name='p:domain_verify'/> Always A New Day : December 2016


Self-Care with Smile Brilliant

This post has been sponsored by Smile Brilliant. As always, the thoughts and opinions expressed in this post are 100% my own. Thank you for supporting Always A New Day.

I love a good product that will help me feel better as a busy mom - especially this close to 40! Shopping (alone) is one of my favorite things to do, but when I am with the littles, I just grab what I can find and go. In this blogging world, I have learned so much about self-care - because when we look good, we FEEL good from the outside in!

A couple of years ago, I splurged and whitened my teeth through my dentist. Sad to say, but those trays were quite a bit of work and did not yield any results. Round two of whitening my grill was so much different! I am so excited to share Smile Brilliant with you and how it worked for this desperate mama. And stay tuned until the end - you could win a little something for yourself.

The Teeth Whitening System kit includes instructions/materials to make your molds, syringes for whitening/desensitizing, and an envelope to mail your molds to then receive custom trays.

My molds came back in a timely manner, and I couldn't wait to get started. I do have sensitive teeth, but the desensitizing gel you apply first definitely helps any issues you may have once you apply the whitening gel. For my first whitening session, I left the trays in for 30 minutes then gradually moved up to 2 hours a session once my teeth felt comfortable. As Smile Brilliant suggests, I whitened at night - after the kids went to bed, and I had some quiet. I would put in my trays and relax while I caught up on shows or blogged.

The whitening and desensitizing syringes last quite a while so I did not have any issues with running out of either. In fact, Smile Brilliant did offer to send more if needed, but it was not necessary. I am so pleased with my results - definitely more noticeable than my dentist's trays/system. I completed my whitening time in 12 days and will continue to do every few days to finish up my experience.

Ready to join in this self-care experience? If you are like me, it's hard to splurge on yourself when you have to take care of so many others. But, friends, this system is WORTH it. And Smile Brilliant wants to help you with a giveaway!

You could win your own kit to get started on your whitening journey. All you have to do is enter HERE and a winner will be chosen in 2 weeks. Who is ready for a brighter smile in 2017?

You can also use the code ALWAYSANEWDAY to receive 5% off your order for an entire year. Winning!

Not only did my smile get bigger and whiter, but this company has a heart for making people feel good about themselves. And, I am all over a mama feeling beautiful any day of the year!

Courtesy of Smile Brilliant


Writing Your New Year's Resolutions

I just found last year's resolution post about my 2016 plans. Wow. To be honest, it sounded like a stranger wrote them. When my brother passed away in mid-January life changed. And it's still changing.

Now, I am sitting down to think about 2017. It has to be better - just has to be. I don't want to write down too many resolutions because I feel anxiety if I don't make each one happen. But, I do need to write because writing will always be therapy for me. So, I am creating more honest resolutions this year and want to share my template with you.

We are a week shy of the New Year, and some recent down days are trying to push me in a dark hole, but instead, I am giving myself an assignment. I need a good brain dump - mine is swirling with what ifs and what could be for the next year. I may even have a touch of the post-holiday blues - the excitement and buzz are winding down, and those things have been good distractions for grief/anxiety. So here it goes - some thoughts to consider when thinking of the year ending as well as plans for the new one beginning:

  • List the highlights of 2016. What did they teach you?
  • List the hard parts of 2016. What did they teach you?
  • What are you most proud of from 2016?
  • How do you plan to continue that success?
  • Make a physical goal for 2017 (eat better, get leaner, eat out less, try new recipes, try a new workout)
  • Make a mental goal for 2017 (worry less, show more affection towards others, be more generous with your time, sleep more, say 'no' more)

Use this guide as you dump out your thoughts for next year but make them realistic for you. My wish is that all of us busy, tired moms will take more time to remember the person behind all of the duties and obligations - think about what you want for this new year. You can bet I am doing just that because I NEED this year to be good. I need to turn the page to something more.

When I read my resolutions from last year and read about my clean eating plans (hahahahaha) and how I would eliminate anxiety once and for all, it was almost comical. Life had other plans and those plans sure did stink up the place, I am a worrier. I just need to fight harder to not let the worry take over. Grief is going to come in waves, and I will surround myself with all of my highlights and proud moments - my family, my friends, and my sweet readers.

I'd love to hear from you - what are some of your highlights from this year? What do you hope for in 2017?


5 Ways to Practice Reading At Home + A Bookroo Review

I received a Bookroo Box in exchange for an honest review. As always, all opinions are 100 % my own. Thanks for supporting Always A New Day!

Confession: my son should be reading twenty minutes each night. Truth: by the time he's finished his homework and/or his toddler sister has crawled off said homework, Mom is OUT. But, here's the reality - he's getting older and reading is critical not just in school but in life. I want him to not only be a strong reader but to LOVE reading. Time to up my game at home.

And, I am a former English teacher. Granted,  I taught high school, but the skills I can practice with him are the same ones I used with my students. It's a new year, and it's time to be more intentional. My dad passed his love of reading on to me, and I hope to do the same with my kids using these 5 ways to practice and incorporate reading at home.

Utilize Daily Tasks

Words are everywhere! When shopping with your kids, have them read the grocery list to you or have them read signs as you drive. Or, better yet - make yourself a little mobile library. Gather your favorite books and keep them in your car. My son will even read girly books to his sister as we are out and about. It can be a lifesaver to this crazed mom!

Create A Routine

I am talking to myself on this one. By the time bedtime rolls around, I just want to put them to sleep and be quiet. We have been slacking on the books before bed, and I am missing a great opportunity. My son could grab a book or two and take his twenty minutes to read us all a story.

My kids were SO excited to get a package last week from Bookroo - a great company who wants to empower parents to build their children's book collections in an affordable and exciting way through monthly book deliveries These colorful books have been on repeat this week. And though the picture books we chose are geared towards the toddler years, big brother graciously offered to read and re-read this sweet book to his sister. If we can get this routine to keep on going (with all love and no bickering - #praying), both kids will benefit.

Let Them Choose

We love our local library, and my son can navigate his way around now that he knows where certain interests are. He is currently loving any non-fiction piece about the NFL. He may not be reading tough stuff, but he is reading and teaching me more about the game. He even gave me a quiz yesterday :)

Maybe your little one has a favorite book he/she loves to read over and over. That's still a great learning moment for them, but what about variety? That's the beauty of Bookroo - you're going to get new titles that will perk their imaginations more than ever. And if you do receive a book you already have, they will give you $5 off your next subscription. Win-win!

Talk About It

Before you even open the book, look at the title and predict the story. Use the artwork to summarize. Ask them questions about characters, setting, conflict, etc... These conversations will prepare them for school since they will focus on these topics throughout their school years. And when you talk about a book, you get to hear those little imaginations and brains getting stronger - what is better than that?

Listening to my son "teach" this book to his little sister was a really sweet moment. Her book love is growing, and when she has someone read to her, she's pretty smitten.

Be An Example

My dad was never without a book. He would end one only to pick up another right after. Before kids, I did that, too. I even would read books over and over again. Post-kids is a different story. I need to get back to reading and show my kids I still read, and I still learn. I hope my example will rub off on them just as my dad's did to me. With big brother being five years older than his sis, he's definitely an example for her.

How do you incorporate reading into your busy schedules? Bookroo would love to help give the gift of reading. Head over and begin your subscription. Your kids will love these sweet packages that arrive just for them.

And if you do find something that works for you, just use the code: KIMREED at checkout to receive $10 off your first subscription! Also, be sure to check out Bookroo on social media to see all the fun they offer.

My English teacher heart is in Heaven. Happy reading, friends!


A Casual Holiday Dress + A Giveaway

This post has been sponsored by Chicks Picks Boutique. Affiliate links also used.
As always, the thoughts and opinions expressed in this post are 100% my own.

A fashion blogger, I am not, but anything fun for the busy, tired mama? Yes, please! That's why I need to share this dress and more of this boutique. It's no secret that Chicks Picks Boutique is my go-to for kicking up the wardrobe. There are many reasons I love getting my clothes here, and the most important is the owner. Christina is a dear friend from elementary school; and our dads were buddies. We have some sweet memories of growing up, and I love supporting someone who has always supported me! And the clothes...oh the clothes. I have dresses, leggings, and tops I adore.
Lately, I am loving this floral dress courtesy of Chicks Picks. Who says you can't wear floral for the holidays? Need a dress for Christmas Eve or maybe even New Year's Eve? This one is perfect - not to mention the pockets make it even more fun! Most of the pieces you will find in this cute shop are so versatile for the busy mama. Just another reason to love Christina and her pieces.

And for the GIVEAWAY! Chicks Picks is giving away a $25 gift card to one lucky reader.

How to enter:

1. Like Chicks Picks on Facebook -  click HERE.


2. Leave ONE comment on this post sharing what you would purchase
with your gift card (though you may have a hard time choosing).

The GIVEAWAY will close
Wednesday 12/21 at MIDNIGHT (CST) so hurry and enter!

GIVEAWAY CLOSED! Congrats, Page Finley!

For more holiday fun, don't forget to check out these posts - Christmas is just around the corner!

A Gift Guide for the Deserving Mom

4 Must-Haves for the Perfect Night In

Last-Minute Christmas Gifts


The Definition of Friendship

Another week goes by; more families experiencing loss. I wanted to repost this definition of friendship. My heart is aching, and I can only imagine the hearts of those who have lost a loved one this week. My hope is that you will read this and remember anyone you know who is hurting. Be a forever friend.

It's mid-September; fall is starting to show itself a little at a time. Football games and all things pumpkin define this time of year. You're busy with kids' sports and school carnivals. You've got fun plans most weekends, and you can't wait for those comfort foods to warm you through brisk weather. In the middle of all of this change, a loss this last week made me stop the hustle and pray. My heart is heavy for a sweet mom who just lost her battle with cancer. I had only met her once through my sweet friend, Laura. Yet, when I heard of her passing, I immediately thought of her sweet little ones. Her husband. Her loved ones. Then, I thought of her friends. They fought along side her; they loved her and her family. They prayed and shared and supported. Now, they are hurting.

I recently lost a friend to cancer in March. I bet that cancer has touched the life of someone you know as well. The words I want to say about this awful disease are not pleasant. If there is one thing I HATE, it's THIS stupid thing that takes away so many amazing people. Yet, I also witness the power of friendship during these horribly hard times. Thank you to Laura and Jeri for being so amazing to Amy and for inspiring me. My prayers for you girls are never ceasing.

Life is NOT easy. Adult life is TOO much at times. We lose, we stress, we worry. We can get lost in our own worlds. Oh man, I am SO guilty of this - I can rock a pity party like nobody's business. After a long day, I can shut down. Shut out all those that love me. I can get angry that nobody knows my hurt. I can get completely selfish. But it's a loss like Amy that snaps me back into reality. You would think knowing the pain of loss would have done that long ago.

So, today, in honor of Amy and in honor of those friends who are hurting, reach out to your friends. Forgive the silliness. Stop the silence. Send them this message that Amy sent her friend Jeri this past summer. It's beautiful, and it's the true definition of friendship.

Sometimes in life, you find a special friend. Someone who changes your life just by being part of it. Someone who makes you laugh until you can't stop. Someone who makes you believe that there really is good in the world. Someone who convinces you that there really is an unlocked door just waiting for you to open it. This is forever friendship. When you're down and the world seems dark and empty, your forever friend lifts you up in spirit and makes that dark and empty world suddenly seem bright and full. Your forever friend gets you through the hard times, the sad times and the confused times. If you turn and walk away, your forever friend follows. If you lose your way, your forever friend guides you and cheers you on. Your forever friend holds your hand and tells you that everything is going to be okay. And if you find such a friend, you feel happy and complete because you need not worry. You have a forever friend, and forever has no end.

Jeri, Laura, and all of Amy's friends and loved ones, you are in our hearts and prayers.


Last-Minute Christmas Gifts {Photo Gifts From Mpix}

This sponsored post is coming at a great time for gift-giving. I'm so thankful for the products c/o Mpix! As always, all opinions and expressions are 100% my own.

ALERT: Mom, if you reading this post, stop here. I am sharing just a couple of your well-deserved treats this year and don't want to ruin any surprises!

I love giving photos as gifts - especially to the grandmas!. Since my fab photographer takes great care in getting so many good ones, I want a quality photo printer to keep the life and love in each photo. Mpix is where I go to order these copies, and if you need some last-minute gifts, Mpix offers so many sweet and sentimental options. And I can say with complete confidence that they always provide the best quality over their competitors.

My mom loves receiving family prints to proudly display in her home. She has quite the knack for arranging and framing each photo. My sweet mama NEVER forgets a birthday as she writes down each occasion as well as stays organized with her appointments and such. What better gift can I give her than a calendar of some perfect photos?

This calendar from Mpix is going to be a big hit. I downloaded my favorites from our shoot and moved them into their calendar template - SO EASY. My favorite part? I paid close attention to May (her birthday) and my kids' birthday months by adding special shots that commemorated that month.

I chose the binding on top, 12x18 calendar option. This calendar is large, but I love how much focus is on the photo itself. You can customize yours with colors, texts, and background options.

Next up on my Christmas gift list are these precious ornaments. The only hard task in creating these is that they are SO many options - shapes, colors, and Christmas greetings. They are metal die-cut ornaments that come with a cute ribbon for hanging. I can bet you my mom won't store these keepsakes - they will remain out all year!

I chose the Good Tidings in blue as well as the Chic Wishes.

If you have a photo-lover in your family, hurry over and create your personalized calendar, ornaments, or any photo gift. You can bet you will receive high quality products that your loved one will treasure. Pin these gift idea for finalizing your holiday gift list!
Don't forget to treat yourself too by looking over my gift guide for the deserving mama. It's not too late to snatch a little something for yourself.

Happy shopping and HAPPY HOLIDAYS!

Linking up HERE


A Note To Those Who Are Grieving {Especially At Christmas}

When I was a child, we spent Christmas at my grandmother’s house in Louisiana. Her small yet cozy home held my family as well as my three uncles, their wives, and their children. Eventually, my brother’s boys joined the crew. We would attend mass early on Christmas Eve then head to Maw-Maw’s for a gift exchange, the best food, and a good time together.

I can still see her tree that housed too many presents; I can taste the honey baked ham, her gumbo, and her potato salad. Since she didn’t have a fireplace, she pulled out this replica that unfolded to show red brick and a fire made of cardboard. We would giggle at the silver duct tape holding it together after years and years of use. It was her in living room on Christmas Eve that I got my first tiny camera, a surprise ticket to see my favorite boy band, and a CD player for my first car. I can also hear my uncle grunting HO HO HO one year as he appeared as Santa, frightening the smaller cousins.

As I write these words, I am sitting in my living room on a rainy day. I look up and see lights on my real fireplace mantle. My little one is napping, and it’s quiet. Thinking of Maw Maw’s precious, inviting home makes me smile because I am blessed those memories exist. Then, I have my moment where I think of how much has changed. My beautiful Maw Maw. My awesome dad. My big brother. All in my memory but not with us this Christmas. Up and down, I go again.

On Sunday, I attended a candlelight remembrance service for family members to attend, say their deceased loved one’s names out loud, and light a candle in his/her honor. The preacher spoke. The hymns played. Their faces displayed for everyone to see. In that moment, just as I am having now, I think of all the change since we taped our stockings on that cardboard fireplace. My mom and I sat there; she had her tissue, and to be honest, I pouted like a toddler. Why does life have to be THIS? I didn’t want to sing Christmas carols or light my candle for a memory. Stinging, bitter thoughts, and I let myself feel it all.

Returning home afterwards, I had two beautiful faces greet me as I drove in the driveway. My oldest knew where I was and gave me a hug that squeezed out the pouting and the sting. My littlest - who does not know how hard the world can be – grins like her best friend just came home. I had felt the hurt a few hours before, but I now felt the joy and the life I am supposed to be living.

If you are grieving this holiday season for memories past or for a loved one no longer here, I have no tips or how to’s to make this Christmas easy for you. What I do know is this – feel it all. From the hurt to the joy that can come almost simultaneously. From the sadness to the blessings. From the old memories to the fun of creating the new ones.

You DO NOT have a timeline for grief. You are the only one who knows your journey. But, when you feel like pouting or shouting the frustrations you feel, DIG SO DEEP to find what is good. You may be missing a huge piece of your heart, but there is so much good. For me, it’s the face of my two biggest gifts. It’s my husband who is celebrating a big birthday this month. It’s my brother’s two boys who are the BEST young adults I know and who text me often to say they love me. How can I stay sad when I have all of that?

I can guarantee you I will have my moments this Christmas. I loved giving my dad gifts. I love the practical jokes my brother use to play. I love hearing my Maw Maw sing in church. Those things will be missed enormously. And if I want to cry, I will. I may have a good ugly one, and you may, too.

Let's just promise each other to get in there; dig around. Find that good. And while you're searching, know you are not alone. I am digging right alongside you.


The Best Tip for Visiting Napa Valley

Napa Valley has been my dream destination for quite some time. And with a big birthday rolling around (40 GASP!), I desperately wanted to make it happen. We began planning earlier this year, and thanks to my Napa gurus (Hi Jill,  Kristy, and Kerry) - our itinerary was set.

There are over 500 vineyards in the area and with limited time, we wanted to go to a few big ones but preferred the quiet, less touristy places. Another thing we knew we wanted to do was set aside free time to explore. If you are or someone you know ever has plans for Napa, Sonoma, Yountville or the surrounding areas, I URGE you to get a driver. Susan at  My Napa Valley Driver was easily the BEST part of our vacation, and she is simply my BEST tip for vacationing in Napa Valley.

A driver in Napa - especially with this company - will make your trip livelier, more inviting, and safe. Susan was amazing for so many reasons.

The Hidden Gems

On our first full day with her, we were starving at lunchtime. We had some suggestions from friends, but Susan asked to take us to her favorite place. When we pulled up to La Luna, we saw it was an old gas station/convenience store. She swore they had the best quesadillas and tacos. These Texans were up for the challenge! I can easily say these were the BEST authentic, cheesy quesadillas I have ever had. We are still talking about it - and we live in the land of Tex-Mex!

Later that afternoon, she insisted we take a coffee break. If you know my love of coffee, you know I couldn't resist. Oakville Grocery Co. was the epitome of coffee house heaven. I ordered the SEA SALT CARAMEL LATTE because WHAT?! Paired with a lemon tart, that afternoon treat hit the spot. I miss that coffee everyday.

On our last day with her, we had some extra time before dinner, so she took us to another vineyard for a quick tasting. Without her knowing the ways around and the best places to see, we may have missed this chance - and who wants to miss a chance with wine? Not me.

The Pictures

We had our phones ready for captures - we documented the scenery and our awe of the vineyards. But, with Susan, she pretty much did it for us. While we did our tastings, she would come in every now and then to snap a photo. This way, we could relax at trying to capture every single thing. We got group shots, couple shots, jumping shots (see above), and just any shot with a gorgeous background. The pictures she snapped of us are easily my favorites.

The Nuturing

Our moms would be happy to hear that Susan took care of us each day. She brought a cooler of waters and even had fantastic snacks. We devoured our very own cheese bar on the road one day - she thought we'd need a snack before our next tasting. Nothing heavy - just something to settle our tummies and keep us fueled before the next go-round.

At one point, she gave us each a bottle of water and pretty much demanded we chug it. She had little ways of looking out for us. On our one day without her (where the ladies hit the spa), Susan texted me to make sure I was getting refreshed. We loved her for being there for us - so unexpected to have on this dream trip.

The Organization

She kept a copy of our itinerary and kept track of our reservations.  If we were late for one, she would call the vineyard to let them know we were behind. Susan also offered to pick up food for us while we were tasting - texting menu options in case we were starved. And trust me, we pretty much ate all of Napa.

I'm not going to lie - we miss her! We were a crazy bunch, but she kept up with us in humor and patience. She was a part of my dream trip I didn't ever think would happen. Her final text to us really made us all teary - what a beautiful soul!

If you ever plan a trip to Napa, the BEST tip I can offer is to get a driver. And go a step ahead - find one like sweet, sassy Susan!

There's more to share about our Napa vacay - there are so many MUST-DOs while you are there, and I can't wait to share them with you!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Blog Design by Get Polished