Hi, Friends. Hi there. Hi. Hi. Hiiiiii. HI.

Six months is a perfectly reasonable amount of time to just abandon your hobbies, right?

Want a little update of Lola’s world? Here’s six months of updates and random shit that’s been floating around in my head and heart, in a few sentences.

September – Threenager Maggie started school and we’re grateful to get back into the swing of things. I like routines and checklists, even if I break the rules half the time.
October – Happy Halloween!  I dressed up as a tired-ass mom with spit-up on her shirt. I also ate all of Maggie’s Twix. Sorry ’bout it. Started taking Wellbutrin to help with some leftover anxiety. EVERYTHING’S GONNA BE FINE, RIGHT?
November – Happy Thanksgiving! The holidays are here, which means we’re broke and probably stressed the fuck out. But it was good to see family, and eat Mom’s food, of course.
December – Merry Fuggin’ Christmas. Marc and I always get super stressed during December because HI FAMILY DRAMA. But we managed to have a good time this year and I’m hoping it can always be that easy. I didn’t even take Xanax, y’all. (+50 points to me.) Stopped taking Wellbutrin because I felt AWFUL and possessed. No thank you, ma’am.
January – Happy New Year! I’m 30 now! I had A TON of sweet friends send me special pins for my bday, per my request, and I plan to do a video soon showing you all of those. Also, we finally got Maggie potty trained. Feeling good about 2018, despite starting the year off with three – count them – THREE funerals.
February – Happy Love Month. I have a lot to be thankful for, especially for starting my period after three days of being late. JESUS, THAT WAS CLOSE. (Love you, little family, but NO.) Ruby is eating food now, and finally getting teeth. She’s so GD cute.

As for my mental state:

My brain – I wish it would have been possible to leave the blinking line there, right after the dash, so you could have a clear understanding that my brain has just been a blinking line at the end of a half-typed sentence. I’m frustrated about still having up and down days, despite being on depression and anxiety medicine at the moment. Wellbutrin tried to kill me, so it’s just a matter of me raising my hand for help in front of the right doctor. Meh.
My weight/diet – Someone help me understand what the frick-frack is happening to my body. After Ruby was born, I have just consistently and steadily gained weight each month. I don’t know if it’s my Zoloft, or chicken parmesan, or just life in general, but I need to make some changes before long. I haven’t been in the mood to hate myself when I look in the mirror, and have been trying to be a little easy on myself, but spending money on new jeans because your old ones don’t fit is NOT something this girl wants to do.
My home – I spent a good amount of the holidays minimizing around the house. Tupperware bottoms that had no tops – GONE. Clothes with holes or two sizes too small – GONE. Books we didn’t love and cherish – GONE. Broken toys and junk – GONE. It felt good, man. So good.
My heart – I’ve been taking care of myself in 2018, trying to be loving and good to ME so I can be good to others. I’ve been trying to let anger go. I’ve been trying to see things from a different perspective. So far, it’s been a weight lifted off my shoulders. I feel good about the future. Deep breaths. I go back and forth on checking out from the outside world to just face mask and read in my spare time, instead of flip through Tasty videos and solve NYT crosswords on my phone for hours, but I guess there’s always room for improvement.
My money – Without going into too much detail since we’re in the midst of it, we’ve had to deal with a frustrating commission issue, but the good news is that it has forced us to look at our budget more closely. I’ve become the budgeting master and Excel whiz. I’ve now switched spots with Marc and wince every time I swipe my debit card. I added up all our debt (house, cars, credit cards, student loans) and made a plan to pay it off. Who knows if that will happen, but HEY, man. We’re trying. Still want to make a shout-out to the Bank of Mom, that transfers money “just until payday, I swear” for 0% interest on a moment’s notice. We’re grateful for that. Truly.
My faith – Grateful to God, still talk to Jesus. I burn sage and charge crystals and ask Great Spirit to bless our house. Will read your tarot cards for practice. An intuitive, progressive witch who thinks brown Jesus was probably pretty cool, and hopefully forgiving of our asshole-selves in this current day and time.

So, there you have it. Six months worth. I know I say this every time, but I really do hope to get back into my writing game. I hope to get back into a lot of things that make me feel good about myself. Lots of hope. But I mean it. I love you guys. Video coming soon with alllllll my birthday pins. Soon-ish. You know what I mean. xoxo.

Hey weirdos. It’s me, Queen of Crazy, coming to you with some kinda-weird, kinda-crunchy things I’m currently trying or want to try soon. I’ve been MIA for the last few weeks because I’ve been giving myself some space and reprieve from stress, while practicing self-care.

Have I talked about my Secret World before? My Secret World is the place I live in my head and in my heart. It’s where conventional rules don’t apply. It’s where no one has to pretend you’ve got your shit together. I have purple hair and lots of tattoos/piercings in Secret World, and no one cares about the stretch marks they’re next to. I drink a TON of coffee in a cool little cottage that’s in the woods, but not scary, horror-movie-woods. There are strings of lights and caterpillars inching their way along wooden fence posts. There is ALWAYS real, salted butter on the counter, ready for toast. Flowers and artwork and music and Macbooks and all the pretty things live here, and 2-hour naps are a daily, spiritual ritual. I even have a Pinterest board called “iloveSECRETWORLD” where things I’d totally have in this magical land are pinned.

I’ve been in the mood to bring some Secret World to my Actual World, and since I can’t have purple hair or a nose piercing, I’m trying these kinda-crunchy things instead:

  1. Natural Deodorant – Some of you may know I had a bilateral mastectomy a couple of years ago in response to a positive BRCA1 gene mutation result, so part of that journey meant discovering a couple of handy tips and tricks to help keep cancer away. One of them was to switch to natural deodorant that doesn’t contain aluminum. I made the switch this summer (really, Alyssa? Texas summer?) and, you know what? I love it. In the beginning, I was afraid I was going to smell like a third grade boy after recess, because apparently, while you detox from regular deodorant, your body responds in a way that basically says, “Mkay, girl, you wanna play? WE’LL PLAY.” But I used TheCrunchyMamaBear’s Armpit Detox to get through the beginning, and it worked! I’m now using Primal Pit Paste in Jasmine and Patchouli, and TheCrunchyBearMama’s Natural Deodorant. Now I smell like tea tree and peppermint oil, so hopefully all the Trump voters out there know I don’t fuck around. #hippie
  2. Gardening – If you want a plant to die, give it to me, and I’ll make sure it happens. SO UNFAIR, because my dad could make a pile of ashes grow into a goddamned rose bush after a few weeks. Why didn’t I get those genes? But I’ve managed to keep two human beings alive, so I should really be at a point in my life where I can take care of a plant. Right? RIGHT? I have a single solitary plant in my kitchen that I got months ago, which might as well be a million years ago in my house, and it’s STILL ALIVE. So I’m inspired to try my hand at other plants too, and hopefully some vegetables if I become expert-level using this Guide to Vegetable Gardening. If it all goes to shit, I bid thee plants farewell. Rest in peace, guys. I honestly tried.
  3. Bug Collecting – Raise your hand if you’d rather die a slow death than touch a cockroach. RAISE. But, y’all, I took an entomology class in college (English majors avoiding physics – raise your hands uuuuup – repreSENT) and it was so much fun. We had to do a pinned bug collection, and thank God my older sister helped me pin those motherfuckers, because the Lord knows I couldn’t do that by myself. As Maggie puts it, “bugs are a little scary, Mommy, but it’s okay, they not hurt us.” Finding bugs is one of our favorite things to do, so I hope we can collect together and show Miss Ruby someday. Plus, Dad’s afraid of spiders, so someone’s gotta catch ’em. I even got the Texas Bug Book for Maggie’s birthday so we can be official about it.
  4. Essential Oils – I’ve always loved the smell and feeling I get when I smell certain oils. Patchouli has been my favorite since the dawn of time. But lately, since I’ve been in a bit of a funk, I’ve been willing to try anything to put some pep in my step. I have a friend at work who recommended this Essential Oils Natural Remedies book, so I ordered it, because the idea of using oils to heal is perfectly witchy and lovely to me. P.S. – If you’re reading this and plan to come at me with your Young Living marketing, just know I’m an oil rookie on a budget and can’t afford your fanciness for like, another year or two. Sorry in advance.
  5. Self-Care Sunday – Right now, I’m all about making and taking time for my brain to process all that’s happening around me. I’m giving myself a little bit of time on Sundays for some Meditation, Mind-Mapping, Listening to Inspirational Podcasts, General Witchiness, Deepak Chopra’s Anxiety Checklist, Reading, Mud Masks, Spiritual Thoughts, Favorite Quotes, Chakra Affirmations, Mindfulness, and Avocado Toast. Just kidding on the avocado toast. I’ve talked WAY too much shit about avocado toast for me to be able to eat it now. I’m making official time for me to take care of myself, because sometimes, you’ve gotta do that.

Do something that makes you happy and feeds your soul. If you’re in Texas like I am, stay safe. This Hurricane Harvey business is no joke. Side note: something compelled me to Google if sharks are safe during hurricanes. Did you know sharks can sense changes in biometric pressure, and those little sharp-toothed swimmers GO TO THE DEEP to stay safe. That kinda makes me happy. So, be a shark and swim to the deep, okay? Stay safe. I love you all.

Sometimes, your longtime friend steals the words out of your mouth and brain, and it’s a friggin’ relief to hear someone say the things you’ve been feeling. I’ve mentioned my friend Tabitha before, and I’m mentioning her again, because she’s been writing about her own life over at Messy Worthiness, and she hits the nail on the head on how I’m feeling too. Today is August 1st, and she’s starting a little challenge that I’m joining too, called #messygraces.

Do you ever feel like you are a super big failure and nothing you do is right and then you spend the whole day just mentally beating yourself up about all the things you did that were horrible that day?” — Tabitha at Messy Worthiness

NO! (Yes). Hell to the yes, I do.

She’s in recovery right now, and her therapist asked everyone to start a journal where they give themselves three graces every day. It’s a chance to acknowledge something you did that you could have maybe done better, but forgive yourself and move on from. Sigh. Can I petition for like, nine graces a day? FINE, I’ll do three.

Do you know why I’m looking forward to this? I need a break. I need a break from the guilt of rolling my eyes at my kid when she asks me to “HOLD ME, MOMMY” for the 86th time in a night. I need a break from the guilt of looking at my husband in the eye and asking him how his day was at 9:00PM for the first time that day. I need a break from the guilt of eating a Hershey’s bar in bed. I need a break from the guilt of wishing I had a day of vacation BY MYSELF where I do things like walk down the aisles of HEB and LOOK at all the groceries. It’s been all about me right now, because I’ve been trying to keep my head above the water, and I need a break from feeling bad about that. So, #messygraces it is.

I have a Traveler’s Notebook that I’ll be using for this challenge. I hope to decorate the pages, but the overall thing I’m giving myself grace for is that it’s okay if these pages aren’t beautiful, Pinterest-worthy pages. That’s not the point for me. Not right now.

Don’t forget to use the hashtag #messygraces if you join. We’re both on Instagram, and Facebook too. See you around, Fellow Failures. JK, we’re the fuckin’ best.

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.

Ruby

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

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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.

SCRAPBOOK WITH MEEEEEEEEE. I love you all. 

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.

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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.

What do you get when your military dad busts you for screwing up the plans? Alliteration, in a cheesy form, of course! The 6 Ps, according to Papa:

Prior Planning Prevents Piss-Poor Performance.

My eyes still hurt from rolling them back into my head after hearing this so much in my younger years, but DAMN! He was right. I love planning, friends. In fact, you could say I looooooooove planning. My BFF and I were talking the other day about how we’re not the type of people who you can casually invite to the beach last minute, even if we didn’t have kids. We would not be fun people to do that with. (“Sure I’ll go to the beach with you, but first, let me pack my sunscreen, first aid kit, bandaids, etc., and also, we need to leave in 22 minutes in order to beat the traffic, mkay?”) The sheer thought of last-minute plans makes me a little itchy.  But don’t get me wrong, y’all. I don’t always get it right. I meant to post this blog this morning, and here we are at the end of the night. So, there’s that. Cheers!

You might be able to imagine now how excited I am to start my new planner. Somewhere along the way last year, I got a Day Designer for Blue Sky Academic Planner  that I ended up loving, so the crazy person in me hates it a little bit that my year “starts” in June instead of January, but you know what? We roll with the punches. And also, I don’t have time to start a new damned planner in January. Can I get an AMEN?

I’ve been thinking about my planner setup for this year, and made a plan (surprise!). I wanted things simple, accessible, and fun. I decided to go with the same brand of planner, because it’s made by Day Designer, one of my favorite planner companies, but also made for Blue Sky, which means it’s reasonably priced and is made available for me and the other commoners at Target. I’ve spent upwards of $75 on a planner, but I’m at the point in my life that I’m okay with a $30 planner too. It’s so pretty, see? Love.

For the monthly spread, this edition has nice, big, lined squares, and a laminated tab for the month. Bonus points for that rainbow effect on tabs. GIVE ME ALL THE COLORS. On the monthly spread, I decided to keep it simple and only include:

– Bills
– Birthdays
– Pay Days
-Holidays
-Goals for the Month

Not so bad, right? It’s not covered in anything too obnoxious. I added some stickers, but the main focus of my monthly page for me will really be a bill tracker to help us figure out where money will be coming out, and how much money we’ll have to spend on fun things. You know, a BUDGET. Frick, we’ve been bad lately and plan to get better. I think. Whatever.

For my weekly spreads, I’m repeating bills, birthdays, pay days, and holidays along with:

– Meal Plans
-Important dates for Knowing Lola
-Weekly spending reviews
-Monthly tasks on the actual day they fall on
-Any other random stuff that pops up!
-Stickers (DUH).

Again, I don’t want it to end up being too crazy so that it takes me longer to “plan” and decorate than it would to do half of the things on my damned to-do list. Like, I’m happy for the people that can spend hours on their planners, but I personally can’t mentally dedicate that kind of time to my planner, because I would lose my mind, make sense?

I even made a fancy page marker that is removable, that I plan to keep on the monthly page for now. It’s got reminders of things I need to take care of on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis. For now, I think this will help me just engrain in my head that I’ve got a lot to do, but it’s all right here in front of me, and I can stop rocking back and forth now, and it’s going to be okay.

I know this will evolve as the year goes on, but I’m excited to implement my new “rules” and ideas into my new planner. CHEERS to a happy, organized 2017, even though it’s almost GD July. Better late than never. Also, it’s fun to pretend like I’m in college again with my academic planner. (Someone meet me at Antonio’s on Northgate for some pizza!)

I made a quick little video of my planner bag that I’m keeping close by while I plan. Before you watch this and judge the shit out of me, I’d like to say that I KNOW I am privileged to have this many stickers in my life. I KNOW these are white-girl problems and that there are bad things happening in the world. But I’m holding on to my stickers for dear life, and clinging to the idea that I have a little bit of control in this crazy, weird world.

Watch that video here, if nothing else to be amazed that they make this many different stickers for grown-ass adults:

I hope you find a fun way to be organized, but if you don’t, you can find solace knowing that some days I literally write “NOPE” in my planner, because I just can’t. I’ll also continue to send emails to myself at 3:30AM while going pee because that’s when God seems to think is a good time for me to remember ALL THE THINGS.

I love you all. Happy planning, or non-planning. Be nice people. Take your meds. See you again soon.

It’s totally true. He never says it. One time, in middle school, I jumped out of his GMC truck, grabbed my backpack and said, “I love you!” and he squeamishly responded, “Okay!” I’ll never forget that, mostly because I think that’s actually the perfect metaphor for my relationship with my dad. I’m all heart and he’s all Papa.

Father’s Day had me thinking about him, of course. I don’t know how to describe him well enough to actually portray his complexity, but I’ll try. My dad is an engineer, and appreciates facts and reason. He’s kind of course and messy, like the outside crust of a just-smoked brisket. He says what he’s thinking, has no filter, and has no patience for bullshit. He’s an old-school, hispanic male who can’t help but be a product of his hard-as-nails upbringing, sometimes a little callous.

But he’s also the guy you call when the shit is really going down, and he will help you figure it all out, with a level-headed “we’ll get through this” approach. He’d hate for you to know he’s got a thoughtful, squishy side that thinks and feels beneath the top layers. I once took a personality test, and it explained that I’m the type of person who pours a bowl of cereal, and thinks about the people behind the cereal, like “Who are the people that made this cereal?” or, “What’s their life situation like?” I get that from my dad. Basically, I know not to expect a lovey-dovey, card-writing, emotion-sharing, “Daddy” dad. I know to expect a smart, thoughtful, but tough guy who would do (and has done) anything for me or my sisters; who loves us tough, but loves us whole. He’s also funny as hell, and makes the best barbecued-anything you’ve ever had.

I’ve learned from my dad that the world can be a tough one. It’s not fair, and there isn’t a group of people, clapping and waiting to go out of their way to watch out for you. That’s what family is for. I’ve learned that right when you think you’re not good enough, there’s a little nugget of something that lives inside of you, and it glows through the night until you figure out you are good enough in the morning. I’ve learned that when things in your life are falling apart; your friendships, your marriage, your damned self, and you accidentally fuck it up by hiding from the problems, that you learn from your mistakes and get back up again. Bonus points if you apologize to the people you hurt in the process. I’ve learned that sometimes, you’ve gotta spit on the ground, roll up your sleeves, and FIGHT for it.

So, no. He doesn’t say, “I love you.” He just does it, and shows it, and I’m grateful as hell to him and my mom for teaching their girls to be transparent, but strong. To be loving, but to be badasses too.

This Father’s Day, we took a dozen Bill Miller chopped barbecue sandwiches and those mushy, hot fries to my parent’s house. I plopped those bad boys on the table, and made my way into his humid man cave with shelves of African violet sprouts and yellowed papers. I sat down at his dusty PC, logged into my Amazon account, and emailed him a $25 gift card. He wrote me this morning and said he planned to buy a nose hair trimmer, you know, because he’s a dad. It doesn’t get any better than that for me, y’all.

Clearly, I love my parents so much. I hope you celebrated your dad, or someone who filled the role of saving your ass while kind of kicking it too.

Happy Father’s Day, Papa. You (and Mom!) really are my heroes.

P.S. Quick, someone email this to my dad because OF COURSE he doesn’t subscribe to my blog.

Hey, friends! I haven’t done a “Five Things” list since 2016, so I thought I’d do a June edition in case you were in the mood to #treatyourself like I’ve been lately. Reminder: These links are NOT sponsored and I’m not affiliated with anything I post, other than I’ve been spoiling myself with these modern conveniences in the recent days and I want you to have them too. LET’S BE TWINS. I also increased my $10 splurge to $15, because it’s 2017 and we live in a weird world and God knows we need to be taking care of ourselves.

What: FarmHouse Fresh Fluffy Bunny Shea Butter Hand Cream 
From: Amazon ($13.50)
Why I love it: The next best thing to buying a fluffy bunny is buying FarmHouse Fresh’s Fluffy Bunny shea butter hand cream. I was hoping to find a small, L’Occitane-style lotion to throw in my purse for a little aroma-therapeutic pick-me-up, and thanks to the gods at Amazon, I found this cute little line of beauty products with a farmhouse theme. Fluffy Bunny smells like lavender and mint julep, and is the perfect little balance of calming and bright. P.S. It’s natural and vegan if that’s your thing! P.S.S. I love to be marketed, so the names of these damned lotions are enough to buy them for me. So cute, not fair. Let me know if you try a different smell.

What: HeyBeauty Eyebrow Pencil with Brush
From: Amazon ($8.99)
Why I love it: Thank God for Moms, am I right? I made it all the way to her house to drop off the girls before work when I realized I didn’t put my eyebrows on. I borrowed this pencil from her, had her send me the link, and had that baby on the way to my house in a 45-minute turnaround. It goes on smoothly, and has an edge that makes it easier to “guide” the pencil along. I’m admittedly out of the eyebrows-on-fleek cool kid crew, but this thing is awesome. I ordered it in light brown and love it.

What: Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar
From: Amazon ($8.07)
Why I love it: Hey, no fair. I’m double promoting this book that I’m reading for my summer reading challenge (#klreadingchallenge WHAT WHAT) but I love, love, love it. Another shout-out to Kim for pointing me in the direction of this delicious writing. Who doesn’t like to read advice, even if you’re screaming something completely different in your head. Treat yo’self.What: Paper Mate Mates 1.3mm Mechanical Pencils
From: Amazon ($3.79)
Why I love it: Yes, it’s a pencil. Yes, they’re only $4. Yes, I’m totally serious. I ordered these for work for me and an admin friend (Allison – hey, girl, hey!) because we are both nerds with office supplies, and I loved them so much I ordered my own little batch for my house. It’s a mechanical pencil, but the lead is THICK like an old-fashioned pencil. It almost feels like you’re writing with a small chalk pen. That good, y’all. Love them, and they’re in assorted colors, which is my middle name. Alyssa Assorted Colors Smith.

What: LIHIT LAB Bag-In-Bag Laptop Sleeve
From: Amazon ($13.66)
Why I love it: So, I used to throw my bills into a bag and let them get crumpled, because I felt like that was a pretty good metaphor of how I felt about them. But, since I’m a superstar and have made an effort to get my shit together before I turn 30, I bought this neat little sleeve that allows me to neatly place my 8.5×11 papers, so that I can at least appear to be a grown up with straight papers in front of others. This bad boy holds my bills so I can pay them on time (whaaaat?) and is also home to a few emergency thank you notes and birthday cards, because I’m prepared, dammit. Sometimes, organizational tools at least inspire you to be better, and this one has worked for me. I even bought a green one for Marc so I can shove his “to-do” papers in his backpack before work. BOOM.

I hope you find some time to relax and spoil yourself a little this month. If you have time, hop over to Instagram and document your summer reading time on my challenge hashtag. If you’re feeling crafty, hop on over to YouTube where I’m filming weekly layouts for Project Life. If you’re feeling tired, go take a nap. Love you all.

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