some children are visual learners, while others are auditory or kinesthetic learners. Tailoring curriculum to fit my children's needs is one of the advantages that homeschooling offers. For this year's lineup, here is what we are using:

Ninth Grade

Saxon Algebra I
Sonlight Core 100 (U.S. History & Geography)
Literature (Taking at homeschool co-op)
Analytical Grammar
Biology
Greek
Catholic Theology
Physical Education (various sources)
Photography (Taking at homeschool co-op)

Eleventh Grade

Math U See Geometry (She has already completed Algebra 1 and Algebra 2.)
History and Philosophy of the Western World
SAT and ACT Grammar Workbook
Spanish
Chemistry
Literature
Foundations in Personal Finance (Taking at homeschool co-op)
Photography (Taking at homeschool co-op)

Fourth Grade

Attending the local public elementary school; in a special needs classroom.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Beauty Giveaway Winner: Five Fun Fridays Series


Congratulations to Lorna! She is the randomly selected winner of the beauty giveaway. I really enjoyed this blogging series. Be on the lookout for another series soon! Happy weekend to all!

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Frozen Silence


“Frozen Silence”

Did you see the leaves
As they fell from the tree?
Did you notice the frost
As it settled and covered the city?

Did you feel the wind
As it blew hard and cold?
Did you hear the secrets whispered
As a new season unfolded?

Did you hear my cry
As I slipped further away?
Did you heed my call
When my thoughts began to decay?

Do you feel secure
In your sheltered little world?
So high above me
Yet one step and you, too, are submerged.

Friday, July 28, 2017

Five Fun Fridays: Week Five (My Secrets)

It's hard to believe we've reached the final Friday of this series, yet here we are! I hope you've had as much fun as I have. This week I promised to dish out some of my secrets. So, without further hesitation, here we go.

1 What time did you get up this morning? I woke up around 7:30 this morning.
2. What is your favorite wine? White - Pinot Grigio; Red - Cabernet Sauvignon
3. What was the last film you saw at the cinema? Guardians of the Galaxy 2
4. What is your favorite TV show? The Walking Dead, The Office, Forensic Files, Once Upon A Time, Impractical Jokers
5. If you could live anywhere in the world where would it be? Washington State
6. What did you have for breakfast today? Smoothie (ketogenic and vegan)
7. What is your favorite cuisine? Mexican
8. What foods do you dislike? Beets
9. Favorite Place to Eat? Local favorites, not the standard chain restaurants
10. Favorite salad dressing? Homemade dairy free ranch
11.What kind of vehicle do you drive? Dodge Caravan (And, yes, I rock that minivan!)
12. What are your favorite clothes? Yoga pants
13. Where would you visit if you had the chance? Ireland
14. Cup 1/2 empty or 1/2 full? 1/2 empty
15. Where would you want to retire? Washington State
16. Favorite time of day? Mid-morning
17. Where were you born? Jackson, MS
18. What is your favorite sport to watch? Football.
22. Bird watcher? Yes. Watching birds is peaceful and calming for me.
23. Are you a morning person or a night person? Neither. I don't like waking up too early, and I don't enjoy staying up too late. I like mid-mornings, so I suppose you could call me a mid-morning person.
24. Do you have any pets? Yes, one dog.
25. Do you have any children? Yes, four.
26. What did you want to be when you were little? A singer. (Sadly, my voice had other plans.)
27. What is your best childhood memory? Playing with my younger sister, Christmas, church
28. Are you a cat or dog person? Dog, but cats are cool, too.
29. Are you married? Yes. This December will make 20 years. ❤️
30. Always wear your seat belt? Yes.
31. Secret talent? Yes. I can recite the alphabet backwards.
32. Any pet peeves? Arrogance, racism, sexism, basically people who think they're better than other people, unsolicited advice, platitudes
33. Favorite Pizza Topping? spinach, mushrooms, black olives
34. Favorite Flower? Roses, because I always hope to get some on Valentine's Day.
35. Favorite song? "Thunder Road" by Bruce Springsteen
36. Favorite movie? Grease
37. Celebrity Crush? Jason Momoa, Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, Henry Cavill, Adam Levine
38. From whom did you get your last email? Etsy
39. Which store would you choose to max out your card? Ulta
40. Do anything spontaneous lately? Yes, every day. I'm keeping some secrets, though, so I'm not answering this one any further.
41. Like your job? Usually.
42. Broccoli? Yes, especially sauteed in coconut oil and seasoned with garlic, pink sea salt, and pepper.
43. What was your favorite vacation? Hawaii
44. Last person you went out to dinner with? My family.
45. What are you listening to right now? The Twilight Movie Soundtrack
46. What is your favorite color? Green
47. How many tattoos do you have? Five
48. How many piercings? Three: both ears, daith
49. Favorite book? To Kill A Mockingbird
50. Coffee drinker? Decaf

So, there you have it! Those are some of my hidden secrets. Is there anything else you'd like to know? Just ask in the comments. I'd also love to see your answers to these questions. Let me know if you decide to do a "Top Secret" post on your blog. Now, on to the final week of the giveaway. It will end one week from today - on Friday, August 4. Want to see what's included in this giveaway? Head on over to the other posts in this series and check out all the wonderful items that are included. For your chance to win, do one or any combination of the following:


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Tuesday, July 25, 2017

It Works! Ultimate Body Applicator Review


So, I attended an online It Works! Party a couple of weeks ago. I was chosen as the winner of a wrap! Lucky me. I was so excited! I also received a few samples, which I will be trying and reviewing later. (Be on the lookout for those posts.) Now, back to the wrap. I tried it this morning, and here are my results. (I can't believe I'm posting pics of my stomach online. Yikes!)
This is my before pic.

Here I am wearing the wrap.




And here I am after 45 minutes of wrap wearing.


As you can see, the wrap really does work. I am quite satisfied with this product. This was my first experience, and it was a good one. The directions state that you should wear the wrap a minimum of 45 min and up to 8 hours; however, it should be worn no longer than 45 min if it is your first time in order to test your skin's sensitivity.  I had no reaction to the wrap; I only experienced a tingling while wearing it, but it was not uncomfortable. The frequency of use is one Ultimate Body Applicator every 72 hours. 

If you're interested in trying this or other It Works! Products, contact Katrina on Instagram or through her website



Friday, July 21, 2017

Five Fun Fridays: Week Four (Hobbies)

Welcome to Week Four of the Fun Series! This week I'll be blogging about my hobbies and also things I like to do when I have free time. I'll also be writing about some of the items I enjoy using during these times, and you'll see some of these in the giveaway, too! Let's get started.

First, I like to write. I have notebooks in almost every room of my house. When inspiration strikes, I want to make sure that I immediately write down my thoughts. If not, I'll forget, and it might be lost forever. I even keep a small notebook in my purse. I am NEVER without a notebook. Writing is both enjoyable and cathartic for me. Plus, not only is writing a hobby, it's my job. You can see some of my work here and here.  The written word is powerful, and we can often convey our thoughts better through writing. I'm going to give you that opportunity if you win the giveaway; a beautiful hard-covered notebook is one of the items featured in the set!

I also like to read. Currently, I'm reading books about other people's battles with depression and other mental health issues. Although I am diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder and have my own experience, I want to read about this struggle from others' points of view. I consider this to be research and preparation for the novel that I am going to write. I just finished reading Girl, Interrupted, and I am currently reading Darkness Visible. This is definitely heavy reading. When I need to read something more light-hearted, I like Anne of Green Gables (hello, my redheaded sister!) and The Twilight Series (don't judge!) or magazines. Some of my favorite magazines are Redbook, Good Housekeeping, Marie Claire (one of these issues is included in the giveaway) and Living (one of these issues is also included in the giveaway.) Also, I just bought a subscription to the poetry magazine Rattle, and I'm looking forward to receiving my first issue! What are your favorite books and magazines?

Next, I like to listen to music. My taste has a wide range. One look at my iPod will tell you that! If I'm in the mood for classical music, I choose Vivaldi. In the contemporary Christian genre, I like Casting Crowns and Mercy Me. As a child of the 80's, this decade is probably my favorite for music; my top artists from that era are Prince, Bruce Springsteen, Bon Jovi, Poison, and Def Leppard. Now, of course, these artists span other decades as well, but to me, they will always epitomize the glory days of my youth. Moving into the 90's, my favorite artists from that time are Foo Fighters, Pearl Jam, and Stone Temple Pilots. Enter 2000 and forward, and my top artist from this era is Linkin Park. (I am, of course, deeply saddened by the tragic death of lead singer Chester Bennington.) I also like Disturbed, Imagine Dragons, Seether, and an occasional old-school Elvis tune. I'd love to hear from you about your favorite artists. Let me know in the comments.

Coloring is something else that brings me pleasure. I have several really nice "grown-up" coloring books and gel pens. It's like therapy at home! It's especially nice when done in combination with listening to my favorite music. And, guess what? The lucky winner of the giveaway will receive one coloring book and a set of gel pens!

When I just want to veg out, I watch Netflix. Currently, my obsessions are The Office, Forensic Files, and (nostalgia) Cheers. It's a nice way to relax and allow myself to escape for a little while. What shows are your favorites right now? 

Another thing I enjoy is exercise. I alternate between step aerobics, yoga, and strength training. When the weather is cool, I like to take walks. Staying fit is important for both my physical and my mental health. What do you do for exercise?

This concludes the hobbies portion of the Fun Series. For your chance to win, follow the instructions below:

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Friday, July 14, 2017

Five Fun Fridays: Week Three (Fashion)

I hope you're as excited as I am about Week Three in this series. This week, I'll be blogging about my fashion and style sense. If you missed the first two weeks of the series, you can read about my makeup and skincare routine here and my hair (care, cut, color, style, products, etc.) here. You'll also get a glimpse in those posts of some of the incredible items that I'll be giving away at the end of this series. Keep reading to find out how you can enter to win! Now, on to one of my favorite subjects: clothes! In the above picture, I'm wearing a black shirt, a printed maxi skirt, and black flats. I completed the look with a denim jacket. This is nice enough for church, yet also casual enough for a day spent shopping.

As you can tell, I like skirts. This one is shorter, so I wear it on date nights or when going out with friends. I pair it with a colorful shirt and comfy flip-flops, which are a must when the temperature and the humidity start rising during summers on the Gulf Coast.


I wanted to give you guys an up-close photo of these super-cute shoes. I found them at that large, well-known chain store that has pretty much taken over the world. I fell in love with these shoes the minute I laid eyes on them! I already had this shirt, so this was a match made in heaven. Yes, when I'm feeling a bit wild and daring, I like to wear my animal prints. I pair this shirt with black shorts (as seen in this picture) or black leggings.


If you haven't already figured out this little piece of information, I am, indeed, a "Free Spirit," just as this shirt reads. I pair this shirt with white shorts and gray and white tennis shoes. I usually wear outfits like this if I'm headed to a casual lunch or coffee date with a friend. (And, yes, I am AWARE of how white my legs are. I'm redheaded, and I'm fair-skinned. Guess what? I like it that way.)

We were headed to my husband's grandfather's birthday party when we took this picture. "Paw Paw" celebrated his 89th birthday this year! Wow, what a blessing! I chose to wear a white tunic and printed leggings of varying shades of blue. Again, my footwear is a pair of flip-flops, this time in white. For parties, I often choose a flowy tunic or dress and a pair of leggings.


This is the outfit I wore to my therapy session this past week. I also did some shopping after my appointment was done. I chose something that is both cute and comfortable: a short-sleeved black shirt with a red spaghetti-strap shirt over it, black leggings, the beloved flip-flops, and a favorite bracelet in black and silver.

I suppose my summer look is feminine and comfy, with a bit of casual thrown in there, too. I plan to do another Fashion Post in the autumn/winter. My look is a little different when the weather is cooler. Meanwhile, I'd love to hear about your favorite styles. Post a comment and let me know what kinds of clothes you like. Are you more dressy? Casual? Somewhere in between? Also, don't forget; the more you post and share, the greater your chance of winning the giveaway. For a list of some of the items featured in the giveaway, see Weeks One and Two of this series. Ready to enter? Just follow these instructions:

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Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Descent


Slipping, deeper and deeper into the abyss.
The harder I fight, the lower I descend.
Trying to claw my way back into the light,
Growing weary from this endless fight.

Swallowed up by the darkness there,
Suffocating from the lack of air.
Wrapped in feelings of nothingness,
I have ceased to even care.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Five Fun Fridays: Week Two (Hair)



Thank you to all who joined me for Week One! If you missed that post in which I discussed my makeup and skincare routine, you can catch up here. Okay, so, this week I'm talking (or I guess I should say writing) about hair. Let me start by directing you to a tutorial that I wrote recently. Here I give details about how I style and care for my pixie, and I also discuss which products I use. Go there first; then come back here.

Now that you're back, we'll get into some more details. As I'm getting older, I am starting to deal with some white hairs appearing every now and then. Say what?!?! Well, I'm not quite ready for that to happen, so I'm dealing with it by coloring my hair. I do it myself. I use a variety of brands, but my favorites are Madison ReedL'Oreal Superior Preference, and this, which is included in the giveaway! So, yes, if  you win, you get a chance to try out being an auburn-haired beauty. FIRST, though, you MUST be sure to perform the allergy test! That's very important. The directions are included in the box. Read everything COMPLETELY AND CAREFULLY, and then follow ALL instructions exactly as written.

Now, moving on. In addition to the shampoo & conditioner that I mentioned in my tutorial -which, by the way, are included in the giveaway- I also use a color-depositing shampoo & conditioner set sometimes as well. I like this brand. My red hair stays vibrant longer with these products, so I don't have to color as often, which is nice. That takes care of color, so let's go on to my cut & style.

You may suffer from the delusion that a pixie cut is boring. Well, let me put that misconception to rest. There are so many different ways to wear a pixie cut. You can find some inspiration here, or you can just keep reading to see some of the different things that I do with my pixie.



The three above pictures feature my pixie in a slightly messy style.


The two above pictures feature my pixie in a wavy, wild style.

Sometimes I accessorize with a hat.


Beaded black headbands are fun.


A flower adds a pretty, feminine touch.


Lacy headbands are delicate and flirty, and there are two in the giveaway set!!! 

As I mentioned in the tutorial, I use some volumizing products for my hair, and a travel-sized mousse and volumizing foam from Nexxus is included as part of the giveaway! It's just one of many truly awesome products that I am giving away. You don't want to miss a minute of this series! Come back next Friday to read about my preferences in fashion and my style and to increase your chances of winning the giveaway. The more you comment and share, the greater your chances are of winning! In order to win, you can do any one or combination of the following:

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Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Drowning



“Drowning”

The ache and the pain will tear a hole in my chest.
How can I escape the emptiness within myself?

Morning breaks through, yet it’s all the same.
Nothing changes; only darkness remains.

Seeing nothing but gray all around,
Looking for some way to get out.

Weighed down by heaviness and loss,
Wandering, totally and completely lost.

People all around, oblivious to my silent screams.
If I voiced my despair, would anyone even hear?

Storms raging inside my soul, threatening my very life,
Yet I keep to myself, and continue to fight this fight.

I look in the mirror and don’t even know who I see.
I want to live the life of someone who is free.

I want to go back to some other place in time,
Find a better version of myself; just hit rewind.

I wonder if I could figure out exactly when
This broken version of myself began.

Could I change who I’ve come to be?
Or would I still be left with what I see?

How much of what I am currently
Is because of decisions made by me?

And how much of what I face is due
To the experiences life has put me through?

All these questions and no answers to be found,
Colliding thoughts and storms, and I might drown.


"Beauty"


"Beauty

Leaves of green, signs of new growth
Remind me that I, too, can start again.
Though I’ve made mistakes and lost my way,
This is a new day and another chance to begin.

A fresh outlook, the rain has washed my eyes clean,
Illuminating the path ahead for me.
The sun now shines upon a new day,
So much beauty I’m yet to see.

Stepping forward, into the light.
Breathing in the scent of peace.
Choosing to let go of yesterday.
No longer a prisoner, I’ve been released.

Walking in this garden I helped to grow,
Through toil and tears, sweat and love,
I learn to appreciate all that I am,
And to bask in Love from up above.

Friday, June 30, 2017

Five Fun Fridays: Week One (Makeup & Skincare)

Here we go! These are the items that will be given away at the end of the series, which runs today through Friday, July 28. Included are skincare, makeup & hair products, as well as some fun "extras." You'll get more details on each item throughout the series. Keep reading to find out how you can enter to win!

Okay, so this week I'm talking about skincare and makeup. Let me start by first saying that I drink plenty of water and also eat a ketogenic diet. (I'll be discussing this in further detail in the last post of this series.) Healthy skin starts on the inside, so that's my first recommendation. Next, I make sure to wash my face twice a day. No one needs to go to bed without washing off makeup! That's an unbreakable rule. Also, because I have oily skin, I also wash my face every morning prior to applying my makeup. Now, what do I use to wash my face? Well, it's not some expensive, high-end product. It's Noxzema Classic Clean! Yes, that's my secret. Also, as a redhead with sensitive skin, I have to be careful with the products that I use, and this one is tried and true. It's all I've ever used and all I ever plan to use. And, guess what? It's included in the giveaway set! But, if you're super tired at night and just don't have the energy to use a cleanser, bath cloth, and water, then, you're in luck! Also included in the giveaway is a travel-size set of makeup remover towelettes. Now, you may really be surprised to find out how I remove my eye makeup. I have to use a gentle product because my eyes are very sensitive. My eyes themselves are prone to burning and redness, and my eyelids can get itchy and peel if I use anything too harsh. My go-to product? Johnson's Baby Shampoo! It works like a charm. It even removes waterproof makeup and causes no irritation. And, it's included in the giveaway set so you can see for yourself how beautifully it performs as an eye makeup remover. Okay, so back to skincare.
Another thing that I do to take care of my skin is to exfoliate twice a week. It's important to get rid of all those dull surface cells in order to make room for radiant new ones. I use Equate Refreshing Apricot Scrub, which is also included in the giveaway items! I also make sure to keep the skin on my body hydrated by applying lotion at least once a day. I really like scented lotions, but sometimes they can irritate sensitive skin; therefore, in the giveaway set I've included a travel size of Eucerin Daily Moisturizing Creme.

Now, I'll move on to three makeup looks that I alternate through depending on my mood or outfit of choice. The face stays the same, but the eyes and lip colors change. I'll start here by telling you what I put on my face:
  1. I start with a primer.
  2. Then, I apply foundation. I use Neutrogena Skin Clearing Foundation in Classic Ivory. I like the skin-clearing formula because my oily skin is prone to breakouts sometimes; however, if you have extremely sensitive skin, you should choose another formula. I'm quite fair-skinned, so classic ivory is the color that best matches my skin tone.
  3. Next, I apply concealer and highlighter. I use e.l.f. Under Eye Concealer & Highlighter in Light/Glow. Again, for my light complexion, this is the combination that works. If you're not sure how to use this product, here's a great tutorial.
  4. Afterward, I finish up with loose powder, which is better than pressed for me due to my oily skin. I use Almay Smart Shade; I use Light (Pale) 100 because it matches my skin color.
  5. Finally, I apply blush. I like e.l.f. Baked Blush in Rich Rose.
Now that my face is done, I'm ready to move on to eyes and lips. I will list the products and colors I use for each look beneath the individual pictures.

Look One: For my eyes here, I used lavender shadow from this set, which came in the June How to be a Redhead Subscription Box. My eyeliner is Almay Intense-i-Color Liquid Eye Liner in Purple Amethyst. The mascara I've been using is a sample that I got at Ulta for my birthday. It's this, and I plan to purchase a full-size bottle when it becomes available. It is phenomenal! It lengthens and darkens my lashes perfectly without any clumping at all. It is the mascara that I'm seen wearing in all the pictures in this post. Okay, moving on to lips. The cardinal rule of lips is hydrate, hydrate, hydrate! I make sure to keep lip balm handy at all times. I like Sun Bum CoconutMaybelline Baby Lips Lip Balm, and Burt's Bees. And guess what? A tube of Burt's Bees Lip Balm is included in the giveaway! Now, on to my lips for this look. Yes, they're pink! You might have heard the rule that redheads shouldn't wear pink lipstick, but I simply don't believe that it's true. And, hey, even if it is, I've been known to say a time or two that I believe rules are made to be broken anyway! So it's quite fitting that the pink lipstick I'm wearing is "Disobedient" by Urban Decay. Also, I'll interject here that it's important to take care of your teeth, too. Then, when you smile with those gorgeous lips, those teeth will look great as well. I use Colgate Optic White Toothpaste, and a trial size is included in the giveaway for the lucky winner!


Look Two: For my eyes, I used Almay Everyday Neutrals eyeshadow. My eyeliner is Almay liquid liner in black. For my lips, I used Urban Decay Vice Lipstick in Amulet.


Look Three: My eyes are done with Almay Party Brights for Blue Eyes shadow and Almay Liquid Liner in Brown Topaz, which are both included in the giveaway! On my lips I'm wearing EZ from Urban Decay Vice.


To finish out the look, we have my toenails. I like vibrant blues, teals, and turquoises. Here I'm wearing Blue Me Away by Sally Hansen. You get to try out Wet n Wild's Be More Pacific if you win the giveaway!

There you have it. That completes my makeup look, from head to toe(nails.) Next Friday, tune in to find out about my hair: how I care for it, style it, keep my red looking vibrant, do different styles with a pixie, what products I use, and more. Also, there are lots more items included in the giveaway set, and next week I'll be telling you about the hair products that are included. You don't want to miss it! And, speaking of that giveaway, here's how YOU can *win:

Leave a comment on this blog post = One entry
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*You can try for one, two, three, or all entry types. The options will be the same each week, and you may also do this each Friday. Good luck!

Beginning of the School Year: 2017-2018

It's hard to believe that another summer break has come and gone, and yet here we are two weeks into our school year already. Things ...