My Goals for 2018

Bye, 2017! Hello and welcome, 2018! I can’t believe another year has passed and it was definitely a full year! It’s been awesome to reflect over the past year and also start to make plans for the next. I’m looking forward to seeing what 2018 will bring and tell you about those highlights next year. Before I get into telling you my goals for 2018–here are some of the highlights from the past year.

Highlights of 2017:

-1 year anniversary of my blog
-Went to Chicago to see my sister and her family
-Ran a St. Patrick’s Day 5k with my dad
-Went to Maine to see my best friend
-Helped to pick out my sister’s puppy named Franklin
-Did Whole30 twice
-Went to DC with 2 of my sisters for a week
-Went to Dallas with family
-Went to Virginia to see cousins
-Bought my first real, nice camera and started taking photos seriously
-Went to Dallas again for the Declare Conference
-Ran my second half marathon and this time with my pregnant sister (she’s a rock star)
-Ran a Thanksgiving Day Hog Jog with almost every member of my immediate family
-Went to Chicago again
-Went to 7 weddings
-Celebrated lots of family birthdays
-Had lots of aunt time
-Finding out that I’m going to be an aunt to more babies in 2018

My heart is so overwhelmed with all of these amazing things that happened and I’m so glad that I wrote each thing down. Although there were some bumps and difficult times in 2017, the amount of good things and experiences totally made up for them. I am thankful for every single thing that happened in 2017.

I have a few goals that I am setting for myself this next year and I thought I would share those with you today. Do you usually set goals or resolutions for the new year? I would love to hear what some of yours are!

My Goals for 2018:

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I wrote a post, last year, about my struggles with being fearful and wanted to share some encouragement to others in that post. Even though I wrote that post and know those truths to be real, I still struggle with this battle every day. Even when I may seem like I’m fine, the battle within can sometimes be crippling for me. But this year, I want to be more purposeful about giving fearful thoughts straight to the Lord and not allowing them to consume my mind. Joshua 1:9 says “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go” and in Mark 6:50, Jesus says this to his disciples when they were afraid–“Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.” I want to worry less this year, and in years to come, and trust completely in God and His plans for my life.

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This year I would love to try to put out 3 blog posts a week! I’m going to be changing my posting schedule from Tuesday/Friday to posting Monday/Wednesday/Friday and will try my best to stick to that new schedule. Some weeks are much harder than others to publish new content, especially because of my full-time job and those commitments. However, I’m excited to share more posts with you this next year!

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The last 2 months haven’t been great ones for me when it comes to staying active. After training and running a half marathon, I decided I was just way too tired and would rather be a couch potato. But the times that I have been consistent with exercising have been the times that I’ve felt and slept the best. So, this year I want to be the most consistent with going to the gym and go at least 3-4 times a week.

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I bought my first Canon in September and it’s been so fun to use! The photos that I’ve taken have turned out so well and I can’t wait to travel with the camera and take more photos. I hope to also share some of those photos with you this next year.

Happy new year friends!

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No Gifts for Christmas: Things to Do with Family Instead of Buying and Giving Gifts

Last night I finished all of my Christmas gift preparation! Gifts have been wrapped and are just waiting for Christmas day. However, although it’s fun to give and receive gifts at Christmas–you don’t need gifts to have a wonderful Christmas. As my siblings and I have grown up, some being married and have children now, we have changed the ways in which we approach gift-giving at Christmas. We all seem to agree that Christmas is less and less about presents and more about quality, special time together. My whole family is probably all together only about once a year and so our time together has become one of the most precious gifts.

Today I’m giving you some ideas for how to celebrate Christmas with your family (and/or friends)–without having to have gifts involved.

Go on a trip together

The Christmas before my oldest sister was married, my family went on a skiing vacation to North Carolina. We rented a huge van and road-tripped all the way from Oklahoma. That was also the year that we each had portable, personal DVD players (anyone remember those?). Although the majority of the road trip was probably spent watching 5 seasons of Gilmore Girls, I still remember that experience and it was so much fun. Once we arrived at our destination, we checked into our cabin rental that overlooked the mountains and the ski lodge. We cooked food, watched movies, and prepared to go skiing the next day. The weather was so warm that the ski resort had to create fake snow–that was interesting to watch! Once there was enough “snow,” we headed out and had a great time. Who knew skiing in t-shirts wouldn’t be so bad? Haha! I’m so thankful for that time we had together before the dynamic of our family changed. We have been on trips together with my brothers-in-law, nieces, and nephew since then–and it just keeps getting better. Why not save and invest in a family vacation instead of buying gifts? I highly recommend it!

Make and serve a meal to a family in need

Last year my family and I made some meals for the families of patients at our local hospice house, instead of doing gifts. I loved being able to do that for some of our local families who were experiencing grief, loss, and sadness during what should be one of the happiest times of the year. We weren’t able to personally meet any of the families, but it was an awesome experience to know that we helped to take care of them in a small way during Christmas. There are so many other ways you can help others during Christmas and it doesn’t have to even be a grand gesture–anything, no matter how big/small, helps!

Have a family night

Instead of gift exchanging, have a day/night just for family fun! You could bake cookies, make hot cider, play board/card games, watch Christmas movies, drive around and look at Christmas lights, make a bunch of Dubsmash videos, etc, and just focus on spending time together. My most favorite memories are definitely of my parents, siblings, grandchildren, and pets all housed up together and it being just wild!

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Stocking Stuffer Gift Ideas

Only 20 more shopping days until Christmas! If you’re done shopping–way to go! If you aren’t done yet–remain calm and have no fear! Over the last few years, my family has changed the way we exchange gifts and, to be honest, it’s actually taken a lot of the stress away. However, I always like stocking stuffer gifts and the process of filling the stockings. If you are doing stocking stuffer gifts this year, I have a list of gift ideas in case you need some inspiration. I also have a blog post coming out on Friday with alternatives for gift-giving, so make sure to read that one.

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For Kids

-Socks (I think silly socks or fun patterned socks are way better)
-Books
-Subscription services (ie. Highlights magazine)
-Chapstick
-Gloves
-Lego
-Hot Wheels
-Games
-On-the-go cups
-Fun patterned Band-Aids
-Rubber duck
-Milk straws (you can find these on Amazon but they are straws with flavor pods inside and they turn milk into different flavors)
-Silly drinking straws
-Gift cards
-Candy

For Her

-Essential oil blends
-Candles
-Tea
-Coffee
-Socks
-Nail polish
-Subscriptions (i.e. Birchbox, magazine, etc)
-Jewelry
-Wallet
-Hand cream
-Mug
-Chocolate
-Gift Cards

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For Him

-Pen
-Graphic print t-shirt
-Shaving kit
-Beard oil
-Movie
-Coffee
-Yeti (or similar insulated coffee mug)
-Socks
-Gloves
-Gift cards
-Beef jerky
-Candy
-Watch

For Friends

-Passport cover
-Sunglasses
-Coffee mugs
-Coffee
-Novelty print socks
-Gift cards
-Candles
-Snacks
-Photo gifts

Basically, I don’t think you can go wrong with getting anyone socks, haha! These are the main things that I think would be great to gift as stocking stuffers. I hope this list was helpful to you if you are trying to figure out stocking stuffer gift ideas! If I am forgetting any ideas that you like, make sure to comment below what they are. I hope you are having great December and that you’re enjoying the Christmas spirit!

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Black Friday Traditions

Black Friday is next week and I’m really excited for that day. I’m not excited because of shopping and sales, but because of a Black Friday tradition my family and I have done for probably close to 15 years. Each Black Friday morning, we sleep in a little bit, throw on comfy clothes, and then meet up at Utica Square in Tulsa for coffee and shopping. Utica Square is located in mid-town Tulsa, OK and it’s such a gem to the community. The Square is an outdoor shopping center that houses stores like Madewell, Gap, Loft, Ann Taylor, Pottery Barn, Anthropologie, Banana Republic, Bath & Body Works, Kendra Scott, Starbucks, etc. It is so beautiful there around the fall and the holidays! On Thanksgiving night, the Square has the tradition of gathering people there to watch as they turn on the Christmas lights–that is such a fun event to go to also. Utica Square just holds a special place in my heart because of the memories, it’s a great place to take a walk, it’s where I take the majority of my blog photos, and because it always makes me so excited for the holidays.

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Maybe I’ll see you there on Black Friday! What are some of your Black Friday traditions?

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