Thursday, February 26, 2015

Happy Birthday, CJ!

Today my baby turns 5. It is hard to believe that it has been that long since he was born. He has grown and changed so much in these 5 years. 

He is such a smart little boy; sometimes he seems too smart for his own good. He loves anything that deals with military and zombies. He loves to play on the PS4 as well as his chromebook. His favorite show is Adventure Time. He loves all things New Orleans and misses his "home". He loves "Mommy food" (aka home cooked meals) and pretends to cook for me too. He loves to do his schoolwork; probably because it's all fun and games at this age. He likes to motivate me when I work out and tries to do every exercise I do. But, after one of each he announces, "I'm done." with that adorable little smile. His wardrobe is 95% camouflage.

He announces "Mommy, I love you to the moon and back!" with an enthusiasm that warms my heart. He is a true little momma's boy. 

Last night, we got a small snowstorm. His sisters teased him, telling him that the snow was his birthday present. He immediately said, "Can I have a new present? I didn't want snow."
 photo IMG_2748_zpskr96oqqn.jpg 
{© Crystal @ The Italian Bella Diaries, 2015}

Over the years he has changed a lot. But one thing has always been the same: He is my little boy and always will be. 
{© Crystal @ The Italian Bella Diaries}

Monday, February 16, 2015

50 Questions That Will Free Your Mind {Part 2}

This is part 2 of the 50 Questions That Will Free Your Mind. This part contains questions #26-50.

  1. Would you rather lose all of your old memories, or never be able to make new ones? I really can't answer this because I think both would be equally traumatizing. 
  2. Is is possible to know the truth without challenging it first? I always challenge information to determine if it's truth. Just the way I am.
  3. Has your greatest fear ever come true? Thankfully, no.
  4. Do you remember that time 5 years ago when you were extremely upset?  Does it really matter now? Yep, I remember. It was August 2010 when we left Louisiana to go to Maryland. I think it does matter since that decision affected my mental health.
  5. What is your happiest childhood memory?  What makes it so special? I have many, many happy childhood memories. There is no way to choose just one. They are special because they involve my family and other important people that mean everything to me.
  6. At what time in your recent past have you felt most passionate and alive? When I was in Louisiana in 2009 - 2010, 2012, and 2013. Louisiana brings out a part of me that I have never experienced anywhere else.
  7. If not now, then when? I'm not sure what this question is asking....
  8. If you haven’t achieved it yet, what do you have to lose? What I have achieved?
  9. Have you ever been with someone, said nothing, and walked away feeling like you just had the best conversation ever? Nope, I really haven't.
  10. Why do religions that support love cause so many wars? This is a question that I cannot answer.
  11. Is it possible to know, without a doubt, what is good and what is evil? No. I've learned that those who are most evil come disguised as good.
  12. If you just won a million dollars, would you quit your job? No. A million simply isn't enough. I have 7 kids to put through college. Even if I were a billionaire, I would still be a psychologist.
  13. Would you rather have less work to do, or more work you actually enjoy doing? I'm going to assume that the less work would be something I didn't enjoy. So, I guess more work that I enjoy doing. Although less work sounds good anyway...
  14. Do you feel like you’ve lived this day a hundred times before? 99% of my days are actually repetitious.
  15. When was the last time you marched into the dark with only the soft glow of an idea you strongly believed in? Uhhhh, never?
  16. If you knew that everyone you know was going to die tomorrow, who would you visit today? My family and keep my kids with me.
  17. Would you be willing to reduce your life expectancy by 10 years to become extremely attractive or famous? Nope. I have no desire to be attractive or famous. I prefer to live a productive and happy life.
  18. What is the difference between being alive and truly living? Being alive simple means you are breathing. Truly living means you are enjoying every breath you take.
  19. When is it time to stop calculating risk and rewards, and just go ahead and do what you know is right? You should always do what you know is right.
  20. If we learn from our mistakes, why are we always so afraid to make a mistake? Mistakes can be painful even if we do learn from them. It's not the mistake we fear but the pain created by the mistake.
  21. What would you do differently if you knew nobody would judge you? Nothing.
  22. When was the last time you noticed the sound of your own breathing? Every day. I always notice the sound of my own breathing.
  23. What do you love?  Have any of your recent actions openly expressed this love? My husband, kids, family, friends. I hope that they always know that I love them.
  24. In 5 years from now, will you remember what you did yesterday?  What about the day before that?  Or the day before that? It's possible. I remember random days from further that 5 years ago. I also keep a small journal filled with daily events.
  25. Decisions are being made right now.  The question is:  Are you making them for yourself, or are you letting others make them for you? I make the majority of my own decisions. However, I am a wife and mother; therefore, some decisions are made for the good of the family rather than what I want.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Strengths and Weaknesses

We all have strengths and weaknesses. I have trouble coming up with strengths for myself. But, I could probably name a million weaknesses. I have weaknesses like food, books, pens and paper, TV shows, actors, etc. But, for this post, I wanted to list traits about myself that were strengths and weakenesses. 

My Strengths:
  1. Loyalty. I am loyal to those I love. I will protect them and defend them with everything I have. 
  2. Intelligent. I don't proclaim to be the smartest person out there, but I am very smart (the IQ test said so). I also love to learn. 
  3. Empathetic. I tend to sympathize a lot with others. 
  4. Compassionate. I am a very compassionate person. I will help you as much as I can. But, beware. My compassion can only go so far. If you screw me over, my compassion - and help - ends.
  5. Passion. My passion for living, learning. The passion I have for raising my kids to be the best that they can be. 
My Weakenesses:
  1. Perfectionism. My perfectionism causes a lot of problems in my life on a daily basis.
  2. ADHD. My mind? Scary place to be. It runs nonstop. 
  3. Jealous. I have a very jealous nature. I am protective over the people in my life, my possessions.
  4. Rigidness. I am very rigid in how I expect things done. 
  5. Procrastination. I tend to put almost everything off until the last minute. If I manage to accomplish something early, it's a miracle. My perfectionism has a lot to do with this trait.

 photo 30Things_zps8a319447.png

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Organization: To-Do Lists and Bills

I get asked frequently how I stay organized. There is a method to my madness. I don't know if any of this will work for anyone else, but this is what works for me. 

My method of organization will be divided into four sections:
  1. To - Do Lists and Bills
  2. Cleaning
  3. Blogging
  4. School
This is Part I: To - Do Lists and Bills

I have tried several methods until I found one that worked for me. I tried phone apps, extensive printables, etc. But, the method I use now is really simple.


I use a simple To Do List that I found online years ago (if this is YOUR template, please contact me so I can give you credit and a link back to your site). I have a tendency of using things for other purposes than their intended purposes. Here I just list the date a bill is due, the name of the bill, and the amount owed (that part is covered up). My bills are real basic. I check them off as they are paid in full each month (I forgot to check off the ones already paid before snapping a picture). At the bottom of the page I keep a running total of my rent and phone because I pay on them each week until they are paid off for the month. I keep this list on a clipboard and then file it in a binder when the month is over. 

To - Do Lists:

This is my To-Do List for Tuesday. I write my list by hand and check them off as I complete them. I do not add my cleaning tasks to this list because I do use an app for that. I also include bills that need to be paid on this list as a reminder for me. I usually write the bills in on the first of the month and I write out the next day's list the night before.

The pink sparkly book in the very top picture is used for my to - do lists. I found that particular book at Dollar General for about $3. I tried to use apps for this but it just didn't work well for me. There are some things I prefer to still hand - write. 

I'm sure that others have methods that work better for them. But, for me and my mind, this is the best way for me to keep up with my to - do's and bills. 

How do you keep up with your to - do list? Or do you just wing it everyday trying to remember what needs to be done?

12X30 Challenge January: The Love Yourself Challenge

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Wednesday Hodgepodge {Vol. II}

1. Have you ever written a love letter? Have you written one recently? Had one written to you? Did you keep it?
  • I have written love letters before. My husband and I used to write them a lot in the earlier part of our relationship. I saved them but not sure where they are. I used to have them in storage. Heaven only knows if they are still there. Haven't really written any lately. We usually just text.
2. What's a movie that ends in a way you especially love?
  • Sweet Home Alabama, I guess. It ended with Melanie (Reese Witherspoon) with the right person. 
3. Something that makes your heart sing? And for those of you who are parents, I mean something besides your children that makes your heart sing?
  •  Learning psychology. I feel completely happy when I am learning in class. I know I am headed in the right career path with each passing class.
4. What's the last event you had to attend, phone call you had to make, routine task you needed to complete, or meal you had to prepare, that you did do, but only half-heartedly?
  • Probably a school assignment. Sometimes, I only do some of my assignments half-heartedly. Luckily, I still get good grades on them, but my heart just isn't into them. 
5. Tuna fish salad-yay or blech? If you said yay, how do you like your tuna salad prepared? Hey, this is the Hodgepodge, right?
  • Blech! I hate tuna all around!
6. What's something you 'know by heart'?
  • My kids' birth information down to the exact day of the week. I will never forget them. 
7. In the spirit of Valentine's Day, what two or three word phrase would you write on a conversation heart for someone you love? That someone could be a spouse, child, parent, cousin, bestie...anyone at all whom you love.
  • To my friend, Kathy: "Stay Strong"
  • To my Husband: {Sorry it's technically 4 words} "Forever and a Day"
  • To my kids: "To the Moon"
8.  Insert your own random thought here. 
  • Please do not read any further if you are a The Walking Dead fan and have not seen Sunday's episode. 
{Photo © AMC}

            They literally ripped my heart out, broke it, and then threw it on the ground, and stomped all over it. 
            Tyreese had been one of my favorite characters since he first appeared on the show. Sunday's episode
            completely broke my heart!

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Wearing Orange for Teen Dating Violence Awareness

February is Teen Dating Violence Prevention and Awareness Month.

TeenDVmonth is now in its fifth year and awareness and prevention is growing strong. For years, young people across the nation have organized to put a stop to dating abuse. After teen dating abuse was highlighted in the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act in 2005, Congress declared the first full week in February "National Teen Dating Violence Prevention and Awareness Week." In 2010, they dedicated the entire month of February to teen dating violence awareness and prevention. This year, the National Youth Advisory Board for is inviting you to make an impact by participating in the second annual National Respect Announcement thunderclap! The National Respect Announcement, formerly National School Announcement, began five years ago – students from across the country read the announcement over their high school P.A. systems on Valentines’ Day. The announcement reaches thousands of youth each year and for the second time this year we’re incorporating social media to reach even more young people! The goal of the National Respect Announcement is to take a moment to stop and remember that love has many definitions but abuse is not one of them. By participating in this thunderclap, you will join us in promoting respect and healthy relationships and help connect young people to valuable help resources like loveisrespect’s text and chat line which is run by peer advocates 24/7.

On February 10, join Wear Orange 4 Love, by getting as many people as you can to wear something orange in honor of teenDVmonth. Wear orange shirts, nail polish, ribbons, jewelry, shoes or anything else you can think of. Tell people why you are wearing orange and post pictures and updates on Twitter using #Orange4Love #RespectWeek2015 or

{All information is from the Love Is Respect webpage}