Goal Making/Goal Breaking

Welp, in Classic Alyssa Form, I’ve been making a bunch of lists lately, trying to “do better.” Lists of goals for my family, house, work, blog, personal development, on and on. All the lists. All the goals.

I’ve even been doing a good job achieving most of those goals lately! I wanted to post weekly on this blog, and I did that FOR TEN WEEKS, after having a newborn baby. After every post, I’ve gotten some type of positive feedback that made me glad I shared. I’ve posted YouTube videos of my project life process, which brings me, and a few YouTube subscribers, some joy every week. I’ve made dinner every night for my family. I’ve picked up the house even after a long work day. I’ve balanced my checkbook. I’ve been treating my hobbies like work (except I don’t get paid for them) and making deadlines like crazy, and I love it. I’ve had it majorly buttoned up and put together, y’all.

But then, this week, I called in sick, y’all. If you’ve been with me for any amount of time, you know I struggle with anxiety and depression. The most annoying part about depression, to me, is that it can come to my brain for no reason at all. I have a beautiful life. I KNOW THIS. And yet, I feel hopeless and tired, and possessed by someone who isn’t me. All this to say, I just haven’t felt like doing the things that normally fill my cup. I’ve been hiding.

I beat myself up on Sunday for not completing my project life work for the week and for skipping filming. Yesterday, before I could even post anything on my blog, I crawled into bed at 9:00 and don’t remember anything in between that and my alarm going off this morning. That wasn’t even drug or alcohol-induced.

I talked to a few people that *did* lift my spirits, though. Marc, of course, talked me through some questionable decisions I’ve made, and helped me get to the root of the problem. He’s helping me with the stuff he’s good at: the science behind it, and the plan to make it better. I talked to my bestie, who said, “Goals are things you work toward. Sometimes you don’t make them. If you made them each time, that would be a to-do list.” I have another good friend, who writes over at Messy Worthiness, who is practicing grace, and who has inspired me to be nice to myself, even when I don’t quite meet the bar. I’ve been taking my scrapbooking class by Theresa Moxley of Larkindesign called In My Pocket that I wrote about last week, and she’s really good at easing my nerves when it comes to the pressure of being creative and being busy and being healthy.

I’m giving myself the space, time, and love I need right now to get through the slump. In the meantime, if you need me, I might be in bed eating cookies with Maggie, watching “Sing” or “Moana,” and that’s fine with me. I know I’ll come up above the water soon, and I’m grateful for everyone who helps me get through it.

By the way, I want you to know you all get me through it too. You lift me up, and I appreciate it.

I’ll be back next week, and SHIT! Hopefully I’ll be a little less of a Debbie Downer. While we wait, here’s a picture of my baby in a crown.


Be sweet to yourselves, friends. Make your goals, but love yourself anyway if you don’t. I love you all.


Learn New (Scrapbook) Tricks with This Old Dog

OK, friends who message me EVERY WEEK that you want to start scrapbooking or memory-keeping: here’s your big chance. Listen up! Many of you have watched me over at Lola Scraps and sweetly told me you want to get started keeping memories for your family. I’ll start by saying, “Yay! Welcome to the Old Lady Club. It’s fun here, but we go to bed at 8:00pm. Mkay?” Secondly, you’re gonna love it. Thirdly, this can be as fun, expensive, and time-consuming as you let it, so don’t freak out. Just try to remember the main goal: memories. Keep them. Make them pretty. We can do this. Let’s go.

So, I’m getting ready to take a scrapbooking class (Oprah voice: “My first oooooone!) and I’m as excited as a snail is slow. I’m an old dog who wants to learn new tricks, and I’ve been obsessed with family photos and scrapbooking for years, but my new YouTube/scrapbooking fav Theresa M. of Larkindesign has inspired me SO MUCH this past year to get my shit together, get past my fears, and SCRAPBOOK my heart out. She is so down-to-earth, smart, and a really talented artist and designer who talks about her process and is totally inspirational. She’s a good place to start if you’re just starting this journey (and side note: she gets bonus points in my book for talking about her life, sometimes easy, sometimes hard. She’s real life. So refreshing.)

The minute Theresa announced a Pocket Page Memory Keeping Class, I jumped on it. It’s an introduction plus 10  lessons over the span of 11 weeks. I’ve written a post before about why I scrapbook, and I’ll say again that pocket pages are the way to go if you’re a beginner, or if you don’t have the time to make full-size layouts for every memory you want to treasure. I’m hoping to build on my current knowledge and learn a few more tricks to keep up my sleeve. (See what I did there? Scrapbook jokes – I got ’em).

Larkindesign’s In My Pocket Memory Keeping Class includes (with my comments):
Introduction, Plus Strategies (yay!)
Lesson 01: Album Format (yay!)
Lesson 02: Photo Printing (yay!)
Lesson 03: Using Technology (something i’ve been scared to do)
Lesson 04: Photo Strategies (can’t wait!)
Lesson 05: Supplies (my favorite part)
Lesson 06: Setting Goals (yessss!)
Lesson 07: Keeping it Simple! (even more yesss!)
Lesson 08: Feeling Burned Out? (can’t wait to hear this!)
Lesson 09: Too Many or Too Few Photos (ugh, yesss!)
Lesson 10: Tying Up Loose Ends (I’m already sad it’s going to end)

If you don’t end up wanting to dive in to the scrapbooking deep end, I don’t blame you because it can get a little overwhelming. But if you decide to take the plunge, I think Theresa is a really good designer to start with, through her class, or just by watching her (free!) YouTube videos.

As I say on my YouTube posts: this is not a sponsored post. I just want you to have the same nice things I have so we can have fun together. Also, I really love Theresa’s work and I think you will too.


Three Things Nice People Told You When You Got Married, and Three Things Those Assholes Didn’t

Today is my wedding anniversary, and I’ve been married to Marc for eight years, ladies and gentlemen. That’s almost three times as long as Britney Spears and Kevin Federline were married, and though we might have had the same amount of drama, I’m still calling it a win overall.

I’m thinking back to our wedding day. We got married on a hot July Saturday evening at 7:30, and I was sweating like a third grade boy after recess, not because I was nervous, but because I’m pretty sure the air wasn’t working in that old chapel. I sat on the couch in the Bride’s Room at 7:15, staring at the clock, ready and waiting. It was quiet, and remarkably calm, but there was no hesitation or worry for me. I was marrying the guy I knew was meant for me, and I was ready.

Fast forward to tonight. It’s late. We’re tired. I made salmon and veggies for dinner because it’s what I could throw in the oven the fastest, but we’re going to ruin that healthy meal with some Blue Bell ice cream soon, probably. Amidst the faint sound of Maggie watching YouTube Kids on my (her) iPhone, and of Ruby’s swing swishing back and forth on my side of the bed, I’m laughing. Laughing because it’s so different now, and we were so stupid back then. I know no one could have told us the Real Deal, because we were twenty-one and invincible, and wouldn’t have heard it anyway. But I’m going to give my best shot at sharing what people told us, what they didn’t, how they were right, and how they were wrong. You know, because eight years is a long time to be married, and I know everything.

All knowledge reflected below is not necessarily based off of my own marriage. See note below.***

***All knowledge reflected below is absolutely, definitely, painfully, and joyfully based off my own marriage. If you disagree with me, then I’m happy for you, or sad for you, depending on the situation. Read this with a sense of humor, or you’ll end up thinking I’m a terrible person. I swear I’m not a terrible person. Ask Marc, who has known me and somehow loved me for half our lives. 

Nice Person Thing #1: “Never go to bed angry and always kiss goodnight.” 
Yeah, no. That saying is nice, but it’s about as helpful as the sign you bought from Kirkland’s that you hung in your bedroom to remind you to do this very thing. On more than one night, you will think about taking that sign off the wall, and chunking it at your husband’s head, but you don’t because you WILL PROBABLY HAVE TO CLEAN THAT MESS UP TOO. And just so you know, I’m always thinking of the “just in case it’s the last time” scenario too, but if something tragically happened to either one of us, I’d die knowing my last words were fighting words, because we were worth fighting for. Boom.

Nice Person Thing #2:
 “Love is all you need.”
Yeah, mkay, no again. I’ve never not loved Marc. I’ve always loved him immensely, and always will. But I’ve loved him more than I wanted to be married before. We almost lost everything, and it’s not because we didn’t love each other. We made all kinds of mistakes, and the biggest thing was not being on the same page, or at least in the same book. If I’m being an asshole, and if you’re being an asshole, we better talk about it and figure it out, and it better be a conversation about tangible, measurable shit, like money, or chores, or what I actually need from you and what you need from me so that we get better. Duh, we love each other. Now show me how much with your laundry skillz.

Nice Person Thing #3: “Whatever you do, don’t talk about your spouse to anyone because they’ll never forget the bad stuff.”
You can do that or you can call your mom/sister/BFF and say, “Can you believe this %#*^+?” Call them. Vent. And carry the type of friends that know you love that %#*^+ more than anything, even when he’s driving you crazy.  You might even find an opportunity to really nail down what’s bothering you, and talk reasonably about it with your spouse later, after you dropped all the f-bombs on your girl. “NO HE DIDN’T.” Yes he did, girl. Yes he did.

Marc and Al Wedding Day Praying

What Those Assholes Didn’t Say #1:
You will fantasize about what life would be like without your person sometimes. Without them. Without your kids. Without your bills. Without your problems. With someone else. And I have two comments on that: 1) Don’t bother with the someone else thing, because they will probably end up annoying the shit out of you too. Even Jake Gyllenhaal has smelly feet, you know?. 2) You’re not a jerk for thinking about it. You’re just not. Because it’s a lot to ask of two people to come together and become one thing. It’s a lot to combine your feelings and bank accounts and expect that everything is going to be easy. It’s so, so not. It’s nice to get away from it all, as long as you come back down to earth knowing that marriage is hard sometimes, but getting past dirty laundry next to the hamper instead of in it is worth the good stuff. It’s worth the friendship when you need validation, worth the sex with someone who still thinks you’re sexy, and worth the love that grows deep into the earth, giving you a good foundation to stand on and be your best self.

What Those Assholes Didn’t Say #2:
Here’s a fun experiment: Get pregnant. Have a baby shower. Come home with a new crib and ask your husband to put it together. Now try to agree on how to put it together, where it goes, when the baby will go in it, and everything else after that. No one told us how complicated things get for a marriage when you add kids to the equation. They all smiled sweetly at us at baby showers. Those dicks. Listen, we don’t always agree on how to handle situations with our kids, but I can honestly say that making/raising a HUMAN BEING with someone is truly, at the end of a very exhausting day, the coolest experience. We made a THING that is a physical representation of our marriage. Two sets of something, now one. A crazy, loud, full-of-attitude-and-zest version of you and yours. Worth the hard part. Really worth the hard part.

What Those Assholes Didn’t Say #3:
Marriage can be a roller coaster, and sometimes you won’t like the guy you’re stuck next to on the ride. But most of the time, once you get past the big drop, you might realize it was you being the jerk the whole time you were screaming that you hated this ride. And then you’ll laugh. And maybe throw up. But the guy you’re stuck next to ends up being the guy you thank God for while you’re holding his arm, realizing you might actually be having a little bit of fun. What I’m saying is: you should be open to look in the mirror and figure out if you’re part of the puke or part of the fun. Maybe it’s both. But do both with each other. It sucks if you do puke or fun alone.

Al Kisses Marc

I wonder if in eight more years I’ll read this and roll my own eyes, thinking about what an idiot I was. Maybe, but hopefully I’ll be an idiot who still gets to do this thing with Marc. I’m grateful for our eight years, and hope for 80 more, at least. I love my husband so much, and I’m thankful he loves crazy, messy, imperfect me.  I truly wouldn’t want to do this with anyone more than him. Except for maybe that guy who wrote the blog about helping his wife with everything without asking because that’s his job and she deserves it. Just kidding. Not even him.

Love you all. Especially you, Marc, you big doofus.



Let’s Talk About Money, Dammit

Raise your hand if you had to borrow money from your parents this week. JUST UNTIL THURSDAY THOUGH. *Raise*

I want to preface this post with a few honest facts about what kind of money people we are, so that you can decide if this is even for you. We still pay minimum payments on our credit cards, with big plans to pay that stuff off, you know, when we’re rich. We still think $100 is a lot of money. We still get genuinely excited when it’s pay day, and we can buy “fun” groceries like Doritos, and not just “need” groceries like milk. We have student loan debt, and a mortgage, but I still had to have my mom explain to me how a deductible on health insurance works. Our savings account had what felt like a million dollars it in, and then we had Ruby. And staying home on unpaid maternity leave is expensive. So now we have $15.64 in our savings account. We usually have enough money to spend it without thinking about it too hard, and we are grateful. We are both fully aware of how we have the best kind of money problems around, and that we have to “worry” about so many beautiful, helpful things: house, cars, furniture, food. Not everyone has those things. So that’s where we are.

Before you get all judgy on me, I’ll “brag” about not having to borrow money from my parents since college, thankyouverymuch. The irony of having to borrow this week is hilarious: it’s because I re-worked our budget and attempted to pay all of our bills in a completely different way than we paid them before, and I got overambitious. Basically, I tried to be more responsible, so much so that I was irresponsible and threw invisible money at people. Nice. Real nice.

Internal conversation in my head on Sunday night:

“Here, asshole bills. Take my money. I’m responsible! We’re paying you early! Take that interest rates. Wait. Wait one second. I…I think I…so, six minus seven is…yeah, maybe don’t cash that check yet.”

I’m ready to admit something my mom was right about all this time. Listen up, Almost-Thirty-Somethings-Like-Me, did you know we were supposed to be doing something the old folks call “balancing your checkbook?” It’s where you start off with a certain amount of money, and then subtract in real time as you spend money, so that you know exactly how much money you have left over to spend on other things. Weird, I know. I can already hear you yelling at me that every bank does that for you, through online banking, and I have two words for you that I’m yelling back: pending transactions. 

I know there are so many helpful online tools out there, but I’m going to take one for the team and admit that the old people are right about this one. Stop fighting them. Do you know that the bank gives you a “register” along with your checks? I know that most of us probably don’t even use checks very much anymore, but the register is helpful because it takes into account the things that your online banking isn’t smart enough to know. Two real-life examples that speak to this: 1) I just wrote a $100 deposit check for Maggie’s birthday party venue. I have no idea when Barbara in accounting is going to cash that thing. So, if I have $100 left in my bank account, according to USAA, and I think I’m hot shit with “extra” money, and forget that I wrote that check, I’m screwed. 2) I have a Target debit card, because 5% off is always nice. But that charge doesn’t show up in our USAA account until four days later. Four days! So, again, if I have $100 left in my bank account, according to USAA, and I think I’m still hot shit (with all the adorable things from the Dollar Spot), and then that charge comes through, I’m screwed again.

Maybe these things don’t happen to you, because you always have enough money in your account to not have to worry about this. If that’s the case, I am genuinely happy for you. (I might be 6% annoyed with you, but mostly happy). If you are like me, and you’re just tryna pay your bills, build a savings, and go to Target every now and then, then you need to get on the register train like I did this week. Get your shit together with me!

You know I couldn’t just balance my checkbook on any old register, so I made my own Register Template, and I’m inviting you to download it, and challenge yourself to keep track of your money, even for a week. If you’re a millionaire, I still challenge you, because I bet you’ll be surprised at what you spend your money on after you write it down. I added a “category balance” column, because our budget is broken down into categories (e.g. groceries, vehicle, insurance, etc.) and each category starts off with a certain amount each month. This column allows me to easily see how much is left in that category so that we know if we’re falling short in one, we can “borrow” from another, as long as it all adds up. Oh, and the “credit” line means money going into your account, so add your paycheck (or Mom loans) there.

I hope you have enough money in your bank account to not have to worry, but to still be humble. I hope you get some “extras” and find ways to treat yourself.  We both have a $75/month hobby category, because it’s good to let your brain relax and forget about stressful stuff from time to time.

Most of all, take care of yourself, and be kind to yourself if you’re still trying to figure out money. Chances are you might not have a lot right now because you were busy doing nice things for other people, like putting your kids through preschool or college, or taking a family vacation that you all just really needed. Warm yourself up some SpaghettiOs, and try to make a plan. If you have your shit together, give yourself a real pat on the back, and transfer $100 to savings for us, like pouring out champagne for your homies.

Quick shout-out to the Bank of Mom for the 12-year, 0% interest loans over the course of my life. I know not everyone has that kind of banking relationship and Marc and I ‘preciate it.

I love you all, for richer or poorer. But let’s try to be richer, mkay? I’m never giving up on Target.