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Howdy, dear reader! It has been a hot minute since I have updated you on where I am on my healthy lifestyle journey. Back in June, I decided to do a round of The Clean 20 to start cleaning up my diet and walking again on a daily basis. I had joined Beachbody on Demand, had my colonoscopy, and felt good about starting over on a journey to take back my health. Fast forward 20 days, and I had not done one Beachbody on Demand workout, drank enough water, or walked daily. It is not to say that I was not successful in the intention that I had set for myself; I just took baby steps instead of strides. For me, starting anything is hard, but starting over is so much harder. If you have read my blog for some time, you know I have already been down this path several times.

Well, I am here to tell you, I FINALLY did a workout on Beachbody on Demand. Not only did I do a workout, I completed the whole 7-day Clean Week program. Yes, you read that correctly. Last Monday, I laced up my tennis shoes, showed up in my living room, turned on my television, pulled up Day 1 of the program, and worked out. Even though it is a beginner program, it was not easy. However, I did my best on Monday and every day afterwards. Progressing through the week, the workouts got a bit easier. My body said, “Hey, I remember how to do squats!”

Clean Week Program

  • Day 1: Core Function
  • Day 2: Cardio
  • Day 3: Strength
  • Day 4: Active Flex
  • Day 5: Core Function
  • Day 6: Cardio
  • Day 7: Strength

Clean Week was the perfect program to kick-start my fitness habit. Each circuit-style workout is only 30 minutes and includes a warm up and cool down. Minimal equipment is needed, and I can work out in the comfort of my own home. The only obstacle I encountered was with the floor exercises that required me to put any pressure on my wrists, so I modified or substituted those exercises. I am having trouble with my right wrist again and with both hands. I do have an appointment with my orthopedic this Friday to address the issue.

Out of curiosity, I weighed myself on Monday, 18 July and was 159.5 pounds. I had not gained or lost any weight since 22 June. I have been eating clean as much as possible with an occasional treat from time to time. I did weigh myself this morning since I was updating you, dear reader, and I am 159 pounds. HA! I am 1/2 of a pound lighter! Thanks, Kathryn Huggett, for convincing me to join Beachbody on Demand!

So, what’s next? On Monday of this week, I started a new 4-week fitness program on Beachbody on Demand called Start Losing with Jen Widerstrom. So far, I am loving it. It is a low-impact beginner program that focuses on cardio and strength training. The circuit-style workouts run anywhere between 33-42 minutes, including a warm-up and cool down. Also starting this week, I added a daily walk (at least 20 minutes) in the evenings after dinner. As for my nutrition goals, I will FINALLY be starting Clean & Lean by Dr. Ian K. Smith on Monday, 01 August. It is a 30-day program that blends the Clean 20 guidelines with intermittent fasting. My fitness and nutrition plan is in place, dear reader. Happiness!

“Starting over can be challenging, but also it can be a great opportunity to do things differently.” ~ Catherine Pulsifer 

Greetings, dear reader! Gretchen Rubin has created a Calendar of Catalysts, “a menu of dates to use as reminders to stop, evaluate, and plan.” According to Gretchen Rubin, July 2nd is Halfway Day. What a great day to spend a few moments reviewing your goals for the year! In my case, I reflected on my 22 for 2022 list.

My one-word theme for the year is CHANGE, and there have certainly been a few changes in my life so far this year. In January, my family and I said good-bye to our beloved 13.5-year-old German Shepherd Sophie. Surprisingly (especially for me), we welcomed a new puppy Luna into our family on 14 February. But, the biggest change this year has been my decision to quit my job as an Instructional Coach which ended this past May. Without a doubt, more changes are on the horizon for the remainder of this year, and I am actually excited about exploring the unknown and seeing where life takes me.

“Unless you try to do something beyond what you have already mastered, you will never grow.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Kat’s 22 for 2022 List

1. Time-track in January.

2. Tweak morning routine.

3. Make consultation appointment with oral surgeon (implant).

4. Learn a 30-60 second monologue.

5. Buy a new vacuum cleaner.

6. Get wedding rings resized.

7. Clean out and organize master closet.

8. Plant new garden in front of the house.

9. Purge paper and organize file cabinet.

10. Go paperless (bills and statements).

11. Scrapbook monthly.

12. Complete Year of Gratitude scrapbook.

13. Have a Year of King (Stephen King).

14. Update theme (layout) for blog.

15. Research video editing software.

16. Complete a puzzle.

17. Write a will.

18. Revisit A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose by Eckhart Tolle.

19. Read The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron.

20. Complete the WordPress Blogging course.

21. Take a WordPress Podcasting course.

22. Take Becky Higgins Classroom: Photo Tips + Work Flow.

As you can see, I have not made much progress on my 22 for 2022 list. What have you been doing, Kat? Well, it turns out a puppy takes up A LOT of time. Luna is wonderful, sweet, and a momma’s girl; however, she is also high energy, high maintenance, and time-consuming. *SIGH* She is also not the only fur baby in the house.

I am reading a ton (35/50 books so far)! Kelsi and I are killing it with our Year of King project, and our book club continues to meet monthly. I have also been participating and exploring other projects that have cropped up since I made my list back in December. These opportunities may or may not impact where I end up at the end of the year, but I feel they are worth pursuing. Currently, I am working on a few of the items that I consider ongoing; they are just not fully completed, yet. These items include: #5, #7, #9, #10, #12, #13.

Finally, I created a Summer Fun List with all kind of activities I have been enjoying this summer. Plus, I tacked on It’s a Charming Life’s Summer Bucket List for more enjoyable summer activities. Clearly, I cannot help myself this summer. HA! The good news is I still have the second half of the year to finish my list. I am hopeful I can complete my list because I am NOT giving up!

There you have it, dear reader! What have you accomplished or not accomplished this year? Any surprises or regrets with how you have spent the first half of 2022? At this point, I can honestly say I have experienced more surprises than regrets. The key is to keep progressing daily towards those goals no matter how big or small the steps. Every step forward gets me closer to reaching my goals. Happiness!

“One part at a time, one day at a time, we can accomplish any goal we set for ourselves.” ~ Karen Casey

We are at the halfway mark in the year, and I am on fire with my reading goals. Despite having a great deal of activity in my life last month, I was able to complete five books in the month of June as well as a short story from the Everything’s Eventual collection by Stephen King. As of today, I am ten books ahead of schedule. Amazing!

Nonfiction Selection

I chose The Office BFFs: Tales of The Office from Two Best Friends Who Were There by Jenna Fischer & Angela Kinsey for my June nonfiction selection. I was super excited about this book ever since the Office Ladies announced they were writing it. I am a fan of both The Office and the Office Ladies podcast. Thanks to Simon, mon frere, for gifting me this beautiful book with lots of fun facts, personal photos, and special stories from Jenna and Angela’s time on The Office. These two ladies became best friends as a result of working on that television show, and their friendship is still going strong today. This is a delightful read and deserves all 5 stars.

#Read21in21 Challenge

I only read two middle school books in the month of June, but I enjoyed both of them immensely. One book was actually a reread and the other was recommended by the booktuber Mitzi of Mitzi Reads and Writes. Mitzi is participating in an #annealong with some other booktubers, and they are reading the entire series of books about Anne Shirley of Green Gables.

Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery took me by surprise. It is considered a classic historical fiction novel. I absolutely fell in love with this story, and I simply adore the main character, Anne Shirley. So much so, that I have already ordered the second book in the series. Basically, Anne Shirley is an orphan who is mistakenly sent to live with unmarried siblings, Marilla and Matthew Cuthbert, on their farm called Green Gables located in Avonlea. Anne is a spirited young lady, who has a wild imagination and a compassionate heart. This charming coming-of-age story follows Anne as she navigates life in her new home while capturing the hearts of all who cross paths with her, including readers of this timeless classic. This is stellar story worthy of 5 stars.

From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg is a realistic fiction book filled with adventure and a mystery. I chose to reread it on a whim for June because Andrew and I visited The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City in June, and that is where this marvelous novel takes place. Two children, Claudia and Jamie, run away to New York City and take up residence in The Met. While enjoying their newfound freedom, they stumble upon a mystery surrounding a sculpture that has ties to a famous artist. After reading it, I decided to have my own adventure in the museum. This Newbery Medal book is another 5-star read and remains one of my favorite middle school books.

Chills, Thrills, & Kills Book Club

And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie is a magnificent mystery novel that kept me guessing literally to the very end. Ten unsuspecting strangers from all walks of life have been invited by an unknown wealthy millionare to spend the weekend at his newly purchased home situated on the isolated Soldier Island. Shortly after arriving, the guests discover that they have one thing in common…murder. Then, one of the ten dies suddenly, and the remaining nine soon realize a murderer is among them, waiting to pick each one of them off one by one. Ooooh, so good and a brilliant 5 stars!

Year of King

For June, Kelsi and I chose a novella from Skeleton Crew and a short story from Everything’s Eventual: 14 Dark Tales to read for our Year of King project.

The Mist is a psychological horror novella with science fiction undertones and Lovecraftian vibes. The small town of Bridgton gets swept up in a thick fog following a violent thunderstorm. While David Drayton and the rest of the townspeople are trying to regroup and recover from storm damage, loss of electricity, and lack of communication, they soon discover the thunderstorm brought along more than just the fog. It was an entertaining 4-star read for me.

“1408” is a supernatural horror short story that takes place in a New York City hotel. The skeptical and bestselling author of haunted places, Mike Enslin, gets more than he bargains for when he attempts to spend the night inside the haunted room 1408 at the Dolphin Hotel. The moment I read about the crooked door of 1408 is the moment I would have returned the room key to the front desk. Haunted places and objects give me the willies, and this short story is no exception. It earned 5 stars for sheer creepiness.

As Kelsi and I do with all the stories we read by Stephen King, we watched the screen adaptations for both The Mist and “1408.” The Mist followed the novella pretty closely but with a much bleaker ending. I thought the director, Frank Darabont, did a fine job bringing the story visually to life. “1408” was fleshed out a bit more in its film adaptation, effectively using the short story as the foundation for the film. I loved how the evil hotel room comes to life with a personality all of its own. Both films were decent adaptations, enjoyable to watch, and earned 4-star ratings from me. Kesli and I had an interesting conversation about The Mist and “1408” on June 26th, discussing both stories and their movie adaptations. Dear reader, you can check out the recording on Kelsi’s YouTube channel (see below).

July has already started which means another month with an awesome list of books to read. I am currently reading One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia for #Read21in21. My book club selection for July is Wylding Hall by Elizabeth Hand. It is the novel Kelsi and I will be reading for Year of King. It is a chunker! We will be chatting live about the novel and the two movies on Sunday, 07 August at 2:00 PM CT. Finally, for my nonfiction choice, I will be reading The High 5 Habit: Take Control of Your Life with One Simple Habit by Mel Robbins. I will be reading this book along with members of my friend Kathryn’s Facebook group Kat’s Live Healthy Team. I am looking forward to everything I have planned to read in July. To see my current book reviews or books I have read in the past, follow me on Goodreads at Katherine Loyacano. Happiness!

“If you are going to get anywhere in life you have to read a lot of books.” ~ Roald Dahl

Greetings, dear reader! Today, I want to share my Clean 20 results with you. On 01 June, I started cleaning up my diet using The Clean 20 by Dr. Ian K. Smith as a guide. The goal for the 20 days of the plan was not to lose weight, but rather to clean up my eating habits by eliminating added sugar, fried and processed foods, and soda while implementing healthier choices (more fruits and veggies) and increasing water intake.

June has been a busy month for me, and it probably was not the most ideal month to start something new. However, I was not starting a diet. I was starting a lifestyle change to clean up my diet and get moving again. I was NOT perfect by any stretch of the imagination. During my 20 days, I had a colonoscopy, attended an engagement party, ate lunch with a friend, attended a weekend scrapbooking event, and visited New York City for a few days. The odds of me spending 20 days in a row at home are slim to none. The key is to move daily, make healthy food choices, eat in moderation, and drink plenty of water.

Kat’s Clean 20 Report Card

  • No alcohol
  • No soda (except 2 oz of Ginger Ale on flight to NOLA)
  • No added sugar/sugary foods (except Strawberry Shake/Vanilla Bean Cone in NYC; syrup on pancakes from Ellen’s Stardust Diner in NYC)
  • No artificial sweeteners
  • No juice with added sugar
  • No MSG
  • No fried foods (except french fries at Natural History Museum in NYC)
  • No white flour (except pancakes from Ellen’s Stardust Diner in NYC)
  • No mayo, ketchup, salsa – unless homemade (did NOT follow this for mayo/ketchup, but ate both sparingly)
  • No salad dressings loaded with sugar
  • Ate more fruits and veggies
  • Ate in moderation
  • Ate healthy snacks
  • Cut way down on processed foods
  • Drank more water (could still drink a whole lot more)

As for exercise, I have not started the Beachbody on Demand workouts, and I am not walking daily, yet. I walked 13 of the 20 days. Andrew and I walked everywhere in New York City. On Friday, 17 June, we walked 30,224 steps! On that day, we visited The Metropolitan Museum of Art, and that evening we walked to and from the theatre to see The Lion King. I love walking! It is a wonderful way to stay fit, come up with ideas, and enjoy your surroundings. I am not quite sure why I have not started working out with Beachbody on Demand. I should have started the Clean Week (a 7-day program) by today, so I could consistently complete the week before getting my implant that is scheduled for next Wednesday, but I literally have NO desire to do it. I know I will like it. Once I get started, I know I will use the heck out of it.

Last, but not least, I did lose a couple of pounds even though that was not my intention. Yesterday morning, I weighed 159.5 pounds for a total loss of 2.5 pounds. Overall, I am feeling a little better. I am not craving soda or sugary treats. Funnily enough, I AM craving more of a routine, and that may be the underlying factor as to why I cannot get myself to start working out or walking daily. June has been a whirlwind of activity, and I am loving every minute of it. Nonetheless, I am looking foward to a calmer July and a chance to catch my breath.

So, what’s next? I will continue following the Clean 20 guidelines with a bit more flexibility. I may indulge in an adult beverage this weekend or the next (4th of July). Ideally, I want to start Clean & Lean by Dr. Ian K. Smith, but that will depend on any food/exercise restrictions I may be given following my oral surgical procedure next week. Clean & Lean is a 30-day program that blends the Clean 20 guidelines with intermittent fasting. Regardless, I must continue going forward with making good food choices, drinking lots of water, and moving daily. Happiness!

“One of the secrets of life is to make stepping stones out of stumbling blocks.”      ~ Jack Penn

Note: Photo at top – I took this photo (Friday) of my breakfast at Sarabeth’s on the Upper West Side in New York. I ordered the Spinach & Goat Cheese Omelette served with local greens and toast. I did not get the toast, but ended up snagging a piece of Andrew’s wheat toast. It was a healthy, yummy breakfast.

Astronomically speaking, today marks the summer solstice in the northern hemisphere which means it is the first day of summer. On this day, we will experience the longest duration of sunlight because the Sun reachest its highest point in the sky. I love the summertime, but I am not a fan of extreme heat. In my neck of the woods, it is as hot as Hades! To beat the heat, I created a Summer Fun List which is already in full swing. As you know, dear reader, I love a list, especially a list with activities that brings me joy.

The folks over at It’s A Charming Life, Lindsay and Jonas, created a list of summer activities for a calm and relaxing summer which I have tacked onto my summer fun list for an even more joyful experience this season. I started following Lindsay and Jonas last summer and recently became a patron of theirs on Patreon. I love their simple lifestyle in the Sleepy Hollow countryside.

Summertime is a wonderful time to go on vacation, get together with family and friends, or get physically fit; however, it is also the perfect time to slow down and enjoy the lazy days of the summer season.

I encourage you, dear reader, to watch Lindsay and Jonas’s short video, “10 Relaxing Ways To Enjoy Summer | Slow Living Bucket List” for some ideas of how to have a joyfully relaxing summer.

The sun is blazing, the birds are chirping, and the flowers are lifting their faces up towards the sky. Today is the first day of summer, and I am filled with delight at the prospect of what this new day will bring my way. What are your summer plans, dear reader? Happiness!

“In summer, the song sings itself.” ~ William Carlos Williams

Note: Photo at the top is by Pixabay on Pexels.com.

As I predicted, May was a zomberific reading month for me! Since May is Zombie Awareness Month, every book I chose to read this month included zombies or the resurrected dead. I completed four books in the month of May, and as of today, I am nine books ahead of schedule. Wowzer!

Chills, Thrills, & Kills Book Club

Our book club selection for May also counts as my nonfiction read for the month. The Serpent and the Rainbow by Wade Davis is about real zombis (Haitian French spelling), not the ones you might expect to see on an episode of The Walking Dead. Wade Davis, a Harvard scientist, traveled to Haiti for the purposes of medical science, investigating a powerful drug that had the capability of turning people into zombis. Through his investigation of the poisons and the zombification of Clairvius Narcisse, he discovered the secret societies of Haitian voodoo and their cultural beliefs.

While I think Davis’s anthropological experience in Haiti is fascinating, I feel there were a few parts of the book that dragged on a bit too long. I enjoyed learning about the secret societies of Haiti, their role in zombification, the case studies of people turned into zombis, as well as Zora Neale Hurston’s adventurous fieldwork in Haiti. Hurston was an American author, anthropologist, and a filmmaker. She is the author of one of my favorite books, Their Eyes Were Watching God. I knew she was an anthropologist; however, I had never read anything about her in that role. What a pleasant surprise! I gave this book 3 stars on Goodreads, but it feels more like 3.5 stars overall.

#Read21in21 Challenge

I read only two zombie books for this challenge. I started the month reading a middle grade book and ended it with a young adult one.

Dead City by James Ponti is the first book in the middle-grade Dead City trilogy. Ponti has created a fresh perspective of the zombie genre. It is a fast-paced, action-packed adventure about a middle-schooler named Molly, who is selected to join an elite group after extensive training to help protect the city from the undead. I enjoyed the characters (especially Molly), the story, and the different zombies. I will definitely read the other two books in the trilogy. I give it 5 stars.

The Enemy by Charlie Higson is the first book in the post-apocalyptic young adult series, The Enemy. Like Dead City, it is fast-paced and action-packed but definitely way more brutal and geared toward an older group of readers. The story takes place in London where adults have been infected with a virus that turns them into cannibalistic zombies. The children, who are left to fend for themselves, must learn how to rely on each other in order to survive against the grownups. There is a substantial assortment of interesting and dynamic characters as well as dark and heartfelt scenes meshed well within a gritty storyline. This book is another 5-star read. I am invested in the characters which makes me want to read the rest of the series.

Year of King

May’s selection was Pet Sematary. The story is about the Creed family, who leave the hustle and bustle of Chicago behind for a simpler life in the sleepy town of Ludlow, Maine. Louis, a doctor, takes a position as director of health services at the University of Maine where he feels sure the demands will be less stressful.

His wife Rachel looks after their new home and two small children, Ellie and Gage. They soon make friends with their elderly neighbors, Jud and Norma Crandall. Jud warns them about the busy highway that runs past their house and is used regularly by speeding trucks. Within a few weeks of getting settled, the family learns about the Pet Sematary behind their home and its significance to the locals in the small town. Soon, tragedy touches the lives of the Creed family, and they are propelled into a nightmare of inexplicable horror.

Pet Sematary is one of my absolute favorite novels by Stephen King. I was thrilled Kelsi wanted to read it for our Year of King project, so I could revisit it for the third time. It is a 5-star read, hands down. The novel is not only dark, atmospheric, creepy, and beautifully written, but also provides a heart-wrenching peek into the effects of grief, guilt, and despair.

There are two movie adaptations of Pet Sematary. Kelsi and I watched both films. Stephen King wrote the screenplay for the 1989 film, so it follows the novel pretty closely. The 2019 film is a different story. I did not care for it for a variety of reasons, especially its ending. Kelsi and I had a terrific conversation about Pet Sematary on May 29th, discussing both the book and the movies. In fact, we had a passionate, but friendly disagreement about the 2019 film. Dear reader, you can check out the recording on Kelsi’s YouTube channel (see below).

I have a couple of recommendations for fans of Pet Sematary. The first is Stephen King: Pet Sematary Complete Series BBC Radio drama on YouTube. This radio dramatization was recommended to us by Arlene, one of Kelsi’s Slime and Slashers subscribers. Because of time constraints, I have only listened to about 30 minutes of it but have plans to listen to the rest of it by the end of this month. It is so well-done and worth the listen. In addition, there is an excellent documentary, Unearthed & Untold: The Path to Pet Sematary, about the making of Pet Sematary (1989) that Kelsi discovered which can now be streamed free on Tubi. Having worked in television production and as a background actor in both film and television, I appreciated learning about the details in the making of Pet Sematary.

June is already underway, dear reader, and I have a stack of great books and two short stories to read this month. I am currently reading Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery for #Read21in21. My book club selection for June is And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie. My nonfiction choice for this month is The Office BFFs: Tales of The Office from Two Best Friends Who Were There by Jenna Fischer and Angela Kinsey. Kelsi and I will be reading two short stories, “The Mist” and “1408,” for Year of King. We will be chatting live about the novel and both movies on Sunday, 26 June at 2:00 PM CT. June should be another awesome reading month for me. To see my current book reviews or books I have read in the past, follow me on Goodreads at Katherine Loyacano. Happiness!

Happy June! Today is the first day of new beginnings, and I am starting the new month with cleaning up my diet. I have been eating pretty crappy lately, and my body is begging me to fuel it with better food choices. So, last week, I pulled out my copy of The Clean 20 by Dr. Ian K. Smith; it will be my guide for the next 20 days.

My colonoscopy is scheduled for this Friday, so I will be prepping for my procedure all day Thursday and a short time Friday morning. Therefore, today is the perfect day for me to start over with a clean plate.

Basically, these are the rules for the next 20 days:

  • Drink lots of water.
  • Drink freshly squeezed juice.
  • Eat plenty of fruits and veggies.
  • Eat dairy foods.
  • Focus on the 20 clean foods.
  • No alcohol
  • No soda
  • No added sugar
  • No artificial sweeteners
  • No juice with added sugar
  • No MSG
  • No fried foods
  • No white flour
  • No mayo, ketchup, salsa – unless homemade (there are clean versions in the grocery store)
  • No salad dressings loaded with sugar

The goal is to reset my body by reducing processed foods, reducing unwanted additives, and decreasing added sugars while increasing water intake, increasing fruits and vegetables, and becoming more mindful of the foods fueling my body. As you can see, dear reader, weight loss is not my goal for completing the Clean 20; however, I did weigh myself this morning (162 pounds) as a benchmark. If I lose weight on this clean eating reboot, I will be thrilled, of course. The first time I did this program back in September 2019, I lost 7 pounds.

With that being said, I ate an omelet (two eggs with a tablespoon of 2% milk and a handful of baby spinach) and 1/2 cup of blueberries for breakfast this morning. I used olive oil spray to prepare my omelet. I also had a 12-ounce cup of coffee with a packet of Truvia (natural sweetener), 1/2 tsp of sugar (cut the Truvia aftertaste), and 1 tbsp of half and half. The added sugar is negligible. For my mid-morning snack, I ate cucumber slices (half a cucumber) with 1/4 cup of classic hummus. And, for lunch, I had a salad (spring mix lettuce, grape tomatoes, kalamata olives, gorgonzola cheese crumbles, boiled crawfish tails, and honey roasted pecans with Apple Pecan salad dressing).

As for exercise, I started walking again this morning. My goal is to walk daily for at least 20 minutes. Of course, more is better. I will also get more walking done when I take Comet aka Tooty and Luna out for their walks. Additionally, I joined Beachbody on Demand (online video workouts) yesterday through my friend Kathryn. She is now my Beachbody health coach and will provide me with encouragement and accountability. Kathryn recommended that I start with Clean Week (a 7-day program) which will help me get back into the groove of working out (cardio/strength training). I plan to start that fitness program either Saturday or Sunday, depending on how I feel after my procedure on Friday.

As you know by now, dear reader, I love having a plan. I am excited about eating clean, working out with Beachbody on Demand, and taking my daily walks. Will I be perfect every day? Nope, and that is okay because it is not about being perfect. It is about enjoying life without sacrificing self-care. Happiness!

“The purpose of the Clean 20 is to reintroduce your body to the wonders of clean eating and to give your organs a break from all the processed foods that dominate the choices in our stores and restaurants.” ~ Ian K. Smith, M.D.

Today is the last day of May, and it is exciting to think about all of my summer plans spread over the next three months. This will be my first summer in quite some time that I do not have to return to school at the end of July. Oh, what JOY!

June will be packed with plans and procedures. July through Labor Day will afford me more downtime, which will allow for more fun projects to do around the house and to cross items off my 22 for 2022 list. So, here is a little snapshot of what I am planning for this summer.

JUNE

  • Engagement Party for my niece Kaitlyn and her fiancé Marc
  • The Audubon Croppers (TAC) Scrapbooking Event with my scrapbooking gal pals
  • Trip to New York City with Andrew
  • Saenger Theatre in New Orleans to see Hamilton
  • Year of King Project with Kelsi (“The Mist” and “1408”)
  • Slasher Movie Marathon with Kelsi

JULY

  • Gardening (front of the house)
  • Sprucing up the Front Porch
  • Home Office Makeover
  • Year of King Project with Kelsi (It)

AUGUST

  • Work on my YouTube Channel (hoping to launch after Labor Day)
  • Year of King Project with Kelsi (Cujo)
  • Audition for The Jungle Book at the Columbia Theatre

Of course, this list contains the highlights of my summer plans. I will also be reading, blogging, scrapbooking, hanging out with friends and family, going to the movies, and meeting one evening each month with my book club. I am always up for adventures that may spring up throughout the summer.

In addition to having fun this summer, I also have to make time for self-care. I have scheduled two procedures in June: a colonoscopy and an implant to replace the fractured tooth I had pulled back in July 2020. I also need to schedule my mammogram and other doctor appointments between July and Labor Day. While these appointments are not necessarily fun, they are necessary for me to have fun.

Tomorrow starts clean eating and exercising for me. After months of neglect, I hope my body does not go into shock. HA! I want to get back to my daily walking habit. I have missed it immensely and thoroughly enjoy my walks.

Oh, how I am looking forward to this summer! What will your summer look like this year, dear reader? I hope whatever you choose to do, it will include some fun and relaxation. Happiness!

“One benefit of Summer was that each day we had more light to read by.”          ~ Jeannette Walls

My Daddy and I recently took a road trip to Atlanta (12-16 May) to visit my sister and her family for my niece Emma’s graduation from high school. I have been to Atlanta several times over the last 18 years, but this was the first time I drove there. Taking a road trip with me behind the steering wheel is 100% out of my comfort zone; however, I refuse to let that stop me from going on an adventure. If you remember, dear reader, I drove my Daddy and me to Kentucky to visit my Uncle Manuel back in September 2020. Besides, my Daddy does not like to fly anymore because he always ends up getting sick; therefore, I sucked it up and volunteered to drive us there and back. We left on Thursday, 12 May around 9:00 in the morning. Although driving to Atlanta was a piece of cake, driving through the city of Atlanta is no picnic. The last 15 minutes of our journey was daunting, but we prevailed. I am super happy we made the trip.

We arrived at the Killian homestead around 7:30 p.m. Atlanta time. Atlanta is an hour ahead of Louisiana. We were greeted warmly with smiles, hugs, and BBQ. My last trip to Atlanta was for Emma’s Confirmation back in November 2019. My Daddy’s last trip was Thanksgiving 2021 with Barry, Jr. (my oldest son). We all hung out and caught up for the remainder of the evening. On Friday, Emma and Lee had graduation festivities to attend and my sister had to work, which was great, since I also had to do some work for HGCS. My Daddy binged-watched the Jack Reacher series. Later that evening, since Lee and Emma were attending a graduation party, Rachel ordered Chinese food for us. I finally took a ride in her elevator. It is really cool to have an elevator in your house. We took a ride up to the attic. Instead of a skeleton in the closet, they have a skeleton in the attic.

On Saturday afternoon, Emma and I went shopping for clothes at a boutique called Vestique and book shopping at Barnes and Nobles. Emma is a voracious reader like me. Of course, we could not leave the bookstore without me buying us books and Starbucks. My evening was spent watching a horror movie called The Twin with Emma and her friend Marissa in the home theater. It is even cooler to have a home theater in your house, especially with comfy chairs. Austin does not care for scary movies, so he left quickly after the movie started. HA! A scary dog instead of a scary cat.

Sunday rolled around for the big day, Emma’s high school graduation from Pace Academy. We all woke up early, got dressed, and headed out to Pace Academy’s Sports Complex. It was an outdoor graduation. Thankfully, it had stopped raining before we arrived, and we encountered cooler temps for the majority of the ceremony. My heart swelled with joy watching Emma walk on the field to take her seat among her classmates. I got a little teary-eyed watching her receive her high school diploma. I am proud of my sweet, talented, and beautiful niece who also happens to be my goddaughter. In the fall, she will be attending Santa Clara University in California.

After graduation, we all went to eat lunch at Del Frisco’s Grille in downtown Atlanta. We started off with Cheesesteak Eggrolls and Del’s Deviled Eggs. Rachel and I each got an entree and split them. I ordered Strawberry Cobbler French Toast, and she ordered Braised Shortrib Hash. The food was excellent! Then, we all went back to the house. Emma had two graduation parties to attend (one in the afternoon and one in the evening). Lee helped host the afternoon party. It was nice to just relax after all the graduation festivities, especially with having to drive home early the next morning.

On Monday morning at 6:30 a.m., my Daddy and I said our good-byes to Rachel and Lee, thanked them for their hospitality, and got on the road heading towards Louisiana. I dropped my Daddy off at his house at 1:30 p.m. and arrived back home at 2:30 p.m. Louisiana time. What a wonderful road trip, graduation, and time with family!

The school year officially ended on Friday, 20 May along with my job as the instructional coach at HGCS. The closing of this school year ends a chapter in my work life. Technically, I have retired from the world of elementary education. One would think I was whooping it up as I left the school parking lot; however, I felt exactly the way I always feel on the last day of school – free and thrilled for the onset of summer break. The “whooping it up” will eventually happen, during the last week of July, when all of my teacher friends are going back to school to attend PLC meetings and to get their classrooms ready. I will not only feel relief at that moment in time, but I will also feel excitement and joy because I will be embarking on my next adventure.

My summer break kicks off tomorrow morning, dear reader. I will begin decluttering and organizing my home, starting with my scrapbook room which is a total disaster. Luna is getting spayed on Tuesday and will be out of the house until Wednesday afternoon, so I plan to take advantage of that time to get my scrapbook materials organized and my photos ordered for my annual scrapbooking event that I am attending with my girlfriends in June. I have quite a few activities and appointments scheduled this summer, especially throughout the month of June. I will be making memories, practicing self-care, and preparing for the next chapter of my life. Happiness!

“The two most joyous times of the year are Christmas morning and the end of school.” ~ Alice Cooper

Happy Mother’s Day! I am blessed to be the mother of two young men, Andrew and Barry, Jr., who have not only brought me an overabundance of joy, but also a fair amount of worry and frustration over the years. Thankfully, there has been way more joy than worry. I love my boys immensely!

Motherhood can be a wonderful experience; however, it can also be nerve-racking and exhausting at times. Despite the lack of sleep during their baby years and teenage years (especially when they start driving), the worry over their well-being, and the heartache you feel when they are hurting (physically or emotionally), it is all worth it. Motherhood is one of my toughest roles, but it is also my most fulfilling one, and I would not trade it for anything. Motherhood looks differently for everyone. It is not a one type fits all kind of role. Whether you happen to be the mother of humans, fur babies, a creative endeavor, or a business, dear reader, this is your day to celebrate your path to motherhood.

Yesterday, we hosted a crawfish boil with a few of our friends and family. It was a beautiful, sunshiny day. Barry, Sr., along with my boys and our neighbor John, boiled the crawfish. The mudbugs were spicy good! We had a great deal to celebrate – Helen moving back to Louisiana, Claire passing her Praxis exam, mothers, friendship, life in general. Unfortunately, my momma was unable to attend; however, we did send my Daddy home with flowers, crawfish, and dessert for her. Much gratitude to Helen who took the pictures of our day together.

As you know, dear reader, May is Zombie Awareness Month, and I am completely engrossed in all things related to zombies. Currently, I am obsessed with All of Us Are Dead, the South Korean coming-of-age tv series streaming on Netflix. WOWZER! I think it is AMAZING. Basically, there is a zombie virus outbreak at a high school with a group of teenagers trapped in the school, fighting for survival. If anyone or anything is bitten by an infected person or animal, the virus works insanely fast, turning them into raging, rabid zombies. It is definitely worth a watch for zombie lovers.

Well, it is time for this zombie lover to get on with her day. It will be a low-key kind of day. Since my mom and I cannot get together today, we will plan a mother-daughter outing at a later date. As for my plans for today, I will be hanging out at home with my guys and fur babies, relaxing, and perhaps, watching some more All of Us Are Dead with the hubster. Blessings to all the women out there who assume the role of mom. Big hugs to those of you who can no longer spend the day with your mother. Wishing all of you a beautiful week ahead. Happiness!

“We are born of love; love is our mother.” ~ Rumi

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