12 Things You Can Do Right Now to Make Christmas Less Stressful

The Holidays don’t have to be chaotic. Do yourself a favor. Here are 12 things you can do right now to make Christmas less stressful.

12 things you can do right now to make Christmas less stressful

The holidays can immediately bring to mind cozy thoughts of flickering candles, the glow of Christmas trees and time with family. But for many the thought of the holidays can also bring thoughts of stress, anxiety, and busyness. It can be very stressful for lots of reasons. For some, seeing family is stressful because of family conflicts. For others, money woes and the pressure of gift-giving is overwhelming when you are struggling to make ends meet. Lots of people struggle with the feeling that there is so much to do in such a little time. Whatever the reason, here are 12 things you can do right now to make Christmas less stressful.

Make a Budget

Money is always tight around the holidays. Once I started working as a teenager, I started to buy my own Christmas gifts for family and friends. To this very day, I make a budget and I can’t tell you how much it helps. Deciding upfront how much I am willing to spend sets the tone for how and where I will shop. On my Etsy shop and in my blog shop here, I have a printable Christmas Planner that contains a budget worksheet and covers all holiday expenses – travel, decorations, food, entertainment, gift-giving, Christmas portraits, postage, etc. Sometimes we only think about the gift-giving expenses and we fail to account for other expenses. Doing that means that our overspending creeps up and puts a lot of unnecessary financial pressure on us.

Seeing the numbers on paper, helps you to visualize where your money is going and where you can cut. For example, in tough years, I cut back on extra gifts to neighbors, teachers, and hostess gifts. I began to also see that money was trickling out of our pockets for food and entertainment. So we came up with cheaper alternatives to still enjoy festive events.

The other purpose for creating a budget is so that you will see how much money you will need. Very few of us have the cash flow to drop thousands of dollars all at once at Christmas time. It is far less stressful if you begin saving now a little out of every paycheck now. Even if it is only a small amount, it will add up over the next three months. There are lots of things you can buy now, so you have less expenses in December. As a special gift for you today, I’ve created this gift-giving budget printable. Just list out all the people you are giving gifts to and budget an amount. Then update it with your actual expenditures.

Do a Gift Wrap Inventory

I have a confession. I love gift wrap. Like actual gift wrap. I hate using gift bags. I love wrapping presents in beautiful wrapping paper with big bows and gifts tags and tie-on-ornaments. That said, it means I have quite a big collection of wrapping paper, boxes, ribbon, and other things. I also have a closet where I keep it all organized. I know most people aren’t as neurotic as me. Normal people have three or four rolls of scotch tape kicking around various drawers, a few half-used rolls of wrapping paper laying in closets, and several sheets of gift labels with only three stickers left. I get it. However, I think lots of people underestimate how expensive wrapping materials are. I’m always shocked that wrapping paper can be around $5-7. A three-pack of Scotch tape is $4-5. Gift bags can be $3-6 each. It all adds up. Because many of us have these things tucked away in closets or scattered around the house, it’s easy to forget what we already have. We may also get ready to wrap at Christmastime and realize that the wrapping paper roll we had is crumpled and mostly unusable. That’s why one of the first things I do, is pull out all my gift wrap supplies and do an inventory. This way I use what I have and don’t overbuy. How many times have you bought something because you were unsure if you had it at home and didn’t want to make a trip back for it? Yup! I’ve done it too. In our uncertainty, we buy it out of convenience, but overspending is never convenient!

By the way, I made some FREE fun printable gift tags last year. You can print them out on your printer, hole punch and run some ribbon through them. You can use them year after year. I also have some FREE printable gift tags for teachers that you can attach to soaps and lotions. If you don’t have a gift wrap organizer, consider investing in one. They keep your wrapping supplies in good condition and make sure everything is in one place.

Create Your Christmas Card List

One thing you can do right now is update your address book for Christmas cards. Start reaching out to friends and family to see if addresses are still correct. Personally, I send handmade Christmas cards. In fact, this year marks twenty years of sending out homemade cards. It is a labor of love when you consider I send out about a hundred, plus I make some to sell in my Etsy shop. I start making them in September!

Perhaps you are lucky to just get ones from the store addressed and mailed. That’s okay! No matter what you send in the mail, it is special. That said, gathering addresses now makes things easier later. That way your ready to pop them in the mail as soon as you have them. If you want until December, you will find you will be waiting to hear back from people because they are busy too! Now is a great time to start gathering those things to make card-sending seamless later. You can also buy your postage now too. You don’t even have to run to the post office. USPS allows you to purchase your stamps online and they will send them to you in your mail. Sam’s Club also offers bulk USA forever stamps.

If you really want to get a head start on Christmas cards and you don’t plan on sending out a family photo card, you can even purchase digital Christmas cards. You download them, print them out either at home on your printer or send them to a print shop like FedEx, Staples, Office Max, etc and have them printed. I have several of them in my Etsy shop and they are completely editable. You can buy some envelopes and address them now so they are ready to go!

Christmas planner
My printable planner has a helpful Christmas card list to help get your organized

Gather Shipping Supplies

If you will be mailing packages out, now is a great time to get set up for easy shipping. If you have the space, consider saving boxes over the next few months so you don’t have to purchase them. I start saving small Amazon boxes in September for Christmas packages. This is also a good time to get tape, save paper or bubble wrap and other shipping supplies you may need.

Also, just so you know, you can also print out your own shipping labels from USPS. I invested in a small scale years ago. I plug in my package measurements and weight and print out shipping labels online without ever having to go to the post office. You can even schedule a porch pick-up so you aren’t running packages to the post office. Easy peasy!

Set Up a Christmas Planner

If you have followed this blog for any amount of time, you know how much I love planners! Sorry, not sorry, friends. I used to be a very unorganized person, but during my twenties, I had an appointment based job. This really forced me to use a planner and organize my time better. Now, I couldn’t live without one! I created a Christmas Planner to help me stay organized during the holidays. I offer it here on the blog and on my Etsy shop. It comes with 34 printables to track gifts, inventory supplies and decorations, and menu planning. It also contains a party planning worksheet, budget worksheet, expense tracker, online order tracker, Black Friday wishlist, undated calendars, travel itinerary, and more!

Best of all, I’ve included a seven-week Christmas countdown that tells you exactly what you need to do that week to stay on task and keep things running smoothly. I know you’ll love it. I personally use it to plan everything for the holidays. All the printables are undated so you can buy once and use it year after year.

I also recommend creating an envelope, pocket or folder to save all your receipts for both expense tracking and for returns. I do this every year and it makes it so much easier to have everything in one place.

Declutter

In Christmas of 2015, I was totally stressed out, One thing I had overlooked in preparing for Christmas was the space we would need. That year my oldest son was born and his birth brought in mountains of baby toys, books, clothes, and other things. It was his first Christmas so friends and family showered us with presents. Something I was very grateful for, but was overwhelmed by. It stressed me out to put things away only to find cramped closets and toy bins. Now I make decluttering part of my Christmas preparation. In September, I declutter closets and bedrooms. In October, I clean out the freezer and pantry to make room for all the holiday foods. Doing this ahead of time allows me to keep the house cleaner during the holidays because I have a place for everything. It also ensures I’m not overwhelmed after Christmas with all the new gifts.

Freezer Meals

The holidays always usher in busy evenings. There are school holiday programs, events and activities, get-togethers, and potlucks. That’s why one thing I do is prepare some freezer meals. Freezer meals are meals that you make ahead of time and pop in the oven when you are ready for it. It’s a much cheaper alternative to eating out when you are pressed for time. Casseroles are a great thing that typically warm up really well.

These are so easy to warm up even a husband can do it!

Take a look at some of these great posts for ideas:

If you don’t want to prep full meals another alternative it to chop and prep veggies and pre-marinate meats for cooking later.

Freeze Cookie Dough

Speaking of freezing, if you want you can also make various cookie doughs to freeze ahead of time. Sugar cookies, peanut butter cookies and chocolate chip cookies are just a few cookie doughs that can be frozen for months ahead of time. I normally make a few batches of cookie dough in October or early November and freeze it to make holiday baking easier in December. It is a big time-saver at Christmastime. Here is one of my favorite lists of make-ahead, freezable cookie doughs.

Christmas cookies

Shop for Holiday Outfits

Once, we near October, most stores begin to bring out holiday and stylish semi-formal attire. It doesn’t hurt to begin planning out the outfits you will need. Consider if you will be needing new clothes for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Will you be buying the kids or family matching pajamas? Consider if you will need outfits for holiday parties or for a holiday family photo shoot. Start browsing online for ideas, set a budget and if possible, go ahead and purchase the clothes to scratch this big time burglar ahead of time.

Book a Photographer

Now is also the time to start searching for a family photographer if you are doing family portraits this years. You may not be ready to book yet, and that’s okay, but it doesn’t hurt to start viewing portfolios and getting quotes. Some photographers get booked quickly, so it’s best to start looking into it early if you want to have the opportunity to pick a specific date. At the very least, even if you aren’t ready to firm up a date, you can get a quote so you can budget accordingly, but getting the leg work done early is a big help when the holidays hit.

Get a Head Start on Homemade Gifts

Homemade gifts are really nice to way a personal touch to the holidays. Even simple inexpensive items can become special when they become part of a fun gift basket. There are all kinds of things you can make and give for Christmas. In the past, I’ve made soaps, bath bombs, lemon and vanilla extract, coasters, and all kinds of other things. Homemade isn’t always cheaper. So make sure you you figure out how much gifts will cost before you commit to doing them. Here are a few fabulous lists of homemade gifts.

Start Shopping Now

It may surprise some people to learn that I start shopping as soon as October starts. It is so much easier on both your pocket book and stress levels if you spread out your Christmas buying over a few months. That’s why I start shopping for things now. As soon as October hits I take my Christmas list and divide into fifths, then I get started buying for everyone.

The holidays don’t have to be stressful. I think the most important thing is to pace yourself and start early so you give yourself plenty of time to complete all the necessary things.

Thanks so much for reading. In the comments below, I’d love to hear what you do to get organized for the holidays. I give away lots of things around the holidays and so before you leave, be sure to subscribe below.

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Strong Baby Boy Names

Looking for a strong, spirited name for your little guy? I’ve compiled a list of strong baby boy names that have toughness written all over them complete with meanings and a printable list.

strong baby boy names

Oh the joy of naming your little one. I can recall when we named our boys. We had such an array of different names. From biblical to family names, it’s hard to narrow down the perfect name. After all, the name your give your child will follow them forever. When it came to naming our second son, I was really undecided. Even names that were still on our list from our first son, didn’t totally appeal to me this time. It was strange. I definitely kept leaning towards stronger names.

My oldest son is so gentle and meek. He’s very obedient and tenderhearted. It seems only natural that his name is a diminutive form of John. But what to name my youngest. As it happens, my youngest son ended up being true to his namesake. He is very bold, loud and willful. His own grandmother calls him “a storm” and my husband and I tend to measure our days in hurricane categories. “How was Tristan today, honey,” my husband will ask. “He was a CAT 4! Part of the roof is missing. Our sofa is down two blocks away on the street and water and debris are everywhere.” Ha!

Seriously, I love my little guy but parenting a strong-willed child is harder than I ever imagined. I am, however, really glad we named him Tristan. It fits him perfectly. So if you are looking for a strong name for your little man, I’ve got a good list for you. Some are straight-up bad boy names, others are strong names of prophets. Yet, others have strong meanings like war, battle, and defender.

How to Choose the Perfect Name

Consider Trends

Some names are currently trendy, but in a few years they may seem very dated. On the other hand, consider that very popular names may result in having your child share the name with multiple classmates. There is nothing wrong with picking a popular name, but those issues may be problematic to you. So make sure you talk it over with your partner.

Consider It as a Middle Name

Sometimes if you and your partner disagree on a name, consider perhaps using it as a middle name instead. Sometimes names have a better ring when paired with another name

Consider Cultural and Spiritual Origins

If it is important to you, you may consider whether or not the name has spiritual or religious origins. Many names found in the Bible mean some sort of blessing from God, for example. Also, names and derivatives can be found across different cultures with different spellings and pronunciations. Take my name, Mary which is Hebrew. In Spanish it is Maria and in French, Marie. But there are also derives like Mariam, Marian and Marilyn.

Will It Be A Family Name

Sometimes it’s nice to include a name as a tribute to a family member, living or deceased. Johnny is a common family name for my family, but since my sister-in-law had also married a John, I didn’t want to trample on her ability to name her child John too. So we chose a derivative of John, Jackson.

Say The Child’s Full Name Out Loud

Say the name out loud. I had a friend who had the name Harrison picked out for her son only to realize later that the name was going to be Harry Carey which is also a name for an act of suicide! There are lots of unfortunate incidents where someone’s name also has a double meaning. Take a look at these ill-fated mishaps if you want a good laugh. Then double-check your child’s name!

Will It Be Shortened

Some names have a shortened version or nickname attached to it. My brother Matthew really disliked when people called him Matt. He always corrected people and told them it was Matthew. My poor brother has been correcting people ever since he was little. When you choose a name you may decide against it because of nicknames or shortened versions of it, so maybe be mindful about that.

baby boy

Strong Baby Boy Names

  • Abraham (father of nations)
  • Ace (expert)
  • Anders (manly, virile)
  • Alexander (defender of the people)
  • Apollo (destroyer)
  • Arne (pronounced Arn-uh) (eagle)
  • Asger (spear of God)
  • Atticus (of Attica)
  • Axel (father of peace)
  • August (to increase)
  • Austin (exalted)
  • Blaze (flame)
  • Caleb (dog)
  • Cash (maker of chests)
  • Constantine (steadfast)
  • Dash (from the ash)
  • Destin (determined, destiny)
  • Diesel (people, race)
  • Dustin (Thor’s stone)
  • Gunnar (army)
  • Gunner (bold warrior)
  • Gustav (staff of the God’s)
  • Houston (intelligent)
  • Hunter (one who hunts)
  • Idris (prince)
  • Indiana (land of the Indians)
  • Isaiah (to save, salvation)
  • Ivan (God is gracious)
  • Jarl (chieftain)
  • Jeremiah (God will uplift)
  • Jett (black)
  • Joshua (God is my salvation)
  • Justice (Doing right by the law)
  • Kylo (sky)
  • Maddox (welsh surname)
  • Magnus (big, great)
  • Maverick (independent)
  • Maximus (great)
  • Montana (from a hilly land)
  • Nash (ash tree)
  • Odin (fury)
  • Osmond (divine protection)
  • Phoenix (dark red)
  • Ranger (forest guardian)
  • Rock (stone)
  • Rocco (rest)
  • Ryder (mounted warrior)
  • Thor (god of thunder)
  • Tristan (sad, bold, loud)
  • Viggo (battle)
  • Wilder (to cause to lose one’s way)
  • Zane (gift from God)

I’ve also provided a printable version of this list to help you. You can download it below.

I hope you enjoyed my list of strong baby, boy names. Before you go, take a look at my other post, Biblical Baby Boy Names and Biblical Baby Girl Names. Thanks so much for reading and congratulations on your pregnancy. In the comments, I’d love to hear about your own name. Do you love it or hate it? Do you go buy a nickname? Let me know!

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Simple Homemade Flour Tortillas

They are little rounds of heaven. You’ll be surprised to know how easy it is to whip up a batch of simple homemade flour tortillas tonight for dinner. Today, I’m sharing my authentic recipe straight from our Tex-Mex kitchen.

simple homemade flour tortillas

Homemade flour tortillas are one of the best things on the planet. Growing up in my Hispanic family, I loved it when my mom had a steaming hot, fluffy stack of homemade tortillas waiting for us. I loved smearing butter all over freshly warmed tortillas. They were so good.

Lately, I’ve been making them often. First, they are great for lunches for the kids. I grill them up with cheese and make quesadillas for their lunch. Sometimes I have some leftover meat, but not quite enough for a meal, that’s when I shred it up for tacos or quesadillas. I’m a little embarrassed to say that it doesn’t matter how many tortillas I make, we always seem to eat them all!

So today I’m going to show you how easy it is to make simple homemade flour tortillas right in your kitchen. They are far superior to store-bought ones and once you get familiar with making them, you won’t want the rubbery, chewy mass-produced ones.

Ingredients

Tortillas are a wonderfully easy bread because they require few ingredients. In fact, you may already have what you need. First, all you need is all-purpose flour. There is no need to use any kind of special flour. As I mentioned before, tortillas are unleavened bread, so you don’t need leavening agents like baking powder or yeast. However, you can add baking powder to make them fluffier if you desire. Really, all you need is flour, lard, water and a pinch of salt.

Traditionally tortillas are made with lard. I think lard makes the best version of tortillas. The tortillas seem to have a fluffier, smoother texture with lard. I highly recommend using lard above any other fat. However, if you don’t have lard on hand you can substitute other fats. You can also make them with butter, shortening and even vegetable oil in a pinch.

You can buy lard at the store in the butter section. It costs around the same price as butter and it stores in your fridge for months. You can even make lard at home (see video below). That’s right, don’t throw those drippings away!

Tools

Many people are discouraged from making tortillas for one simple reason – rolling out circles, I know I underestimated how hard it is to roll out a perfect circle. Like really hard! Personally, I don’t mind if mine aren’t perfect, but others do. I will say that it takes lots of practice to roll them out, so don’t get discouraged if they aren’t perfect. I guarantee you regardless of their shape, they will still taste amazing! So you can use two different methods to make them. You can roll them out using a rolling pin or you can use a tortilla press.

homemade flour tortillas

Tortilla presses are great because you put your ball of dough in, clamp down and it presses out your tortilla to the perfect thickness and size. It definitely makes them more uniform looking. Using a tortilla press also seriously cuts down on time. It takes far less time to press them as it does to roll them out. So if you are making them for a weeknight dinner, this really speeds it up. I highly recommend using a cast-iron one. I love mine.

Frankly, you don’t need any special tools to make tortillas, but I’ve used my stand mixer to speed things up as well as using a pastry blender if I am doing it by hand.

Also, if you make tortillas often, you may want to invest in a tortilla warmer. They really do keep them warm for a long while. They are fairly cheap too. If you don’t have a tortilla warmer, place a clean dishcloth inside a covered dish and slip them into the dishcloth to keep them warm.

Cooking the Tortillas

To make tortillas you’ll combine your ingredients – flour, salt, hot water and your lard. If you want them to be fluffier you can also add 1 teaspoon of baking powder. If you are substituting a different fat for lard such as vegetable oil or shortening you will use the same measurements as lard which is â…“ cup. Mix the dough with a dough hook attachment on your stand mixer or you can use a pastry cutter to cut in the lard.

You can divide your dough into sixteen portions. That will make about 16 small 6″ tortillas or you divide into twelve pieces and it will yield about a dozen 8″ tortillas. I typically make 8″ ones.

Tortillas need to be cooked one at a time unless you have a long griddle, in which case you can do two at a time. Place the tortillas down on a griddle with medium heat. Cook for about 2 mins on each side. You will likely see the tortilla puff as it cooks. That is totally normal. Flip it over. The cooked side should have some light brown spots That’s how you know it is cooked! Then repeat on the other side.

How to Store Them

So you can choose to warm your tortillas all at once or you can choose to warm them up over a period of a couple of days. Store the ready-made tortillas in your fridge in a zip lock bag. You can separate them with wax paper so they don’t stick together. I recommend taking them out of the fridge about ten to fifteen minutes before you are ready to warm them up so they cook quickly and evenly on your griddle. I think they cook better that way than when they are a stone-cold temperature.

Simple Flour Tortillas

Prep Time 1 hr
Cook Time 25 mins
Total Time 1 hr 25 mins
Course Breads
Cuisine Mexican

Equipment

  • Griddle

Ingredients
  

  • 3 Cups All-Purpose Flour
  • 1 Tsp Salt
  • 1/3 Cup Lard, cold
  • 1 Cup Hot Water
  • 1 Tsp baking powder optional

Instructions
 

  • Add flour to a large mixing bowl.
  • Whisk salt and baking powder (optional) to the flour. Baking powder is optional but will give you a fluffier tortilla. Alternatively, instead of mixing by hand, you may use a stand mixer with a dough hook attachment.
  • Add lard to flour mixture and cut in with a pastry blender (or if using a stand mixer mix on low. You can also you use your hands if you don't have tools. You do not need to need the dough, only mix.
  • Slowly add water until a tacky dough forms
  • Turn out dough onto a well-floured surface. Divide dough into twelve pieces. Roll each piece into a ball about the size of a golf ball.
  • Heat a griddle on your stove at medium-high heat.
  • Begin by flouring your rolling pin to prevent dough from sticking. Take a ball of dough and roll it evenly into a 7-8" circle.
  • Place a tortilla on the hot griddle. The tortilla will puff as it cooks. Cook on each side for about 30 seconds. Flip regularly until you see light brown spots on the heated side.
Keyword bread, easy bread, flour, mexican bread, mexican food, tortillas, unleavened bread

That’s it! Enjoy your homemade tortillas with your favorite Mexican food dish. Be sure to check out some of my favorites like perfect Spanish rice and Creamy Green Chile Chicken Enchiladas.

30 Reflective Fall Journaling Prompts

Let’s get cozy! Curl up with your journal and use these 30 reflective fall journaling prompts to explore your feelings.

30 reflective fall journal prompts

Fall is such a lovely season. After the scorching days of summer, who isn’t ready for crunchy leaves, bonfires, football and pumpkin spice everything? Fall is always an emotional month for me. I start craving family time and the fresh outdoors. Here in South Central Texas, we don’t have a lot of changing of leaves. We end up driving to Marble Falls or Lost Maples, TX to see the red and gold foliage that other states get so easily.

But Autumn also brings some other deeper feelings. For instance, as we enter the Fall and head towards holidays, it also conjures up other feelings that are just beneath the surface. It’s the time of year I experience grief. The holidays usher in thoughts of the people who are gone and are no longer here with us. It always seems to catch me off guard even though it happens every year. I miss my grandmothers, particularly in the months of September and November. Also, if I am being really honest, it makes me contemplate the time I have left with my parents and those around me. I told you it was deep stuff!

Fall is a great time to reflect on change, the necessity of family and friends and for Americans in particular, it’s a time to reflect on gratitude. So today I decided to come up with some Fall journaling prompts. Hopefully, they help you explore your feelings privately and give you some perspective.

fall journal prompts
Photo courtesy of Pexels

Will 2020 Be Different

You know, it always seemed to me like more people died in the Fall and Winter than any other time. My mom used to say it was God’s harvest season. That may sound silly, but apparently it’s true. Deaths slightly escalate during the Fall and Winter months mostly because of the sicknesses that are prominent in colder months like Influenza and inclement weather which can cause more accidents.

2020 has been an exceptionally hard year for the world. When I heard about the virus in Wuhan, China back in January, I never would have guessed it would sweep the globe and cause all the hardship it has. So far, I have buried two people from it. I wonder how the colder months will affect the transmission of the virus. I anticipate spikes in cases again.

If I start thinking about it too long, I can become anxious. It has been hard to be apart from the majority of my family this year. The hardest part is my children. They are too young to really understand why we don’t see much family and friends anymore. This year I plan on coming up with lots of activities we can do at home. By the way, if you’d like some ideas on things to do in the Fall as a family, be sure to read my post, The Best Fall Bucket List. Also, one thing I love to when I’m journaling in the Fall is to make a pot of my Slowcooker Pumpkin Spice Latte. It’s so good and uses pumpkin puree instead of artificial flavors.

In the comments below, tell me what you love most about Fall. Thanks for reading.

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30 Reflective Fall Journal Prompts

  1. What is worrying you right now? Don’t censor yourself.
  2. As a relaxing exercise, doodle things that remind you of Fall.
  3. Give yourself permission to look forward to things. Write a list and don’t worry about whether or not they will actually happen.
  4. Write a letter to your anxious thoughts.
  5. Of what do you need to let go? What would happen if you stopped holding onto it?
  6. Describe a favorite Fall memory.
  7. What do you do when you are feeling lost?
  8. Write a letter to someone who has passed away.
  9. How do your Autumn traditions differ now from when you were a child?
  10. How can you be closer to friends and family this Fall in spite of the Coronavirus pandemic?
  11. Write out a playlist of songs that remind you of Fall then give yourself to listen to it.
  12. Create a happy list. Write out a list of activities or places that lift your mood.
  13. Write a letter to someone who has made your life better.
  14. How is your life different from one year ago today?
  15. How does Fall inspire you?
  16. If you could travel anywhere to experience Fall where would you go and why?
  17. Describe a perfect Fall evening.
  18. Where do you see yourself this time next year?
  19. Will your Fall traditions change because or Coronavirus? Why or why not?
  20. What can you do to reconnect with nature this Fall?
  21. What has been the worst part of this year?
  22. Be your own best friend. Write an encouraging letter to yourself.
  23. If today was your last day, what would you do?
  24. What do you need more of in life? Less of?
  25. What are the silver linings about this year so far?
  26. Think back to your favorite Thanksgiving. Describe the scene.
  27. What scares you most about change?
  28. Create your own Fall bucket list.
  29. Describe your favorite Halloween memory.
  30. What scary movie scared you as a child? Why?

Other Journaling Posts

2020: What’s Been Going On With Us

Today, I’m sharing what has happened with us since Coronavirus and a major announcement. Oh 2020, you’ve been a turbulent year!

Can we all just agree that 2020 sucks? Oh, my Lord, 2020 has been a crazy year. I remember when my naive little self swore up and down that 2020 would be my year. This would be the year I reinvented myself. This would be the year I lost weight, had a successful blog, and made a new circle of friends.

Little did I know that I’d basically not leave my house from March until…what month is it? In March I traveled six hours to see a friend of mine. God, I miss that girl! It was a hard trek with two kids and in tow, but it was all worth it to see her. Unfortunately, that was pretty much my last outing. When I came back the Coronavirus was on an upward swing and my hometown was the haven for many of the newly infected patients that were coming off cruise ships.

Throughout the rest of March and April we really just did like everyone else and stayed home. My hubby was able to work from home and I decided to have a good attitude about being shut-in. We dug in and enjoyed our home. We dined outside, played in the back yard, and had cozy family movie nights. Also, we ate about nine loaves of homemade bread. You can find my simple bread recipe on the blog.

May

In May my oldest turned five. We are so lucky to have a beach just three hours away. Port Aransas is such a fun weekend getaway and my youngest loves the ocean. We were able to socially distance the entire time we were there. The nearest people were a couple hundred yards away and the boys had a blast! It was totally good for the soul. After almost two months of being cooped it, it filled my cup.

We spent lots of time helping my parents prepare their house for sale. There was so much to coordinate and since they are both high risk, we took on a lot of the things that needed to be done.

June

In June, we did more of the same. We stayed home and really only saw my parents. The strange thing is that I had become perfectly content. I was not missing any of my old activities anymore. However, I did make one big change. I got off Facebook. Can I just be honest? I needed a real break. I was really tired of everyone’s opinions. Everyone was suddenly a doctor with Corona opinions. The political discussions were getting nasty and vulgar. My newsfeed was filled with post after post of negative, hateful comments. It was exhausting seeing that every day so I decided it was time for a break.

I’m not purposing that we stick our head in the sand and ignore current events or be uninformed about vital issues. But there is lots of misinformation and biased information around Facebook. Not only that but people are just nasty to each other about differences of opinion and when my newsfeed became flooded with that kind of stuff, well…it felt like I was watching a twenty-four hour news cycle. And who wants to do that? I want to see pictures of your cute kids and what you did this weekend.

It also dawned on me that the reason why it is so soul-sucking is because we aren’t meant to digest that amount of negativity. Years ago, before the media invaded every area of your life, you were largely unaffected and removed from the awful things happening in the world. Sure, you’d hear about big events, but you weren’t bombarded with it 24/7. These days, there is almost no escape. Everything is politicized.

I just needed to step away and regroup. Regain composure. Renew my mind. Seek some peace and balance. I really felt like God was nudging me to step away. I really struggled with it because I get a great deal of my blog traffic is from Facebook. How would my blog survive? I obeyed God and totally trusted him and his leading. It really helped. My joy came back! I spent the majority of the time loving on my kids and husband and dipping in my parent’s pool. We spent nearly every weekend with my mom and dad. It really filled my cup. It’s September now and I don’t miss Facebook at all. And my blog is more successful than ever. In fact, this year, I paid for all my blog expenses and made a profit.

June also found us in the hospital. Instead of celebrating Father’s Day with my dad, my poor pop spent it in the hospital due to pulmonary edema. COVID was starting to escalate in San Antonio and so it was rather scary to have my dad in there. It was also pretty frustrating that they didn’t really resolve his problem, they just did more of what he was already doing. Please keep my dad in prayer for healing as he is still dealing with it.

July

In July, my mom’s condition worsened and she had a heart procedure done. It was really scary but COVID was at an all-time high here in San Antonio. They sent her home from the hospital pretty quickly to reduce the chance of infection. My mom’s procedure didn’t solve my mother’s ailment. Another battery of tests would be needed to get to the root of her condition.

My grandfather also took a turn for the worse. He had stopped eating and was very sick. They hospitalized him in early July and I drove to Houston to be with him. All these hospitalizations during COVID have been so stressful. You can’t be with your loved one in the hospital which really compounds the stress. My grandfather’s health is still waning.

As for us, we continued preparing my parent’s house for selling and we spent a lot of time in our garden. We had a great harvest. My oldest son enjoyed collecting vegetables. It was such a novelty to him.

We also learned that because of COVID, my husband’s company would be doing layoffs. We weren’t worried about my husband’s job because we felt like he and his position are highly valued. Little did we know this situation would take a turn (keep reading).

We also started homeschooling earlier than expected. My oldest son was begging to start homeschooling already. You can read all about our Kindergarten curriculum. This is also the first year that I am teaching both kids.

August

My mother’s health continues to decline. This month she’ll have a biopsy and multiple tests done. They are looking to rule out cancer so we are asking for prayers.

We also finally found our grove with homeschooling. I am managing well with teaching tot school, kindergarten and my household responsibilities.

Oh, August. You were the month that changed everything. This month we were informed that my husband’s company is closing their local office. They will be laying off 20% of their staff and relocating those who remain to Houston. Y’all, this was a gut punch to us. If you have been reading this blog for a while, you know we just went through this a year ago! It was so stressful to job hunt for six months and here we are again!

With the combining of offices, we may not be as secure as we originally thought because of the potential duplication of roles. Also, with my parent’s health declining, parting from them is the very last thing I want to do. The week we found out I was really upset. Like had-a-complete-meltdown-with-God kind of upset. There were lots of ugly tears and complaining. I couldn’t sleep worrying about all the possible undesirable scenarios. I think my breakdown was also a build-up of the stressors we have been dealing with for months. The stresses of all my loved ones who are ill, the stress of selling my parent’s house (and knowing we may have to go through it again for us), the fact that life is so different post-Corona.

I decided to be obedient to the Lord and accept whatever His will is. I’ve made up my mind not to worry about this and laid it at the cross for God to sort out. Y’all, I don’t know how all of this will turn out. I don’t know what will happen or how we’ll get through this. Instead of obsessing over what I don’t know, I will dwell on what I do know. What I do know is the Lord is insanely good. His plan and His will are perfect and flawless. He radically loves us and is always working for my ultimate good (salvation and sanctification). And He never ever leaves us!

I’ll be posting more about this situation as we know more. In the meantime, please drop your prayer requests in the comments. I’d love to pray for you if you are struggling.