Travel Resources For The Home Essentialist

In honor of the beginning of summer travel, as well as my current trip to EntreLeadership Summit with my husband, here is a refresher on some of my top travel resources for the Home Essentialist.

Travel Resources For The Home Essentialist

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Find out why we make it a priority to travel together and why your role is important to success!

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Viewing business travel as an investment in your family’s success makes all the difference!

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Use Siri reminders to help you remember what to pack and what time to check in to your flight.

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There is no better airline for traveling with kids than Southwest. Here’s your step by step plan.

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Traveling to a big city? Amazon Prime Now can deliver to your hotel or travel location just as easily as your home.

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What could be better than having your groceries delivered to your vacation rental?

























Bookmark this post for your next trip and be the hero by sharing it with your friends!

Join The Conversation: What other travel resources do you have questions about? Any special travel tips you could share? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

10 Things I Wish I Knew Before I Was A Mom

Here are the top 10 things I wish I knew before I was a Mom.

(Some of which may or may not be a little sarcastic.  Please don’t take me too seriously. A Mom needs a laugh, too.)

10. Invest in Band-Aids.

Invest for your financial investments, invest in your supply at home, invest in using the term band-aid in your vernacular. Band-Aid is synonymous with all sorts of magic that I did not know existed prior to motherhood. Well, I guess I might have known as a child, but I had long since forgotten. Trust me. You will want lots, and lots, and LOTS, and LOTS of Band-Aids around. (P.S. Your kid will know if you go the cheap route before the age of 2. They want cute pictures and colors and all the feels.) Prepare to have band-aids used as stickers at least at some point. Just mentally flush $10 down the drain a few times, and have a bottle of Goo-Gone on hand; it will help when you discover the sticky mess. Remember the cheap band-aids I told you to avoid?  THIS IS WHY.

9. You will spend more time in the kitchen than you ever thought possible.

No one tells you this. No matter if you are a “stay at home,” “work at home,” “work from there,” woman, you might as well just make peace that the kitchen will be your 2nd home within your home. Sometimes the fridge is all you need for 2 seconds of peace and a cool breeze. But someone is always hungry (or hangry), something needs to be cooked, cleaned, reheated, put away, made, picked up, organized, etc., and someone is always thirsty. If none of those are true, a little someone will be systematically pulling out every piece of tupperware from your cabinets and throwing it all over the kitchen. Try not to slip on a tupperware lid. The aftermath of that is NOT pretty.

8. You will FINALLY get everything figured out, only for something to change the next second, and throw off everything you just figured out.

Having sleep issues with your newborn? Get it “figured out,” and suddenly they think they need a tooth?! Got your toddler’s eating “figured out,” suddenly they decide to go on strike and you worry like CRAZY and go “figure it out” all over again. Finally get that nap schedule down? Goodness, they want to drop a nap!?! FINALLY get your workout back into the rhythm? Don’t worry, your child will finally figure out how to interrupt that valiant effort, too. But goodness, they are CUTE when they do.

7. There is no pause button in parenting.

Seriously, I’ve looked and I just can’t find it anywhere. Sometimes, my husband and I will just stare at each other; all we want is just to pause, even just 30 seconds, take a deep breath and start again. But. it. does. not. exist. Once you start this whole parenting journey, there’s no going back. So, when you are sweetly wishing for a baby to hold and dreaming of bathing a newborn and getting them into jammies and how sweet that will be, just remember that once it starts, it just can’t stop.

6. You become ‘old’ instantaneously. (at least in regards to sleep)

Suddenly bedtime for kids = bedtime for adults. Why did I ever make fun of my parents for going to bed early? 7:30 PM is a delightful bedtime. Yes, I know it is still light outside, and you can hear your friends playing basketball, and the sun is showing through the cracks in your blinds. (When do the black out shades get here?) But it is BEDTIME IN THIS HOUSE! How I wish I took all the naps I had been offered as a child. It’s not strange to lecture your 4 year old about the regrets of not napping, right?

5. The pressure of the responsibility for over 60 fingernails and toenails can be quite overwhelming.

Why do they not cover this in school? Or birth class? Or provide a nail trimming certification like CPR? Seriously, the amount of mom guilt I have for basically clipping the tip off of my newborns’ finger, forever will haunt me. Please, for the love of nail hygiene, revolt and petition your local municipalities to provide training for this. It affects us all.

4. Never (and I mean never!) ever will you look at wearing a seatbelt the same way.

The simple ease of getting in the car and pulling on that nice thick piece of fabric and hugging it around you with a delightful click at the end…will change. Now, you will have to endure multiple people all having multiple ways of handling this everyday thrill. Some despise it and will use a full frontal assault to escape the dire situation. Did I mention, said person will be only a few MONTHS old? Others will demand full and complete autonomy which may or may not last the entire amount of time you had planned to be gone in the car in the first place. Still others will enjoy this simple accomplishment so much, they want to repeat the experience multiple times in one sitting, which means you get to do the same thing, too. I think we could sell a workout series entitled “Seatbelt Mania With Toddlers.” Anyone interested?

3. The administrative effort to handle a simple preschool or mother’s day out program will make you think twice before enrolling.

Maybe with one child you will get this down with only minor hiccups, but with any additional children, you are likely to fall prey to one of the following phenomenon. 1) Have child all dolled up for the wrong picture day or have them still in their pjs with breakfast still on their face on the correct picture day. 2) Go to the wrong school to pick your child up. 3) Forget your child’s ______ (insert anything you like: lovey, sippy cup, folder, lunchbox, jacket, toy, etc) and your child will make you feel like you lost your mom card. But seriously, 5 hours twice a week is worth it’s weight in GOLD. So suck it up sistas. Just remember to register what feels like a YEAR in advance.

2. Cooking now looks like “playing kitchen” with little ones.

Gone are the days of dreaming up a gourmet meal that you peacefully enjoy making and no one whines or complains about it. I’m told they will be back, but I have not yet arrived.  Oh the joys of teaching little ones to “help” in the kitchen.  ‘Dump, Dump, Stir’ works great.  Just be careful of what you are dumping and tall sides on the bowls do help tremendously. The amount of effort, guilt, time, thought, energy, dishes, mess, cleanup involved, will make you wonder why we have to eat every. single. day. Can’t we just be satisfied with dinner once a week? It would make life so much more simple.

1. I’m perfect for this.

Yes, this is probably the most important thing I wish I knew before I was a Mom.  Not just good, or okay, but perfect. It’s easy to believe, hear, feel, think and know, that you have no idea what you are doing, you are not cut out for this, you will never make it, and you are a horrible mom. And you know what? That’s pretty normal, as there are many moments those all really feel true. Why wouldn’t it? What you do is so important that it is easy to feel responsible, and pressured and overwhelmed. But the reality is, you were made to do this. And you are perfect for your little family. Flaws and all. Sure, we have some growing up to do, and we will make lots and lots of mistakes. But God knows that. And whatever journey He has you and your child on, you can rest assured that He’s paired the two or three or four or ten of you together for a very good reason.

Cheers to motherhood!

Join The Conversation: What is something you wish you knew before you were a mom? If you are not a mom, what is something you wish mom’s knew? We can all learn from each other! You can leave a comment by clicking here.

3 Things To Do Now Before Filing Taxes NEXT Year

It’s the final countdown before the deadline to file your taxes.  Good news for all of the procrastinators, Tax Day is officially Monday, April 18, 2016.  For a full explanation of everything you really don’t need to know about why it is not Friday, April 15, check out this article.  Before you mentally move on from all things tax related this year, here are 3 things to do now before filing taxes NEXT year.

3 Things To Do Now Before Filing Taxes NEXT Year

1. First off, celebrate your hard work and accomplishment for getting your taxes done THIS year! Adulting is hard sometimes. Many times, I overlook the simple accomplishments of my day to day work when I really need to stop and celebrate. What I do matters. It’s important. When I’m diligent in the small things, the bigger things have more impact. My goal every year is to get our taxes to our CPA at the end of January (or as soon as everything arrives in the mail). With mostly digital downloads of all of the tax documents from the various financial organizations, it makes it possible to be done by the end of January. However, it seems every year, it is at least late February, if not March before I get it all done and I know many of your thrive on last minute pressure so it’s probably April for many of you. Let’s just say I have an emotional scar from our first year of marriage and a lack of sleep on April 15th that year. 😉 My theory is that the earlier I get it done, the fresher the CPA will be, and the less stress I have in anticipating the result. It also means we have time to make adjustments (last minute HSA or IRA contributions) if needed. Whenever you get it done, breathe a sign of relief, do something fun to celebrate, and remind yourself that You Are Essential.

2. Keep up with all of your banking transactions and budget in Mint and EveryDollar. We used to use Quicken to keep up with our bank transactions and budget categorizing. It became clunkier to do so and with everything moving to the cloud, we jumped on the Mint wagon several years back. Mint allows you to add all of your accounts (banking, investments, mortgage, etc.) to it’s online interface, and it automatically imports all of your transactions from these institutions. Their app allows you to also quickly see your financial picture on one easy summary screen. Over time, if you spend some energy categorizing the transactions and setting up rules for how to categorize transactions in the future, it will intuitively do the work for you. It is mostly accurate but still requires a review to be sure things are correct. At the end of the year, I can export all of my pre-categorized transactions from Mint and easily get the applicable ones to our CPA (like charitable contributions, home business deductions, and childcare expenses.) This is a HUGE feature to me, and why I continue to use Mint. However, their customer service is pretty poor and it has not proven to be a very flexible system for keeping up with a budget, if you have extenuating circumstances like irregular income.

EveryDollar, on the other hand, is excellent for staying on track with a budget, and I’m hopeful with the constant new features they are releasing, that it will completely replace Mint over the next year for us.  They also have a free app and a very intuitive interface that makes budgeting much more enjoyable, not to mention, their much friendlier, helpful, and timely customer service. Check EveryDollar out for sure!

For each of these, you must start now to have all of your transactions for 2016 imported into their software.  If you wait until later in the year to get started, you will only have a portion of those imported which will make tax time a lot more complicated than it has to be.

3. Store your receipts, forms, and documents in Evernote. I cannot say enough about how much I love this app. It is worth every penny. ALL, and I mean ALL, of our receipts, documents, forms, etc. are stored in Evernote. When it is specifically tax related, I tag it with “taxes” and the “year” so when tax time roles around, I simply search for those documents and have them all in one digital place as quickly as I can snap my fingers. No more digging through stacks of paper! When I’m actively working on getting all of my tax documents together, I place them in their own notebook, “Tax Prep 2015,” so that I can easily see what I still need to gather. I can then share or export them in a password protected file to give to our CPA. Be sure to sign up for Evernote here. This link gives you one free month of Premium service as well! Once you have done that, you can check out Brett Kelly’s ebook, Evernote Essentials, if you’d like step by step instructions for how to implement Evernote in your own life. This is the best guide to truly uncover all that Evernote can do, and Kelly makes it simple and easy to implement.

Join The Conversation: How do you set yourself up for financial success? Any tax tips we should know about? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

Future Self

Compared To What?

A Perspective To Consider About Comparison

We survived! I cannot tell you how excited I am when daylight savings time comes around. I feel like I can breathe again and that winter is finally saying its goodbye. Now, don’t get me wrong, I despise it’s effects on our sleep cycles and we had one crazy late morning this past Monday.  Extra coffee, anyone? But, I will take the extra hour of sunlight in the evening and welcome the warmer temps for sure, though.

A couple of weeks ago, on the very first week of warmer temps forecasted in Tennessee, my husband showed me an email he had written to send out to his team at work. As I re-read it a few times to help him edit it, I could not get all of you out of my mind.  It reminded me once again, that the business world and our worlds at home are really not that much different.  I asked him if I could share it with all of you.  I hope it resonates and encourages you today.

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Filing Taxes: 3 Resources To Ease The Burden

It’s that lovely time of year again. Time for filing taxes.  We all know it’s coming but that doesn’t always mean we are any more prepared. It’s akin to the preparations for Christmas, particularly Christmas shopping, without all the excitement. Somehow, organizing receipts and gathering lots of forms and paperwork just doesn’t seem to have the same effect as picking out the perfect gift.

Contrary to popular belief, it is actually NOT good to receive a large tax refund.  When you receive a large tax refund, you overpaid the government all year long, and rather than your money working for you (earning interest, paying off debt, tackling a home improvement project, or supporting a ministry or cause dear to your heart), you allowed the government to use your extra money to do with it as they pleased. Unfortunately, it is normal in our culture to anticipate a large tax refund check in order to splurge on our latest wants, rather than telling our inner self to be more diligent all year long. If we stepped back and looked at the big picture, we would see that most Americans are paying lots of interest to use other people’s money, via credit cards, home equity lines, etc. But, when there is an opportunity to pay off some of that debt with a tax refund, we use it instead to get our latest desire and start the cycle all over again.  All the while, we don’t realize we are drowning under the pressure and weight of money troubles the rest of the year.

Instead, look at filing taxes as the reconciling of your money year over year.  It’s a great place to pause and see how you achieved your goals the previous year, and where you can make improvements for the next year. It also can shine a light on anything that might need a little extra focus.

Here are 3 resources to ease the burden when filing taxes:

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Have You Tried Amazon Prime Now?

A Review Of The FREE, Local, 2-Hour Delivery Service

I have a confession. Front porch deliveries are my jam, and Amazon Prime Now is no exception. I cannot tell you how many times, even just 2 or 3 years ago, I would be at home sick with babies, or in the middle of a project, and wish that a little delivery fairy could bring me the one little component or ingredient that I needed. Somehow, it makes me feel like a future version of “Little House on the Prairie” and instead of having to go out and milk the cow, the cow just brings the milk in a jug to my doorstep! It’s like my very own daydream of being a Jetson. (I think I need to introduce my children to that cartoon.)

Anyways, as I was saying, front porch deliveries are my new thing. (I still love Shipt by the way.) I’ve figured out that for a couple of bucks in a tip, I can save gas, time, traffic stress, and do a lot less of wrangling children into the car, when I take advantage of all of these wonderful services that are now available. Now, we happen to live in a pretty prime zip code for a lot of these things, and I know not all of you are quite so happy about the deliveries available to your zip code. Don’t lose heart, they are coming for you! (unless you really do live in a modern day Little House on the Prairie…but then I imagine that you actually like that you are out in the middle of nowhere. I want to be you someday, too.)

Before I tell you about my new favorite front porch delivery, there are two minor details we need to settle.

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Do You Know What Your Husband Does?

A Soapbox About Wives And Their Man’s Job

Warning, I’m a little irritated. I’m blogging about this because I believe it is so important. I am hoping to turn my irritation into inspiration. Humor me, would you?

Do You Know What Your Husband Does?

I am simply astounded that many women have no clue what their husband does for a living. We know he leaves each morning, where his office is located, his title, maybe general information about his field, and whether he makes it home “on time” at night, but fail to understand his job, what he actually does during the day, and where he is excelling or struggling at any given moment in his career.  I have seen this often in busy, intelligent, women who work at home but have also witnessed this with extremely driven and smart women who have high-stakes careers outside of the home.

When did it become ok to say, “I know he works hard, but I just do not understand what he does, so I quit trying long ago.” WHAT?!?!? Seriously??? That is such a cop out. You are his WIFE! There is only one of you. You signed up for better or for worse. You are a gift to your husband, his best friend, his confidant, but you have checked out of one of the most crucial areas of his life.

Let’s all wake up to the reality that most of our husbands spend more time during the day away from us than they do with us, working for us and our families, to provide for us and love us through their work. And many men have attached their identity to their career. To not understand our husband’s identity (whether we agree with it or not), is a crucial miss in our marriages.

I also know that this phenomenon also highlights a lot of insecurities we have as women. We may feel insecure about our choices to work inside or outside the home, our intelligence, our vocabulary, our math skills, or our understanding of the world. But, we must press through this. If we do not understand something, we must make the choice to ask. Let me introduce you to my friends Google and Wikipedia. They are available 24/7 for your asking and research pleasure. 🙂 You may just impress that husband of yours!

Here’s An Example:

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When Life Happens To The Best Of Us

How To Overcome Disappointment, Discouragement & Desperation

It’s almost comical. Except that it’s not. I’m about to just write off January altogether. It’s simply not my favorite and it has not gone “according to plan.” Sometimes, life happens. Am I the only one?

And once again, I have found myself with a discouraging set of circumstances to start off the new year, and an attitude to match. Something about the cold, bare, stripped away season of winter, gets under my skin. Some years, I beat back the winter shadow with sheer determination and embrace the “magical joy” of winter. But it is simply not my first love. And this year, I’m weary. I feel like most days lately, are filled with me trudging through the motions just to make something happen. So it’s apropos that I came across this from last year. I’m reading and taking my own advice today. Want to join me? Continue Reading>>

Gain Perspective During The Holidays

Inspiration From A Home Essentialist

In continuation of the “gain perspective” theme this holiday season, I thought I would change it up a bit and shine a light on a heart warming story of a woman living out what it means to be a Home Essentialist in really challenging circumstances. She is simply killing it in her role and her perspective is phenomenal.

Your circumstances may be challenging, too. It is not always easy to do what we do day in and day out with excellence. Some days you just need a bit of inspiration or encouragement to help put some wind in your sails.

The following clip of Cinthya telling her story to Dave Ramsey is about as inspirational as it gets. You might want to grab some kleenex before watching this one. Continue Reading>>