My 6 Goals for This Week

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My 6 Goals for This Week
Welp, I don’t have much to report when it comes to progress on my goals from last week. But I did spend all day/night Tuesday and Wednesday at the hospital practicing caring for Champ (our little preemie baby boy whom we’re fostering) under the watchful eye of the nurses. We were cleared for his release on Wednesday night and the rest of the week/weekend has been a whirlwind of adjusting to feeding him every 3 hours around the clock (and learning how to function on less sleep!), getting into the groove of having a newborn again, and figuring out our new normal. Here’s my goals list from last week: Last Week’s Goals — 2020 — Week 12 Personal Goals 1. Get in 54,000 steps total. (I use the FitBit Ulta HR to track my steps every day.)  2. Finish reading Your New Name, Home Court Advantage, and Zachariah’s Story. Plus, finish listening to The Body Keeps the Score.  Home/Family Goals 3. Read 30 more pages of Carry a Big Stick aloud as a family. (Maybe we’ll finish it this week?!?) 4. Foster care stuff: Organize all of the preemie baby clothes/things. Set up the second baby bed. Get car seat installed. Work/Blog Goals 5. Finish the rough draft of chapter 8 of my manuscript. Word of the Year Goals 6. Pop popcorn and watch another classic movie as a family.  I’m feeling like we’re starting to get back into a groove again, so I’m hopeful that I’ll have more progress to report on goals this coming week. We’ll see! This Week’s Goals — 2020 — Week 13 Personal Goals 1. Get in 54,000 steps total. (I use the FitBit Ulta HR to track my steps every day.)  2. Finish reading Your New Name, Home Court Advantage, and Zachariah’s Story. Plus, finish listening to The Body Keeps the Score.  Home/Family Goals 3. Read 30 more pages of Carry a Big Stick aloud as a family. (Maybe we’ll finish it this week?!?) 4. Baby prep stuff: Pack hospital bag for me/Jesse/baby. (I can’t believe it’s now time to do this!! Since I had a super fast labor last time around, I’m hoping to be as prepared as possible this time!) Work/Blog Goals 5. Finish the rough draft of chapter 8 of my manuscript. Word of the Year Goals 6. Pop popcorn and watch another classic movie as a family.  What are YOUR goals for this week? How did you do on last week’s goals? Tell us in the comments! [...]
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Security Token news for Week Ending Friday 27 March 2020

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Security Token news for Week Ending Friday 27 March 2020
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The 3 Books I Finished Last Week (+ the 1 classic movie we watched)

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The 3 Books I Finished Last Week (+ the 1 classic movie we watched)
Welcome to my weekly book update post where I share what books I read this past week + my honest thoughts and star ratings of them. A Word on My Star Ratings The star ratings I give the books I read are based on a 5-star rating system. I rarely will ever give a book a 1-star rating (maybe never?), because my philosophy is that if a book is only worthy of one star, I’m more than likely going to quit reading it. 🙂 In the same vein, you’ll also notice that I’ll rarely give a 5-star rating as I reserve those for only my very, very favorite books. Want to see all of the books I’ve read so far this year? Check out my Good Reads page. The Fourth Trimester I was really excited to read this book as I thought it would be great for me to prep for birth and postpartum recovery — especially since I’ve struggled with postpartum depression/anxiety after all three of my pregnancies. (I think a lot of my struggles were related to not taking time to properly rest and heal after my births.) Going into reading it, I knew the book wasn’t written from a Christian perspective and had a lot of influence from other religions in it. I was prepared for this. Unfortunately, I had a hard time getting past a lot of those sections. So much of the advice just felt so self-serving and humanistic…  and some of the advice to ask for so much help and set such strong boundaries after the birth kind of felt like it was encouraging you to come across as a jerk. (Just being honest here!!) That said, my big takeaways are that rest, good nourishment, and limited movement for the few weeks after birth are really important. Those are my hopes for this postpartum period for my upcoming birth and what I’ve spent the last few months prepping to make happen! This book definitely encouraged me to prioritize that. Does anyone have suggestions of a good book for postpartum that encourages these things that might be a better fit for me (or something for me to recommend to others)? Verdict: 2 stars The Lazy Genius Way I have heard of Kendra Adachi’s podcast (The Lazy Genius) but, truth be told, I’m not a listener. I think I may have have heard one episode way back when or maybe have heard her on another podcast, but that’s about the extent of my knowledge of her. Despite that, I really loved this book! It’s well-written, funny, practical, and realistic. Kendra has the perfect balance of truth, humor, and grace sprinkled throughout it. She also makes you feel like you can actually get your home and life in better order (notice I didn’t say “perfect order” just “better order”? I think Kendra would approve of that language!) I love her approach to be a genius about those things that truly matter to you and your family and to be lazy about those things that don’t matter to you and your family. I also found her light-hearted footnotes throughout the book to be a fun addition. While I’ve read a LOT of time management, home management, and life management books, I still found so much fresh perspective and inspiration in Kendra’s book. And now I’m thinking I need to check out her podcast! Verdict: 4 stars The Gospel Comes With a House Key Okay, I was a little scared to write this review, because it seems everyone I know absolutely adored this book. And, while I really loved parts of it, there were other parts of it that I just couldn’t stand behind wholeheartedly. Let’s start with what I loved: I loved the author’s desire to encourage what she calls, “Radically Ordinary Hospitality”. It is a lost art in our usually-busy worlds and I think it is one of the biggest building blocks to genuine community and Christlike love. I also loved that the book shone a light on foster care and the need for Christian families to prayerfully consider being involved in this ministry in some way. (You all know how passionate I am about foster care!) That said, what bothered me in the book was that she presented hospitality almost as a one-size-fits-all sort of thing. That it’s only in the context of your church and neighborhood and that it pretty much always involves opening up your home for a meal. While opening up your home is fantastic and serving food is great, I think hospitality can also be inviting a friend to the park or to coffee or to join you in a walk or reaching out to the lonely-looking person sitting on the sidelines at your child’s baseball game or inviting your co-worker to lunch… and a thousand other things. For me, I believe hospitality is going to take on many different forms — because we all have different giftings and different spheres and circles we run in. I wish she would have talked much more about this. The second thing I didn’t like in the book was that she was super honest about situations they’ve been through with other people — the good, the bad, the ugly. And in many cases, she shared a lot of details about conversations that I felt were private and not ones to be shared in a published book that anyone in the world might read. I feel like there’s good chance some of the things she shared openly and in detail about very personal hurts and situations could very well damage relationships in her life — even some of those that might be ones she’s seeking to practical “radically ordinary hospitality” to. (Maybe she got every single person’s permission to share what she shared and maybe each person was 100% okay with it… even then, I think many of the examples and conversations could have been omitted and the book would have still been as powerful. For me, it would have been even more powerful.) And now I’m going to go duck from all of the rotten tomatoes I’m going to get thrown at me! 😉 Verdict: 3 stars Classic Movie We Watched Last Week The kids decided — all on their own — that they want to start watching one old classic movie per week together as a family in 2020. They are helping me choose the list of movies and I’ll be reporting here what we watch each week and their thoughts on it. I plan to do a big classic movie round-up post at the end of the year with their verdict on the best and favorites of the ones we watched. (Thank you for all the great suggestions for must-watch classic movies!) Last week, we watched Mr. Bean’s Holiday — a movie Jesse and I had watched together a long time ago together and thought the kids might enjoy. They did enjoy parts of it, but they found it a little on the slow side and thought it drug on — especially toward the end. (Note: I don’t think this actually qualifies as a “classic movie” since it came out in 2007, but oh well, we’re going to say it is since it was the movie we watched last week!) What did you read this past week? Any books you think I really need to add to my long to-read list?? [...]
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This Week in Fintech ending 27 March 2020

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This Week in Fintech ending 27 March 2020
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Life Update: Pregnancy (week 34), Fostering, Quarantining, & Kathrynne is home!

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Life Update: Pregnancy (week 34), Fostering, Quarantining, & Kathrynne is home!
34 weeks! And what a week it’s been! Kathrynne getting stuck in Suriname because they closed the borders (gratefully, her group got on a special flight this past Monday —  see below), spending hours at the NICU taking care of the preemie we’re fostering, everything else in our life getting cancelled… it’s felt like a pretty unprecedented week! Highlights Pregnancy-wise, I’m doing well. I feel like baby had a growth spurt this week and I’ve popped even more. Very few clothes still fit and I feel pretty big, but I’m not at the totally miserable stage yet, so I’m grateful. Getting comfortable while sitting and sleeping is becoming more of a challenge, but that’s to be expected when you’re in your final weeks of pregnancy! 😉 Notable I’m thankful to not be experiencing much swelling yet. My face is definitely a lot puffier, but other than that, so long as I keep my feet up for part of the day, I’m usually good. We’re hopefully bringing our NICU baby home soon, so I’ve spent some time this week making sure everything is in order for both babies — baby clothes are washed, diapers are stocked, a second bed is ordered, etc. I also sat down and mapped out the bones of a feeding/sleeping/life routine today — since our little preemie is on an every three-hour feeding schedule and will most likely continue that once released from the hospital. We’re getting excited to think of being a family of 7 soon — but also trying to savor our last few days of being a family of just 5. Cravings I’m mostly only hungry in the mornings now. I’m usually famished for the first few hours of the day and then I’m not that hungry after lunch. I’m eating lots of apples/peanut butter and Raisin Bran/milk. Oh and we found that vanilla ice cream before bed helps me to sleep better and not wake up with heartburn as often. I have no idea why, but hey, if it works, it works! 🤣I’m also eating dates every day and drinking red raspberry leaf tea to help prepare for labor. Weight gain: 27 pounds She’s home!!! After being gone for 11 days, getting stuck in Suriname due to the country completing closing their borders, and being told she might not be able to come home for 30 days… we got to witness God move some pretty huge mountains in a very short amount of time. (The government arranged a special flight out of Suriname for them and a handful of others who were trying to get back to the US!) A huge thank you to the many who prayed, the school administration who worked tirelessly to get them home, & the government officials who bent over backwards to make this happen. Also, we are so proud of this girl! She handled the whole thing like a champ and told me she decided to focus on the positive in it instead of dwelling on the what if’s or unknowns. She came back stronger, more resilient, more independent (in a good way), more aware of the goodness and provision of God, and so incredibly humbled by how many hundreds (thousands?) of people were praying for her and their team to make it home safely. Thank you all to the many, many, many of you who wrote, texted, and messaged to tell me you were praying. It has truly been a humbling experience to be the recipient of so much love and kindness this past week… especially when SO much else is going on in the world. We are blown away how deeply you care about our family. And now we’re hunkered down at home for the next few weeks trying to stay as healthy as possible and keep our home as germ-free as possible since we’ll likely be welcoming a medically fragile babe into our home very, very soon. (Interested in seeing the creative things my kids are finding to do each day while home 24/7 or want to follow along with our foster care journey? Be sure to follow my stories on Instagram. I usually post there multiple times per day every week day!) Speaking of Instagram, I posted this earlier this week and thought this might encourage someone today: This is what the last 8 days of my life have looked like. Sitting in the rocker in the NICU rocking this tiny preemie we’re fostering and praying. (Note: The mask is just one of the many precautions the nurses are having me take to keep me and baby as healthy as possible.) I’m usually a go-getter, a very driven person, who will have 15 balls in the air I’m juggling at any given time. My brain isn’t good at slowing down and I typically find living life at 100 miles an hour (with short pit stops here and there) to be exhilarating and fulfilling. But right now, this is my season to rock, hold, comfort, and speak words of life to this precious baby. And that is enough. I look down at this bundle I’m holding and realize, this sweet child doesn’t know anything about the chaos or fear going on in the world. Baby just wants to eat, sleep, and be held. And as long as I’m holding this child, they are almost always completely relaxed in my arms, resting deeply and peacefully. As I sit here, I think of so many of you who are struggling today. Some of you have written in and told me how you are facing scary unknowns, big financial setbacks, possible job loss, fear of the future, worry over immunocompromised loved ones, separation from those you love, and so much more. This virus is personally affecting each of us in big ways. I just want to remind you — as I am reminding myself — to crawl up into Jesus’ lap and let Him hold you. He loves you more than you can ever imagine. And He will give you what you need for today. There are a lot of unknowns in my future right now — as I am positive there are in yours. If I let myself start dwelling on them, I can begin to feel scared and stressed. But God hasn’t given me grace for tomorrow or next month. He is giving me grace for today and I can rest in that. And so, I sit here and rock — trusting Jesus that He has my future, my NICU baby’s future (and all the possible medical issues and things with that far outside my control!) my 34-week in utero baby’s future, my other 3 kids’ futures, my husband’s future, the future of our business, my extended family’s future… in His hands. I rest in that and rock on. ❤️ [...]
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Security Token news for Week Ending Friday 20 March 2020

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Security Token news for Week Ending Friday 20 March 2020
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This Week in Fintech ending 20 March 2020

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This Week in Fintech ending 20 March 2020
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XBRL news for Week Ending Tuesday 17 March 2020

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XBRL news for Week Ending Tuesday 17 March 2020
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Life Update: Pregnancy (week 33), fostering a newborn, Suriname

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Life Update: Pregnancy (week 33), fostering a newborn, Suriname
33 weeks — and I’ve very much officially outgrown this non-maternity sweatshirt! Highlights Well, this was quite the week! As I mentioned yesterday, in addition to all the upheaval, unknowns, and cancellations due to COVID-19, Kathrynne also got stranded in Suriname (I hope to have a good report to share on her situation there soon! It’s looking hopeful that they aren’t going to be stranded for 30 days!), and we started fostering a newborn who was born prematurely and is currently in the NICU. This foster placement is likely a long term placement (as with foster care, that could always change) and baby will likely be in the NICU for another few weeks. So I spent the bulk of the last 5 days at the NICU and will likely be there much of every day until the baby comes home. I’m so thankful for the flexibility of my job and our lifestyle that is allowing me the opportunity to pour into and love on this little one. We are completely smitten and the kids look forward to me coming home every day to share the pictures and videos I take. This is my first experience with time in the NICU and I’m so thankful for the amazing team there who has patiently taught me so much about how to care for a medically fragile child. I’m learning all sorts of new terms, bottle-feeding techniques, what all the beeps and alarms mean, what I need to pay attention to… Each nurse teaches me something new every day. I’m trying to make sure to pace myself, eat healthfully, exercise, stay hydrated, try to get as much sleep as I can, and have downtime each day to hopefully stay well and continue to have a great pregnancy (the hospital won’t even let you in the door as a visitor right now if you’re not super healthy). Notable I’ve spent a lot of time this week sitting in a rocking chair in the NICU rocking two babies — one on my lap and one in my womb. It’s crazy to realize they are both about the same size right now! And it’s also funny because the babe in my belly is constantly kicking the babe on my lap. Also, yes, it’s looking like we’re going to have “twins” at our house in just 6-7 weeks. The kids are beyond ecstatic!! It should be quite the adventure! Feel free to hit me up with all your best advice for having two newborns at the same time! Cravings Milk, cereal, milk, and ice cream. Notice a theme?!? Weight gain: 25 pounds A Few More Peeks Into Our Life This Past Week… I had the privilege of interviewing Becky Keife for my podcast this past week. Her book, No Better Mom for the Job, was one that really blessed me this past year. I can’t wait to share her episode with you on Tuesday. You are going to be so encouraged! Like I said, Kathrynne left for Suriname last Friday morning to go on a special learning/serving/experiencing trip with a teacher and a small group of girls from school. (This picture was taken at a park there.) This is the girl who — just 5 years ago — was scared and completely uncomfortable to be around kids her age. This is the girl who has struggled with so many panic attacks and anxiety. The girl who was incredibly angry with us when we made the decision to put her in school after always homeschooling (she was so fearful of having to be around kids she didn’t know and to be in so many unknown situations all day long). This was the girl who was terrified to get on a plane to South Africa with us just 4 years ago. It’s our heart’s desire to raise self-sufficient adults, not co-dependent children. So over the past 5 years, we’ve slowly pushed her to do a lot of uncomfortable things, because we knew the only way she would grow wings and fly was if we gently nudged her out of the safety of our little nest. We often wondered if we were making the right call and we spent a lot of time crying out to God for wisdom and direction for the next step. God has been so faithful to give us wisdom — even when it’s meant making really hard calls (like quitting homeschooling). We look at her now and see that is was SO worth it — she’s a confident, outgoing 15-year-old with more friends than we can keep track of and a social calendar we struggle to keep up with. A girl who loves Jesus, life, adventure, travel, and people. A girl who excitedly jumped at the chance to go on trip to Suriname (her first international trip without us)! We’re still finding our way in what it looks like to parent teens. And I know we’ve made plenty of missteps. But we continue to just look to the Lord to give us wisdom for each new day, each new situation, each new unknown… and we trust Him to be faithful! Also, watching your kids go on their own adventures, jump out of their comfort zone, stretch themselves, and live courageously is one of the most rewarding things as a parent… even if it involves a lot of our own letting go! How was your week? How are you doing in the middle of so much unknown and unexpected? Let me know in the comments! (And if you are feeling stressed and scared or just going through a rough time right now, leave a comment and let me know. I have lots of extra time to pray for people right now while I’m sitting in a rocker in the NICU!) [...]
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We spent $71.40 on groceries this week (+ what a wild & crazy week!)

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We spent $71.40 on groceries this week (+ what a wild & crazy week!)
Want to see what we bought for this week’s $70 grocery budget? I’m currently challenging myself to stick with a $70 budget for our family of five. This includes almost all of our breakfasts, lunches, snacks, and dinners + most household products (toiletries, laundry soap, etc.). For live updates, be sure to follow my Instagram Stories. See all posts on my $70 Grocery Budget here. Whew! What a wild week it’s been! In addition to everything surrounding COVID-19… school cancellations, church cancellations, sports cancellations, my parents cancelling their trip to come see us, Kathrynne being in Suriname while all this was going down*, and just figuring out how to navigate life in the middle of all of the unknown, we’ve also personally had some pretty HUGE things happen at our house this week… namely, we said yes to fostering a newborn who was born prematurely and is currently in the NICU. So, much of our week was spent at the NICU loving on this little baby and meeting with the social worker/DCS/the medical team and learning how to care for a medically fragile baby. I had never stepped foot in the NICU up until 4 days ago, so it’s been a whole new experience. And of all of the weeks, this was probably one of the most unique and weird weeks to be spending a lot of time at a hospital!! (They have a screening process just to get in the door and then to get in the NICU is a whole other level!) The nurses and staff and social worker and DCS have all been amazing throughout this process and they have taught me so much and walked alongside us so well through this new territory. Also, we are so thrilled that the baby is doing so well, has started to bottle feed a little this week, and maybe get to come home in a few weeks! (And yes, in case you’re wondering, this means that we’re planning to have two newborns at our house soon!! The kids could not be more excited!! Of course, this is foster care, so things could always change at any time… we’re just taking one day at a time and seeking to love well in this.) If you want to follow along with this journey, I’m sharing little peeks on my Instagram stories every day. *As of last night, Kathrynne is currently stranded in Suriname because they closed the borders just hours before she was supposed to fly back home today! Her school is working hard to get this situation resolved ASAP and get the girls back home. In the mean time, she has such a good attitude about it all. You can read more details here. Okay, enough of an update! Let’s talk about groceries! We checked our stockpile and realized it was lacking in a few areas, so we shored up those areas so that we have a 30-day supply on hand — even though not everything was on sale this week. I’m grateful that we did this earlier in the week, because our stores are pretty sold out of a lot of staple items now. Jesse ran by Kroger on Monday to pick up a few things we needed: Kroger Shopping Trip #1 Potatoes — $2.49 Milk — $2.99 Cheese — $2.29 4 yogurts — marked down to $0.39 each Total with tax: $9.91 And then he ran by Aldi later on in the week to get a few more staple items: Aldi Shopping Trip 10-lb. potatoes — $3.79 Eggs — $0.58 Black Beans — $2.45 4 boxes Mac & Cheese — $0.33 each Steel Cut Oats —  $2.99 Great Northern Beans — $1.69 Milk — $2.49 Total with tax: $16.07 (The bag of sugar had a small hole in it, so they gave it to Jesse for free!!) Psst! Have you checked out my post on my 25 Favorite Things to Buy at Aldi? I’m glad we got potatoes, because our store was completely sold out of them by Friday! (Who knew potatoes would be the big thing to stock up on?? That one surprised me!) Kroger had some three-day sales that I wanted to try to take advantage of. I wasn’t sure whether they would have these items in stock when I went by on Friday night, but they did! In thinking of making sure we have a 30-day supply of food and household items, I made sure we had enough on hand to make 30 dinners with our freezer and pantry items. I always love to have a few frozen pizzas on hand — especially for a quick dinner on busy nights or if the kids have friends over at the last minute! Yay for them being on sale for just $3.14! Kroger Shopping Trip #2: 2 Kroger Pizzas — $3.14 each with the three-day sale 2 bags of rice — $1.99 each 5 packages Kroger cheese — $1.29 each with the three-day sale Eggs — $1.19 3 packages strawberries — $1.67 each 2 bunches bananas — $2.71 total 5 packages Nathan Beef Franks — $1.99 each with the three-day sale Milk — $2.99 Apples — $3.99 Total with tax: $45.42 Our Menu Plan This Week Note: When you see the meals below, please remember this: I buy ahead often. Which means that when I find a great deal on something I know we’ll use, I buy as much as I can afford in our budget to have on hand. This means that you aren’t going to see all of the groceries my shopping trip that I used to make all of the meals we ate. Please also remember that I’m putting this out there and it’s not a perfectly balanced menu. This is just really what we ate — and I hope that it encourages you to see the real-ness and lack of perfection here. Breakfasts: Cereal Lunches/Snacks: Leftovers, Salad, Apples/Peanut Butter, Mac & Cheese, Banana Muffins, Danimals, Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins, Cookies, Pears, Yogurt, Random other markdowns/sale items 🙂 Dinners: Sunday — Fend for yourself Monday — Turkey Meatballs, Breaded Eggplant, Salad Tuesday — Rotisserie Chicken, Steamed Veggies, Twice Baked Potatoes Wednesday — Chicken Tetrazinni, Banana Muffins, Veggies Thursday — Meatballs, Apple Crisp Friday — Leftover Meatballs, Leftover Twice Baked Potatoes, Steamed Veggies Saturday — Pumpkin Waffles, Bacon, Strawberries Total spent on groceries: $71.40 Cashback Earned: 75 points from Fetch Rewards and $1 from iBotta [...]
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XBRL news for Week Ending Tuesday 10 March 2020

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XBRL news for Week Ending Tuesday 10 March 2020
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This Week in Fintech ending 13 March 2020

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This Week in Fintech ending 13 March 2020
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Security Token news for Week Ending Friday 13 March 2020

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Security Token news for Week Ending Friday 13 March 2020
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3 Books I Finished Last Week (+ 1 classic movie we watched)

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3 Books I Finished Last Week (+ 1 classic movie we watched)
This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy here. Welcome to my weekly book update post where I share what books I read this past week + my honest thoughts and star ratings of them. A Word on My Star Ratings The star ratings I give the books I read are based on a 5-star rating system. I rarely will ever give a book a 1-star rating (maybe never?), because my philosophy is that if a book is only worthy of one star, I’m more than likely going to quit reading it. 🙂 In the same vein, you’ll also notice that I’ll rarely give a 5-star rating as I reserve those for only my very, very favorite books. Want to see all of the books I’ve read so far this year? Check out my Good Reads page. Love Idol I read this book back in 2014 and it made my Top 10 Books Read in 2014 list. Since I’m writing some about the importance of recognizing how much you are loved by God in my upcoming book, I wanted to re-read this book again. It was just as good the second time around! It’s packed with powerful and wise reminders of how we are pre-approved by God. As such, we don’t need to chase after the approval, the praise, the admiration, or the affirmation of others. If you struggle to believe you are loved, enough, and valuable, this book is for you. It’s also a fantastic read if you battle against having perfectionistic, people-pleasing tendencies. It’s well-written and engaging, but more than that, the message is powerful, freeing, life-changing! Verdict: 4 stars Don’t Overthink It Ever found yourself second-guessing a decision or stalled by paralysis analysis? Don’t Overthink It will give you practical suggestions, sage encouragement, and worthwhile strategies you can implement to stop over-thinking and make faster, better decisions that will bring you joy! There were many great stories and examples in the book and I think it might be Anne Bogel’s best writing yet. Her words inspired both this Instagram post and this Instagram post. (In case you didn’t click through and read those links, you do need to read the quotes they are based on: “Decisions made out of fear are not good decisions.” AND “When we assume we can’t, it’s guaranteed that we won’t.”) Verdict: 4 stars The Austen Escape I’ve loved Katherine Reay’s books and have had this one on my shelf for a long time. So I was really excited when it came up to download for free on Libby. I have to be honest and say that it felt a little bit like a Hallmark movie and it seemed to drag on slowly at times and was pretty predictable in others. (If you didn’t pick up on it, I’m not much of a Hallmark movie fan. Should I admit that out loud??! However, if you are in the camp of people who love Hallmark movies, then it just might totally be your cup of tea.) Overall, it wasn’t my favorite book by Katherine Reay, but if you’re looking for a light read and you love Jane Austen (or Hallmark movies!), you might enjoy it. Verdict: 3 stars Classic Movie We Watched Last Week The kids decided — all on their own — that they want to start watching one old classic movie per week together as a family in 2020. They are helping me choose the list of movies and I’ll be reporting here what we watch each week and their thoughts on it. I plan to do a big classic movie round-up post at the end of the year with their verdict on the best and favorites of the ones we watched. (Thank you for all the great suggestions for must-watch classic movies!) Last week, we watched The Strongest Man in the World. It’s a little cheesy in parts, but overall, it was a fun, lighthearted movie. Silas especially enjoyed it. Have you seen it before? What did you read this past week? Any books you think I really need to add to my long to-read list?? [...]
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We spent $62.05 on groceries last week (+ what we ate)

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We spent $62.05 on groceries last week (+ what we ate)
Want to see what we bought for this week’s $70 grocery budget? I’m currently challenging myself to stick with a $70 budget for our family of five. This includes almost all of our breakfasts, lunches, snacks, and dinners + most household products (toiletries, laundry soap, etc.). For live updates, be sure to follow my Instagram Stories. See all posts on my $70 Grocery Budget here. This week we had a lot of different things going on — Jesse got home from the men’s Discipleship retreat on Sunday, we had things going on almost every evening, Kathrynne left for a 9-day trip to Suriname on Friday, and I spent Friday-Sunday out of town at the women’s Discipleship retreat (both Jesse and I are small group co-leaders for our church’s Discipleship Intensive program). We also went with our youth group to the indoor waterpark at the Gaylord Opryland on Wednesday evening (Jesse and I both co-lead a small group of teens in our church’s youth group, too). So, when you see our menu plan below, you’ll notice we didn’t have a lot of “normal” dinners as a result. 🙂 But hey, this is real life right now! Kroger Shopping Trip #1: 5 boxes Kellogg’s Raisin Bran — $1.79 per box when you buy 5 participating items, get $0.60 back from iBotta for each box purchased Oscar Mayer Deli Meat — marked down to $1.79 — earned Fetch rewards Lettuce — $1.79 Half & Half — $1.99 Sandwich buns — marked down to $1.29 3 lbs. ground turkey — marked down to $2.09 3 bags of marked down produce — $0.99 each 2 gallons water — $0.89 Milk — $2.99 Total with tax: $31.47 I was excited about the Friday-Saturday deals! Especially the $0.99 Prego! And the $1.49 Kellogg’s cereal! Kroger Shopping Trip #2: 5 boxes Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes — $1.49 each with the Friday-Saturday deals 2 boxes Krusteaz Sugar Cookie Mix — marked down to $0.49 each 5 Ghirardelli Chocolate Cake Mix — marked down to $0.49 each Baking powder — $1.05 Salt — $0.49 Beefaroni — marked down to $0.39 Refried Beans — marked down to $0.39 Progresso Soup — marked down to $0.49 5 jars Prego (only 4 are pictured because we accidentally dropped one while bringing in the groceries!) — $0.99 each as part of the Friday-Saturday deals — earned $0.75 cash back from iBotta Milk — $2.99 Apples — $3.99, used $0.50/1 Kroger digital coupon = $3.49 Bag of avocados — marked down to $0.99 Kroger lemonade — marked down to $0.89 Kroger orange juice — marked down to $0.99 King’s Hawaiian Rolls — marked down to $0.79 Total with tax: $30.58 Our Menu Plan This Week Note: When you see the meals below, please remember this: I buy ahead often. Which means that when I find a great deal on something I know we’ll use, I buy as much as I can afford in our budget to have on hand. This means that you aren’t going to see all of the groceries my shopping trip that I used to make all of the meals we ate. Please also remember that I’m putting this out there and it’s not a perfectly balanced menu. This is just really what we ate — and I hope that it encourages you to see the real-ness and lack of perfection here. Breakfasts: Cereal Lunches/Snacks: Leftovers, Salad, Turkey/Cheese Sandwiches, Apples/Peanut Butter, Mac & Cheese, Danimals, Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins, Cookies, Pears, Random other markdowns/sale items 🙂 Dinners: Sunday — Fend for yourself Monday — Turkey meatballs, Acorn Squash Tuesday — Broccoli, Creamed Corn, Garlic Bread, Meatloaf Wednesday — Pizza (Jesse, Kaitlynn, and I were at a youth group event and they served pizza & ice cream), Silas and Kathrynne had cereal Thursday — Pot Roast + Sweet Potatoes & Carrots, Pears/Apples, Spaghetti Squash, Biscuits Friday — Leftover Buffet (I was out of town at a retreat.) Saturday — Chili’s (I was out of town at a retreat.) Total spent on groceries: $62.05 Cash back earned: 375 points earned from Fetch Rewards + $4.05 earned from iBotta [...]
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A peek into our week: Pregnancy Update (week 32), indoor water park, and Discipleship retreat

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A peek into our week: Pregnancy Update (week 32), indoor water park, and Discipleship retreat
32 weeks!!! Highlights I had another OB appointment this week and all is looking well! I hadn’t really asked anything about the birth up until this point, so I figured I should ask if my OB was good with my hopes for the birth. My biggest hopes: that I could birth in whatever position felt right to me (I usually birth on hands and knees), that I could move around a lot in labor if things were going well (I prefer to be on the ball or on my hands and knees when I’m having contractions), that the girls could be at the birth (this was their biggest request from when we found out I was expecting!), and whether we could do delayed cord clamping. I was so thrilled to hear that she was super happy to accommodate all of my requests (provided both baby and I are doing well) and I’m hopeful to have another non-medicated, natural, really positive birth experience like I had with all three so far! That said, I always go into birth with an open mind knowing that things can change and I will freely chuck all of my hopes and plans if medical intervention is necessary. But it feels good to know that my doctor is very much on board with my hopes for the birth. Notable I started to feel more pregnant this week. 😉 While I’m still feeling so good overall, I’m definitely noticing that I’m walking slower, waddling more, getting more clumsy, needing to take a lot more breaks, experiencing more swelling and heartburn (though lots of water and being super careful with my diet is still making such a big difference there!), and just generally experiencing more of the usual aches and pains involved with getting nearer to the end of pregnancy. I’m nowhere near the “l’m miserable and desperately need to get this baby out!” stage (though that stage is probably coming!!), yet… and considering I still have quite a few more words to write on my manuscript rough draft and tasks to accomplish and to do’s to tie up in the next 6 weeks, I’m grateful that I likely have quite a bit more time until baby gets here (I usually go late). Cravings This week, I was all about the cheese and beef. Gratefully, those are two things that don’t give me heartburn! Weight gain: 24 lbs. We spent Wednesday night at the Gaylord Opryland Indoor Waterpark with our youth group (Jesse and I both co-lead a small group in our church’s youth group). Jesse had fun doing the FlowRider and a number of the water slides. I could only do the lazy river, but I still had so much fun watching my girls have a blast! These girls bring so much joy to my life! And then I spent Friday-Sunday at a retreat center in TN with around 130 other women who are part of our church’s Discipleship Intensive program. (This is my 4th year to be involved in this program. It’s such an honor to get to co-lead and walk with a small group of women through this!) My Say Yes Season “Say Yes!” This has been one of my life themes the past 8 months. On the macro level, I’ve said yes to getting licensed as a foster mama, said yes to a 3-book deal, said yes to more speaking and travel, said yes to co-leading another small group for Year 1 of our church’s Discipleship Intensive program, said yes to being a youth group leader, and said yes to opening our home every opportunity we’ve had. On the micro level, I’ve been saying yes to opportunities to hang out and do more fun things with the kids and Jesse — like saying yes this week to putting on a bathing suit at 32 weeks pregnant and laughing and waddling around an indoor waterpark with Jesse & Kaitlynn for our youth group’s indoor waterpark night or spending two nights sleeping on a cot in the tiny kitchen area in the small room that I shared with three other women at the retreat center this weekend. In all of my other pregnancies, I stayed home a LOT. Yes, I had younger kids so it was harder to get out. But I also stayed home because it was uncomfortable to get out — you never know when heartburn or nausea is going to hit, you’re often dog tired, and walking and standing can be difficult in the last few months of pregnancy. This time around, I committed from the get go that I would get up, exercise, shower, and get dressed every day — no matter how I felt. Except for a few rare days, I have kept that commitment. And I truly believe it has made such a difference for me. After all, it’s much easier to say yes to fun and adventure and going places when you’re dressed and ready for the day! 😉 I look back on the last 8 months and see how this commitment to “Say Yes!” has brought so many unexpected blessings and people and relationships and opportunities into my life. And I have a whole catalog of memories, funny stories, and life-changing experiences I would have missed out on had a stayed home and played it safe. I’ve also gotten to see God show up in powerful ways and give me energy when I felt weary and I get to see Him multiply my time and strength on an almost daily basis. It has been stretching in the most beautiful of ways! Important note: While this is something that’s been simmering on my heart to share for the past few months, please note that this is my season of life that I am in right now. This is not to make anyone who is in a season of quiet feel guilty nor is it something I’m advocating for everyone. It is just where God has ME right now. And my season of life will probably look a lot different come April/May when our baby arrives. Also, in the midst of this Say Yes season, I’ve made sure to have daily downtime (I take a nap almost every day + aim for 7-8 hours of sleep at night.) and weekly Sabbath (I take Sundays off.) There is no way I could go at the pace I do without these regular rhythms of rest. [...]
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Security Token news for Week Ending Friday 6 March 2020

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Security Token news for Week Ending Friday 6 March 2020
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This Week in Fintech ending 6 March 2020

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This Week in Fintech ending 6 March 2020
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We spent $68.74 on groceries this week (ALDI + Kroger)

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We spent $68.74 on groceries this week (ALDI + Kroger)
Want to see what we bought for this week’s $70 grocery budget? I’m currently challenging myself to stick with a $70 budget for our family of five. This includes almost all of our breakfasts, lunches, snacks, and dinners + most household products (toiletries, laundry soap, etc.). For live updates, be sure to follow my Instagram Stories. See all posts on my $70 Grocery Budget here. We’ve been eating a LOT of cereal these days. Somewhat because I’m moving more slowly and am more tired now that I’m in the third trimester so it’s an easy snack/meal, but also because I keep getting great deals on it and cereal/milk are one of the few things that don’t give me heartburn! (I didn’t get a picture of these groceries before the kids already got into the cereal & milk!) Kroger Shopping Trip #1 1 gallon milk — $2.69 2 tubes Colgate toothpaste — $1.99 each when you buy 5 participating items, used $4/2 Kroger digital coupon = free after coupons 1 box Raisin Bran — $1.79 when you buy 5 participating items 2 boxes Cheerios — $1.99 each when you buy 5 participating items, used $1/2 Kroger digital coupon = $1.49 each after coupons Total with tax: $8.49 I was so excited that Kroger had butter on sale for $1.99 again this week! We still have 4 pounds in the freezer from the last sale, but you can bet I went ahead and got 5 more pounds to stock the freezer! Kroger Shopping Trip #2: 2 loaves Bakery French Bread — marked down to $0.89 each 1 bag of pears — marked down to $0.99 2 jars of cinnamon/nutmeg — $1 each 1 3-lb. bag of Navel oranges — $1.99 2 bags of frozen Broccoli/Cauliflower — $1/bag 5 packages of sausage — $1.88 each with Friday-Saturday Kroger digital coupon 1 dozen eggs — $2.50 Milk — $2.99 5 pounds of butter — $1.99 each with Friday-Saturday Kroger digital coupon Total with tax: $35.70 Since we had about $26 left in our grocery budget, I decided to run by Aldi on Saturday after Silas’ baseball practice. I was hoping to pick up some cereal and cheese. I let Silas add up the amount of the our purchases as we added things to the cart and he made sure we stayed within our budget. He did a great job of doing the mental math! Aldi Shopping Trip Chocolate Chip — $1.69 Dried Cranberries — $1.29 2 Cinnamon Crunch cereal — $1.39 each 3 boxes of Macaroni & Cheese — $0.33 each 6-pack of Peach Tea — $3.99 Eggs — $0.58 Baby Carrots — $0.89 2 Honey Crunch Oats cereal — $1.29 Milk — $2.49 Frosted Flakes — $2.29 2 packages cheese — $1.69 each Total with tax: $24.55 Our Menu Plan This Week Note: When you see the meals below, please remember this: I buy ahead often. Which means that when I find a great deal on something I know we’ll use, I buy as much as I can afford in our budget to have on hand. This means that you aren’t going to see all of the groceries my shopping trip that I used to make all of the meals we ate. Please also remember that I’m putting this out there and it’s not a perfectly balanced menu. This is just really what we ate — and I hope that it encourages you to see the real-ness and lack of perfection here. Breakfasts: Cereal Lunches/Snacks: Leftovers, Salad, Apples/Peanut Butter, Mac & Cheese, Danimals, Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins, Scrambled Eggs, Cookies, Chips, Random other markdowns/sale items 🙂 Dinners: Sunday — Frozen Pizza Monday — Quiche (used marked down pie crust, mixed veggies, ground beef, eggs, spices), Apple Turnover (used marked down pie crust) Tuesday — Instant Pot Apples, Pumpkin Waffles, Sausage Wednesday — Chicken Noodle Soup, Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins Thursday — Parmesan Chicken, Rice Pilaf, Peas, Biscuits Friday — Leftover Buffet, Oranges (Jesse was out of town) Saturday — Frozen Pizza, Salad (Jesse was out of town) [...]
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This Week in Fintech ending 28 February 2020

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This Week in Fintech ending 28 February 2020
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Security Token news for Week Ending Friday 28 February 2020

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Security Token news for Week Ending Friday 28 February 2020
  Here is our pick of the 3 most important Security Tokens news stories during the week: Commercial Real Estate Marketplace Red Swan Tokenizes $2.2 billion In Real Estate Through Security Token Platform Polymath  Red Swan CEO Ed Nwokedi:  “…in the past [real estate tokenization was attempted on] platforms like Harbor, Propellr and Fluidity, which were really tech companies…They didn’t really have the real estate background or the expertise to understand how the private real estate market works.” New York-based Red Swan says it has tokenized $2.2 billion in commercial real estate representing 16 different Class A commercial properties based in Texas, California and Ontario, Canada. CEO Nwokedi disclosed Red Swan is in the process of becoming a registered investment adviser, which will allow it to manage assets for accredited investors. The tokens are ST-20 tokens running on Ethereum.   Security Token Platform Dusk Network Says It Will Tokenize Shares For Thousands Of SMEs In The Greater Benelux Region The Amsterdam-based company announced Thursday it has partnered with Firm24, one of the region’s largest shareholder registries, and will use blockchain for an automated infrastructure that could introduce market efficiencies and transform how shares, that are not publicly listed, are traded. Firm24 has more than 35,000 SMEs from Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg (known as the Benelux region).  Firm24 hopes to deploy a tokenized share register to automate corporate actions and connect customers directly, creating tokenized representatives of share certificates that are freely tradable. LuxTag Claims First Successful Security Token Offering in Malaysia LuxTag announced it has closed on a $360,000 token offering. The crowdfunding round saw 51% of the funds denominated in Bitcoin and XEM (NEM).  LuxTag claims to be Malaysia’s very first successful token offering. The securities offering was hosted on PitchIn. LuxTag is an anti-counterfeit, track and trace and anti-theft solution provider. LuxTag utilizes the NEM blockchain platform and NEM’s native tokens (XEM) to run its blockchain operations. The service revolves around digitized certificates of authenticity for tangible products, linking to brands and owners through multi-signature smart contracts and the IoT (Internet of Things) elements. The company included among its customers Chronoswiss, a Swiss watchmaker, the International Islamic University of Malaysia (for securing authenticity of graduation certificates) and Defeet International, a sports apparel brand based in the US. We have a self-imposed constraint of 3 news stories each week because we serve busy senior leaders in Fintech who need just enough information to get on with their job. For context on Security Tokens please read the chapter on Security Tokens in our Blockchain Economy book and read articles tagged Security Tokens in our archives.  You get 3 free articles on Daily Fintech. After that you will need to become a member for just US$143 a year (= $0.39 per day) and get all our fresh content and our archives and participate in our forum. The post Security Token news for Week Ending Friday 28 February 2020 appeared first on Daily Fintech. [...]
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3 Books I Finished Last Week (+ 1 book I quit)

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3 Books I Finished Last Week (+ 1 book I quit)
Welcome to my weekly book update post where I share what books I read this past week + my honest thoughts and star ratings of them. A Word on My Star Ratings The star ratings I give the books I read are based on a 5-star rating system. I rarely will ever give a book a 1-star rating (maybe never?), because my philosophy is that if a book is only worthy of one star, I’m more than likely going to quit reading it. 🙂 In the same vein, you’ll also notice that I’ll rarely give a 5-star rating as I reserve those for only my very, very favorite books. Want to see all of the books I’ve read so far this year? Check out my Good Reads page. Get Your Life Back: Everyday Practices for a World Gone Mad I knew within reading just a few pages of this book that I was going to love it. I’m only vaguely familiar with John Eldredge and had never read any of his other books, but I truly found this book valuable and inspiring. In fact, I found it so helpful, that Jesse and I recorded a podcast together with some of my initial thoughts from the book last week. Then, we invited John to come do an interview with me where he shared even more about what first prompted him to write this book (he was feeling burnt out and addicted to his phone and email) and daily practices that have helped him to regain his perspective, renew his soul, and refresh his spirit. We recorded the podcast episode with him today and I can’t wait to share it with you next week! I think you’ll find his thoughts on caring for your soul, the power of the one-minute pause, and cultivating beauty in your life to truly be an inspiration! And, if you can’t tell, I also definitely recommend reading this book! 🙂 Verdict: 4 stars I Choose Brave: Embracing Holy Courage and Understanding Godly Fear Katie asked me if I would endorse her book a few months ago. I rarely say yes to endorsement requests, but the book title and subject intrigued me and I’d heard so many wonderful things about Katie. It was an honor to get to endorse her book. My only critique is that I would have loved for her to share a lot more of her journey and story, because I feel we could all really benefit from hearing more of what she has walked through. Here’s what I wrote about her book: If you are walking through a hard place in your life, struggling with fear, or feeling overwhelmed by a mountain ahead of you, Katie’s book will serve as a welcome reminder to you to fear God and walk in faith. Her words challenged and convicted me to say “yes” to boldly believe God and choose bravery, in spite of my own fear. This book is slated to release in August (thus the reason I don’t have a pretty book picture to show you; what I read was a collection of coiled bound papers that were her book’s final draft!) Verdict: 3 stars Raising Worry-Free Girls Whether you have sons or daughters, I think this is a valuable read. Yes, all of her stories, anecdotes, and advice is more girl-driven, but I think much of it applies to boys (and adults!), too. There is an epidemic of anxiety going on among our youth. This book will give you some starting places, great tools, and lots of food-for-thought to help you combat your kids’ anxiety. I found so many new insights, wise advice, and practical ideas for us to implement in our home through the pages. This book is not a replacement for counseling or therapy, but it would be a fantastic starting place if you feel like your child might be struggling with anxiety. Verdict: 4 stars Book I Quit: Things You Save in a Fire — I started listening to this because I enjoyed one of the author’s other books. About 4-5 chapters in, I felt like it was just too fluffy and felt sort of soap-opera-ish (not to mention that it had quite a bit of language), so I returned it back to the library on my Libby app. Life’s too short to spend it on books that aren’t feeding your soul! What did you read this past week? Any books you think I really need to add to my long to-read list?? [...]
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Life update: Pregnancy (week 30), basketball, prepping for baby, + my goals for this week

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Life update: Pregnancy (week 30), basketball, prepping for baby, + my goals for this week
I tried to post my usual pregnancy update over the weekend, but my blog decided it wouldn’t upload any photos. So here I am posting a life update + goals post all in one. We’ll just pretend like this is what I do every week! 😉 30 weeks!! And I can honestly barely believe it!! Highlights We now officially have all the basics for the baby (clothes, diapers/wipes, bed, carrier, car seat, and stroller). And now I’m working on collecting postpartum stuff for me (what are your faves to have on hand for recovery?) We went ahead and set up the bed in our room this past week and it’s the craziest thing to see it there. (We plan for baby to sleep in our room in a bassinet pack-n-play for at least the first few months — but we’ll see how that goes and are open to tweak our plans if that doesn’t work out well.) Notable I had another appointment with the OB and everything continues to look great and baby is right on track! I have two more two-week appointments and then we’ll start weekly appointments where they’ll be doing in-depth ultrasounds to make sure everything looks good (because have a tiny bit of higher risks near the end of pregnancy due to my age). I’m so grateful that I’m still feeling so well despite being this far into my pregnancy. I was usually pretty miserable at this point with my other pregnancies and really struggling to sleep, get comfortable, etc. I feel like the consistency with daily exercise, being super careful about what I’m eating, choosing an attitude of gratitude, really being vigilant about my iron intake, staying busy while also making sure I’m having a good balance of rest and downtime is making such a difference for me. As Jesse was saying earlier, “This is by far the best pregnancy you’ve ever had!” I have noticed I’m definitely needing more naps/sleep these days. I usually feel GREAT with 7 hours of sleep, but I’ve been needing at least 8+ hours of sleep the past two weeks to feel rested. So I’ve been trying to sneak in 1-2 short naps throughout the day and that’s made a big difference. (This is when it’s such a blessing that I work from home!) In other news, as most of you know, I’m currently working on writing a book that is due to my publisher the beginning of July. I set a goal to have the rough draft completely done by April 15 and I’m thrilled to say that I’m on track with my goal!! And I can’t wait to share more about it!! These two came home from school one day last week to discover that Kaitlynn and I had set the baby bed up (she was home since she hadn’t been fever-free for 24 hours). And I think this whole, “we’re actually having a baby!!” just got really, real to all of us. It’s hard to describe how surreal all of this is when you had waited and hoped and tried for years, then grieved the devastating loss of being told you’d never being able to have more kids, and finally truly moving to a place of peace and contentment with our family of five. And now there’s a 30-week-old baby kicking and hiccuping up a storm in my belly, we’re setting up the baby bed, buying baby clothes & diapers, talking about our birth plan, and I’m prepping for maternity leave. Truly, God is in the business of doing exceedingly abundantly above anything we could ever dream or imagine! I don’t know what the future holds for our family or this child, but I will say that I can’t imagine any child being more wanted or loved or looked forward to. Also, getting to share this journey with three older kids who are crazy excited about it has been one of the best parts of it all. Thank you to everyone of you who has been part of this journey, too. It has been humbling to hear from so many of you — many whom I don’t even know! — who have been praying for me, this pregnancy, and this baby. It means the world to me! I told the kids they had to wait to start counting down to the birth until I got 30 weeks. Welp, here we are. And the countdown is on!! Note: I know that my sharing of our pregnancy has been very painful for some of you and I just want you to know that if you are grieving a loss or deeply wishing or longing for a child, you are not forgotten. I think of you so, so often. And I would be honored to take time to pray for you today. One of the hardest parts of this journey has been seeing multiple friends of mine experience loss in recent months. I want you to know that my heart hurts deeply for you. If you are experiencing infertility or loss and your heart is grieving, I would be honored to stop and pray for you by name today. Just message me or leave me a comment. You don’t need to share details, just ask for prayer and let me know your name. In other news, Kathrynne’s basketball team took home the Championship win at the Varsity basketball championships last week!! This was Kathrynne’s first year to play on Varsity and it’s been so fun to see her work so hard, build a lot of confidence, and improve so much over the course of the year. One of my favorite parts of her being on the basketball team is the relationships she’s building with these amazing girls! Here’s how I did on my goals last week: Last Week’s Goals: 2020– Week 7 Personal Goals 1. Get in 54,000 steps total. (I use the FitBit Ulta HR to track my steps every day.)  2. Read Raising Worry-Free Girls, I Choose Brave, and Get Your Life Back. Listen to Things You Save in a Fire. (I stopped listening to this one because it felt like it was just going to be too “fluffy” and didn’t have enough depth for me.) 3. Go to bed by 10:30 p.m. Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. Home/Family Goals 4. Read 30 more pages of Carry a Big Stick aloud as a family. 5. Clean and disinfect the house from flu germs (as soon as the kids are fever-free!). Work/Blog Goals 6. Finish the rough draft of chapter 5 of my manuscript. Word of the Year Goals 7. Pop popcorn and watch another classic movie as a family. (We did watch YouTube videos together — does that count??) 8. Go out to dinner with Jesse. (If everyone is well!) I’m keeping this week’s goals really simple because we are potentially getting a longterm foster placement this week and I want to leave a lot of space open for that. There’s a lot up in the air and it might not pan out, but I want to be prepared if it does. This Week’s Goals: 2020 —  Week 8 Personal Goals 1. Get in 54,000 steps total. (I use the FitBit Ulta HR to track my steps every day.)  2. Finish reading Love Idol and Don’t Overthink It. Finish listening to Good Leaders Ask Great Questions. Home/Family Goals 3. Read 30 more pages of Carry a Big Stick aloud as a family. 4. Get a breast pump (I need to research whether our insurance provides this or not.) Work/Blog Goals 5. Finish the rough draft of chapter 5 of my manuscript. Word of the Year Goals 6. Pop popcorn and watch another classic movie as a family.  What are YOUR goals for this week? How did you do on last week’s goals? Tell us in the comments! [...]
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This Week in Fintech ending 21 February 2020

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This Week in Fintech ending 21 February 2020
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We Spent $68.24 at the Grocery Store This Week (+ our dinner menus)

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We Spent $68.24 at the Grocery Store This Week (+ our dinner menus)
Want to see what we bought for this week’s $70 grocery budget? I’m currently challenging myself to stick with a $70 budget for our family of five. This includes almost all of our breakfasts, lunches, snacks, and dinners + most household products (toiletries, laundry soap, etc.). For live updates, be sure to follow my Instagram Stories. See all posts on my $70 Grocery Budget here. I was excited to find some great deals at Kroger, be able to stock up on a few things, and stay under budget. Here’s what we bought this week: Kroger Shopping Trip #1: 4 boxes Creamette Pasta — $0.49 each with the digital coupon Duncan Hines Microwave Cakes (I thought these would be fun to have for a movie night) — marked down to $0.39 each Kroger Hashbrowns — $1.79 Fresh Salsa — marked down to $0.99 1 bag of apples — marked down to $0.99 4 jars Kroger peanut butter — $0.99 each after digital coupon 1 jar natural Kroger peanut butter — $1.79 Kroger cheese (16 oz.) — $3.99 Pillsbury Pie Crust — marked down to $0.99 3-lb bag of Gala apples — $3.99 2 lbs ground beef — marked down to $1.99 each 3 bottles Odwalla juice — marked down to $0.99 each 2 boxes Kroger cereal — $1.49 each Milk — $2.79 Half & Half — $1.99 Total with tax: $38.38 Kroger Shopping Trip #2: 2 boxes Kroger cereal — $1.49 each Hostess Cupcake Dessert Mix — marked down to $0.39 2 cans Chef Boyardee — marked down to $0.19 each Simple Truth Refried Beans — marked down to $0.39 4 bags Kroger Frozen Veggies — $1 each Lemi-Shine Dishwasher Tabs — marked down to $0.89 5 packages of Pampers wipes — $0.99 each with Friday-Saturday digital coupon 2 Stayfree pads — $1.69 each when you buy 5 participating items, used $3/2 Kroger digital coupon = $0.19 each 2 Suave shampoo/conditioner — $0.99 each when you buy 5 participating items, used $1/2 Kroger digital coupon = $0.49 each Kellogg’s Raisin Bran — $1.79 when you buy 5 participating items Milk — $2.99 Simple Truth Eggs — marked down to $1.49 Total with tax: $29.86 Our Menu Plan This Week Note: When you see the meals below, please remember this: I buy ahead often. Which means that when I find a great deal on something I know we’ll use, I buy as much as I can afford in our budget to have on hand. This means that you aren’t going to see all of the groceries my shopping trip that I used to make all of the meals we ate. Please also remember that I’m putting this out there and it’s not a perfectly balanced menu. This is just really what we ate — and I hope that it encourages you to see the real-ness and lack of perfection here. Breakfasts: Cereal Lunches: Leftovers, Salad, Apples/Peanut Butter, Mac & Cheese, Yogurt, Cookies, Chips, Random other markdowns/sale items 🙂 Dinners:  Sunday: Leftovers + Mac & Cheese Monday: Breakfast Casserole (recipe sent to me by a follower) Tuesday: Fend for yourself + leftovers Wednesday: Tyson Anytizers, Broccoli, Brown Rice Thursday: Chicken Tetrazinni, Green Beans, Bran Muffins Friday: Pumpkin Waffles, Bacon (Jesse & I went out to dinner with a gift card we were given by his parents — we’re trying to get in some dates before the baby gets here!) Saturday: Dinner out (Kathrynne had an out of town basketball tournament) [...]
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Security Token news for Week Ending Friday 21 February 2020

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Security Token news for Week Ending Friday 21 February 2020
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Life update: Pregnancy (week 29) + our brand-new hedgehog!

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Life update: Pregnancy (week 29) + our brand-new hedgehog!
29 weeks!! And what a week it’s been! Highlights Well, this week has definitely been different than what I anticipated! Silas woke up with a high fever on Tuesday morning and all three kids ended up coming down with Flu B over the next two days. So we’ve been quarantined at home all week and Jesse has been playing round-the-clock nurse to all three kids. He’s been a saint and it’s been so hard for me to not be able to help do much to take care of the kids (it’s dangerous for a pregnant woman to get the flu). The kids have never all been this sick at the same time, but they’ve been such troopers. Jesse has them on this regimen of elderberry, vitamins, homeopathics, and baking soda baths + lots of fluids/rest + Tylenol/Motrin every time their fever spikes. They’ve all had such good attitudes despite being miserable. We’re so hopeful that they only have a few more days of fevers before this runs its course. So none of that was about highlights or pregnancy, but it’s where we are at this week. That said, the highlight has been that I only got a touch of a fever and between rest, fluids, and elderberry, I seem to be dodging the flu bullet so far. And also, I am SO grateful that Jesse has stayed well! Notable The baby has had the hiccups multiple times this week. I kept waiting for it to happen because I remember all my other babies often having them! Also, the movements are getting more pronounced and it seems like there’s constantly some baby body part poking out underneath my skin. It has made it that much more real and helped me connect with this child even moreso. Cravings Um, should I admit that almost all I’ve been craving is cheeseburgers?? I have no idea where *that* came from, but Jesse ran to Burger King last night because the cravings were getting pretty ridiculous and for some reason I really wanted a Burger King cheeseburger. Here’s the crazy thing: I don’t even know if I’ve ever had one before. I can’t even remember ever going to BK in the last decade, but man, the cheeseburgers (yes, I ate two!) tasted SO good!! Weight gain: 21 pounds Meet the newest member of the Paine family – Theodore Quiller. (AKA Theo.) We’ve taken at least 90 videos/pictures of him since we got him and he’s so active that he was basically a blur in most of them. So this was the best we got! We already love him so much and are excited to have another hedgehog again! (Theo’s middle name is in honor of Quill, our first hedgehog who died in December from Wobbly Hedgehog Disease.) [...]
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Security Token news for Week ending 14 February 2020

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Security Token news for Week ending 14 February 2020
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This Week in Fintech ending 14 February 2020

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This Week in Fintech ending 14 February 2020
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2 Books I Read Last Week, 1 Book I Didn’t Finish (+ the classic movie we watched)

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2 Books I Read Last Week, 1 Book I Didn’t Finish (+ the classic movie we watched)
This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy here. Welcome to my weekly book update post where I share what books I read this past week + my honest thoughts and star ratings of them. A Word on My Star Ratings The star ratings I give the books I read are based on a 5-star rating system. I rarely will ever give a book a 1-star rating (maybe never?), because my philosophy is that if a book is only worthy of one star, I’m more than likely going to quit reading it. 🙂 In the same vein, you’ll also notice that I’ll rarely give a 5-star rating as I reserve those for only my very, very favorite books. Want to see all of the books I’ve read so far this year? Check out my Good Reads page. Here are the two books I finished last week… The Path Between Us: An Enneagram Journey to Healthy Relationships If you enjoy all things Enneagram, I definitely recommend this book. It’s an in-depth at each number on the Enneagram and how that number relates and differs with other numbers. I found it insightful, enlightening, and just downright interesting. And while I’d studied a lot about the Enneagram, I learned quite a few new things — especially when it comes to how to better relate with other numbers, communicate with them, and help them to feel seen and valued. It also definitely, definitely confirmed what I already knew to be true: I’m an Enneagram 8 through and through! Also, it sparked some great conversations between Jesse and me about how we interact, how certain things I do can make him want to shut down (he’s a 5), and how we’ve both grown so much healthier as people in the last 10 years. The only thing I will mention is that if you’re new to the Enneagram, I wouldn’t recommend starting with this book. Instead, I’d start with a book like, The Road Back to You. Verdict: 4 stars Building a Story Brand: Clarify Your Message I’ve been to one of Donald Miller’s Story Brand workshops before and it made an indelible mark on how I approach marketing and communication with customers in our business. This book was a good refresher to listen to. If you are a blogger, a business owner, an online entrepreneur, or have any say in the marketing or oversight of the company you work for, I would highly recommend this book. It will likely challenge the way you think when it comes to marketing and change the way you approach doing business. The best part is that this book gives you a really clear-cut action plan and walks you step-by-step through out to implement it. So you don’t just read about the great ideas; you actually know how to put them into practice in your business! Two things I did want to mention: 1) I think this book would be better to read a physical copy of than to listen to as it’s more hands-on and has projects for each chapter. 2) I was a little turned off by the multiple promotions for Story Brand products and services. I understand that the goal was likely to get people to want to invest into some of the higher priced products that Story Brand offers, but I found it to be a turn-off — and it almost merited me bumping the rating of the book down to 3 stars. Verdict: 4 stars Book I Didn’t Finish The Atomic City Girls — Unfortunately, this book was a big disappointment to me. I had high hopes for it, but within an hour or so of listening, I quickly discovered it seemed more focused on the romantic story and details of that than the actual historical details of Oak Ridge. Yes, there were some historical details, but the book continued to sound more and more like a soap opera or tabloid and started going into details about the character’s loves lives that felt too edgy/raunchy for me… so I ended up quitting it. Does anyone have a book to recommend about Oak Ridge that is interesting but also much more historically rich? Classic Movie We Watched Last Week The kids decided — all on their own — that they want to start watching one old classic movie per week together as a family in 2020. They are helping me choose the list of movies and I’ll be reporting here what we watch each week and their thoughts on it. I plan to do a big classic movie round-up post at the end of the year with their verdict on the best and favorites of the ones we watched. (Thank you for all the great suggestions for must-watch classic movies!) Last week, we watched the 1950’s Disney version of Treasure Island. Both girls had read this book in school, so they found that made the movie more interesting. It was a little slow and long (even though it was only 1 hour and 35 minutes, it felt long), but overall we mostly enjoyed it. I will say it’s probably been one of our least favorite classic movies so far. What did you read this past week? Any books you think I really need to add to my long to-read list?? [...]
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My 9 Goals For This Week

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My 9 Goals For This Week
(All dressed up for Silent Disco Night at camp!) I could look at last week’s goals list and be discouraged at how little it feels like I crossed off. But then, I look at all that actually happened last week and I can remember that maybe it doesn’t look like I got a lot done, but I focused on people versus projects and being present versus being productive… and I realize that it was a really good week. Last week’s goals: Personal Goals 1. Get in 54,000 steps total. (I use the FitBit Ulta HR to track my steps every day.)  2. Finish reading The Path Between Us and Counterfeit Gods. Listen to The Atomic City Girls. (I decided to stop listening to this book because it wasn’t what I thought it was going to be. More details on that on my book review post this week.) Home/Family Goals 3. Read 40 more pages of Carry a Big Stick aloud as a family. (I only ended up reading aloud once and we made it through 10 pages. Hey, that’s something, right?) Work/Blog Goals 4. Finish editing chapters 1-3 and finish the rough draft of chapter 4 of my manuscript.(I only got a chance to work on the book a few times last week between my friend’s funeral and being out of town helping at Youth Group camp all weekend. Here’s to hoping I make more progress this week!) 5. Run a book giveaway on Instagram with some books I’ve already read. Word of the Year Goals 6. Pop popcorn and watch another classic movie as a family. (We watched Treasure Island. Review coming later this week!) We have what looks to be a calmer week this week. We are actually home three evenings out of seven — I can’t remember the last time that has happened! And we don’t have any big things happening this week… well, anything that I know of yet! 🙂 So I’m planning 9 goals and we’ll see how it goes! 2020: Week 6 — Goals Personal Goals 1. Get in 54,000 steps total. (I use the FitBit Ulta HR to track my steps every day.)  2. Finish reading Counterfeit Gods. Listen to Eat That Frog! and Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids. 3. Go to bed by 10:30 p.m. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. Home/Family Goals 4. Read 30 more pages of Carry a Big Stick aloud as a family. 5. Research strollers, baby carriers, and car seats. Decide what we’re going to purchase. 6. Complete 4-hour Foster Care Training. Work/Blog Goals 7. Finish editing chapters 1-3 and finish the rough draft of chapter 4 of my manuscript. Word of the Year Goals 8. Pop popcorn and watch another classic movie as a family. 9. Go to a movie with Jesse. What are YOUR goals for this week? How did you do on last week’s goals? Tell us in the comments! [...]
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Security Token news for Week ending 7 February 2020

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Security Token news for Week ending 7 February 2020
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This Week in Fintech 7th February 2020

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This Week in Fintech 7th February 2020
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3 Books I Read Last Week + 1 Classic Movie Watched Watched

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3 Books I Read Last Week + 1 Classic Movie Watched Watched
Welcome to my weekly book update post where I share what books I read this past week + my honest thoughts and star ratings of them. A Word on My Star Ratings The star ratings I give the books I read are based on a 5-star rating system. I rarely will ever give a book a 1-star rating (maybe never?), because my philosophy is that if a book is only worthy of one star, I’m more than likely going to quit reading it. 🙂 In the same vein, you’ll also notice that I’ll rarely give a 5-star rating as I reserve those for only my very, very favorite books. Want to see all of the books I’ve read so far this year? Check out my Good Reads page. The Year of Less Full disclosure, I’d never heard of this book until I happened to see it on Libby. The subtitle (How I Stopped Shopping, Gave Away My Belongings, and Discovered Life Is Worth More Than Anything You Can Buy in a Store) intrigued me so I downloaded it. I almost turned it off during the first few chapters, but I’m actually happy I went ahead and finished listening to it. Why? Because the author is so different than me and it was truly insightful to help me understand more what it’s like to be a spender or to have an addiction to shopping/spending. (I could not relate to most of any of her struggles, but it really gave me such a helpful look into what it’s like to feel such a need to shop/spend money.) The book shares a lot of the author’s story and background, so some people might not enjoy the memoir-ish parts of it if you’re just looking for practical advice and encouragement to live with less. However, if you enjoy reading about how someone is seeking to make radical changes in their life and the resulting struggles, temptations, and triumphs, this might be a good read. Verdict: 3 stars Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World This is a much more head-y and data-driven book that I usually enjoy. But I’m glad I listened to it because it made me think deeply about various aspects of my life. There are so many different things I could share from the book, but a few that really stood out to me were: The conversation about how birth order can affect whether you are a rebel or a conformist. The author’s insights on how procrastination can actually be a positive, helpful thing. (Yes, for real!) The section on how it’s important to produce a lot of work if you want to produce a few really great works. And the encouragement to acknowledge cynicism people would feel versus trying to pretend it doesn’t exist (this was in the context of a business pitch, but it could apply in many realms. Verdict: 3 stars Not So Perfect Mom A lot of this book was repeat material I’ve read/heard elsewhere, so I didn’t get many new insights from it. I also felt like it stayed rather surface-y in sections (which surprised me considering the author is a licensed counselor) and bordered on being a little legalistic in others. That said, I did appreciate the author’s insights on how a mother’s love can deeply affect her child in such positive ways. I also gleaned from her encouragement to really invest in your kids when they are little and how that impacts the rest of your child’s life. One of my favorite quotes was: “You cannot have lifelong, heart-connected relationship with someone if they feel like they are a failure when they are with you.” (Such a good reminder and it goes along with something I’ve been trying to practice in my parenting.) Verdict: 2 stars Classic Movie We Watched This Week The kids decided — all on their own — that they want to start watching one old classic movie per week together as a family in 2020. They are helping me choose the list of movies and I’ll be reporting here what we watch each week and their thoughts on it. I plan to do a big classic movie round-up post at the end of the year with their verdict on the best and favorites of the ones we watched. (Thank you for all the great suggestions for must-watch classic movies!) This week, we watched the original That Darn Cat movie. I had never heard of it, but a bunch of you recommended it, so I figured we’d give it a try. Now here’s the full disclosure on it: I fell asleep 20 minutes into the movie. Not because it was boring, but because I was exhausted. However, our kids + the 10-year-old girl we were fostering last week all enjoyed it. And the parts I saw had some genuinely funny moments. I want to watch the newer movie (well, after I go back and actually stay awake through the original one!), but I heard from some people that it wasn’t as good. Have you seen it? Would you recommend it? What did you read this past week? Any books you think I really need to add to my long to-read list?? [...]
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My 6 Goals For This Week

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My 6 Goals For This Week
Psst! I’m giving away this stack of books on Instagram tomorrow morning. If you’re not following me there, you should be so you can enter to win! I didn’t accomplish a whole lot off my goals list last week, but I did accomplish a lot that mattered — investing in the kids/Jesse, investing in my local community, doing respite care for a 10-year-old girl while her foster mom was out of town, launching my 4-Week Blog Coaching Program, working on my book, making family memories, and making sure to take care of my health. So I’ll call it a win — even if it doesn’t look like it on paper. Some weeks are like that, aren’t they? 2020: Week 5 — Goals Personal Goals 1. Get in 54,000 steps total. (I use the FitBit Ulta HR to track my steps every day.)  2. Finish reading The Path Between Us and Not So Perfect Mom. Finish listening to Originals: How Non-Conformist Move the World. Home/Family Goals 3. Read 40 pages of Carry a Big Stick aloud as a family. Work/Blog Goals 4. Edit introduction through chapter 3 of my manuscript. Word of the Year Goals 5. Pop popcorn and watch another classic movie as a family. This week is another full week. We have something going on every night, we have some extra things going on during the day, and I’m headed to camp with Kaitlynn and the rest of my 8th grade girls’ group from Youth Group this weekend. I’m also noticing that I am having to slow down and rest a lot more now that I’m entering my third trimester. My energy just isn’t what it usually is and I need more sleep and naps. So, once again, I’m keeping my list short! 2020: Week 5 — Goals Personal Goals 1. Get in 54,000 steps total. (I use the FitBit Ulta HR to track my steps every day.)  2. Finish reading The Path Between Us and Counterfeit Gods. Listen to The Atomic City Girls. Home/Family Goals 3. Read 40 more pages of Carry a Big Stick aloud as a family. Work/Blog Goals 4. Finish editing chapters 1-3 and finish the rough draft of chapter 4 of my manuscript. 5. Run a book giveaway on Instagram with some books I’ve already read. Word of the Year Goals 6. Pop popcorn and watch another classic movie as a family. What are YOUR goals for this week? How did you do on last week’s goals? Tell us in the comments! [...]
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Pregnancy update (week 27) + some posts you might have missed

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Pregnancy update (week 27) + some posts you might have missed
27 weeks! And I feel like I’m carrying really low — can you tell that here? (Aside from the pelvic pressure, I’m not complaining one bit because it means that I actually still have some space underneath my lungs!) Highlights This past week was a super full week. In addition to the usual routine of working full-time and writing my book, we had activities every night but one night, Kathrynne celebrated her 15th birthday, and we did respite care for a sweet 10-year-old girl all week whose foster mom was out of town. So I think the highlight for me was just making it through with a smile still on my face. I worked hard to prioritize rest and down time, because I need 2-4 times the amount of downtime that I usually do right now or I just end up completely exhausted. Notable I started drinking Red Raspberry Leaf tea this week, we got a crib from friends, got our pack-n-play/bassinet in the mail, and got a box of diapers. It’s really starting to get real!! My chiropractor has been such a Godsend as I’ve been having back and shoulder pain (to be expected as my belly grows larger!) and she’s helping me with different things to minimize it. This is my first pregnancy to regularly go to a chiropractor and I’m a huge fan! Cravings I’ve been eating a lot of cereal with whole milk. In fact, I usually have two bowls every morning. It hits the spot and it doesn’t give me heartburn! Weight gain: 19 pounds Random question: Do you think the 3rd trimester starts at week 27 or week 28? I feel like the internet and baby sites/trackers are very conflicted on this! Did you see what I got in my FREE Target Baby Gift Registry Bag? In case you missed it, I did an in-depth post on the 5 books I finished last week + my honest reviews. This past week, we posted what has quickly become one of our most popular podcast episodes to date. Have you listened to Secrets to a Happier Marriage yet? Just a quick reminder — registration for my 4-Week Blog Coaching Group closes on Tuesday morning. If you are a beginning or intermediate blogger who wants to take your blog to the next level, don’t miss this. [...]
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This Week in Fintech 31 January

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This Week in Fintech 31 January
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Security Token news for Week ending 31 January 2020

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Security Token news for Week ending 31 January 2020
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5 Books I Read This Past Week (+ 1 classic movie we watched)

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5 Books I Read This Past Week (+ 1 classic movie we watched)
Welcome to my weekly book update post where I share what books I read this past week + my honest thoughts and star ratings of them. Okay, I’m absolutely giddy to tell you that I finished 15+ books in January. Honestly, I am pretty shocked by this number! I think some of it has to do with setting weekly goals and some of it has to do with prioritizing audiobooks again (and the fact that they no longer make me nauseous now that I’m further along in my pregnancy, reading aloud again, and switching from being on my phone (answering comments/messages) while on the treadmill to reading/praying while on the treadmill. It seems like tiny tweaks and additions have added up to big results. And this is so encouraging to me. No promises that I’ll keep up this pace for the rest of the year! However, considering how full January has been, it seems like it truly might be possible to at least keep reading 2-3 books/week most weeks. We’ll see! If you want to see what I’m currently reading or what I’ve read so far this year, you can check out my GoodReads account. A Word on My Star Ratings The star ratings I give the books I read are based on a 5-star rating system. I rarely will ever give a book a 1-star rating (maybe never?), because my philosophy is that if a book is only worthy of one star, I’m more than likely going to quit reading it. 🙂 In the same vein, you’ll also notice that I’ll rarely give a 5-star rating as I reserve those for only my very, very favorite books. Before and After I was so excited about this book as it’s the real-life stories of the children who survived the Tennessee Children’s Home Society. (If you have read or listened to Before We Were Yours, you’re familiar with that heart-breaking story.) While I think these stories need to be told and while I found some of them fascinating, the book as a whole was a let down when compared to Before We Were Yours. Maybe it’s because I was expecting more cohesiveness in the book as opposed to a lot of individual stories with only what felt like a thin plot string holding them together. If you loved Before We Were Yours, you might enjoy this book for more real-life biography/backstory for the novel. However, if you’re only going to read one of the two books, definitely read Before We Were Yours. I decided to give this book 3 stars because 2 stars felt like I was doing a disservice to the families and children and lives that were wrecked by the Tennessee Children’s Home Society. But for the writing and overall level that the book engaged me, I’d probably only give it two stars. Verdict: 3 stars 100 Ways to Love Your Husband + 100 Ways to Love Your Wife If you are looking for some practical ideas and inspiration for ways to love your spouse, these small books are a great starting place. They are filled with 100 different ideas to speak love to your spouse. Now, I’ll say that not all of these ideas will work for every couple. There are some that would most definitely not really be our “thing” at all. But there were other ideas that I hadn’t thought of before that provided some highly motivating and inspiration sparks of inspiration for ways I can practically show Jesse love. If you need more encouragement, be sure to check out this week’s podcast episode with the authors, Matt and Lisa Jacobson! Verdict: 3 stars Live Love Now I was sent a pre-release copy of this book in order to write an endorsement. Rachel Macy Stafford’s books have deeply impacted me and it was an honor to get to write an endorsement for her. Here was what I wrote: If you are the parent or grandparent of a pre-teen or teen or if you have any interaction at all with teens or tweens, you need to read this book. It is packed with powerful reminders of how our words, actions, attitudes, and availability (or lack thereof), leave indelible marks on the next generation. I was inspired, convicted, and challenged by Rachel’s gentle message of how to guide, encourage, and impact young adults to live with less stress and more joy. And I took away so many practical applications I plan to immediately implement in our home and parenting. Note: I likely would have given this more than 3 stars, but I felt like the writing was a big choppy at times and it sometimes felt more like reading a collection of essays or blog posts. However, the underlying concepts in so many of the chapters were really, really good. Verdict: 3 stars The Whole-Brain Child This was, by far, my favorite book this week. I honestly cannot stop talking about it. Poor Jesse has had to listen to me rave again and again about it all week long! 🙂 This was highly recommended to by one of our kids’ counselors and and one of their therapists in the past few years and I finally read it. It is packed with great suggestions and strategies for helping our kids process the world, relate better with others, and feel more loved and secure. It is not written from a Christian perspective, but I found the sections on brain science to be fascinating and really enlightening. If you are a parent or work with kids in any capacity, I highly recommend this book to help you better love, understand, teach, and nurture the kids in your life. Note: I would have given it 5 stars, but I disagreed with some of the points (and felt a few were not entirely Biblical) so I only gave it a 4-star rating. Verdict: 4 stars Classic Movie We Watched This Week The kids decided — all on their own — that they want to start watching one old classic movie per week together as a family in 2020. They are helping me choose the list of movies and I’ll be reporting here what we watch each week and their thoughts on it. I plan to do a big classic movie round-up post at the end of the year with their verdict on the best and favorites of the ones we watched. (Thank you for all the great suggestions for must-watch classic movies!) This week, we watched the original Cheaper by the Dozen movie. I had seen it once before but it’s been a long time! While it’s a little slow moving and ends on a sad note, it has some genuinely funny moments throughout it. By the way, the movie is loosely based upon the real-life story as told in the book by the same name. I read it years and years ago and remember liking it. Have you read it before? I was wondering if it would be worth reading to the kids or not? I can’t remember it well enough now! What did you read this past week? Any books you think I really need to add to my long to-read list?? [...]
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My 5 Goals for This Week (and why I’m not setting very many goals)

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My 5 Goals for This Week (and why I’m not setting very many goals)
(By the way, I did, indeed, move the rug from in front of the toilet to in front of the sink. I thought that the hundreds of you who wrote in grossed out by this would be happy to hear that!) Last week was a really productive and great week. And I’m continuing to be so happy with my choice to set weekly goals instead of yearly goals in 2020. It seems like it’s keeping me a lot more accountable and making me more motivated! Here’s an update on how I did on my goals for last week… 2020: Week 4 — Goals Personal Goals 1. Get in 54,000 steps total. (I use the FitBit Ulta HR to track my steps every day.)  2. Finish reading 100 Ways to Love Your Husband, 100 Ways to Love Your Wife,The Whole-Brain Child, and Live Love Now. Finish listening to Before and After. 3. Get up at 5:30 a.m. Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. 4. Go to bed by 10 p.m. Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. 5. Drink a gallon of water every day. (I almost hit this goal, but fell short a few days.) Home/Family Goals 6. Get new shower curtain, rug, and towels for upstairs bathroom. 7. Read 40 pages of Carry a Big Stick aloud as a family. 8. Get a crib and bedding. (I’m chipping away at my To Do Before Baby Comes list a little bit per week.) Work/Blog Goals 9. Finish chapter 2 and write chapter 3 of my manuscript. Word of the Year Goals 10. Pop popcorn and watch another classic movie as a family. 11. Take Kathrynne out on a date for her birthday. 12. Light candle and write notes to our Compassion children. I’m only setting 5 goals this week. We are doing respite care for another foster family this week so we’re hosting a sweet 10-year-old girl all week long, we have activities/commitments every night, Kathrynne turns 15, and I’m launching another 4-week Blog Coaching Group.  So I decided I’d be very realistic in my goal-setting for this week and not try to bite off more than I could chew! That’s the beauty of taking things week by week, isn’t it? 2020: Week 5 — Goals Personal Goals 1. Get in 54,000 steps total. (I use the FitBit Ulta HR to track my steps every day.)  2. Finish reading The Path Between Us and Not So Perfect Mom. Finish listening to Originals: How Non-Conformist Move the World. Home/Family Goals 3. Read 40 pages of Carry a Big Stick aloud as a family. Work/Blog Goals 4. Edit introduction through chapter 3 of my manuscript. Word of the Year Goals 5. Pop popcorn and watch another classic movie as a family. What are YOUR goals for this week? How did you do on last week’s goals? Tell us in the comments! [...]
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A Peek Into Our Week: Pregnancy update (week 26), bathroom redo, books, & romance

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A Peek Into Our Week: Pregnancy update (week 26), bathroom redo, books, & romance
Welcome to my weekly life update where I share about my pregnancy & give you a peek into our life this past week. If you want to follow a lot more behind-the-scenes and real-time updates every week, be sure to follow my stories and posts on Instagram. 26 weeks!! This past week FLEW by and I can’t believe it’s time for another pregnancy picture and update. Highlights I’m continuing to feel so well overall. Yes, there are the normal uncomfortable parts and the fact that I have to lay down and rest/nap and move more slowly than my usual pace, but I cannot believe how well I’m doing compared to previous pregnancies! It just goes to show that prioritizing healthy food, sleep, hydration, and exercise really can make a difference! (It may also help that every day has a lot going on so I not have a lot of time to sit around and think about how I feel!) Notable My belly is definitely popping out more and the baby is kicking a lot stronger and harder these days! It’s still so surreal for me… but feeling the elbows and knees protruding out make it more and more real. Cravings My diet is pretty limited these days in order to avoid heartburn triggers, but some of my standby’s right now are cereal/milk, apples with peanut butter, and a big salad with chicken and hard boiled eggs. This basically makes up most of my eating right now — and I’m grateful that it tastes good, is nourishing, and doesn’t make me sick. Every day that I’m not experiencing extreme acid reflux like I did in my previous pregnancies is a gift. Weight gain: 18 pounds Check out my honest reviews on the 5 Books I Read This Past Week (+ 1 Classic Movie We Watched). Did you see how we spruced up our upstairs bathroom on a budget? See the before and after pictures here. The podcast episode this week on 10 Ways to Keep the Romance Alive was one of our most-downloaded episodes in a long time. Have you listened to it yet? [...]
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Security Token news for Week ending 24 January 2020

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Security Token news for Week ending 24 January 2020
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We Spent $71.30 on Groceries This Week (+ our dinner menu)

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We Spent $71.30 on Groceries This Week (+ our dinner menu)
Want to see what we bought for this week’s $70 grocery budget? I’m currently challenging myself to stick with a $70 budget for our family of five. This includes almost all of our breakfasts, lunches, snacks, and dinners + most household products (toiletries, laundry soap, etc.). For live updates, be sure to follow my Instagram Stories. See all posts on my $70 Grocery Budget here. Last week, I only spent $60 on groceries, so I went a little bit over this week. Here’s what we bought… Kroger Shopping Trip #1 2 bags of apples —  marked down to $0.99 each 5 bags of Chicken Breasts — $4.99 per bag with Kroger digital coupon Total with tax = $28.61 Kroger Shopping Trip #2 4 tubs of lettuce — marked down to $0.99 each 3 bags of apples — marked down to $0.99 each Promised Land Chocolate Milk — marked down to $0.99 Rice Bitz cereal — marked down to $0.79 Cage-Free eggs — marked down to $1.39 Milk — $2.89 Total with tax: $13.80 Kroger Shopping Trip #3 2 Tyson Anytizer Chicken — $3.99 each with Kroger weekend digital coupon 3 dozen eggs — marked down to $0.39 each Strawberries — $1.67 Carrots — $0.99 1 bag avocados — marked down to $0.99 Milk — $2.89 Cage-free eggs — marked down to $1.29 Tortillas — $1.50 2 Private Selection Chips — $0.99 each with Kroger weekend digital coupon Refried beans — marked down to $0.49 4 jars Pace salsa — $0.99 each when Kroger weekend digital coupon Refried beans — $0.79 Total with tax: $28.89 Dinners This Past Week Frozen Pizza, Popcorn Slow Cooker Sausage & Sauerkraut Soup, Biscuits, and Apples Sausage & Sauerkraut Soup, Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins, and Apples Roasted Potatoes, Roast in the Crockpot, Instant Pot Apples, Roasted Broccoli Italian Chicken, Salad Leftovers Dinner Out By the way, what are your best tips for keeping lettuce fresh? I don’t want all the lettuce I bought to go to waste before we can use it, but it will probably take us at least 5-7 more days to eat through all that. Any great suggestions? [...]
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This Week in Fintech 24 Jan

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This Week in Fintech 24 Jan
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My Goals for This Week

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My Goals for This Week
This year, I’m doing weekly goals in 2020 instead of yearly goals. And I’m thrilled to report that it’s going so well! In fact, even though we had activities almost every evening last week and a very full week, I got so much done — and had breathing room and rest time, too! Here’s an update on how I did on my goals last week… Last Week’s Goals Update Personal Goals 1. Get in 52,000 steps total. (I use the FitBit Ulta HR to track my steps every day.)  2. Finish reading Romancing Your Child’s Heart and Awful Beautiful Life and listening to the Killing Patton audiobook.  3. Get up at 5:30 a.m. every week day. Home/Family Goals 4. Decluttering: Garage freezer, bathroom closet, attic area, laundry room, car. 5. Start a new read aloud book together as a family. 6. Inventory what baby clothes we need to buy and purchase these. Work/Blog Goals 7. Finish the introduction and write chapter 1 of my manuscript. 8. Write an in-depth honest review of Butcher Box. (You can read my Completely Honest Review of Butcher Box here.) 9. Run our $4 course sale. Word of the Year Goals 10. Pop popcorn and watch another classic movie as a family. (We watched 7 Brides for 7 Brothers. I’ll share our thoughts on it on my book update post on Wednesday.) 11. Go out to dinner with Jesse for our anniversary. 12. Make tea, light a candle, and write a card to Jesse.  I cleaned out the sock basket when I worked on the laundry room. Can you believe that in this overflowing basket of mismatched socks that had come through the laundry in the last 6-8 months there was not one single match?? This Week’s Goals This week, I’m setting more personal goals because, as I wrote in my pregnancy update, I’m wanting to really prioritize earlier bedtimes and more hydration. If you’re wondering why I have such a long list of books to read, that’s because 4 of the books are ones I’m reading in preparation for a podcast interview and another one is a book I’m reading in order to do an endorsement for a friend. So it looks like a lot, but 4 of them are super short and I’m over halfway through two of the books on my list. It’s not as impressive as it might look! 🙂 2020: Week 3 — Goals Personal Goals 1. Get in 53,000 steps total. (I use the FitBit Ulta HR to track my steps every day.)  2. Finish reading 100 Ways to Love Your Husband, 100 Ways to Love Your Wife, 100 Words of Affirmation Your Wife Needs to Hear, 100 Words of Affirmation Your Husband Needs to Hear, Live Love Now, and No Better Mom for the Job. Finish listening to Killing the Rising Sun. 3. Get up at 5:30 a.m. every week day. 4. Go to bed by 10 p.m. Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. 5. Drink a gallon of water every day. Home/Family Goals 6. Decluttering: Boxes of mementos, under bathroom sinks, and kitchen cupboards. 7. Finish reading Great Escapes of World War II aloud as a family. 8. Buy hats and coming home outfit for baby. (I’m chipping away at my To Do Before Baby Comes list a little bit per week.) Work/Blog Goals 9. Write chapter 2 of my manuscript. Word of the Year Goals 10. Pop popcorn and watch another classic movie as a family. 11. Go to a movie with Jesse. 12. Go out to dinner with friends. What are YOUR goals for this week? How did you do on last week’s goals? Tell us in the comments! [...]
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This Week in Fintech 10 Jan

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This Week in Fintech 10 Jan
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4 Books I Read This Past Week (+ the classic movie we watched)

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4 Books I Read This Past Week (+ the classic movie we watched)
This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy here. Welcome to my weekly book update post where I share what books I read this past week + my honest thoughts and star ratings of them. In 2020, I decided not to put together a list of all the books I plan to read like I did the past few years. In the spirit of keeping my goals smaller and in bite-sized chunks, I decided to just pick the next few books I’m planning to read instead of trying to sort of plan out the whole year! And then I’m planning to do a book update post every week or every other week here with reviews and thoughts on the books I finished. It’s very possible that some weeks I won’t finish any books, so I’m giving myself permission to skip a week here and there if I don’t have anything to report! 🙂 Full disclosure, I did pick out a bunch of books I really would love to read this year and put them on three of the shelves in our library. And I plan to mostly pick the books I’m reading next from those shelves. I also picked out about 25 books on parenting that I plan to read while I’m writing my book. (My manuscript is due in July 2020 and I am hopeful that I’ll be able to read one parenting book per week. I’ve been reading 1-2 chapters every morning on the treadmill while I’m walking and, at that rate, it’s pretty easy to get through a book per week. We’ll see if I can keep it up!) If you want to see what I’m currently reading or what I’ve read so far this year, you can check out my GoodReads account. A Word on My Star Ratings The star ratings I give the books I read are based on a 5-star rating system. I rarely will ever give a book a 1-star rating (maybe never?), because my philosophy is that if a book is only worthy of one star, I’m more than likely going to quit reading it. 🙂 In the same vein, you’ll also notice that I’ll rarely give a 5-star rating as I reserve those for only my very, very favorite books. Here are the books I finished last week: 1. An Invisible Thread This book was recommended to me twice in the same week by people I respect, so I figured I should get a copy and read it! An Invisible Thread is the story of a seeming chance meeting between an 11-year-old pan handler and a busy executive and how it changed both of their lives. This book is written from the perspective of the busy executive, Laura Schroff, and her thoughts on how this young boy impacted her life in ways she couldn’t have dreamed. I thought it did a good job of fleshing out some of the very real problems and struggles with children born into poverty. I think so many of us live very sheltered and safe lives that it’s hard to imagine what it would be like to grow up and never know where you’ll be living, to have to figure out how to fend for yourself from a young age, to always be hungry, and how hard it would be to break the cycles of poverty and drug addiction when that’s all you know. On the flip side, I cringed at some of the decisions Laura made and how hurt this young boy — often with her being completely oblivious. It made me examine my own life and thought processes over things and decisions, especially in light of fostering. One of the parts of the book that I didn’t expect was that it wasn’t wrapped up in a neat bow and it didn’t have a perfect Hallmark movie ending. But I appreciated that it was real and gritty and the author was honest about her struggles. That said, I felt like the author shared a lot more about her background and life than maybe was necessary and sometimes it felt more like her memoir than the story that is promised in the subtitle. In some ways, it felt like she was trying to fill a word count for her manuscript. And yet, some of her story was very interesting and insightful. Verdict: 3 stars 2. The Rock, The Road, and the Rabbi I had seen this book advertised or mentioned so many different places, but I had no idea what it was about. I was looking for some new books to listen to on my Libby audiobook app and it was available to borrow from the library, so I started listening to it. Honestly, it seemed a little dry in the beginning and the introduction was kind of long and drawn out. But I’m glad I kept listening, because I learned so much and it opened so many passages in Scripture in a new light. Kathie Lee Gifford shares her journey of traveling to Israel and learning under a Messianic Rabbi. He helped her write many parts of the book and, as someone who has read the Bible from cover to cover many times in my life, I couldn’t believe how much I learned. I think that it helped that I visited Israel a few years ago and had gone to many of the places mentioned in the book so I could picture them in my mind as I was listening. And it made me anxious to go back again!! If you haven’t been to Israel, I think you’ll still find this book insightful, it just might not come alive as much if you can’t picture the sites and places in your mind. (However, this book might make you really want to visit there!) Verdict: 4 stars 3. Parenting: 14 Gospel Principles That Can Radically Change Your Family I can’t tell you how many times people have recommended this book to me! Since I’m working on a book on the topic of parenting right now, I figured I should really read it. It was interesting to me how much of the book mirrored some of the lessons and journey God has had me on as a parent in the last 3 years. Much of it was refresher type of encouragement, but it was so good to read. I appreciated the author’s strong emphasis on the Gospel as that is often missing in parenting books. It’s so easy to focus on prescriptive parenting tactics instead of getting to the heart — pointing our kids to Jesus. In addition, I loved the underlying message that we won’t doing this parenting thing perfectly and that’s the point. If we were perfect parents, we wouldn’t need Jesus! While I didn’t agree with every tiny little thing in the book and I truly was irritated by the layout of the book, I am very glad I read this and think it’s a worthwhile read for every Christian parent! (A note on the layout: I think it needed more spacing and better breaking up of paragraphs, maybe some callout quotes, and possibly a different font? Yes, I’m weird in that book layouts can really make or break my reading experience. I’ve even been known to not read a book just because I felt like the layout was so poorly done!) Verdict: 4 stars 4. A Single Shard We’ve had this book on our shelf for a few years and I finally picked it up to read aloud to the kids. It’s the fictional account of a master potter, a homeless boy, big dreams, dashed hopes (literally), and how perseverance pays off. Truth be told, I really enjoyed the story and found it pretty engaging (even though I had mostly guessed what the ending was going to be!),  but the kids didn’t enjoy it. They said it was hard to follow and not super engaging. I think some of the was likely due to the fact that we’ve gotten way out of the habit of reading aloud (should I confess that it’s been almost two years — I think! — since we’ve read a book other than a devotional or the Bible out loud together??) and it’s going to take some time to get back into it. I also think that they’ve changed so much in the few years since we stopped reading aloud, that it’s going to take some trial and error to figure out what kinds of books will engage them now that they are older. Regardless of it not being a big hit, I’m going to celebrate that we read it, finished it, and learned some things about potters and ancient pottery and 12th century Korea. That’s a win, right?? 🙂 Verdict: 3 stars Classic Movie We Wa [...]
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My Goals For This Week (+ details on my baby to do list)

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My Goals For This Week (+ details on my baby to do list)
This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy here. As I told you last week, I’m doing weekly goals in 2020 instead of yearly goals. We’re only a week into the new year, but I can already tell you that I am loving this approach and couldn’t believe how much I got done last week. (Okay, it probably helped that the kids were out of school, we had very few extra commitments, and it was an overall quiet week. We’ll see how it goes this week when we’re back to our usual schedule and pace and we have commitments and plans every evening!)  Before I share this week’s goals, here’s an update on how I did on last week’s goals… Last Week’s Goals (progress update) Personal Goals 1. Get in 50,000 steps total. 2. Finish reading Parenting and An Invisible Thread. 3. Get up at 5:30 a.m. Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday. (I hit this goal every day but Monday.) Home/Family Goals 4. Declutter the entire house. (See the pictures of our progress here. (Note: We did all the big projects this week, but I came up with a list of little areas I want to declutter and I’m planning to tackle one small project every week day fo r the next few weeks.) 5. Finish reading aloud A Single Shard together. 6. Start a new family devotional book together. (We decided to go with The Ology since we already had it and had been wanting to go through it.) Work/Blog Goals 7. Spend 12 hours on my manuscript outline. (My outline is done — yay!! This next week I get to start writing!) 8. Open up the blogging Mastermind to new members. 9. Get everything ready for our big $4 course sale next week. Word of the Year Goals 10. Pop popcorn and watch a movie as a family. (We watched Swiss Family Robinson and the kids really enjoyed it!) 11. Take Kaitlynn out shopping. (See details on our shopping trip here.) 12. Make tea, light a candle, and write thank you notes. I was SO excited to see all those things crossed off the list! YAY!!! A Word About My Baby To Do List You’ll start to notice baby items on my goals list each week. A few weeks ago, I sat down and made out a list of everything I needed to do/buy/get before the baby is born (I’m due April 30). I divided this list up into weekly tasks so that I could slowly chip away at it instead of waiting until the last few weeks and feeling overwhelmed by everything I needed to do. This makes the countdown more exciting and it also is in line with my word for the year — because it’s going to let me savor this special time even more instead of feeling sort of rushed with to-do’s. 2020: Week 2 — Goals Personal Goals 1. Get in 52,000 steps total. (I use the FitBit Ulta HR to track my steps every day.) 2. Finish reading Romancing Your Child’s Heart and Awful Beautiful Life and listening to the Killing Patton audiobook. 3. Get up at 5:30 a.m. every week day. Home/Family Goals 4. Decluttering: Garage freezer, bathroom closet, attic area, laundry room, car. 5. Start a new read aloud book together as a family. (Any great suggestions??) 6. Inventory what baby clothes we need to buy and purchase these. Work/Blog Goals 7. Finish the introduction and write chapter 1 of my manuscript. 8. Write an in-depth honest review of Butcher Box. 9. Run our $4 course sale. Word of the Year Goals 10. Pop popcorn and watch another classic movie as a family. 11. Go out to dinner with Jesse for our anniversary. 12. Make tea, light a candle, and write a card to Jesse. What are YOUR goals for this week? How did you do on last week’s goals? Tell us in the comments! [...]
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Life Update: Pregnancy (week 23), Goal-Setting, Decluttering, Birthday Parties, and a fun girls’ night

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Life Update: Pregnancy (week 23), Goal-Setting, Decluttering, Birthday Parties, and a fun girls’ night
Welcome to my weekly life update where I share about my pregnancy & give you a peek into our life this past week. If you want to follow a lot more behind-the-scenes and real-time updates every week, be sure to follow my stories and posts on Instagram. 23 weeks!! And I officially “popped” this week. I kept waiting for it to happen and this week it totally did. In fact, Jesse walked in while I was walking on the treadmill and took one look at me and said, “Whoa!” when he saw my belly. And then he realized that he had said it out loud… and I started dying laughing, because it’s exactly what I feel every time I look down or look in the mirror. Highlights We cleaned out our master bedroom closet to make space for the baby’s things (we’re planning to have the baby sleep in our room for the first months, possibly longer). It’s getting real now that we have baby blankets and baby things sitting in our closet! Notable This was a rough week. I struggled with a lot more nausea and had a lot more fatigue than usual. In fact, at least half of the day most days, I could only manage to be up for 5-15 minutes at a time and then needed to lie down. I think I maybe overdid it the last few weeks (+ I was sick) and we were traveling and I think my body just got completely worn down. I tried to take it really, really easy the past few days and I’m feeling a lot more energetic. I’m so grateful! It was a good reminder to me that this is a season to make sure to really pace myself and take time to rest. Cravings Very little this week, since I was nauseous most of the time. But I’m so grateful that the nausea isn’t anywhere what it was like in my first trimester. Also, I keep thinking about so many people who feel sick all the time and it’s not for a good cause nor does it have an end in sight. Weight gain: 15 lbs. This Week at Our House We drove back from Kansas last weekend (it’s about an 11 to 12-hour drive). Silas asked if he could wear his jammies on the drive… he is such a PJ-lover and I wonder if he’ll ever grow out of loving wearing PJs as often as possible! 🙂 On the drive home, I worked on planning for 2020, including planning out my Weekly Goals for this past week. (Did you see my post on why I’m not setting yearly goals and am setting weekly goals instead?) Last week, I asked for ideas on Instagram to help with my lingering hacking cough that was keeping me up at night. I got so many great ideas! As a result, I started taking elderberry syrup (thank you, Four Mothers Elderberry!) and putting Vick’s on my feet with socks every night and it’s really made a difference. I’m still not 100%, but I’m so much better than I was last week! You all are the best! One of our biggest projects for the week was decluttering all the majorly-neglected spots in our home. (You can see all of the before and after pictures here.) We had multiple birthday parties to attend this past week (I guess it’s a popular week for birthdays??). I loved the way my friend, Fran, chose to celebrate her birthday — with a TAK PAK Party. We all brought specific items and then packed backpacks with these items for teen girls who are entering foster care. (Read more about TAK PAKS here.) From My Heart… “I’m at my wit’s end! I can’t seem to connect with my daughter at all! It’s like she just doesn’t want to have a relationship with me!” A distraught mom confided this to me recently. My heart went out to her and I asked some more questions about the situation. Two things I asked were, “What does your daughter like? What is she interested in and passionate about?” After the mom listed off some things, I said, “What would it look like for you to step into her world and be interested in those things with her?” The mom abruptly responded, “Oh! I couldn’t do that! That’s just not me!” Here’s the thing I’ve learned from doing it all wrong: We can’t expect our kids to love all the same things we love and get excited about all the same things we get excited about. I used to get frustrated because my kids were so different than me. But then, I began seeing that their wildly different interests were an opportunity for me to learn and grow and expand my world. My kids have taught me so much about so many subjects that I used to have zero clue about. They have helped me develop new interests and new skills. And they’ve stretched and pushed me outside my comfort zone. And it has made my world so much richer and interesting! Want to Deepen a Relationship? For instance, Kaitlynn absolutely adores Bath & Body Works, so she’s teaching me all about how to get the best deal there. I’ve learned all about their scents and sales and money back guarantee. And she and I went one night this past week with her well-researched list and gift card and $10/$40 coupon and she floored me by getting two bags full of stuff for only $10.80 out of pocket — and saving $98!!! As I watched her strategically shop last night, I thought: 1) She needs to start her own blog (but she’s not interested in blogging, and that’s okay!) and 2) I would have missed this had I not been willing to get out of my little, “I don’t like to shop or go to the mall” mentality and jumped in and embraced something my daughter loves. Want to deepen a relationship with someone? Care about what they care about. Be interested in what they are interested in. And let them open up a whole new world of ideas and insights and inspiration to you! [...]
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Life Update: Pregnancy (Week 22) + our trip to Kansas for Christmas

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Life Update: Pregnancy (Week 22) + our trip to Kansas for Christmas
Welcome to my weekly life update where I share about my pregnancy & give you a peek into our life this past week. If you want to follow a lot more behind-the-scenes and real-time updates every week, be sure to follow my stories and posts on Instagram. 22 weeks!! And this week’s pregnant belly picture is brought to you from our Starbucks bathroom road trip pit stop (we drove back from Kansas yesterday). HIGHLIGHTS I’m so grateful to be feeling great overall! It was such a blessing to be able to enjoy Christmas! I only had two days where I felt pretty nauseous and one really bad night. Besides that, other than moving at a slower pace than usual and lingering congestion and cough from my recent head cold, I am feeling so good!! NOTABLE This trip to Kansas to visit family for Christmas was our last big planned trip before the baby arrives. That’s pretty surreal to realize — that the next time we’re in Kansas, we’ll have a baby with us (and maybe another child or two from foster care, too!) It seems like the time is flying by right now and I’m trying to soak it up! CRAVINGS I was able to enjoy most all the Christmas food, including one of my mom’s amazing Peanut Butter Bon-Bons! Weight gain: 14 lbs. We traveled to Kansas to spend Christmas with both of our extended families. (We’re so blessed that they live about 5 minutes from each other!) My dad — ever the practical one! — buys a live evergreen tree for their Christmas tree each year. They only keep it in the house for two days and then he plants it on their land afterward. We all got matching blinking light hats for Christmas! We’re getting ready to celebrate 17 years of marriage — oh how I love this man! My dad usually does a scavenger hunt for the kids with their gifts, complete with poems that take them all over the house to find their gifts! Christmas morning with Jesse’s side of the family always starts with group pictures in jammies. Jesse with his siblings… this was the best picture I got as they were all giving each other a hard time and then only half of them would be looking at the camera at once. (Jesse’s face here is all, “Are we done with pictures yet??”) My nephew was SO excited about this Batman costume he got! We finished out the day like usual — with stockings. The kids were so anxious to tear into theirs, but they waited patiently so we could snap another picture! 🙂 In Case You Missed It: All the details on our family Christmas celebration Maybe you needed this reminder this Christmas? Why I Failed on My Goals for 2019 The Top 10 Books I Read in 2019 [...]
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Life Update: Pregnancy (Week 21), Lots of Christmas Fun!

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Life Update: Pregnancy (Week 21), Lots of Christmas Fun!
Welcome to my weekly life update where I share about my pregnancy & give you a peek into our life this past week. If you want to follow a lot more behind-the-scenes and real-time updates every week, be sure to follow my stories and posts on Instagram. 21 weeks!! Full disclosure: I just woke up from an accidental hour-long nap before this was taken so if I look extra tired and groggy it’s because I was.😉 I had planned to do an outside picture this week, but it was already dusk when I woke up! Oh well! HIGHLIGHTS Baby has been moving like crazy this week! I feel like I’m finally starting to believe this is really and truly happening… in fact, I told Jesse yesterday, “We are having a BABY in less than 19 weeks!” In honor of the fact that I am beginning to believe this is really happening, I actually wrote out a list of to do’s that need to happen before April 30th (my due date). And I was a little surprised to see how many things were on the list! I don’t think I’m going to be bored these next 19 weeks — especially since I’m planning to write a 60,000-word manuscript in that timeframe, too! 😉 NOTABLE I’ve started to be able to see the baby kicking from the outside. The kids think it’s pretty much the coolest trick ever. They are all crazy in love with this child and it is so fun to witness as a mom. CRAVINGS Water, water, and more water. Plus, yogurt, cheese, and ice cream. Weight gain: 13 pounds Our church took all of the youth group leaders to GLOW Nashville one night this past week. It was c-o-l-d, but we had such a fun night, regardless! As we talked about on a recent podcast episode, one of our traditions for December is to create a family Bucket List where everyone gets to choose 1-2 things they want to do during the month of December. This year, Silas wanted to go back to the Gaylord Opryland — something we had done a few years ago. It’s a HUGE hotel that they decorate beautifully for Christmas. While there, we also went out to dinner at one of our favorite family restaurants — the Caney Fork Restaurant. We got Tableside S’mores — which is something the kids have talked about ever since they went there last time a few years ago! I went to get my hair done one day this past week and my hair guy did Christmas-themed foils… so I had Kaitlynn (who was with me) take my photo. Only after she took my photo did we realize the hilarious placement of the plant behind me! 🙂 We did our annual Dollar Tree Stocking Stuffer run on Saturday morning. (Read more about it here.) We are headed to Kansas tonight and will be there all week, so we celebrated our family Christmas with just the five of us today (Sunday). The kids helped plan the day and the menu — and then we all went shopping together! It’s so fantastic when your kids are not only old enough to help you plan your Christmas menu, but then they make some of the recipes, too! This girl got all dressed up on Saturday to go to her friend’s quinceanera. And then Sunday morning started bright and early with Silas and Kaitlynn waking us up by jumping on our bed because they were so excited about our family Christmas celebration! We all wore our matching Christmas jammies (Kaitlynn’s Bucket List item — she picked the jammies out, too), opened gifts, then had Cinnamon Rolls, bacon, and orange juice. Then we decorated a Gingerbread house, played a game together, and watched a Christmas movie. We also had yummy snacks — each person got to pick their snack choice for the snack spread. Now we’re getting ready to have a yummy Smoked Turkey that Jesse made with Sweet Potato Casserole, Mashed Potatoes, Layered Jello, Rolls, and Broccoli (everyone chose one of the recipes for our dinner, too!) and then open stockings together. And then we’re packing up and leaving to drive to Kansas! What a fun day! The aftermath after we opened presents this morning. A few thoughts on marriage from my heart… When we got married, I used to get so annoyed by him because I felt he was lazy and undisciplined. I tried so hard to fix and change him. I thought it was my job as a good wife to help him “improve”. So I nagged, I passively aggressively shared Scripture, I prayed hard for him to change, and I carried around constant frustration that he was never living up to the standard I had set for where I thought he needed to be. Yes, I was a model wife like that. Slowly, ever so slowly, God started changing my heart to stop trying to fix him and to start focusing on my own struggles and issues and short-comings. Guess what happened?? The more I focused on growing as a person, the more I began to see my husband in a different light. I began to see his differences not as problems, but as strengths. For instance, he doesn’t care so much about following a rigid schedule because he cares more about living fully in the moment and loving people well. That used to grate on my every last nerve. Now I see how God knew I needed to learn so much in this area from my husband. Today, I look at this man with new eyes of admiration and appreciation. I see how he is exactly the counterpart I need. I see how we balance each other out so well. And also, I see a man who constantly sacrificially loves his family and others. I see a man who is servant-hearted and fiercely loyal, a man who lays down his own needs for the needs of others, who cares deeply about others, and who always puts people above projects and to do lists. I see a man who is God’s greatest gift to me. ❤️ [...]
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Rite Aid: Deals for the week of December 15-21, 2019

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Rite Aid: Deals for the week of December 15-21, 2019
Looking for all the best weekly Rite Aid deals? Check out this list of the hottest deals you’ll find in-store this week! Here are the best Rite Aid deals this week, with thanks to Hip2Save for their help in compiling them. Buy 2 Scunci No Damage Ponytail Holders 18 ct at $2.19 each – On Sale Buy One, Get One 50% off Get $2 Wellness+ BonusCash when you buy 2 (limit 2) $0.64 each after cash Buy Advil Cold & Sinus 10 ct – $8.29 Use the $2/1 Advil Cold & Sinus coupon found here Use the $2/1 In-Ad coupon $4.29 after coupons Buy 2 Nature Made Zinc Tablets 30mg 100 ct at $5.49 each – On Sale Buy One, Get One Free Use the $2/1 Nature Made Vitamins coupon found in the 12/15 SS (exp 1/15) $1.74 after coupon Huggies Jumbo Pack Diapers 15-34 ct, Pull-Ups 12-25 ct or Goodnites 11-14 ct – 2/$18 Use two $1.50/1 Pull-Ups coupons found here Pay $15 Get $5 Wellness+ BonusCash when you buy 2 (limit 2) $5 each after coupons and cash Buy 2 Johnsons Baby Wipes 25 ct at $a2.99 each – On Sale Buy One, Get One 50% off Get $1 Wellness+ BonusCash when you buy 2 (limit 2) $1.74 after cash Purex Laundry Detergent 45-50 oz, 19 ct or Crystals 15.5 oz – $1.99 Use the $1/1 Purex Unit Dose coupon found here $0.99 after coupon See the full list of deals at Rite Aid here. [...]
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Life Update: Pregnancy (week 19), our first foster care placement, plus more!

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Life Update: Pregnancy (week 19), our first foster care placement, plus more!
Welcome to my weekly life update where I share about my pregnancy & give you a peek into our life this past week. If you want to follow a lot more behind-the-scenes and real-time updates every week, be sure to follow my stories and posts on Instagram. 19 weeks!! It feels like the last two weeks have sort of dragged by slower than usual as I anticipated being at the halfway mark. I have a feeling once I hit 20 weeks, then it will feel like it flies by for a bit until I start anticipating 30 weeks and then 40 weeks. HIGHLIGHTS I definitely started looking more pregnant this week. A lot of people noticed it and it’s fun (and weird!) to look down and see a protruding belly! I also broke out my first pair of maternity jeans (see photo above!) which felt pretty monumental! NOTABLE I started taking only one dose of iron daily + one dose of Blood Builder (instead of a double dose of SlowFe). It seems like this combo is working well for my stomach + I seem to have had more energy this week and I have to wonder if the B12 is helping with that?! I’m still nauseous at least part of most every day and running on about 50% the energy that I usually am, but it’s SO much better than the first trimester and I’m so grateful! CRAVINGS Scrambled eggs, avocados, and sourdough toast with butter continue to be my go to’s. I also had this obsession with making a pie mixing yogurt and whipped topping and freezing it in a graham cracker crust (thanks to a suggestion from a follower for how to use up all this plain yogurt I got marked down at a crazy price!) Weight gain: 10 lbs. We bought and decorated a Christmas tree this week! I felt like we were at least a week behind the rest of the world in getting this up, but I guess there are no rules for Christmas, right? The good news is that because we waited, we were able to get the tree for half price! (Psst! If you’ve been around here for awhile, you’ll remember that we ditched having a big Christmas tree last year. But this year, we decided to bring back the tradition and we don’t regret it! Want to hear about more of our Christmas traditions? We all recorded a podcast as a family on that very topic.) Silas had this big wart on his finger that he got burned off this week at the pediatrician’s office. Growing up, I had to get a lot of warts burned off, so I felt so badly for him when he was in pain for the next day as a result. But he really wanted to get it taken off and it was so big that I didn’t think any of the natural remedies would work (I tried a bunch of them growing up, including ACV, duct tape, wart remover ointment, and more and none of them ever worked at all for me!!) Gratefully, the pain only lasted for a day and he’s really happy that it’s healing! Kathrynne had her first basketball games of the season this week. She’s on Varsity this year and has a new coach, so she’s being stretched in good ways. We love getting to cheer her on and try to go to every single game that we can go to. It becomes a fun family activity — and we also get to see new parts of TN as we drive to little towns in different places for her away games! We also had a big Christmas gathering for all of the youth group members from both campuses of our church + the leaders. I laughed so hard and it was such a gift during a very full week. (By the way, Jesse and I have just loved the opportunity to serve as youth group leaders this year. It has brought us so much joy and life to pour into these kids!) Friday afternoon, we got a call about a 3-sibling group in foster care that didn’t have a home for the weekend. They were 13, 11, and 3 and Jesse and I felt strongly we were supposed to say yes. It turned out to be such a wonderful weekend. Tiring, but such a gift to get to open our home up and love on these kids. They had never decorated Christmas cookies before, so we had a fun time baking and decorating cookies together. The 3-year-old gave Kaitlynn a makeover! 🙂 The stay included one night with very little sleep because the 3-year-old had a bad cough and it kept waking her up and then she’d get scared and cry. I finally figured out that if I laid next to her bed, when she woke up, she’d be a lot less scared if I was right there with her. Her cough got worse on Saturday, so I took her into urgent care just to be safe. Gratefully, no ear infection (she’d be complaining of her ears hurting) and just an upper respiratory infection. They suggested honey and a humidifier. We also found Zarbee’s cough syrup that was approved for kids under 6 (we discovered this weekend that almost no meds are approved for kids under 6! I think maybe things have changed since our kids were little?) and we gave her that on Saturday night and she only woke up twice!) We are so thankful we had the opportunity to open up our home this weekend — if only for a short while — to love on and provide a safe place for these kids to stay. I also have quickly realized how many big feelings are going to be involved in this foster care journey we’re on… as I told someone yesterday, it’s both beautiful and brutal. [...]
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This Week in Fintech

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This Week in Fintech
This weekly summary from our 5 experts, brings you insights based on their experience as investors, entrepreneurs & executives. Ilias Hatzis started his first company, an internet search engine, during the dot-com era & now focusses on crypto. Efi Pylarinou worked for top tier Wall Street firms and is now a top global Fintech influencer. Jessica […] The post This Week in Fintech appeared first on Daily Fintech. [...]
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Life Update: Pregnancy (week 18), a trip to Kansas, Thanksgiving meal prep

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Life Update: Pregnancy (week 18), a trip to Kansas, Thanksgiving meal prep
Welcome to my weekly life update where I share about my pregnancy & give you a peek into our life this past week. If you want to follow a lot more behind-the-scenes and real-time updates every week, be sure to follow my stories and posts on Instagram. Week 18! I can’t believe I’m almost halfway!! HIGHLIGHTS Baby has been kicking up a storm and all the kids were excited that they were able to each feel kicks this week!! They want to sit and just keep their hands on my belly so they don’t miss any kicks!! NOTABLE I implemented some of your suggestions for heartburn and sleep and while I can’t point to one specific thing that I’m certain worked, I am thrilled to report that I only had one really bad heartburn/nausea day this week and I’m positive it was because I wasn’t super careful with what I ate that day. Otherwise, I had very little heartburn this week and I slept for six hour stretches multiple nights!! Also notable: this week marked my last planned flights until (likely) well after the baby is born. It feels weird that, if all goes as planned, I won’t be hopping on a plane again for months and months! I’m excited to get to stay home and write my next book, possibly get to love on and care for a child who is in foster care (we think there’s a good chance we’ll be getting a placement soon!), and start prepping for bringing this new baby into our home! CRAVINGS Scrambled eggs and avocados with sourdough toast and butter (this has become one of my go-to meals) and frozen yogurt. Also, I absolutely loved the turkey and mashed potatoes at Thanksgiving! It hit the spot! WEIGHT GAIN: 9 lbs. We went to Wichita, Kansas all week to spend time with both sides of our family. I took almost zero pictures the entire time because I was just offline and soaking up the time with family, so I have almost none to show of our time there. But it was a really fantastic trip and we’re so glad our families both live so close so that we can spend holidays with both sides! We all enjoyed getting to spend a lot of time with so many of the nieces and nephews/cousins. Each year, we have two family Thanksgiving celebrations with extended family on Thursday and everyone who comes signs up to bring parts of the meal. This year, because I’m running on a lot less energy that I usually have, I asked the kids if they would be willing to help out. They each signed up to make one item for both houses. Kathrynne made Pistachio Salad and Green Bean Casserole. Kaitlynn made two Apple Pies (be sure to check out the braided crust she did — see below!). Silas made two Pumpkin Pie fillings. And Jesse peeled and cut up 10 lbs. of sweet potatoes. All I did was oversee, make pie crusts, and finish the two Sweet Potato Casseroles — and we were done in two hours with everything! Mamas of littles, holidays might be really hard right now. You’re tired. There’s so much to do. And you have to do so much of it yourself. Well, just hang on… there’s a day coming soon when your kids will be old enough to not only take care of getting themselves dressed and fed, but they’ll be cooking Thanksgiving dinner for you, too! What I’m… Reading: Parenting and The Killing Tide Watching: We subscribed to Disney+ for December at the kids’ request since we usually watch a lot more family movies together this month! The kids are loving it! We watched 12 First Dates last night as a family. This was a fun, feel good movie that reminds us to see our blessings right in front of us. (Note: It was a big cheesy in parts, had a tiny bit of mild language in it, and was definitely a bit of a rip-off of Groundhog Day, but we all still enjoyed it.) What are your family’s favorite Christmas movies? Listening to: Christmas Music! (Of course!) Also, after months of getting nauseous from listening to audiobooks (just one of the many weird things that makes me sick to my stomach in pregnancy!), I just downloaded a few from Libby and am going to try again this week! Loving: That it’s December and we have so many memory-making plans for this month! It’s one of my favorite months and I’m excited about it! What are you reading, watching, listening to, and/or loving? I’d love to hear! [...]
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This Week in Fintech

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This Week in Fintech
Daily Fintech brings fresh daily fintech insights from people just like you – senior executives, entrepreneurs & investors working in the fintech revolution. Our weekly summaries give you a look at what you will get by reading the whole article and a brief summary with links to the daily articles. If you want to continue […] The post This Week in Fintech appeared first on Daily Fintech. [...]
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This Habit Saves Me Money and Stress All Week Long

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This Habit Saves Me Money and Stress All Week Long
Figuring out what to cook for dinner every night can add stress to an already long day. But going out to eat or picking something on the way home adds up to a pretty penny. What if there was a way to avoid the hassle of what’s for dinner and save money in the process? Enter meal planning. This one switch — from deciding what to eat on the fly to planning out your meals &#8212. [...]
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Life Update: Pregnancy (week 16), a trip to Wichita, the Blissdom blogging conference

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Life Update: Pregnancy (week 16), a trip to Wichita, the Blissdom blogging conference
This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy here. Welcome to my weekly life update where I share about my pregnancy & give you a peek into our life this past week. If you want to follow a lot more behind-the-scenes and real-time updates every week, be sure to follow my stories and posts on Instagram. 16 weeks!! (And excuse the sort of goofy pose/facial expression. I was hanging out with some good blogging friends after the Blissdom conference on Friday night and we were all laughing over something right before this photo was taken and I couldn’t stop laughing enough to take a more normal looking photo!) Jami Balmet is pregnant with baby #6 (she had two sets of twin boys in two years and then she had a little girl!) and we are both due on the same day so we had to get a belly shot! We were teasing her that she’s so chill about her pregnancy because she’s so experienced that she rarely ever talks about it online. Whereas I’m over here documenting everything like a first-time mom! HIGHLIGHTS I can feel the baby moving a lot more — especially in the last few days. The kids are so hopeful they’ll be able to feel movement on my tummy soon. I keep telling them it likely won’t be for another few weeks, but they are super excited about it. NOTABLE I have finally been able to start drinking more water again after weeks and weeks of having to get super creative in getting in liquids since water made me sick. As someone who used to drink a gallon of water everyday, this has been a challenge and I’m so happy to be back to my water-guzzling habits! CRAVINGS I have been ravenously hungry this past week! It seems the baby is going through a big growth spurt or something. I am so grateful that I have been able to get back to eating much healthier now, even if I do still crave pizza and tacos and (now) desserts. But hey, being able to eat and enjoy salads after so many weeks of just eating whatever I thought I could keep down has been so nice!! WEIGHT GAIN: 9 lbs. How are the rest of you pregnant mamas doing?? I got to fly down to Wichita, KS for my mom’s 66th birthday this past weekend. Unfortunately, I only got one picture (the one above of my parents) because I was so focused on just hanging out with my family. I am so grateful that I had the opportunity to go. Since we’ll likely be opening up our home soon to a child (or children) in foster care and I’m having a baby in the spring, I know that I probably won’t be able to just hop on a plane and go somewhere by myself in the coming months and years! I love these three more than words can describe — but I kinda wish that they had a little more personality. 😉 We went to get their passports renewed over lunch break on Tuesday. (Kathrynne is going to Suriname in the Spring so we renewed them all while we were at it!) In my usual desire to document life so I don’t forget, I asked them all to stand under the passport sign so I could take a cute picture of them. I said, “Smile!” and this was the result. Of course I could have said something like, “C’mon guys, actually smile for me!” (And I do say that sometimes!!) But I also love having photos like this that show their personalities way more than a perfectly staged smiling picture ever would. I’m trying to soak up these days, these moments, these personalities, these people who are growing up so quickly. It’s hard to think they were once tiny babes in my womb! Also, this current tiny human in my womb has no idea what they are in for when they arrive into this world!! These three already have a host of plans, ideas, and dreams for how they will be loving on, nurturing, teaching, and spending time with the baby and I can hardly wait to get to watch them all interact together (though I’m wondering if I’m ever going to get to hold the baby myself! Maybe at the midnight feedings?!?) I got to speak at the Blissdom blogging conference on Friday on the topic of live video (one of my favorite topics!). It was so good to get to meet some of you there! While I love getting to speak, one of the best parts of conferences is getting to connect individually with people after I speak! I love hearing stories and providing individual encouragement and cheerleading! I loved getting to meet and do an interview with Jo Saxton on leadership. One of the best parts of the conference was getting to see so many longtime blogging friends! A bunch of these women had gotten an AirBnB together and they invited me to come over afterwards for dinner. I haven’t laughed as hard as we laughed in a really long time. It was such a gift for my soul! What I’m Currently… Reading: Families Where Grace is in Place and The Killing Tide Watching: You’ve Got Mail (I haven’t watched this in ages! We had a discussion about AOL recently as a family and I remembered this movie so I watched it with the girls to give them a better understanding of what email was like when we were teenagers!) Listening to: Christmas Music! Loving: The fact that I’ve finished all my business travel + speaking engagements for 2019! I’ve loved getting to travel and speak and meet so many of you this year, but I’m also grateful that I get to stay home now and just enjoy my family and making special memories together for the holidays (plus begin work on the new book I’m writing in 2020!) In Case You Missed It… This Past Week’s $63 Grocery Shopping Trip — Plus, see our dinners that we ate last week. 20+ Gifts for Outdoor Adventurers Under $30 — This is a great gift guide for the nature lover/hiker/outdoors person in your life! The Enneagram & Marriage — Whether you love all things Enneagram, are skeptical of it, or don’t even know what it is, I think you’ll enjoy this candid conversation Jesse and I had about our differences, how we have worked through them, and what it looks like to love and respect someone who is the complete opposite of you in many ways. 20+ LEGO Gifts Under $30 — Do you have a LEGO lover in your life? Sometimes finding the perfect set to give as a gift can be difficult. Check out this list of LEGO gifts for some ideas! [...]
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This Week in Fintech

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This Week in Fintech
Daily Fintech brings fresh daily fintech insights from people just like you – senior executives, entrepreneurs & investors working in the fintech revolution. Our weekly summaries give you a look at what you will get by reading the whole article. Bernard Lunn is a Fintech deal-maker, investor, entrepreneur and advisor. He is CEO of Daily […] The post This Week in Fintech appeared first on Daily Fintech. [...]
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Life Update: Pregnancy (week 15) + our big foster care news!

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Life Update: Pregnancy (week 15) + our big foster care news!
Welcome to my weekly life update where I share about my pregnancy & give you a peek into our life this past week. If you want to follow a lot more behind-the-scenes and real-time updates every week, be sure to follow my stories and posts on Instagram. 15 weeks and I’m not going to be able to camouflage this bump much longer. 😉 HIGHLIGHTS I had another doctor’s appointment. It was super routine, but my doctor was so encouraging about how healthy I am, how healthy the baby is, and how well I am doing. That was such a blessing! In 5 weeks, I go back for my big 20-week anatomy scan! NOTABLE I had one really rough day this past week but other than that I had a few hours of most days where I felt so good that I sort of forgot I was pregnant! I started sitting on the exercise ball this past week because I can tell that these hips are starting to feel the usual aches and pains of pregnancy. I discovered the power of sitting a few hours per day on an exercise ball and how much relief it provided for my tailbone/hip pain, so I’m trying to be proactive and start this early this time — especially since my hips are 11 years older than they were last time I was pregnant! 😉 CRAVINGS This week, it was all about meat and carbs. Seriously, I craved roast, chicken, and noodles. And I’m still totally into cheese and cottage cheese! WEIGHT GAIN: 7 pounds Our Big Foster Care News! After months and months of classes, homework, meetings, paperwork and more paperwork, doctor’s visits, TB testing, home visits, interviews, and hours and hours spent getting our home all set up and childproofed, we found out this past week that we our home is officially licensed as a foster home in TN!! We have no idea what the future holds for us when it comes to foster care, but we are excited to continue on in this step of faith and obedience. We’ve been praying for the children who will be placed in our home and trusting God that He’s got a beautiful plan that we can’t really dream or imagine right now. Obviously, there’s a lot I won’t be able to share about this journey in order to protect other family’s and kids’ privacy, but I will definitely share what I can while protecting the kids/families first and foremost (as that is one of our number one priorities as a foster home: to provide a safe place for kids and to pave the way for reunification). We know this is going to be stretching and we have no idea what to expect, but we are looking forward to seeing what God has for us in this and how He’s going to use it to grow our family and change our lives. In Case You Missed It: Veteran’s Day Freebies 20 Gifts for Tweens Under $30 Building Strong Father-Daughter Relationships [...]
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This week in Fintech

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This week in Fintech
Daily Fintech brings fresh daily fintech insights from people just like you – senior executives, entrepreneurs & investors working in the fintech revolution. Our weekly summaries give you a look at what you will get by reading the whole article. Bernard Lunn is a Fintech deal-maker, investor, entrepreneur and advisor. He is CEO of Daily […] The post This week in Fintech appeared first on Daily Fintech. [...]
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Life Update: Pregnancy (week 14), Hawaiian fun, Seussical

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Life Update: Pregnancy (week 14), Hawaiian fun, Seussical
Welcome to my weekly life update where I share about my pregnancy & give you a peek into our life this past week. If you want to follow a lot more behind-the-scenes and real-time updates every week, be sure to follow my stories and posts on Instagram. 14 weeks — and officially into the second trimester!! (This isn’t the best pregnancy photo, but this is the only one I got this week so it will have to do. Jesse took it so I could post the amazing $10.95 deal on these shirts — the deal ends tonight!) HIGHLIGHTS The baby seemed to have a big growth spurt over the past 6 days. And we’ve officially hit the no more flat stomach in the morning stage. (Also, I cannot BELIEVE how much my stomach pops by the end of the day most days!! It’s like I grow by 5 inches! Okay, I haven’t actually measured, but that’s sure what it feels like!) NOTABLE I actually had a lot more energy than I’ve had in *weeks* the past few days!! And I’ve actually been craving salads and healthy food again. It feels SO good to be back to much more normal eating again. I was really, really sick to my stomach two mornings this past week, but it went away after a few hours and I am so grateful. CRAVINGS Cheese, sour cream, whipped, yogurt, milk, ice cream… notice a theme here? It’s a good thing I don’t have any dairy allergies!! WEIGHT GAIN: 6 pounds We have another doctor’s appointment in a few days, which I’m excited about. (I think pregnancy is probably one of the few times when you look forward to going to the doctor!) Our youth group hosted a Fall Festival for our church kids and the community. Each youth group small group chose a theme and dressed up, planned a game, and decorated our room for that theme. Can you guess what theme our group chose?? Around 200 kids came to the event and we were busy all night helping the kids play our game and passing out candy. It was such a fun night! These girls are just amazing and I’m so honored to get to be one of their small group leaders! One of the best parts of youth group is getting to co-lead our group with one of my best friends! If you need a laugh, go read this. Silas had his last baseball games of the fall season this past week. I loved how his coach spoke words of life over each boy at the end of the last game. Silas has been so blessed to have so many great coaches over the past few years who are so committed to pouring into young boys’ lives. Almost all of my girls from my youth group small group were performing in Seussical Jr. so of course I had to go cheer them on! Kaitlynn came with me to the show and we had so much fun together. I am always looking for opportunities to have one-on-one time with each of the kids. What I’m… Reading right now: Come Matter Here Watching right now: Figure skating! Listening to right now: I’ve been listening to Josh Groban and some Christmas music the past few days. Loving right now: The cooler fall temperatures — which means we can actually legitimately wear sweaters and boots! In Case You Missed It… How to Make Money Creating Printables — Looking for a way to add some extra income? You don’t want to miss this post! I Earned 117 Swagbucks Today — Need a little motivation to earn more Swagbucks and free gift cards? Here you go! Why I Stopped Drinking Coffee — A really honest post with details on how and why I stopped drinking coffee. [...]
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This week in Fintech

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This week in Fintech
Daily Fintech brings fresh daily fintech insights from people just like you – senior executives, entrepreneurs & investors working in the fintech revolution. Our weekly summaries give you a look at what you will get by reading the whole article. Bernard Lunn is a Fintech deal-maker, investor, entrepreneur and advisor. He is CEO of Daily […] The post This week in Fintech appeared first on Daily Fintech. [...]
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Life Update: Pregnancy Update (Week 13) & the Spartan Race

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Life Update: Pregnancy Update (Week 13) & the Spartan Race
Welcome to my weekly life update where I share about my pregnancy & give you a peek into our life this past week. If you want to follow a lot more behind-the-scenes and real-time updates every week, be sure to follow my stories and posts on Instagram. 13 weeks!!! And I had to have my picture taken in the kitchen because I COOKED DINNER three times this week!!! HIGHLIGHTS I feel like I came back to life this week and it is AMAZING to be functioning again at at least 50% of my normal pace compared to barely functioning the past 6 weeks. I forgot how good I used to feel! Also, I was able to start eating my daily salads again, which made me so happy!! CRAVINGS Um, should confess that my big craving this week was Taco Bell tacos again?!? NOTABLE Jesse’s dad (who owns a medical equipment servicing business) sent us a really fancy doppler that’s he’s letting us borrow for the pregnancy. It’s so amazing to get to hear the baby’s heartbeat at home! Also of note: I’ve outgrown the majority of my wardrobe. The maternity clothes I have are still huge on me, but I’m going to have to get creative with outfits over the next few weeks until I can fit into my maternity clothes! The kids continue to be so shocked by my growing size and I keep telling them they haven’t seen nothing yet! WEIGHT GAIN: 5.5 lbs. P.S. Do you consider the second trimester to start in week 13 or week 14?! The internet seems very conflicted on this. Jesse and Kathrynne ran the Spartan Race last week and had a blast doing it. Kathrynne ended up finishing a few minutes before Jesse! 🙂 Silas and Kaitlynn ran the Spartan Kids’ race while Jesse and Kathrynne ran their race and had a great time doing so! And the fun after the race… getting all cleaned up. 🙂 What I’m… Reading right now: I Will Always Write Back (I finished this and really enjoyed it, especially since I’m so passionate about South Africa. Do note that it has a little bit of language and somewhat more mature themes in it in places so I’d read through it before handing it off to a child to read.) Watching right now: Silas, Kaitlynn, and I have continued to enjoy watching The Masked Singer. We’ve also been watching Dancing with the Stars. Listening to right now: I’ve been listening to recent episodes of The Sorta Awesome show this week. Loving right now: Mint Majesty tea with cream and honey (someone sent this to me as a gift and it is SO good!) In Case You Missed It: 4 Reasons Why You Can’t Save Money on Groceries Slow Cooker Chicken Tortellini Recipe Enter to Win a $100 Visa Gift Card Why Jesse and Kathrynne Went to South Africa 5 Questions You Should Ask Before You Tweak Your Budget [...]
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This Week in Fintech

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This Week in Fintech
Daily Fintech brings fresh daily fintech insights from people just like you – senior executives, entrepreneurs & investors working in the fintech revolution. Our weekly summaries give you a look at what you will get by reading the whole article. Bernard Lunn is a Fintech deal-maker, investor, entrepreneur and advisor. He is CEO and Editor […] The post This Week in Fintech appeared first on Daily Fintech. [...]
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Life Update: Pregnancy update (week 12), my book stack, & football

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Life Update: Pregnancy update (week 12), my book stack, & football
Welcome to my weekly life update where I share about my pregnancy & give you a peek into our life this past week. If you want to follow a lot more behind-the-scenes and real-time updates every week, be sure to follow my stories and posts on Instagram. 12 weeks! And our big news is that we found out the gender this week!!!* Knowing has made it so much more real to me, even though this whole pregnancy still feels crazy surreal and like a dream. HIGHLIGHTS I think we actually all may have agreed on a name!! It’s very different having older kids who have very strong opinions about these things! Also, the NIPT test came back perfect. And I had a little more energy and a little less nausea this week. NOTABLE I’m pretty sure I’m starting to feel those first few flutters. I didn’t for sure feel movement until 15 weeks with Silas, but I’m almost 99% sure that’s what I’m feeling. Also, my appetite has increased big time — which has been weird and I’m still trying to adjust. I’m usually the type of person who eats when I’m hungry and then eats until I’m satisfied. But right now, I feel hungry almost 90% of the time — even right after eating!! I’m so grateful to have the desire to eat, though, because it definitely has been super hit or miss for the last 6 weeks and most of the time I was just making myself eat so I wouldn’t feel worse because my stomach was empty. It’s so nice to actually *want* to eat much of the time now! CRAVINGS Oh goodness, have the cravings been intense this week. I feel like all I do is talk about and think about food. (This is SO unlike me! My kids keep saying, “Mom, you are so WEIRD when you are pregnant!”) Speaking of weird, yesterday and today I wanted a taco from Taco Bell. Y’all, I can’t remember the last time I’ve even eaten at Taco Bell!! But, thanks to Jesse, I had a taco for dinner AND breakfast (he was smart and just went and got a whole BAG of six tacos last night!!) WEGHT GAIN 4.5 pounds (I usually always gain around 30 lbs. and at the rate I’m going, I don’t think I’m going to have any issue doing that again.) *At this point, we don’t plan to share the gender before the birth. That could always change, but we kept it a family secret last time and it made it so special so we are thinking we’ll likely do that again. In other news, I bought this sweatshirt this week and can’t wait for it to come in the mail! And I was thrilled to once again feel well enough to go to the grocery store for a quick shopping trip! Silas played both baseball and flag football this season. His first playoff game was Friday night and their team won, just barely! So they move on to the next playoff bracket next week. What I’m… Reading right now: I Will Always Write Back and Come Matter Here (My book stack in my room is getting way too high — and then I have three shelves in the library full of books waiting to be read ASAP. I guess it’s a good problem!) Watching right now: Silas, Kaitlynn, and I have been watching The Masked Singer. Listening to right now: I finally came up first in line for Atomic Habits on the Libby app again, so I’ve been listening to the last hour and half of it (that I didn’t get to finish the last time I had it “checked out” on the Libby app). Loving right now: The fact that it was cool enough weather this past week to wear my favorite booties (shown above). In Case You Missed It: 30 Super Easy Ways to Save Money — what would you add to this list?? 30 Quick & Easy Protein Snacks — some of my favorite go-to’s! How to Finally Break Free From Anxiety & Stress — this is one of the most talked about episodes of the podcast I’ve ever shared! It’s SO good! Have you listened to it? How to Save Money on Groceries When You Only Eat Whole Foods — check the comments for lots of additional ideas! [...]
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This week in Fintech

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This week in Fintech
Every day we bring you fresh insights about Fintech from an elite group of Authors who are just like you – senior executives, entrepreneurs and investors on the frontlines of the global Fintech & Crypto revolution. Once a week Daily Fintech’s Editor summarises these posts so that busy people can get a peek at what […] The post This week in Fintech appeared first on Daily Fintech. [...]
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Life Update: Pregnancy (week 11) & a trip to South Africa & Herndon, VA

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Life Update: Pregnancy (week 11) & a trip to South Africa & Herndon, VA
Welcome to my weekly life update where I share about my pregnancy & give you a peek into our life this past week. If you want to follow a lot more behind-the-scenes and real-time updates every week, be sure to follow my stories and posts on Instagram. In case you missed last week’s update, check it out here. 11 weeks! I’m so excited to be getting close to the 2nd trimester! This week was a week full of ups and downs. I had some really bad days and two surprisingly decent days where I actually had a few short windows where I didn’t feel nauseous. It was the most incredible feeling and, even though it was short-lived, it was just the encouragement I needed after having a really rough and discouraging week last week nausea-wise. (By the way, it seems that most people have told me that their nausea is always worst in the mornings. For some reason, mine gets progressively worse as the day goes on. By bedtime, it’s at the severe level and often keeps me up for a few hours. I don’t have any explanation for this but it’s how it’s been in all my pregnancies so I guess it just is what it is!) HIGHLIGHTS: I had another doctor’s appointment this week and another ultrasound. Since Jesse and Kathrynne are in South Africa, I took Silas and Kaitlynn with me to the appointment. It was exciting for them to get to see our baby on the screen! Also, my doctor says the baby has grown quite a bit & everything is looking so healthy. NOTABLE: We had the NIPT test done this week. We opted to do it for a variety of reasons, even though it’s not 100% accurate. One exciting side benefit: we should be finding out what we’re having in the next two weeks! We haven’t decided whether we’ll be telling people or not. We didn’t find out with either of the girls but chose to find out with Silas and decided that we preferred finding out to being surprised. However, with Silas, we decided to keep it a secret from everyone, including our extended family. We may or may not do that again. WEIGHT GAIN: A total of 4 pounds so far… which means that I have officially outgrown a lot of my clothes. I ordered a few new tunic tops from Amazon and a few new pairs of leggings. I also went through my closet and pared it down to the looser-fitting tops/bottoms I already own that I can still into comfortably. I’m guessing I’ll be transitioning to maternity clothes sometime in the next 4-6 weeks. (If I remember right, I usually start wearing them around 17-20 week but I feel like my belly has popped faster this pregnancy!) A Peek Into Our Week A number of you have asked for me to post a picture of Quill (our pet hedgehog). He’s doing so well and has grown so big. A Trip to South Africa Jesse and Kathrynne flew to South Africa on Wednesday to visit our friends there and see how things were going with the ministry we support there. (We usually go every year and it’s one of my favorite places ever, but for some reason, I didn’t feel a peace about going this year. It didn’t make any sense at all, but I just felt strongly that I wasn’t supposed to go… little did I know that it was going to be because I was pregnant!) They’ve been sending me pictures of their time there and I am just so happy for them. Jesse said that Kathrynne is having the best time and it warms my mama heart so much to see my girl halfway around the world loving on these kids and teens. While they’ve been gone, we stayed busy back here. I got to interview Aundi Kolber for next week’s podcast episode. I can’t wait for you to listen to this episode; it is fantastic! (Also, we looked like we were dressed for a gender reveal party or something! I didn’t even realize it until I looked at the picture we took together after she left!) I also was so excited one morning to feel well enough to go to Kroger quickly and pick up their Friday-Saturday deals! A Trip to Herdon, VA And then Kaitlynn and Silas flew with me to Herdon, VA for me to speak at the 2:1 conference. (I usually only bring one child with me on speaking engagements, but since they were both on fall break and Jesse and Kathrynne were gone, they both got to come with me!) One of the highlights of the conference was getting to meet Janet Benge, who has co-authored so many of the Christian Heroes Then and Now books. I had to get a picture for my mom. I loved getting to do a breakout workshop about exploding your engagement on Instagram! The attendees were the best and I could have stayed for another hour or two and answered all the questions I didn’t get to answer during the session and at the end! One of my favorite things is getting to help others also fall in love with the power of Instagram. Speaking of which, are you following me on Instagram? If not, you’re missing out as I share lots of behind-the-scenes, money-saving deals, and real-time updates there… many that I never get space to share here on the blog! I also gave the morning keynote sharing how my parents impacted my life and the power of legacy. What I’m… Reading right now: The Only Plane in the Sky (Note: This has a little bit of language in it, but it is a very worthwhile read and I would highly recommend it.) Watching right now: Have you seen the Enneagram Rhapsody? Multiple sent it to me this week and I had to laugh because there was so much truth in it. If you are an Enneagram fan, you’ll probably love it, if you haven’t seen it yet. 🙂 Listening to right now: This week, I’ve been listening to the Serene and Pearl UnShow at night when I have trouble sleeping because of nausea. I love the Trim Healthy Mama podcast and their quirky sense of humor and the way they disagree with one another and tease one another. (A lot of people are annoyed with how they talk over each other on their podcast. I happen to love it — probably because I grew up in a large family and we are always talking over each other and teasing one another mercilessly!) Loving right now: This kimono (I have it on in the photo at the top of this post. It’s perfect to dress up an outfit, so comfortable, and is something I’ve worn multiple times in the last month!) What are YOU reading, watching, listening to, and loving right now? I’d love to hear! In Case You Missed It: Guess what? I actually went to Kroger! Jesse Answers Your Burning Questions 2019 Goals: September Update [...]
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This week in Fintech

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This week in Fintech
Every day we bring you fresh insights about Fintech from an elite group of Authors who are just like you – senior executives, entrepreneurs and investors on the frontlines of the global Fintech & Crypto revolution. Once a week Daily Fintech’s Editor summarises these posts so that busy people can get a peek at what […] The post This week in Fintech appeared first on Daily Fintech. [...]
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Life Update: Pregnancy (week 10), Downton Abbey, Science Fair, and Armadillos

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Life Update: Pregnancy (week 10), Downton Abbey, Science Fair, and Armadillos
This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy here. Welcome to my weekly life update where I share about my pregnancy & give you a peek into our life this past week. If you want to follow a lot more behind-the-scenes and real-time updates every week, be sure to follow my stories and posts on Instagram. In case you missed last week’s update, check it out here. 10 WEEKS! Double digits and 25% of the way done, people! I was too sick last night to get a picture like I usually do, so here’s one sporting my outfit of the day today. 😉 I decided it was actually perfect to represent my week. Because it was a rough one, nausea-wise and exhaustion-wise. HIGHLIGHTS: Getting to see another ultrasound of our baby on my birthday. (My doctor had me come in for some testing to make sure all was well since I had been feeling so poorly. Our baby has grown so much and is looking so healthy! I still can’t believe that I’m actually pregnant. It’s just surreal!) Also, my second round of labs came back and my hemoglobin hadn’t gone down anymore but had actually gone up a tiny bit — which we were so excited about! It seems that using the cast iron pan and taking a double dose of Slow-Fe with orange juice daily is actually working! NOTABLE THIS WEEK: I have moved multiple clothes from my closet into the storage section because they either don’t fit anymore or are super uncomfortable. I also think I’m mostly going to be living in leggings and workout shorts for the next month or two until I can switch to maternity jeans/pants. CRAVINGS: Cottage cheese and Chick-fil-A honey barbecue sauce (not together!). I also am still usually able to eat Cracker Barrel pancakes (my brother and sister-in-law sent me a box of the mix and it legitimately tastes just like their pancakes!), macaroni & cheese + this week I added in Cream of Wheat and dry cereal. Apparently, this baby likes super bland food that is all the same color! 🤣 I’m still struggling to get enough liquids in (because most of them taste disgusting to me!), but this week I have found that drinking watered down juice or lemonade with ice works some of the time and I’ve also been able to eat/drink chicken broth or popsicles some of the time, too. WEIGHT GAIN: Even though I feel bigger this week and my clothes are fitting differently, I’m still holding steady at 3 pounds gained. How are the rest of you pregnant mamas doing? If you’re expecting, I’d love to hear when you’re due and how you’re doing! In other news, Jesse and I went to see the Downton Abbey movie for my birthday. We were both such big fans of the show so it was fun to see the actors/actresses altogether on screen again. The theater was packed out for a 1 p.m. on Tuesday showing… and Jesse was one of the only guys there. But we didn’t care! We discovered we have at least one armadillo that has been roaming around our house! We have seen him two nights so far this week. I’ve never seen one anywhere near our house so we thought it was cool at first… only to find out they are very destructive and not the kind of rodent you want living near your house! Silas had his last flag football game of the regular season this week. He’s been doing both baseball and football this Fall, so that has kept him quite busy. He also had his Science Fair on Friday. This year, their school made a change that parents weren’t allowed to help and all of the Science Fair work had to be done at school. So I hadn’t even seen any of his project before Friday! I was very proud of how it turned out and what he learned through it. And he did a great job on his presentation. What I’m… Reading right now: Try Softer (Also, my other reading this week was going through ALL 94 resources in the Genius Blogger’s Toolkit. I posted my top picks here and here. This Toolkit is only available until Monday.) Watching right now: World’s Gymnastics Competition Listening to right now: The quiet evening breeze coming from the open window. (It finally cooled down here enough in TN that we can have our windows open at night. It’s amazing!!) Loving right now: Hearing my husband playing and laughing and joking with the kids upstairs. In Case You Missed It: 10 Things I Learned When I Was 37 — In honor of my birthday this week. And wow! It’s been a big year! 8 Ways to Get Books for Free (or Almost-Free!) — Do you love reading but also want to make sure you don’t break your budget with book purchases? New from SmileDirectClub: Straighten Your Teeth While You Sleep — I wish this program had been available when I signed up! How I Got Over My Fear of Public Speaking — Some real honesty in this post here. Maybe you needed it today? 4 Strategies to Survive Stretching Seasons — Sometimes, you just do the best you can do. And that’s enough. We Stopped Buying Paper Towels — Why we stopped buying paper towels and how we live without them. [...]
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This week in Fintech

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This week in Fintech
Every day we bring you fresh insights about Fintech from an elite group of Authors who are just like you – senior executives, entrepreneurs and investors on the frontlines of the global Fintech & Crypto revolution. Once a week, Daily Fintech’s Editor summarises these posts so that busy people can get a peek at what […] The post This week in Fintech appeared first on Daily Fintech. [...]
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This week in Fintech

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This week in Fintech
Every day we bring you fresh insights about Fintech from an elite group of experts who are just like you – senior executives, entrepreneurs and investors on the frontlines of the global Fintech & Crypto revolution. Once a week Daily Fintech’s Editor summarises these posts so that busy people can get a peek at what […] The post This week in Fintech appeared first on Daily Fintech. [...]
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This week in Fintech

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This week in Fintech
Daily Fintech brings fresh daily fintech insights from people just like you – senior executives, entrepreneurs & investors working in the fintech revolution. Our weekly summaries give you a look at what you will get by reading the whole article. Bernard Lunn is a Fintech deal-maker, investor, entrepreneur and advisor. He is CEO of Daily […] The post This week in Fintech appeared first on Daily Fintech. [...]
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This week in fintech

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This week in fintech
Daily Fintech brings fresh daily fintech insights from people just like you – senior executives, entrepreneurs & investors working in the fintech revolution. Our weekly summaries give you a look at what you will get by reading the whole article. Bernard Lunn is a Fintech deal-maker, investor, entrepreneur and advisor. He is CEO and Editor […] The post This week in fintech appeared first on Daily Fintech. [...]
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This week in FinTech

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This week in FinTech
Every day we bring you fresh insights about Fintech from an elite group of Authors who are just like you – senior executives, entrepreneurs and investors on the frontlines of the global Fintech revolution. Once a week Daily Fintech’s Editor summarises these posts for the time challenged to give you a peek at what you […] The post This week in FinTech appeared first on Daily Fintech. [...]
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Office Depot/Office Max Back to School Deals for the week of July 21-27, 2019

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Office Depot/Office Max Back to School Deals for the week of July 21-27, 2019
The Back to School deals have started! Check out these amazing deals Office Depot/Office Max is offering this week. Here are the back to school deals at Office Depot/Office Max for the week of July 21-27, 2019: Office Depot JustBasics Spiral Notebook – $0.10 Office Depot Composition Books – $0.50 Office Depot 3 x 5 Index Cards, 100 ct – $0.50 Office Depot 2-Hole Manual Pencil Sharpener – $0.50 Pencil Boxes – $1.50 Westcott Printed & Jelly Scissors – $2 Sharpie Highlighters 4 pk – $2.99 Pencil Accesory Value Pack 110 ct – $4 Paper Mate Flair Porous-Point Pens 12-pack – $9.99 Be sure to check out all of the Best 2019 Back To School Deals! Don’t forget you can also sign up for our daily email newsletter to get all of the best back to school deals emailed to you every week! And be sure to check out my post on 5 Simple Ways to Save on Back to School Deals. [...]
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If Your Credit Score Is Under 700, Make These 3 Moves This Week

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If Your Credit Score Is Under 700, Make These 3 Moves This Week
You work hard to be a responsible credit user.  You pay your bills on time; you try to use your credit card only when you have to; and you have a few different credit accounts, all in good standing. You even know what a credit utilization ratio is and why it matters. That’s some next-level credit card management! But no matter what you do, your credit score never budges over 700.  And you are so, so frustrated by the whole dang thing. We don’t blame you. It’s hard to feel like you’re doing everything you’re supposed to, only to have an algorithm spit out a seemingly inexplicable three-digit number that brands you as “lesser than” in the eyes of the world’s financial institutions — especially when that three-digit number controls so much of your life. But don’t give up! These three moves might be the kickstart you need to get your credit score moving in the right direction — and best of all, you can do them right this week. 1. Write a “Goodwill Letter” to Your Creditors If your credit history is generally pretty good, save for a couple of missteps, then a well-executed goodwill letter may be one way to get those slip-ups removed from your report.  You’ll want to cover the following bases when writing your goodwill letter: Explain why and how long you have been a loyal customer of the creditor. Take responsibility for the mistakes that led to the blemishes on your credit history. Describe the steps you are taking to ensure they don’t happen again. Appeal to your audience’s sense of empathy. Show that you want forgiveness but also that you are determined to do better going forward. Show them you deserve this! Keep your letter concise, clear and to the point. Don’t forget to include important information, like your account number and the date and amount of the missed payment you want removed from your credit history. Once you’ve written your goodwill letter, address it using the information on the creditor’s website, cross your fingers for good luck, and drop it in the mailbox.   2. Check Your Credit Report for Errors Credit reporting agencies generally do a pretty thorough job of collecting your credit history, but that doesn’t mean they are infallible. In fact, one out of five credit reports has an error, according to a study by the Federal Trade Commission. And those errors could mean the difference between a credit score in the 600s and one in the 700s. Jamie Cattanach saw this firsthand as a victim of identity theft. She pulled her credit report and saw her score had plummeted to just below 600 after someone opened an AT&T account using her information. She got to work disputing the errors, and after writing just one letter, she was on the road to rebuilding her credit. Within a few years, her credit score was well over 700. To keep a closer eye on your credit, get your credit score and a “credit report card” for free from Credit Sesame. It breaks down exactly what’s on your credit report in layman’s terms, how it affects your score and how to address it. Because it simplifies everything, you should be able to spot any errors. For instance, if you find an “unpaid” credit card that you know you paid, or a bill in collections you know never existed, you can dispute the incorrect information and raise your credit score. The proof is in the numbers: 60% of Credit Sesame members see an increase in their credit score; 50% see at least a 10-point increase, and 20% see at least a 50-point increase after 180 days.* 3. Consolidate Your Debt With a Better Loan So now you’ve appealed to the better angels of your creditor’s nature, and you’ve gone over your credit report with a fine-tooth comb and a magnifying glass in search of errors you can dispute. Now what? Your next step is to take your high-interest debt and consolidate it into a single loan with a lower interest rate. One payment per month is way easier to keep track of than three or four, right? That means fewer chances to be late on a payment, which means fewer opportunities for your credit score to take a hit. And best of all: The lower interest rate means you’ll be spending less money on your debt in the long run. Through Upgrade, you can borrow between $1,000 and $50,000, at interest rates of 7.99% to 35.89%, depending on your credit history. What if you’ve been turned down for a loan? Wouldn’t it be helpful to have access to advice on how to improve your credit to be approved next time? And wouldn’t it be nice to have free credit monitoring thrown into the deal? Those are some of the benefits of going with Upgrade, an online lending platform.  Upgrade will throw in free credit monitoring, alerts and educational features. If your loan application through Upgrade is denied, these credit tools will still guide you to improve your credit to help you get approved in the future. Now you’ve got three tactics you can use to get your credit score right where you want it. Good luck — you’ve got this! This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017. [...]
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A Peek Into Our Week (+ Sprouts & Kroger Shopping Trips)

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A Peek Into Our Week (+ Sprouts & Kroger Shopping Trips)
Want to see what we bought for this week’s $70 grocery budget? I’m currently challenging myself to stick with a $70 budget for our family of five. This includes almost all of our breakfasts, lunches, snacks, and dinners + most household products (toiletries, laundry soap, etc.). For live updates, be sure to follow my Instagram Stories. See all posts on my $70 Grocery Budget here. Well, it was another week of travel and adventures — so I didn’t track what we ate in order to share in a post. But I did make it to Kroger twice and Sprouts once and got some great deals. I thought it would be fun to share a little peek into our week + what I bought at the grocery store. For Father’s Day, Jesse wanted to try out this new brunch restaurant in town. It was delicious and we had fun celebrating this man we love so much! We also ran by Kroger and Sprouts to pick up some deals. Sprouts was having their weekend deals and I didn’t want to miss them. Sprouts Shopping Trip Sweet corn — 6 for $1 (weekend deal) 3 dozen cage free eggs — $1.88 per dozen (weekend deal) 1 Coconut Bliss “ice cream” — used free coupon (I got the Peanut Butter Chocolate and it is good!) — I forgot to take this out of the freezer to put in the photo! Total with tax: $7.49 I also wanted to get to grab a few of the Kroger Buy 5, Get $5 off deals on Sunday since I knew I was going to be out of town for the next few days. I especially wanted to get 5 boxes of the $0.99 Quaker Granola bars. Kroger Shopping Trip #1 5 boxes of Quaker Granola Bars — $0.99 each when you buy 5 participating items 2 bags Jef Puffed Marshmallows — marked down to $0.69 each (I’m going to stick these in the freezer for rice krispy treats.) 3 packages of Hillshire Sausage — $1.88 each with weekend deal Private Selection Barbecue Sauce — used free coupon (no longer available) 1 bag Kroger Pot Roast — marked down to $5.49 5 bags of produce — marked down to $0.99 per bag 2 packages of ground turkey — marked down to $2.69 each Izzio Multigrain Bread — marked down to $1.29 Spinach — marked down to $1.79 5 packages of Goldfish — $0.99 each when you buy 5 participating items Kroger Private Selection ice cream (not pictured — I forgot to take it out of the freezer for the picture!) — used free coupon (no longer available) Milk — $2.69 Kroger oatmeal — $1.59, used $0.40/1 coupon Kroger mailed to me = $1.09 Total with tax: $42.12 I left on Monday morning to fly to Dallas for my mom to have surgery. My Time in Kansas I rode back to Wichita, KS with my parents on Monday evening after my mom’s surgery and I stayed with them through Wednesday evening. I got to hang out with my mom and help take care of her during the day while my dad went to work. In addition to getting to spend lots of time talking with her, I helped a little with my brother’s eBay business (my Mom and sister are running the business for him while he’s away serving as a counselor at the Wild’s camp in NC), and make yummy food for my mom and me (she’s the one who first inspired me to love salads so much!) Kaitlynn’s Birthday I flew back to TN on Wednesday night — just in time to celebrate Kaitlynn’s birthday on Thursday! Can you believe she is 12? I wrote a letter to her here that shares some of my thoughts on her life and the joy and spark she brings to us. I always take each child out on a birthday date of their choosing. Kaitlynn chose to go to a place that makes rolled ice cream and Bubble Milk Tea. It was my first time to have both of them and we had such a fun outing together! Our Trip to Iceland As many of you know, it’s our family goal to visit all 7 continents and 50 states by the time Kathrynne turns 18. We had planned to visit Europe this summer but prices to places like London and Rome are crazy during June and July. However, I found some cheap tickets to Iceland and jumped on them! So we packed up on Friday morning to head to Iceland… but not before hitting the Friday-Saturday Kroger deals (I couldn’t pass up $0.99 cheese!) Kroger Shopping Trip #2 4 bags of Kettle chips, 1 bag of Snyder’s pretzel’s — $0.99 each with Friday-Saturday deals 5 packages of Kroger cheese — $0.99 each with Friday-Saturday deals 5 bottles of Pace salsa — $0.99 each with Friday-Saturday deals 1 package bacon — $2.99 with Friday-Saturday deals Total with tax: $18.96 Grocery Totals: $68.75 Cashback Earned: 375 points back from Fetch, $0.06 from CoinOut, Want to follow along with our Iceland trip and get tips for how we are doing it on a budget? Be sure to follow my stories on Instagram this week! [...]
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CVS: Deals for the week of June 16-22, 2019

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CVS: Deals for the week of June 16-22, 2019
Looking for all the best weekly CVS deals? Check out this list of the hottest deals you’ll find in-store this week! Here are the best deals at CVS this week, with a big thanks to Passionate Penny Pincher for her help in compiling them: Buy 2 Maybelline Eye Brow Liner – $4.99, Get $6 ECBs (Limit 1) Used (2) $3/1 Maybelline Eye Product printable will need to sign up can get 2 coupons when signing up Pay $3.98 out of pocket, Get $6 ECBs Free plus $2.02 moneymaker after coupons and ECBs Buy 1 Colgate Total TS or Max Toothpaste at $3.49, Get $2 ECBs (Limit 2) Use $1/1 printable Pay $2.49 out of pocket, Get $2 ECBs $0.49 after coupon and ECBs Buy 1 Hershey King Size at $1.88, Get $1 ECBs (Limit 1) Pay $1.88 out of pocket, Get $1 ECBs $0.88 after ECBS Buy 1 General Mills Cereal at $2.88, Get $1 ECBs (Limit 1) Pay $2.88 out of pocket, Get $1 ECBs $1.88 after ECBS Buy 1 Physician Formula Make Up Staring at $9.99, Get $7 ECBs Pay $9.99 out of pocket, Get $7 ECBs $2.99 after ECBs Buy 2 Scott Toilet Paper (18 roll) at $7.99, Get $5 ECBs (Limit 1) Use $0.55/1 Scott Bath Tissue printable Pay $14.88 out of pocket, Get $5 ECBs $4.94 each after coupons and ECBs Buy 1 Coppertone Sunscreen at $9.99, Get $2 ECBs (Limit 1) Use $2/1 printable Pay $7.99 out of pocket, Get $2 ECBs $5.99 after coupon and ECBs Buy 1 Finishing Touch Flawless Face or Brow at $19.99, Get $5 ECBs (Limit 1) Pay $19.99 out of pocket, Get $5 ECBs $14.99 after ECBs Spend $20, Get $5 ECBs (Limit 1) *Deal Idea* Buy 2 Charmin Toilet Paper (6 Mega Roll) or Bounty Paper Towels (4 rolls) – $6.99 Buy 1 Tide Pods (12 -16 ct) – $4.94 Buy 1 Dawn Dish Soap – $0.99 Use $2/1 Tide App coupon or $2/1 Tide coupon from the 5/26 P&G insert Pay $17.91 out of pocket, Get $5 ECBs $4.30 each after coupons and ECBs OR Buy 3 Tide Pods (12 -16 ct) – $4.94 Buy 1 Charmin Toilet Paper (6 Mega Roll) or Bounty Paper Towels (4 rolls) – $6.99 Use $2/1 Tide App coupon and (2) $2/1 Tide coupon from the 5/26 P&G insert Pay $15.81 out of pocket, Get $5 ECBs $2.70 each after coupons and ECBs Spend $25, Get $7 ECBs (Limit 1) *Deal Idea* Buy 2 Huggies Diapers at $12.49 (Buy 1, Get 1 50% OFF) Buy 2 Pampers Wipes – $2.99 Use (2) $1/1 printable Use $0.50/1 Pampers Wipes App coupon Pay $22.21 out of pocket, Get $7 ECBs $7.60 each after coupons and ECBs Deals In Ad M&M Candy (9 oz) – $2.50 Use $1/2 coupon from the 6/16 SmartSource insert Use $1/2 CVS coupon from CVS machine $1.50 each after coupons Tide Simply Laundry Detergent (40 oz) – $2.94 Use $1/1 App coupon $1.94 after coupon New to shopping at CVS? Be sure to check out my CVS 101 post that gives you the full scoop on how to get the best bargains at CVS. See the full list of deals at CVS here. [...]
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